Change Location × Worldwide

    Recent Locations

      Movie Reviews

      • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs poster image

        Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Fairly inventive and exceedingly manic, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" comes from the 1978 picture book by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett. To say the title helped sell the kids story is an understatement, certainly the only understatement involved with the movie version. Still, there's a semblance of a comic personality at work. Plenty of middle-ground (or worse) animated features feel like timid corporate entities. This one, which is certainly fresher than "Ice Age 3,"... (read more)

      • Inglourious Basterds poster image

        Inglourious Basterds

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A queasy historical do-over, Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" has been described as a grindhouse version of "Valkyrie"; a rhapsody dedicated to the cinema's powers of persuasion; and a showcase for a 52-year-old Austrian-born character actor named Christoph Waltz, who waltzes off with the performance honors as a suavely vicious Nazi colonel known as "the Jew hunter." All true. Tarantino's seventh full-length film recasts the iconography and mythic cruel... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The IMAX 2D Experience poster image

        Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The IMAX 2D Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A small vial of "liquid luck" (lovely concept, one of many in J.K. Rowling's universe) plays a supporting role in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," No. 6 in the franchise. (The two-film edition of " Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will be released in 2010 and 2011, respectively.) But luck, really, has little to do with the way these films turn out. After getting my head caught in the blender that is "Transformers 2," I found it especially ... (read more)

      • Soul Power poster image

        Soul Power

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Pure pleasure. I've heard the arguments against this out-of-the-vault concert film, capturing the frantic planning and glorious execution (financed by Liberian investors) of the three-day music festival "Zaire '74." Not enough political or ethnographic context; too plain Jane in the presentation; not nearly enough about the festival's relationship to its sister act, the '74 Muhammad Ali/George Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle," the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary &qu... (read more)

      • The Taking of Pelham 123 poster image

        The Taking of Pelham 123

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Entire epochs have passed since New York City could plausibly be called "the biggest rathole in the world," a charge made by the subway hijacker played by John Travolta in the shiny, gentrified remake (the second; there was a TV version late last century) of "The Taking of Pelham 123." But the city really was a rathole in 1974. The original film version of "Pelham" came out that year, same as "Death Wish." In the post-Watergate era, urban thrillers lov... (read more)

      • The Hangover poster image

        The Hangover

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "The Hangover" takes care of its target audience's needs - the target audience being males who, after seeing director Todd Phillips' earlier (and funnier) "Old School," dreamed of joining the "Old School" fraternity. But this film left a sour taste in my mouth. Only "Daily Show" alum Ed Helms, as a buttoned-down dentist along for the ride on a chaotic Las Vegas bachelor party, got me laughing, periodically, between the not-laughing parts. There's a swee... (read more)

      • Sleep Dealer poster image

        Sleep Dealer

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Present-day Tijuana is one of the most compelling places on earth, and even among border cities (what few I've seen, anyway) it represents a spectacular welter of rich possibility and crushing limitation. It's a symbol of the push-pull co-dependency of America and Mexico, a city defined by a fence that runs straight down the beach, into the Pacific Ocean. Alex Rivera's overstuffed but intriguing feature debut "Sleep Dealer" takes a speculative leap into Tijuana's near future, imag... (read more)

      • State of Play poster image

        State of Play

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Like Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic," "State of Play" compresses a British television miniseries into a stand-alone American thriller and does a pretty good job of it. It's best to see the remake first and catch up with the 2003 BBC miniseries afterward. That way you can enjoy the new version for what it is - a sleek, reliable Hollywood package, wrapped in a mournful last hurrah for print investigative journalism - instead of experiencing it through the prism of its superb p... (read more)

      • Sin nombre poster image

        Sin nombre

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Crushingly realistic one minute and melodramatically hokey the next - the strategy worked for "Slumdog Millionaire," why not for "Sin Nombre"? This debut feature comes from writer-director Cary Joji Fukunaga, an Oakland native who developed his project at the Sundance Institute. The film went on to considerable acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival, as did last year's "Frozen River." I wonder if there's something in the Sundance development process that ... (read more)

      • Watchmen poster image

        Watchmen

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Talk all you want about the dense novelistic embroidery of the graphic novel "Watchmen," its obsessive detail and clever subversion of superhero mythology and masked avenger cliches. But really, the appeal of the film version, such as it is, relates almost entirely to eye-for-an-eye, severed-limb-for-a-limb vengeance, two hours and 41 minutes of it, with just enough solemnity to make anyone who thought "The Dark Knight" was a little gassy think twice about which superhero ... (read more)

      • Under the Sea poster image

        Under the Sea

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        Jim Carrey narrates "Under the Sea 3D," a new installment in the underwater 3-D filmmaking that IMAX pretty much owns these days. Nothing compares to the images in these films, and director Howard Hall, whose previous offerings include the IMAX hits "Deep Sea 3D" and "Into the Deep 3D," knows his way around the underwater camera - all 1,300 pounds of it - and personally tallied 358 hours of the dive team's 2,073 hours under the sea (accomplished in 1,668 total di... (read more)

      • Coraline poster image

        Coraline

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Coraline" may not be for all tastes and it's certainly not for all kids, given its macabre premise. But writer-director Henry Selick's animated feature advances the stop-motion animation genre through that most heartening of attributes: quality. It pulls audiences into a meticulously detailed universe, familiar in many respects, whacked and menacing in many others. Unlike other recent films shot in 3-D ("Bolt" comes to mind), this one takes rich advantage of the process, ... (read more)

      • The Secret of the Grain poster image

        The Secret of the Grain

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The wonderful thing about Hafsia Herzi in "The Secret of the Grain," whose breakout performance has won all sorts of richly deserved international acclaim, is the way she and the character tiptoe around the story's edges for a while, taking their time and easing onto the audience's radar. The camera can't get enough of her, yet her fast-talking character, a born problem-solver and psychological strategist, works at a crafty simmer. She seems like a person, not a character. The movie... (read more)

      • Milk poster image

        Milk

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The story of Harvey Milk is a tragedy, but not since Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" has Sean Penn played such a serenely happy individual. It does an actor good to play a joyous character. In "Milk," Penn is superb as the martyred San Francisco city supervisor, America's first widely acknowledged openly gay elected official. He was killed by Milk's former colleague, Dan White, minutes after White's fatal shooting of Mayor George Moscone in 1978. The key to ... (read more)

      • Let the Right One In poster image

        Let the Right One In

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        I'm so sick of Swedish vampire movies, aren't you? Honestly, I've had it with those bloodsucking Svenskar. If you can stomach just one more, however, "Let the Right One In" is the Swedish vampire movie to see. The film is terrific. The upcoming screen version of "Twilight" (opening Nov. 21) may be the set of fangs everyone's waiting for, at least among certain demographics, but I can't imagine anyone older than 15, who cherishes vampire lore or not, failing to fall for thi... (read more)

      • Pineapple Express poster image

        Pineapple Express

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In its gleefully befogged first hour, "Pineapple Express" seems to be onto something new: It's a marijuana comedy that keeps shuffling genres, like a stoned blackjack dealer. James Franco is blissfully funny as Saul, the supplier who finds himself running for his barely cognizant life with steady customer Dale, played by Seth Rogen. Dale's a 25-year-old dating a high school senior. (He proudly sports a high school girl's wristwatch.) They're running because Dale witnessed a drug-rel... (read more)

      • WALL-E poster image

        WALL-E

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's the surest thing in the infinitely malleable world of animation: Get the eyes right, and you're halfway home. One look at the binocular-eyed trash compactor starring in the marvelous new Disney/Pixar feature "WALL-E," and you're halfway home. One look at EVE, the sleek, egg-shaped robot from space who introduces WALL-E to a world wider than his own, and those cool blue oval eyes - which digitally transform into upside-down crescents when amused-and you're all the way home. Thes... (read more)

      • Kung Fu Panda poster image

        Kung Fu Panda

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Everything about "Kung Fu Panda" is a little better, a little sharper, a little funnier than the animated run of the mill. It's one of the few comedies of 2008 in any style or genre that knows what it's doing. Plus, all its jokes actually belong to the same movie, which is set in ancient China by way of Jack Black. In other words, it may have Black fulminating about "(going) blind from overexposure to pure awesomeness!" but nobody slips in a Travis Bickle impersonation or ... (read more)

      • Baby Mama poster image

        Baby Mama

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Tina Fey enjoys the career every sharp-witted writer-performer in America, female or male, dreams of having. She's a paragon of nerd-babe wit and wisdom, sharp-edged but with an appealing undercurrent of reticence. (Part of her always seems to want to get behind the camera and watch someone else do whatever scene she's doing.) Fey headlines a self-created hit sitcom ("30 Rock"); she made an impact on national politics with her recent, exquisitely timed morale boost to Hillary Clinto... (read more)

      • Shine a Light poster image

        Shine a Light

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The ads for the new Rolling Stones concert picture "Shine a Light" come at you like a three-way heavyweight title bout. There's also an undeniably corporate air to the packaging: three well-known brands converging for an event, a concert by the Stones performed in 2006 at New York's Beacon Theatre, apropos of nothing except a chance to be captured for posterity for fun and profit, en route to the next tour stop. But who needs an excuse for a party? This one's a lot of fun. Director... (read more)

      • There Will Be Blood poster image

        There Will Be Blood

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        As surely as our country's multiple personalities owe a great deal to both religious fervor and the oil industry, "There Will Be Blood" reminds us that the greatest screen performances don't settle for capturing one trait, a dominant emotion or an easy way in. The very best of them are symphonies of paradox, forcing us to reckon with the ramifications. This is what Daniel Day-Lewis achieves in director Paul Thomas Anderson's majestic crackpot of a film. It runs 158 minutes on a broo... (read more)

      • Juno poster image

        Juno

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It takes "Juno" about 15 minutes to calm down and get its joke reflex in check. Screenwriter Diablo Cody, formerly Brook Busey-Hunt of Lemont, has everyone quipping like maniacs?it's dialogue you notice, every second?and for a while you wonder if this story of a pregnant teenager's coming of age will exhaust you with cleverness. Then, stealthily, everything about the movie starts working together more purposefully. And by the end you've fallen in love with the thing. Ellen Page is k... (read more)

      • August Rush poster image

        August Rush

        Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

        In need of a good seasonal yarn? Turn to the master, Charles Dickens, or better yet, update and recycle him. Such must have been the thinking behind "August Rush," a thinly disguised retelling of "Oliver Twist, " transplanted to contemporary New York and sweetened by a theme of the healing magic of music. Your take on this movie may depend on your tolerance for treacle. Craftily made in many respects, especially in its strategic use of its soaring score (by Mark Mancina), ... (read more)

      • No Country for Old Men poster image

        No Country for Old Men

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        As pure craftsmanship, "No Country for Old Men" is as good as we've ever gotten from Joel and Ethan Coen. Only "Fargo" is more satisfying (it's also a comedy, which this one isn't), certainly among the brothers' pictures driven by the evil that men do and all that can go wrong under the precepts of Murphy's law. It took me two viewings of the film, set in the early 1980s along the West Texas/Mexico border, to appreciate it fully for what it is, a viciously effective exerc... (read more)

      • The Simpsons Movie poster image

        The Simpsons Movie

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "For once the rich white man is in control!" Mr. Burns, incomparable plutocratic sniveler voiced by the (BEGIN ITALICS) real (END ITALICS) star of "The Simpsons Movie," Harry Shearer, hasn't much screen time in this adaptation - a good one; a little disappointing, but good - of the animated television series created by Matt Groening. But Shearer does get to snivel that line, one of many lines by 11 credited writers that does its job, deftly, and then skitters out of the wa... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix poster image

        Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        He's back, and he's hacked off. The most striking aspect of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is its contrast between the hormonally and supernaturally tormented teenager at its center and the modestly well-made and easygoing picture unfolding all around him. No. 5 in the omnipresent global franchise, "Order of the Phoenix" lies at a no-nonsense halfway point between the best of the Potter films ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban") and the most ... (read more)

      • Ratatouille poster image

        Ratatouille

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The ads for the ravishing new Disney/Pixar feature "Ratatouille" spell out the titular dish phonetically (as rat-a-too-ee), a tactic not necessary in last summer's marketing and promotion of "Cars." This provides a clue as to why writer-director Brad Bird's story, about a sweet aesthete of a rat who dreams of becoming a chef, may not be in for "Cars"-type action at the box office. Well, there's no justice in the world. "Ratatouille" may be rated G, but ... (read more)

      • Shrek the Third poster image

        Shrek the Third

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In "Shrek the Third" there's a scene in which the frog King Harold (voice by John Cleese), ward boss of Far Far Away, is dying. He utters his last words, and then - old joke for a new generation - no, he's not dead, he's still alive, and says a bit more, and expires, but in fact ... The scene's supposed to be funny but sad, too, and then in the funeral sequence the oh-so-not-quite-hip soundtrack fills the theater with "Live and Let Die." By that point you're thinking: Huh?... (read more)

      • Hot Fuzz poster image

        Hot Fuzz

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In its climactic village assault, the English comedy "Hot Fuzz" risks becoming the excessive, slow-mo-slaughter affair it's satirizing. But the best of it is a riot - a "Bad Boys II" fireball hurled with exquisite accuracy at a quaint English town peopled by Agatha Christie archetypes. On the strength of "Shaun of the Dead," his droll zombie bash, the spot-on "Don't Scream" trailer in "Grindhouse" and now this, director Edgar Wright is one of ... (read more)

      • The Host poster image

        The Host

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Like all good hosts, the host in "The Host," a mutant squid-lizard that moves with the agility of an Olympic gymnast, throws a lively party with a little of everything: scares, laughs, politics and a bit of archery. South Korean writer-director Bong Joon-ho has made a considerable international splash with this picture, and no wonder. It boasts a photogenic antagonist from the deep. It's also savvy enough to make you care about the human factor. Like "Pan's Labyrinth," ano... (read more)

      • Dreamgirls poster image

        Dreamgirls

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Dreamgirls" is performed, shot, edited and packaged like a coming-attractions trailer for itself. Ordinarily that would be enough to sink a film straight off, unless you're a fan of "Moulin Rouge." But this one's a good time. Four years ago, the film version of "Chicago" operated on a similar rhythm and restlessness, and that worked surprisingly well against the odds, too. Bill Condon, a writer of distinction ("Gods and Monsters," "Kinsey"), ... (read more)

      • Children of Men poster image

        Children of Men

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Dsytopian nightmares are so yesterday. They're a dime a dozen in the movies; earlier this year, for example, "V for Vendetta" came up with exactly 10 cents' worth of cinematic interest in exchange for your $9.50. The latest hellish forecast for our planet, however, makes up for the sluggishness of "Vendetta" in spades. It is "Children of Men," based on a P.D. James novel, and as directed - dazzlingly - by Alfonso Cuaron, it is that rare futuristic thriller: grim ... (read more)

      • Charlotte's Web poster image

        Charlotte's Web

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The E.B. White wonder known as "Charlotte's Web" is told in such simple, beautiful language that any film version is bound to come up a little runty by comparison. Yet if you don't expect the moon or any directorial distinction, the new adaptation of the 1952 classic works on its own terms while respecting the original. I liked it. I didn't love it the way I love the book, but the book ... well, that is some book. The last "Charlotte's Web" on film was the animated 1973 Ha... (read more)

      • Mutual Appreciation poster image

        Mutual Appreciation

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        "Mutual Appreciation" is a realistic comic movie about a raffish young Boston singer-composer named Alan (Justin Rice) and his erratic (and sometimes erotic) adventures after he moves to New York and his band breaks up. And though what follows may sometimes seem like a too-obvious wish-fulfillment youth fantasy about crashing the big-city scene, writer-director-actor-editor Andrew Bujalski - who made the well-regarded "Funny Ha Ha" (2002) - has a flair for casual naturalis... (read more)

      • The Descent poster image

        The Descent

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        In "The Descent," a low-budget horror movie full of tough ladies and creepy thrills, six adventurous girlfriends from the United Kingdom, on a cave-exploring expedition in the American Appalachian Mountains, get lost in the caverns and run into a race of flesh-eating mutant cave-dwellers; these "crawlers" look like monster cousins of Gollum from "Lord of the Rings." You either go for a movie like this or you don't. But though I didn't like it much, I've got to ad... (read more)

      • Failure to Launch poster image

        Failure to Launch

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Cursed with an honest title, ?Failure to Launch? waves a white flag in scene after scene, declaring surrender. We give up! We do not know how to make a decent mainstream romantic comedy! Outside the often fruitful sub genre of the raunchmantic comedy (?Wedding Crashers? or the superior ?40 Year-Old Virgin?), it has been too long since audiences could loosen up and enjoy themselves at a star-driven comic romance. In the days of the studio system, machine-tooled pleasantries rolled off the line... (read more)

      • Deep Sea IMAX 3D poster image

        Deep Sea IMAX 3D

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        Director Howard Hall (?Into the Deep,? ?Island of the Sharks?) and the underwater IMAX film team do their usual splendid job of making the sea and its often-hungry denizens look beautiful in ?Deep Sea 3D.? While the film spans the oceans, much of it takes place in near-shore areas such as coral reefs and kelp forests - areas teeming with life from minuscule plankton to a hefty (though still youthful) right whale, not to mention rays, eels, a multitude of crustaceans, anemones, seastars, barra... (read more)

      • An Inconvenient Truth poster image

        An Inconvenient Truth

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Equal parts filmed lecture, campaign-style documentary and greenhouse-gas disaster film, "An Inconvenient Truth" gussies up Al Gore's well-traveled multimedia presentation on global warming just enough to justify itself in front of a camera. Nonetheless the film's context and talking points are more interesting than the film itself, which settles for an earnest (though rarely dull) nudge in its chosen direction: PowerPoint cinema. Like most films, only more so, this one will be proc... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire poster image

        Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Unlike Peter Pan, that other magical airborne boy of British literature and film, J.K. Rowling?s Harry Potter just keeps growing up. So do the Potter movies, in size, in ambition and in visual splendor - and with increasingly stunning results. ?Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? is the latest film adventure for the bespectacled student sorcerer of Rowling?s amazingly well-imagined Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And it may be the best-filmed Potter of them all - though last year... (read more)

      • Walk the Line poster image

        Walk the Line

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        You won?t go out humming the filmmaking, but ?Walk the Line? showcases two of this year?s most vivid screen performances. Joaquin Phoenix plays Johnny Cash, the man in black with the voice that sounded like 10-to-life. Reese Witherspoon plays his wife, June Carter, the good Christian woman - Cash once described her as ?a prayer warrior like none I?ve known? - who saw her man through a pharmaceutical ring of fire and a lifelong streak of self-destruction. Based on Cash?s two autobiographies, ... (read more)

      • Howl's Moving Castle poster image

        Howl's Moving Castle

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle" is a great animated feature - and one made, obviously, as much for older audiences as very young ones. But this wondrous movie probably shouldn't be put in age brackets at all. It's perfect for anyone with a youthful heart and a rich imagination. Though highly reminiscent of the whimsical Japanese genius' last two films, 1997's "Princess Mononoke" and 2001's "Spirited Away," it's even more densely virtuosic. This new film t... (read more)

      • Mad Hot Ballroom poster image

        Mad Hot Ballroom

        Jessica Reaves, Chicago Tribune

        How do you turn a bunch of street-smart, painfully self-conscious, brazen, at-risk kids into a well-mannered parade of ladies and gentlemen? You teach them ballroom dancing, of course. That's the theory, anyway, behind a compulsory ballroom dancing course introduced a decade ago in New York City's public schools. It's also the philosophy behind "Mad Hot Ballroom," the documentary triumph from first-time filmmakers Marilyn Agrelo and Amy Sewell. Filmed in the spring of 2004, "Ma... (read more)

      • Hitch poster image

        Hitch

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Will Smith looks great in the previews for "Hitch." But you can't judge books by their covers or movies by their trailers. In the seemingly ubiquitous ads for this flashy new romantic comedy, we see Smith playing a character that seems ideal for him, Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, a romance-savvy dating coach, a kind of "Straight Eye for the Shy Guy" who specializes in teaching the romantically handicapped and socially nerdy how to score in Manhattan's vicious mixed-sin... (read more)

      • The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou poster image

        The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," in which Bill Murray plays a shaggy-dog American version of oceanographer-filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau, is a comedy that seems to have most everything going for it but the ability to make us laugh. Despite its cast and director, it's an amazingly unfunny movie, drowned in its own conceits, half-strangled by the tongue so obtrusively in its cheek. Anderson, the writer-director of "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbau... (read more)

      • The Incredibles poster image

        The Incredibles

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        If "The Incredibles" did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them. It's amazing that this cartoon super-family wasn't created sooner, given the recent blockbuster status of both superheroes ("Spider-Man 2") and computer-animated movies ("Shrek 2," "Shark Tale"). With "The Incredibles," Pixar's first PG film, writer/director Brad Bird delivers the perfect parody of, and valentine to, the superhero genre. At its center, Mr. Incredible (vo... (read more)

      • Birth poster image

        Birth

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        In 2001, Jonathan Glazer, previously the director of commercials and music videos, made his stunning feature-film debut with "Sexy Beast," a slick, moody British gangster film that, with Ben Kingsley as the bad guy, was more a study of character than of crime. Mixing a conventional plot (an ex-thug and one more heist) with unusual visuals and superb performances, Glazer's premiere brimmed with emotion and authenticity. That's all lost in "Birth," his middling sophomore eff... (read more)

      • Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt poster image

        Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt

        Louis R. Carlozo, Chicago Tribune

        With a voice as flat as a shot cowboy boot and lyrics sharper than a junkie?s needle, Townes Van Zandt remained an obscure enigma throughout his too-short life - not just to music fans who hailed him as a genius, but his nearest and dearest who were frustrated, even angered, by his addictions and rambling lifestyle. Maybe this explains why Margaret Brown?s documentary ?Be Here To Love Me? proves a less-than-satisfying examination of the country singer?s art, career and demons. To an extent, t... (read more)

      • Mysterious Skin poster image

        Mysterious Skin

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        In "Mysterious Skin," Gregg Araki, director of "The Living End" and "The Doom Generation," plunges us into a world of homoerotic ecstasy and danger, wrecked lives and possible redemption. Araki's often-moving film is based on Scott Heim's lyrical, disturbing novel about two Kansas boys and the long aftermath of their separate seductions by a pedophile baseball coach, and it's striking for the ways Heim and Araki convey a mix of anguish and sexuality. Of all the d... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban poster image

        Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Just as J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" represents a step in maturity beyond the series' first two books, director Alfonso Cuaron's film version improves upon its predecessors. This third "Harry Potter" movie shakes the candy coating off of the franchise without violating its spirit. Chris Columbus, who directed the first two, is skilled at assembling the elements and moving a story along, but he doesn't leave behind ideas that haunt or images tha... (read more)

      • Shrek 2 poster image

        Shrek 2

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        "Shrek 2" is "Meet the Parents" for computer-animated ogres, and once again the cat gets the biggest laughs. The frisky feline of the moment is a swashbuckling Puss in Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas in a sendup of his Zorro character. For reasons to be explained later, Puss is hired to vanquish everyone's favorite big ugly green dude, Shrek (again voiced by Mike Myers), but soon he's hanging out with the good guys, causing a jealous Donkey (Eddie Murphy, again better he... (read more)

      • Kill Bill: Vol. 2 poster image

        Kill Bill: Vol. 2

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" is the sound of a filmmaker in love with his own voice. For sure that voice is lively and distinct, which is what made "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" so watchable even as you suspected that it was more of a bravura exercise than an emotionally engaged piece of storytelling. But after spending an additional two-plus hours with "Vol. 2," you may be seeking a cure for cinematic verbal diarrhea. "Vol. 2" was supposed to provide the payoffs that &qu... (read more)

      • Mean Girls poster image

        Mean Girls

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        The biting teen comedy "Mean Girls" heralds the silver-screen big bang of two promising careers: actress Lindsay Lohan and comedy writer/actor Tina Fey. In one movie, Lohan ("Freaky Friday") goes from a Disney-sculpted actress to her own star, transported by "Saturday Night Live" head writer Fey's nervy comic script. Lohan stars as 15-year-old Cady Heron, whose childhood in Africa with her zoologist parents leaves her ill-equipped for the jungle politics of high ... (read more)

      • Shaun of the Dead poster image

        Shaun of the Dead

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        Following the success of "28 Days Later," this year's remake of "Dawn of the Dead" and the recently released "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," you would think the zombie genre has ambled its course. Think again. With "Shaun of the Dead," British filmmakers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have rolled out a gleefully gory, pitch-perfect parody of George Romero's zombie films. But this isn't a movie about other movies. "Shaun of the Dead" stands on its ow... (read more)

      • Hellboy poster image

        Hellboy

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Ron Perlman is no one's idea of a superhero, which is what makes "Hellboy" interesting. The hulking, chiseled, 53-year old actor is most famous for starring in TV's long-gone "Beauty and the Beast" series, but he's wearing a different kind of makeup in this would-be franchise based on Mike Mignola's popular, dry-witted Dark Horse Comics books. Hellboy is a big red dude with an oversized right hand of stone and two disks sticking out of his forehead like embedded goggles, t... (read more)

      • The Passion of the Christ poster image

        The Passion of the Christ

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's serious, often brutally powerful film on the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus, is a passionate but gruesomely physical picture. But it's a subject that needs more spirituality and transcendence, at least to move us in the way Gibson so obviously wants. Gibson tries to do several things at once: create a compelling drama of the familiar tale, make an exciting movie, follow the Gospels and, through it all, pay witness to his faith. Inevitab... (read more)

      • Napoleon Dynamite poster image

        Napoleon Dynamite

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        "Napoleon Dynamite" may have been the surprise comedy hit of the last Sundance Film Festival - and its 24-year-old director/co-writer, Jared Hess, may be a helmer with a future - but that doesn't mean it will make you laugh out loud. It didn't tickle me much, anyway, though it did hand me a few smiles, and it may work for others. Hess, his co-writer wife Jerusha Hess and some buddies from Brigham Young University have imagined a screw-loose parody of the small Idaho city where Hess ... (read more)

      • Big Fish poster image

        Big Fish

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Sometimes the stuff of pathos is better conveyed through lightness and fantasy than through the grim, hard facts. In the whimsical "Big Fish," that beguiling fantasist Tim Burton takes a painful subject - an estranged son's reconciliation during his father's terminal illness - and weaves around it a gossamer web of artifice and fancy, spinning a delightful set of American tall tales. With Albert Finney as prevaricating dad Ed Bloom, Billy Crudup as son Will, and Ewan McGregor as the... (read more)

      • The Matrix Revolutions poster image

        The Matrix Revolutions

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        "Jesus H. Christ!" someone shouts near the beginning of "The Matrix Revolutions," providing, in more ways than one, a succinct review of the movie. The exclamation could be an expression of incredulity at how far afield this "Matrix" trilogy has ventured, or a literal declaration of hero Neo's ultimately obvious role model. The original 1999 "Matrix" was the story of a seemingly ordinary guy who discovers mind-warping layers of reality as well as his ow... (read more)

      • Kill Bill: Vol. 1 poster image

        Kill Bill: Vol. 1

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        There's no question that Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" is a virtuoso piece of filmmaking. What's questionable is whether it's more than that. He's been much imitated since his one-two punch of "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994), yet as you watch "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (the story's second half, "Vol. 2," comes out in February), you realize that no one combines tension and release, violence and humor, dialogue and action an... (read more)

      • Mystic River poster image

        Mystic River

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Clint Eastwood's powerful new movie, "Mystic River," his best since "Unforgiven," takes us on a voyage almost to the end of the night. It's a shattering journey into darkness, taken by three Boston boys pulled at age 11 into one awful act of transgression, climaxing 25 years later, when an even more terrible crime reunites them. Based on the 2001 crime novel by Dennis Lehane, "Mystic River" is classic Eastwood, classic noir. If there is still some doubt about whe... (read more)

      • Lost in Translation poster image

        Lost in Translation

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        In her brief career, Sofia Coppola has established herself as a remarkably intuitive director. While most directors use structure, plot and dialogue as their storytelling building blocks, Coppola seems to work through her material by feel. Both of her movies, her 2000 adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides' "The Virgin Suicides" and now "Lost in Translation," zero in on emotions and moods, making them uncannily vivid. She was able to capture the tricky tragedy-turned-misty-memory... (read more)

      • Finding Nemo poster image

        Finding Nemo

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        It's the details that stand out whenever a classic film is converted to 3-D. With "Finding Nemo 3D," the shimmering sea surface, scratches on the lens of a diver's goggles, and smudge marks Nemo the clown fish makes when he mashes his face up against the glass wall of the aquarium that imprisons him all pop off the screen in the reissue of Pixar's undisputed masterpiece. The fish seem to float in between the surface of the screen and the deep blue underwater backgrounds of the South... (read more)

      • La Matrice rechargée poster image

        La Matrice rechargée

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        For all of its cosmic ideas and much-imitated special effects and kung fu moves, "The Matrix" (1999) was a relatively contained story about a man who plunges into a new world and discovers his great, innate powers. Neo (Keanu Reeves) was Alice down the rabbit hole, Dorothy out of Kansas, Luke Skywalker finding his destiny, Superman moving faster than a speeding bullet and leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Although Neo has learned to fly like Superman in "The Matrix Relo... (read more)

      • A Mighty Wind poster image

        A Mighty Wind

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        First, a confession: I wasn't crazy about Christopher Guest's "Best in Show" or "Waiting for Guffman." Both had their inspired moments but mostly struck me as condescending gifted comedic actors posing as silly people. On the flip side, I loved Rob Reiner's "This Is Spinal Tap," the first of this string of mostly improvised "mockumentaries" starring Guest, Michael McKean and other actors who would become Guest regulars. These has-been rockers were just... (read more)

      • Final Destination 2 poster image

        Final Destination 2

        Loren King, Chicago Tribune

        This innocuous sequel to the 2000 horror hit "Final Destination" likely ensures a long life for the franchise despite its trashiness. Like the first installment, the sequel also builds an entire movie around the paint-itself-into-a-corner premise that death has a plan that can't be cheated. As one character so cleverly says, "When your number is up, it's up!" But the film's fifth-rate "Twilight Zone" pretensions are just an excuse for well-executed but pointless... (read more)

      • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers poster image

        The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" takes us back to J.R.R. Tolkien's land of myth and fury, and the return quest is even more staggering and marvelous than last year's maiden voyage. Concentrating on the middle book of the Middle Earth saga, Peter Jackson and company once again dazzle and delight us, fulfilling practically every expectation either a longtime Tolkien fan or a movie-going neophyte could want. Here is a movie, like "The Fellowship of the Ring," that's pa... (read more)

      • Treasure Planet poster image

        Treasure Planet

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        When Gene Roddenberry pitched "Star Trek" to the networks, he described it as a 'Wagon Trail' to the stars." It's not so far-fetched, then, for Disney to re-imagine Robert Lewis Stevenson's swashbuckling pirate serial "Treasure Island" as "Treasure Planet," an intergalactic road movie crawling with insectoid aliens and cyborg rogues. Combining cutting-edge computer animation with traditional two-dimensional characters, "Treasure Planet" pops off th... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets poster image

        Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Entering the world of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is like returning to a wondrous summer camp after a year's break. You see old friends, meet some new ones, and you're reminded of the magical appeal of a place far away from home. Only after becoming acclimated do you notice what bugs you. Last year's first entry in the Potter movie series, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," may not have exceeded J.K. Rowling's book, but it gave a good taste of what made... (read more)

      • Standing in the Shadows of Motown poster image

        Standing in the Shadows of Motown

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" is an attempt to set the record straight or, rather, a whole lot of No. 1 records. Singers such as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops and the Temptations had their names on these hits, and Detroit's Motown Records earned much glory and money for releasing them. But the Funk Brothers, the collective name of the musicians who played on almost every Motown recording of the 1960s t... (read more)

      • Spirited Away poster image

        Spirited Away

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        The pictures are worth a thousand words in "Spirited Away," Disney Studios' delightful English-language version of the Japanese feature cartoon that holds that country's all-time box office record. In this case, popularity is not an index of expensive hype. Writer-director Hayao Miyazaki's spellbinding tale of a little girl named Chihiro who's lost in an alternative world of tricky ghosts and bizarre monsters is both universally engaging and deeply personal. It's a movie full of bew... (read more)

      • Scooby-Doo poster image

        Scooby-Doo

        Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

        As smoke rolls out of the sunroof of the Mystery Mobile and the words "primo stuff" are uttered by a major character, finally, we're led to think, someone is coming clean about Scooby-Doo's psychedelic roots. It would explain a lot, from Shaggy's reefer-smoking demeanor to the talking dog. Of course, no explanations are offered, only flirted with, as the next shot reveals an in-van barbecue of vegetarian burgers shared by a boy and his dog. Usually, calling movies "cartoonish&q... (read more)

      • The Royal Tenenbaums poster image

        The Royal Tenenbaums

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Director Wes Anderson and actor Owen Wilson have co-written three films, each more ambitious than the last and all inhabiting a world that spins on a different, more delightfully wobbly axis than our own. The filmmakers' trademark characters have ambitions that may be absurdly overblown yet take their setbacks with great equanimity (at least in the long run). The would-be heroes of "Bottle Rocket" (1996) see themselves as mastermind criminals without ever becoming more than harmless... (read more)

      • Hedwig and the Angry Inch poster image

        Hedwig and the Angry Inch

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Most modern-day drag queens don't rock. They're more likely to be seen grooving to disco or lip-synching to ABBA or just generally camping it up. But the title character of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" isn't your typical drag queen. Having survived a botched sex-change operation (which left the "one-inch mound of flesh" that explains the rest of the title), married and been abandoned by an American G.I., moved from East Berlin to a Kansas trailer park and formed a rock band... (read more)

      • The Fast and the Furious poster image

        The Fast and the Furious

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        Just when you've become resigned to a summer of action films that are big, loud, stupid and boring, along comes an action film that is big, loud, stupid and reasonably entertaining. "The Fast and the Furious" is appealing in the same way someone who looks in the mirror and says, "I'm a lug, and I like myself" might be preferable to someone who looks in the mirror and says, "I'm a lug, and I hate myself." That is, this movie is unapologetic about its nature: It's ... (read more)

      • Moulin Rouge poster image

        Moulin Rouge

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Grandiose and whimsical, packed with oddball delights and bursts of passion, Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" is a rare picture that gets you intoxicated on the possibilities of movies. Luhrmann is a filmmaker of near-demonic energy and invention. He transforms the film's chestnut of a story a sensitive and penniless writer (Ewan McGregor) battles for the body and soul of a dazzling courtesan-entertainer (Nicole Kidman) into something mad and wonderful. "Moulin Rouge" is a ... (read more)

      • Shrek poster image

        Shrek

        Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

        With "Shrek," DreamWorks stakes its claim to Disney's cutting-edge animation crown while blowing a raspberry in Mickey Mouse's face. This computer-animated film, which mostly chronicles the title ogre's adventures in rescuing a princess, aims to be not just a kids flick but a sassy mock fairy tale that appeals to all ages and sensibilities. Leaving few of its swamp stones unturned, "Shrek" is alternately sweet and mean, sophisticated and vulgar, witty and base, dazzling an... (read more)

      • Titanic poster image

        Titanic

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The ship so nice they sank it twice, the RMS Titanic has resurfaced from the icy depths of the Atlantic only to be subjected to a second dunking, this time with a 3-D up-charge, under the stewardship of Capt. James Cameron, master and commander. This week, Cameron's 1997 film -- perhaps you've heard of it? -- returns to theaters on both regular and IMAX-sized screens, just in time for this month's 100th anniversary of the doomed vessel's maiden and farewell 1912 voyage. How's the 3-D? It's fi... (read more)

      • Jurassic Park poster image

        Jurassic Park

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        Forget blowing the images up to Imax size and converting the lunging velociraptors and T. rexes into 3-D. The best reason to revive "Jurassic Park" for its 20th anniversary is Jeff Goldblum. Yes, children, there was a time when Goldblum was sci-fi's "ultimate explainer," as producer Dean Devlin labeled him in "Independence Day." Goldblum's bug-eyes said "scientist-smart," and his mannered, considered and hesitating line readings reinforce that. His very... (read more)

      • Beauty and the Beast poster image

        Beauty and the Beast

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        That "tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme" returns to the screen, now in 3-D. But "Beauty and the Beast," the greatest animated film ever made and one of the screen's great musicals, hardly needs this sort of sprucing up. A timeless French fairy tale about a cruel young man cursed to live as a beast in his enchanted home if he cannot change and be worthy of another's love, it features sparkling wit, lovely songs, stunning animation, terrific vocal performances by Pai... (read more)

      • The Last Waltz poster image

        The Last Waltz

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Martin Scorsese's 1978 film of The Band's all-star farewell concert, "The Last Waltz," is the greatest rock concert movie ever made and maybe the best rock movie, period. Now being re-released with restored picture and sound, for the original concert's 25th anniversary, "The Last Waltz" is a movie that exactly fits the words of Bob Dylan, who helps close the show with "Forever Young." This movie and the event it records with such rapture and passion is forever... (read more)

      • Godzilla poster image

        Godzilla

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        What would the 1954 Japanese monster classic "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" be without Raymond Burr? As it turns out, it would be a much better movie, something you can confirm for yourself at the Music Box by catching the original version of "Godzilla," director Ishiro (or Inishiro) Honda's epochal tale of a post-nuclear sea monster's assault on Tokyo. Godzilla, of course, is the oft-copied, never-duplicated, gigantic scaly monster who, mutated into super-monstrosity by... (read more)

      • Ponyo poster image

        Ponyo

        Kenneth Turan, Chicago Tribune

        You'll be planning to see "Ponyo" twice before you've finished seeing it once. Five minutes into this magical film you'll be making lists of the individuals of every age you can expose to the very special mixture of fantasy and folklore, adventure and affection, that make up the enchanted vision of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. The great genius of contemporary animation, the only foreign director to win the Oscar for best animated feature (for "Spirited Away," which al... (read more)

      • Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure poster image

        Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        National Geographic's "Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure" dives into the toothy Cretaceous era's undersea world where the Great Plains were part of the seabed in an inland sea, a North American Mediterranean, 80 million years ago. The stories, narrated by Liev Schreiber, are based on fossil records. For example, the star of the film is a female dolichorhynchops or "doli" (pronounced "dolly"), a dolphin-sized marine reptile that fed mainly on fish and squid... (read more)

      (183 reviews)

      « Prev 1 2 Next »

      Quick movie browse

      or

        Worldwide movie theaters

        (enter zip)
        B&B Twin Drive-In Theatre
        1320 N. State Highway 291
        816-256-4118
        Marcus South Shore Cinema
        7261 S. 13th St.
        414-672-5175
        Drexel Theatre
        2254 E. Main St.
        614-231-9512
        Liberty Hall Cinema
        644 Massachussets Street
        785-749-1912
        Marcus Ridge Cinema
        5200 S. Moorland Rd.
        262-797-0889