Michael Phillips


Michael Phillips
Tomatometer-approved critic

movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year Review
2/4 68% Isn't It Romantic (2019) Why isn't it better? - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 12, 2019
3.5/4 88% The Image Book (Le livre d'image) (2019) "The Image Book" lives and breathes cinema; the cutting and sound games (up and down and all around) remain arresting and instinctive and inspired. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
3/4 45% What Men Want (2019) Henson's shameless in the mugging department, and Shankman's tendency to cut away to another pop-eyed reaction shot puts the "obvious" in "obvious." Yet who can deny it? Henson's skillful enough to pull it off. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
3/4 85% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) I loved "The Lego Movie," and I liked "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part." That about covers it. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2019
3.5/4 100% War Don Don (2010) Cohen's unusually lucid documentary plays against type: It dares to see the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel leader Issa Sesay as something like human, rather than an embodiment of pure evil. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2019
1.5/4 74% Cold Pursuit (2019) The movie delivers, in its chosen way. But it's a soulless way. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 28, 2019
3.5/4 93% Stan & Ollie (2019) It's a modest film, but a very good one, and by the end I was quite moved by its valiant belief in decency and in the duo's eternal appeal. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 26, 2019
1.5/4 21% Serenity (2019) Long before the midpoint, "Serenity" suggests rather too strongly that all is either "Lost" (as in the TV show) or simply lost (as in missing in action and lacking in persuasion). - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 24, 2019
3.5/4 93% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) It's as verbally spare as it is visually spellbinding. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 18, 2019
3.5/4 92% Life and Nothing More (La Vida y Nada Más) (2018) Because Esparza's a dramatist, not a melodramatist, the experience of watching "Life and Nothing More" becomes truth, and nothing less. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 18, 2019
2/4 37% Glass (2019) "Glass" ranks as one of the more laborious trilogy cappers in recent years, forcibly entwining two narratives that don't really feel like natural fits with each other. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 17, 2019
3.5/4 94% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) That's pure cinema. What Baldwin does with words, Mr. Jenkins does visually. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
1/4 59% The House That Jack Built (2018) It may be the dullest film about serial killing in the history of dull movies about serial killers. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
2/4 73% El Angel (El ángel) (2018) Too little of "El Angel" escapes a second-hand, been-there, killed-that feeling. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
3/4 99% Eighth Grade (2018) Burnham puts you through the wringer and ensures your empathetic excruciation in scene after scene. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
1.5/4 32% Welcome to Marwen (2018) The real-life scenes don't feel like Hogancamp's real life; they feel like a Hollywood falsification of it, despite Carell's and Mann's valiant efforts. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2018
4/4 96% Roma (2018) Alfonso Cuaron's new film, "Roma," gives you so much to see in each new vignette, in every individual composition, in fact, that a second viewing becomes a pleasurable necessity rather than a filmgoing luxury. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
1.5/4 70% The Mule (2018) The storytelling - and Eastwood's own mulish, nostalgic longing for an America of, by and for guys who look like Clint Eastwood - turns terrific raw material into what feels like one fib, duck and dodge after another. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
3/4 59% Vox Lux (2018) Corbet has no time for conventional psychology and nuance. He's a sensationalist, primarily. But he knows how to move a camera, and while it may be thin, his movie is never less than engrossing in its strangeness. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
3.5/4 80% Ben is Back (2018) Nobody in American movies today can get at the beating heart of a conflicted, hurting post-adolescent the way Lucas Hedges can. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
1.5/4 65% Aquaman (2018) Watching this movie is like spending two hours and 27 minutes staring at a gigantic aquarium full of digital sea creatures and actors on wires, pretending to swim. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2018
3.5/4 96% Becoming Astrid (Unga Astrid) (2018) Throughout "Becoming Astrid," August acquits herself brilliantly; the woman we come to know is a tangle of impulses and qualities, and feels vibrantly alive. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
2/4 44% Species (1995) It's a sex horror-fantasy without laughs or life, a nightmare without sense, a casual pickup that should have been left at the disco. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2018
3.5/4 94% Burning (Beoning) (2018) A languorous, catlike psychological puzzle from one of the essential international masters, Lee Chang-dong... - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 29, 2018
3.5/4 No Score Yet The War At Home (2018) It's the sound and image of democracy in high gear, and at times like our own, the documentary serves as a reminder that pushing back, and speaking out, isn't a luxury; it's a necessity. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 29, 2018
4/4 94% The Favourite (2018) I don't know if Lanthimos is saying anything especially novel about the machinations of those in power, but he's such an inventive visual thinker, he gives "The Favourite" a bracing momentum. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 28, 2018
3/4 89% Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) "Ralph Breaks the Internet" concerns a long-established friendship on the verge of inevitable, painful change, and Reilly and Silverman work every part of that dynamic successfully. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2018
3.5/4 81% At Eternity's Gate (2018) It sees van Gogh the way he might've seen the world around him, threatening and supple. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2018
2.5/4 84% Creed II (2018) Dolph Lundgren in close-up, in various moods of granite determination and unexpected emotional thawing, qualifies as this sequel's most legit surprise. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2018
3.5/4 90% Museum (Museo) (2018) "Museo" is the work of a genuinely creative directorial talent, and the early family scenes, richly detailed and shrewdly acted, provide just the right emotional context for this squabbling, indecisive gang of two. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
69% Bleed For This (2016) No flatfoot, no knockout, writer-director Ben Younger's "Bleed for This" wins on points. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
4/4 91% Widows (2018) For all its cynicism, the movie floats on a darkly exhilarating brand of escapism. It's one of the year's highlights in any genre. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
2/4 91% The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) Every tale in "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" runs out of steam before it runs out of story. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
2/4 37% Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) It took J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter-adjacent franchise exactly one film for the shrugs to set in, even with all those fine actors up there amid expensive digital blue flames. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2018
3/4 89% A Private War (2018) Pike's unblinking, emphatic quality has its limitations, but by the film's midpoint she rolls with every scene. Fierce and alert, she holds the screen. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 6, 2018
2/4 40% The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018) Alvarez handles the action breathlessly and well enough. The movie's acted with serious conviction. But I kind of hate it. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 6, 2018
2/4 26% Nobody's Fool (2018) Too much of "Nobody's Fool" makes do with well-worn exchanges and contrived, overheard conversations. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 3, 2018
3/4 83% The Other Side of the Wind (2018) The nervous rhythm established by editor Bob Murawski, following the lead of the footage Welles himself assembled, keeps the film in constant state of agitation. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2018
2/4 37% Hunter Killer (2018) It's less a submarine picture and more a noisy, oddly structured mashup of Russian military coup, Navy SEALs rescue operation and Gerard Butler's ability to clench his jaw three clicks past the setting "fully clenched." - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
3/4 88% What They Had (2018) It's an actors' feast, and a genuine calling card for Chomko, primarily an actress (a strong one) before "What They Had," but now very much a writer-director coming into her own. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 23, 2018
3.5/4 98% Free Solo (2018) The tensions inherent in Honnold's singular life are many. "Free Solo" gives you just enough of that life on terra firma to make the heights truly dazzling. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 18, 2018
2.5/4 79% Halloween (2018) It's a fairly engrossing bit of fan service, boasting many clever touches and a few disappointing ones. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 17, 2018
2.5/4 69% Beautiful Boy (2018) Chalamet's terrific throughout, accessing and deploying every kind of emotion in unpredictable combinations. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2018
87% Colette (2018) There's more going on in Colette than tame hagiography; the results are happily vibrant, even if the sexual inequities depicted remain grimly pertinent. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 12, 2018
3.5/4 97% The Hate U Give (2018) The movie is both honest and humane, as well as hopeful. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 12, 2018
2.5/4 75% Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) The movie is 100 percent plot, 60 percent of which serves itself nicely. The rest tends to self-compete. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2018
3/4 88% First Man (2018) I'm glad Chazelle's film offers some fresh points of view on its subject; it's proof he'll be able to keep his filmmaking wits about him, no matter what genre he's exploring. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2018
3/4 92% The Old Man & the Gun (2018) The movie may not be a big deal, but it's a shrewd small one... - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 3, 2018
3.5/4 95% Blaze (2018) Hawke's fascinated by the tug of war between artistic freedom and domestic responsibility, and he's found clever ways to deal with that theme while zigzagging through Foley's life of music, alcohol, cocaine and women. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 27, 2018
2/4 28% Night School (2018) The actors aren't the problem with "Night School"; the material is. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 27, 2018