movie critics

Music Box Films

What do America's first celebrity chef, a poetry biopic and a heavyweight boxing drama have in common? Hint: They are your weekend plans, courtesy of Up To Date's independent, foreign and documentary film critics. With an extra day off from work comes more time to lay low and take in a film — or four! It'll be well worth your while.

Steve Walker

A Quiet Passion, PG-13

IFC Films

City planning flare-ups, folk-rock, and a poetry biopic ... if these aren't movie topics appropriate for a public radio audience, nothing is. This weekend's recommendations from Up To Date's independent, foreign and documentary film critics will give you the chance to revel in your nerdy-ness, and learn a little history in the process. We'd be lying if we claimed to be too cool for some popcorn and a well-crafted flick that features zero actual explosions.

Steve Walker

A24 Films

Academy Award nominations for this year were announced on Tuesday, so there's no better time to catch the selected movies you may have missed. This weekend's round of recommendations from Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics include movies nominated for best picture, best actor, best actress and plenty more. The clock is ticking: Cinephiles have just under a month before the Oscars are awarded on Sunday, February 26!

Robert Viglasky/The Weinstein Company

What happens to art during and after wartime? And what happens when that painting that you're trying to reclaim is considered the Mona Lisa of Austria? We invite a curator, a relative of Holocaust survivors and our movie critic to discuss the new film Woman in Gold.


  • Antonia Bostrom, director of curatorial affairs, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Russ Simmons, movie critic
  • Karen Pack, past president, Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City

House of Cards is one of those shows that you can’t watch without discussing. It’s so dark, so addictive and so dramatic. Plus, the worldview it establishes ties into real world issues and dynamics in a way that makes you wonder, what if this is kind of maybe a little bit accurate? We invite a politician, a media critic and a Congressional reporter to give their reviews of House of Cards.


What went through the mind of a Kansas City community organizer as he watched Selma, depicting Martin Luther King Junior's march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965? What did filmmaker Kevin Wilmott, who has juggled the competing demands of historical research and creative vision, think of the storytelling techniques? And what is our local movie critic's takeaway?


courtesy: Walden Media

The new sci-fi thriller The Giver joins a growing parade of dystopian young adult novels that have been adapted to the big screen. Discover why the future looks so bleak, then cheer up with reviews of films to be released in August.

Opened August 1:

  • BOYHOOD (R) - 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • GET ON UP (R) - 3 out of 5 stars
  • GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (PG-13)  - 3 out of 5 stars

​Opened August 8:

With the first days passing 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the heat index, summer is in full swing. And with summer, comes a plethora of fun, escapist flicks. But July has also brought films with depth, humor and insight. On Friday's Central Standardthe movie critics give their take on what's moving movies forward and what can be left to burn up in the sun.

The current Tom Cruise blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow is the latest example of time warp cinema, a story with loops in time and narrative. Other examples include Sliding Doors, Donnie Darko, and, of course, Groundhog Day.

On Friday's Central Standard, Russ Simmons and the film critics return to review flicks currently showing at your local cineplex, and discuss the best time loop films.


On Friday's Central Standard, Friday host Russ Simmons and the film critics examine the diversity of films that have arrived in the cinema this May. Plus they investigate the changing designed and amenities of theaters discussing if having food and alcohol served actually enhance the movie experience.

Opens May 2:

  • The Amazing Spider-man 2 (PG-13) - 2.5 out of 5

Opens May 9:

Movie Critics: Hollywood Embraces Religious Films

Apr 25, 2014
THEGALATF / deviantART/CC Google Images

The movie critics are here to discuss new releases. The critics tell us which movies to see and which ones to skip. Later in the show, host Russ Simmons explores the faith-based film phenomenon. 

Released April 4:

Fox Serchlight

From the over-the-top, young-adult heroics of "Divergent" to the eccentric comedy of "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and the intriguing examination of obsession in the documentary "Tim’s Vermeer" the offerings over the last month at local movie theaters has certainly been diverse. And that horn of plenty continues to overflow as the 18th annual Kansas City FilmFest begins in earnest next week.

Movie Critics: Oscars 2014

Feb 28, 2014
Travis / Wikipedia

Best Picture:

  • "American Hustle"
  • "Captain Phillips"
  • "Dallas Buyers Club"
  • "Gravity"
  • "Her"
  • "Nebraska"
  • "Philomena"
  • "12 Years a Slave"
  • "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Barkhad Abdi, "Captain Phillips"
  • Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"
  • Jonah Hill, "The Wolf of Wall Street"
  • Michael Fassbender, "12 Years a Slave"
  • Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"

Best Supporting Actress:

Edward D. Wood, Jr. / Wikimedia Commons - CC

From The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Eraserhead​, cult films seem to last forever.

But, what exactly is a cult film and what keeps them going? Which ones deserve to live in our memories and up on the big screen?

On Friday's Central Standard, Russ Simmons is joined by fellow movie critics, Thom Poe and Loey Lockerby to discuss what it takes to become a cult film and chat about the local venues that screen them.

Warner Bros. Pictures / IMP Awards

This was another record-breaking year at the box office for the film industry and on Friday's Central Standard, the movie critics gather 'round to share what they felt were the best (and worst) movies of 2013.

The Top Five Films of the Year:  

John Tibbetts:

Wikimedia Commons - CC

The Thanksgiving movie releases have provided us with a cornucopia of cinematic offerings to choose from. Do we have a lot to be thankful for or have we been served up a batch of celluloid turkeys?

On Friday's Central Standard, Russ Simmons and fellow movie critics, Marie Asner and Tom Poe, check out the current crop from Hollywood and abroad and let you know what's worth your time and money.

They'll also take a look at what’s right for the family audience and what fare is for adults only.

Movie Reviews (Out of 5 Stars)

Travis / Wikimedia Commons - CC

The fall movie season is upon us, which means more movies aimed at adult audiences and those held back for awards consideration. That's great news for movie buffs, but is it great news for the theater operators. Will these movies be good enough to draw audiences like the Summer blockbusters?

Significant Productions

For more than a century writers and directors have based films on real life events. From the life of Thomas Edison to the battle of Gettysburg — actual events and real-life stories often make the best films.

Friday on Central Standard movie critics Russ Simmons, Loey Lockerby and John Tibbets share reviews of movies out right now, plus they'll discuss how Hollywood handles real-life events. When is making a film too soon after the event? When has Hollywood gotten it right, and when have they gotten it wrong?

Movie Critics: Special Effects

Jul 19, 2013
Scott Swigart / Flikr - CC

Current movie hits like “Pacific Rim” and “Despicable Me 2” are loaded with computer generated imagery (CGI).

But did you know that Kansas City has become something of a hub for computer animation that finds its way to Hollywood? On today's Central Standard,  host Russ Simmons will talk with fellow film critics Marie Asner and Eric Melin as well as Jim Lammers from Trinity Animation and Bruce Branit from Branit FX about their contributions to some of your favorite movies and TV shows.

REVIEWS (Out of 5 Stars)

For years, it seems like Hollywood has been remaking the same films over and over and over again. Have they run out of original ideas? Or is it the movie theaters and the audiences themselves who keep paying for the same movie every summer?

Our movie critics Russ Simmons, Thom Poe, Loey Lockerby, and special guest Justin Scott, director of marketing for Standees theater, talk about the problem of putting all your eggs in one basket, as well as the new and unique movies that Hollywood is making.

It’s another summer of sequels!

With the release of Iron Man 3, The Hangover Part III, and Fast & Furious 6, it looks like Hollywood is attempting to once again attract people with the familiar and the established.

The movie critics, Russ Simmons, John Tibbetts, and Alan Rapp, discuss their favorite sequels, as well as the movies that never got a sequel, but deserve one (John Carter, anyone?).

Movie Critics Russ Simmons, Marie Asner and Thom Poe gather round during KCUR's spring pledge drive to discuss the best and worst of the recent film releases. 

The “Twilight” series was a big hit both on the bestseller list and on the big screen. Now, Stephanie Myer has another adaptation hitting area theaters, “The Host.” Other versions of famous books, “Oz, the Great and Powerful” and “On the Road” are currently at the movies, too.   On Central Standard Friday, Russ Simmons, Loey Lockerby, and Eric Melin take a look at the newest films and explore the world of book adaptations.

Movie Critics: Fall Flicks

Oct 11, 2012

Join the Movie Critics for a look at new releases in theaters near you, including Looper, ARGO and End of Watch.

This week for Central Standard Friday, we've got host Russ Simmons of KKFI, Fox 4 News, Eric Melin of and and John Tibbetts, Associate Professor of Theater and Film at KU.

Movie Critics: Lawless, Not Flawless

Sep 14, 2012

On this week's Central Standard Friday, join host Russ Simmons and the Movie Critics for a look at what's new in a theater near you, including Lawless, The Bachelorette, Cosmopolis and The Words.

Plus, our critics discuss the re-release of Finding Nemo 3D. Is it worth seeing again?

Movie Critics: Films For 50+

Aug 17, 2012

For this week's Central Standard Friday join host Russ Simmons and the Movie Critics for a look at what's new in a theater near you, including The Bourne Legacy, Hope Springs and The Campaign.

Movie Critics: The Acceptable Spiderman

Jul 20, 2012

For this week's Central Standard Friday, join host Russ Simmons and the Movie Critics for a look at what's new in a theater near you, including The Amazing Spiderman, Moonrise Kingdom, Ice Age: Continental Drift and Ted. Also, in light of the Aurora, Colorado tragedy, our critics will discuss how the news has changed the way they understand The Dark Knight Rises.

Movie Critics: Get Thee To A Chilly Theater

Jun 21, 2012
Rock of Ages

For this week's Central Standard Friday join host Russ Simmons and the Movie Critics for a look at what's new in a theater near you, including Prometheus, Brave, The Intouchables and Rock of Ages.

Movie Critics: Summer Blockbusters

May 24, 2012

For this week's Central Standard Friday join host Russ Simmons and the Movie Critics for a look at what's new in a theater near you, including Dark Shadows, The Dictator and Men in Black 3.

Movie Critics: Avengers, Summer Blockbusters

May 4, 2012

In this hour of Central Standard Friday, join host Russ Simmons and the Movie Critics for a look at what's new in the box office, including Marvel's The Avengers.