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Bryan has written 242 reviews for films during 2017.

  • The Zero Theorem

    The Zero Theorem

    ★★★

    Brazil-lite that starts out really promising but is limited by its low budget as it eventually becomes confined to a single location. Christoph Waltz gives a terrific performance though, and it's worth checking out just for that. David Thewlis also has a nice (if far too brief) role as his Michael Paliny boss. It's a little better than I thought Gilliam capable of at this point, but still suffers from all the issues his career has had for the last 20 years - unfocused, underfunded genius.

  • The In-Laws

    The In-Laws

    ★★★★

    A proto-buddy action comedy that doesn't quite manage to juggle the serious with the laughs, and the action suffers as a result. It'd be a few more years before Hollywood would figure out this formula. Funny movie though. Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are a great team.

  • The Lobster

    The Lobster

    ★★★★

    A surreal setup and a highly-restrained world make for a deliciously funny off-kilter romance that's beyond description, and the actors pull it off beautifully. Recommended, and it's best to just go in blind.

  • Fade to Black

    Fade to Black

    ★★

    A mildly interesting documentary about euthanasia that plays largely to its Australian audience.

  • Duel

    Duel

    ★★★★

    Spielberg demonstrates that he's a born filmmaker with his first feature - a cheap TV movie that has the ambitions of a great Hitchcock thriller (due in large part to a script by Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson). There are moments of filler and some awkward voice-over, but for the most part it's a taut film that feels very modern. I'm surprised there's no big budget remake.

  • Frieda

    Frieda

    ★★★★

    A British soldier marries a German woman during the war and brings her home to live in his conservative village, causing all sorts of suspicion and forcing people to take sides. A terrific little movie that still comes across as a propaganda film with all the speeches and moral statements; but after years of propaganda films making people hate Germans, perhaps you need some propaganda to reverse the effect.

  • Generation War

    Generation War

    ★★★★

    Appropriately called the German Band of Brothers, this is a five-hour mini-series about disillusionment, moral compromise, and defeat, although it goes fairly easy on our heroes and the whole Holocaust thing. I'm not complaining though because it's so hard to find a good film that presents a German perspective on the war. It strives to emulate the style of Band of Brothers and The Pacific, but it's only half the length and the battle scenes are lacking compared to its…

  • Black Legion

    Black Legion

    ★★★★

    This is great fun! Bogart doesn't like foreigners taking his jobs, so after listening to some right wing radio and encouragement from some asshole coworkers, he decides to join the Black Legion (which is basically the Ku Klux Klan) and it destroys his happy family life. Of particular note is a scene that shows the leaders of the movement are only in it for the money and are profiting off exploiting the fears and anxieties of average Joe's. It's blunt…

  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

    A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

    ★★★★

    The truly bizarre and incredibly stylized world dreamed up by Roy Andersson is a masterpiece of understated comedy and use of the static, pictorial frame. The visual consistency of every scene, whether interior or exterior, is astounding, and offers a proscenium window into another world that's just a little more pallid than our own.

  • The Trip to Spain

    The Trip to Spain

    ★★★★

    Coogan and Brydon go on another international restaurant tour, spend most of the time impersonating the same five actors (there less Pacino this time, thank goodness), and the results are more delightful, easy-going fun. It helps to be familiar with the careers of both men (as you should be) but if you enjoyed their previous trips you'll enjoy this one too.

  • The League of Gentlemen

    The League of Gentlemen

    ★★★★★

    If The Kingsmen were bank robbers you'd get The League of Gentlemen, a smart and very funny heist film with a cast full of terrific British b-actors led by Jack Hawkins. Nothing beats a clever script, and the movie feels like it's right on the cusp of the Mod 60s with its style and cynicism.

  • Meantime

    Meantime

    ★★★

    Mike Leigh's first feature is a bleak, realistic portrait of lower class England under Thatcher that's most notable for starring Tim Roth (terrific!) and Gary Oldman (as a skinhead). The ensemble of performers are excellent, but the almost complete lack of story or plotting makes this 1h42m film feel twice as long, and the repetitive music is downright annoying.