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Bryan has written 50 reviews for films during 2018.

  • If You Could Only Cook

    If You Could Only Cook

    ★★★

    A rich auto executive poses as a butler and husband to Jean Arthur so she can get work. A short but entertaining depression era comedy that complicates the plot nicely but could use more style to make a true screwball classic.

  • Frankenweenie

    Frankenweenie

    ★★★

    All the raw materials for Tim Burton's future films are nicely encapsulated here. Unfortunately this stuff is all too familiar coming this late in his career, so it's mildly interesting rather than compelling - clearly aimed at kids. While his original short may have been foretelling, today's Tim Burton is trapped by his own quirky style.

  • Dive Bomber

    Dive Bomber

    ★★★★

    I assumed this would be a World War II movie but it's not. It was actually released a few months before Pearl Harbor, and is about research to keep pilots from blacking out during steep dives. As a movie about science, it's similar to The Dambusters, but throws in some real conflict and character development. Fred MacMurray and Errol Flynn play polar opposites who begrudgingly come to respect each other. My new crush Alexis Smith pops up just long enough…

  • Daisies

    Daisies

    ★★★

    Two teenage girls revel in hedonistic pleasure and brag about how spoiled they are in pre-Communist Czechoslovakia. It's like The Monkees meets Laverne and Shirley except it's not funny and doesn't have a story. A hodge-podge collage of cinematic playfulness, veiled metaphors, and teen rebellion that doesn't make a lot of sense but is more fun to watch than most east-European cinema.

  • The Best Offer

    The Best Offer

    ★★★★

    English/Italian film about an art dealer's mysterious relationship with a recluse that is finely produced and well acted by Geoffrey Rush.

  • Baby Doll

    Baby Doll

    ★★★★

    Tennessee Williams' first screenplay is a fairly stagebound look at Southern decadence meets Sicilian revenge - and it's a comedy. Terrific if talky performances from Karl Malden, Eli Wallach, and a naughtily innocent Carroll Baker. Condemned when it was released, although the raciest thing about it is the poster.

  • Logan Lucky

    Logan Lucky

    ★★★★

    I don't know if hillbilly Oceans Eleven is any better or worse than Soderbergh's 2001 film. The heists are equally ludicrous, Logan has a better sense of humor and stronger characters, but Oceans is prettier to look at and has more heart. Daniel Craig might tip me in favor of Logan. However, they're pretty much the same movie in different clothes.

  • Layer Cake

    Layer Cake

    ★★★

    Heavy accents, gangster slang, and a ridiculously convoluted plot make watching Layer Cake a chore. Subtitles are a necessity. It tries too hard to be a Guy Ritchie film, and although it's never quite clever, funny, or stylish enough to compare with Snatch, it's still a fairly entertaining British crime movie. The main reason to see it is watch a lithe Daniel Craig step into the role of leading man. It's also ridiculous that the first time we see Tom Hardy he's wearing a mask.

  • Le Silence de la Mer

    Le Silence de la Mer

    ★★★★★

    Jean-Pierre Melville's first film has a beautifully simple premise. A Nazi lieutenant in occupied France is given quarters in the home of a French poet and his niece and he tries to make friends with them, but they refuse to speak to him in protest. That's it in a nutshell. Basic storytelling rules are tossed in favor of adapting itself to the source material, which is a memoir based on a true incident. Howard Vernon as the soldier, who looks…

  • Blow Out

    Blow Out

    ★★★

    A mess of a movie that has some really fun ideas mixed with horrible execution, and it's ruined by an awful climax. Travolta is surprisingly solid, but Nancy Allen's blonde bimbo is painfully forced, and John Lithgow doesn't get enough screen time. This might be might be DePalma's least successful attempt at Hitchcock, although the sequence of Travolta recording sounds in the park is visually delightful. What's surprising is how naive everyone is from today's perspective. It should be all about paranoia, as it was in the far superior The Conversation.

  • Casino

    Casino

    ★★★★★

    I haven't seen this since it came out, and although it doesn't break any new ground for Scorsese, it's sure-handed, masterfully stylized, and painfully funny, with a glossy Hollywood veneer he only toyed with before this. It's also a bold approach to storytelling with dueling narrators and a plotless narrative, yet the three hours just flies by. Goodfellas gets enormous praise but Casino is just as good.

  • Crash

    Crash

    This might be one of the worst movies to ever win best picture. It's basically a bunch of loosely strung together short films that are barely above student quality. It's all heavy-handed and obvious racial moralizing, and seems to abandon half of its too many characters.