RSS feed for Bryan

Bryan has written 157 reviews for films during 2018.

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    ★★★

    Despite the Nazi allusions, the Empire has pretty much represented the Republican party ever since Dick Cheney, and this new rebellion with it's multi-cultural cast is clearly the Democrats. This is why the most interesting moment in the story is the thought that Ren and Rey will put aside the old struggle and join together to start something fresh and new, which is needed more than ever right now, both in Star Wars and the real world. It's an idea…

  • The Shape of Water

    The Shape of Water

    ★★★★

    It's a good if predictable romantic fantasy in the Tim Burton mold, nice to look at, and easily the most relatable film I've seen from Guillermo del Toro. I can't say it worked for me emotionally though. I can't feel for Gill Man the way I felt for Edward Scissorhands, but then I can't feel for my goldfish the way I feel for my cat (talk about scissor hands). Maybe some people out there have a fish fetish, but Gill…

  • Phantom Thread

    Phantom Thread

    ★★★★

    It's a smart movie. It's an intriguing movie. It's an impeccably well made movie. The acting is rich and flavorful. It evokes 1950s glamour beautifully. It's got a great soundtrack. It's nice seeing Paul Thomas Anderson narrow his focus down to three characters. Everything about this is great, but I can't help feeling it's not a very deep movie (unlike "The Master", which probably isn't as deep as it seems). It may take a second watch to determine how much I really get out of these characters and their relationship, but I liked it.

  • Darkest Hour

    Darkest Hour

    ★★★

    It's true that this needs to be intercut with Nolan's Dunkirk, and it would improve both films. Darkest Hour would also work better if it weren't so overblown and over-dramatic, since it undermines all the good political intrigue going on. I could tolerate all of it though until horrible underground scene. Even though Churchill apparently did sometimes go out in public like that, the whole scene is just so forced and bad it really undermines the film. The only reason to see this is Gary Oldman's chewy performance and to get a better perspective on history than Nolan offers.

  • Call Me by Your Name

    Call Me by Your Name

    ★★★★

    A lovely gay coming-of-age fantasy with perfect young men who live idyllic lives in beautifully rustic Northern Italy and are cultured far beyond their years (and yet are still hip enough to be fans of the Psychedelic Furs). I was far less interested in their slowly percolating romance than I was in their languid existence. Kick back and relax: This is a poor man's substitute for a trip to Italy, and Armie Hammer is an ideal specimen of a man. Who wants a story when you're on vacation?

  • Lady Bird

    Lady Bird

    ★★★★

    It seems heavily biographical and authentic in relating Gerwig's experience growing up, although I kept wishing it was funnier. Despite heaps of praise it's received, it's not significantly better than any of the other of coming-of-age films. Perhaps I expected more? The most appealing thing about it is Saoirse Ronan's performance, who at the moment stands poised to become one of the great actresses of film history. Time will tell.

  • The Way Back

    The Way Back

    ★★★★

    A group of political prisoners escape from a Siberian gulag and make their way on foot in a grueling journey across Asia. It's a good, brutal survival film but despite spending two hours focused on a group of people, they sure don't have much personality. Only the two movie stars - Ed Harris and Colin Farrell - do anything interesting with their characters. Is that because I recognize them or because they're better written? Saoirse Ronan shows up as a…

  • Woman of Straw

    Woman of Straw

    ★★★

    Ralph Richardson plays a despicable human being who gets away with it because he's filthy rich, while his nephew Sean Connery grooms nurse Gina Lollobrigida to be Richardson's wife so he can get the inheritance. A low-key thriller that simmers but never really cooks despite Richardson and Lollobrigida overplaying the melodrama. Connery matches the cool mood better in his first post-Bond role, and it's worth watching just for him. The story is so intensely focused on the three characters that it could really use a subplot to complicate things, and it sorely lacks the brisk pacing of all the other Dearden films.

  • All Night Long

    All Night Long

    ★★★★★

    Richard Attenborough is a swank London millionaire who's getting his friends together for an all night jazz party, and those friends happen to include such celebs as Dave Brubeck and Charlie Mingus (playing themselves). The guests show up and start jamming when... Othello happens... and it's awesome, largely because of Patrick McGoohan's terrific Iago (and he can play the drums pretty well too!) The ensemble cast is stellar, the music is simultaneously a soundtrack and a live event (kinda like…

  • Victim

    Victim

    ★★★★★

    Dirk Bogarde risks his political career to find out who is blackmailing homosexuals in London. It's not just the subject matter that makes this film notable, but the way it's so brazenly open about homosexuality and the powerful condemnation of the British legal system while not condemning homosexuality itself. You won't find anything like this in 1960 Hollywood.

  • Sapphire

    Sapphire

    ★★★★

    A murder mystery that exposes the ugly heart of England's racism eight years before the Yanks did it with In the Heat of the Night. Nigel Patrick as Detective Hazard is entertaining enough to carry a whole series of films, and he does it all with knowing glances and a non-committal air. He's above it all. Like In the Heat of the Night, the racism is way overblown, dominating every scene, which actually makes this feel much more dated than Dearden's other films (compare this to the way homosexuality is so deftly handled in Victim).

  • The Smallest Show on Earth

    The Smallest Show on Earth

    ★★★★★

    Ealing Studios' famed run of great comedies may have ended when it was sold in 1955, but the talent behind those films went on, and here's as good and quirky a comedy as anything produced in their heyday. The story is simple. A chipper young couple inherits a movie theatre and makes a go of the business. 35-year-old Peter Sellers convincingly plays an elderly projectionist, and the movie oozes with charm and good humor. Also known as Big Time Operators.