RSS feed for Bryan

Bryan has written 90 reviews for films during 2018.

  • 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



    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


    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.

  • The Great Ziegfeld

    The Great Ziegfeld


    Here's a showbiz bio done right. At three hours long, it definitely takes its time to establish the characters and build up the drama. There's barely any musical numbers in the first half, but when they come, wow! The showstopper before the intermission is amazing. This is the stuff MGM built its reputation on. William Powell is terrific as the famed girl-chasing producer, and character actor Frank Morgan has a big role as his blustery rival. Don't expect much from second-billed Claudette Colbert, though. She doesn't even appear until over two hours in.

  • Cavalcade



    The best picture winner of 1933 is Noel Coward's flag waving history of England from the Boer War to WWI as experienced by a single family. It's a concept which Noel Coward repeated ten years later in much more nuanced This Happy Breed, where two world wars serve as more fitting bookends.

  • The Broadway Melody

    The Broadway Melody


    Once cinemas were wired for sound, musicals reigned. There were dozens of musicals released in 1929 alone, and I suspect most of them were just like this - the story of a dame moving to New York to make it big on Broadway. I don't know why this got best picture because it's not especially remarkable (the formula would be repeated for decades), but it does have a carefree, youthful sexual energy to it. There are two "sisters" who are…

  • My Man Godfrey

    My Man Godfrey


    A screwball comedy with incisive social commentary that doesn't overpower the zany humor. That's a feat by itself (although Sullivan's Travels does it better). William Powell steps into the role of butler so easily that it often feels like just the setup for a TV sitcom, and it's yet another film about class divide that gives the rich more substance than the poor, but that's asking a lot for a big studio picture that's just aiming to entertain, and it's terrific ensemble of talent does just that, and the film still has some bite.

  • Destination: Planet Negro!

    Destination: Planet Negro!


    A great idea for a movie but I'm not sure Kevin Willmott knows what he wants to say with it. The early black and white scenes look fantastic for this no budget film (he said it cost $7,000) and the humor is spot on. Once we reach modern day, however, it suddenly looks like its budget and the jokes become hit and miss. Even overlooking the fact that the film was obviously pieced together, the social commentary isn't as sharp…

  • The Westerner

    The Westerner


    A film where the sidekick is the star, and Walter Brennan gives one of his greatest performances. This film is all about his bromance with Gary Cooper, and William Wyler often lets the camera linger on their faces to give the acting its full due. A terrific film that transcends the Western genre to become an actor's showcase with a witty script and a touching ending.

  • Planet Earth II

    Planet Earth II


    I don't think there are any action scenes in any recent film that are as harrowing and edge-of-your-seat thrilling as the life and death struggle of the Galapagos iguanas in the first episode of this series. Planet Earth II continues the glorious tradition of demonstration quality nature photography and the fascinating and surprising look at animal survival that began in Planet Earth, although ten years later it doesn't seem quite as remarkable. 90-year-old David Attenborough has more authority in his narration than even Morgan Freeman can muster.

  • Doomsday Book

    Doomsday Book


    This fun trilogy of Korean sci-fi tales offers a zombie story, a robot story, and an end of the world story. It's an entertaining mix of humor, horror, and contemplation, although the third short didn't really work for me, and the first two could have easily been whole films by themselves.