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Bryan has written 144 reviews for films during 2018.

  • Anthropoid

    Anthropoid

    ★★

    The handheld camera has become a plague on modern cinema. There might be an interesting movie here if the camera would hold still long enough to see what's going on. An entire movie filmed in handheld closeups becomes unbearably monotonous and draining. I can't care about the characters. I have trouble following the story. Everyone's acting is rendered the same. Nothing is special or meaningful. Time and place is irrelevant. There is no composition, no mise-en-scène, nothing to look at.…

  • Silver River

    Silver River

    ★★★★

    Here's the dark side of Errol Flynn - a suave, self-centered gambler who uses his uncaring charms to get everything what he wants and builds a silver mine empire that becomes the backbone of the American economy. Yeah, this "western" packs in a massive tale of greed and empire with a surprisingly unlikable main character, and it feels like it's based on real events. Errol Flynn gives a subtle performance that never begs for sympathy but never seems completely evil…

  • Odd Man Out

    Odd Man Out

    ★★★★

    A celebrated film with an unusual "all in one night" structure that puts the protagonist in a passive role and hands the story over to all the character actors he encounters along the way, most notably F. J. McCormick as an impoverished opportunist. It's a fine example of noir with its claustrophobic streets, expressionistic touches, and pervasive use of a central clock tower to remind you of ultimate fate. And with the Irish troubles as a backdrop, it's the first…

  • Tampopo

    Tampopo

    ★★★★

    The ultimate foodie movie! A woman undergoes martial arts style training to make her ramen shop the best ramen shop in Tokyo, with plenty of diverting subplots (side dishes?) all related to food. It's charming and funny and absurd and heartwarming and will make you very hungry.

  • Forbidden Planet

    Forbidden Planet

    ★★★★

    If you watch a 1950s sci-fi movie you expect to laugh at the bad special effects and their silly take on technology of the future, but what sticks out most in Forbidden Planet is the sexist attitudes and dated social norms. They did a great job of imagining future space travel, but never considered that culture might change along with it. As sci-fi stories go, this is basically a pilot episode for Star Trek, which makes it all very familiar.…

  • Wild

    Wild

    ★★★★

    The female version of Into the Wild, although the movies are very different despite their similarities. Both are true stories about people seeking solace in the wilderness, and neither one are prepared for what they're getting into, but in Wild she's a bad person running away from her problems, while in Into the Wild he was a bad person seeking a rustic ideal. Into the Wild was a special film because of the people he touched along the way, esp.…

  • Dredd

    Dredd

    ★★★★

    This is the movie The Raid should have been. Dredd isn't a robot, but he acts like one, and that's okay because he's not meant to be a character. There's a reason we never see more than his mouth. He's judge, jury, and executioner, a rule book hiding under a helmet that makes him indistinguishable from the many other judges that futilely fights crime in this ridiculously dystopian future. After a few silly video game cut-scenes to setup the world,…

  • Prick Up Your Ears

    Prick Up Your Ears

    ★★★★

    This biography of playwright Joe Orton and his homosexual life in 1960s England is really just an acting showcase for young Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina. The odd structure comes from being based on his diary, and I'm not sure the Wallace Shawn subplot really adds anything to the story except to allow for a non-linear telling, but it doesn't really hurt.

  • Le Grand Amour

    Le Grand Amour

    ★★★★

    A genteel comedy about a married man who fantasizes about having an affair with his young secretary. It's French, of course. There's a lot of wit and toying with film conventions, esp. a memorable extended dream sequence involving beds, but after Mel Brooks and Woody Allen and Zucker-Abrahams, the jokes just don't come fast and furious enough to impress a jaded audience. I'll give it points for paving the way though, and for its creative use of sound.

  • Command Decision

    Command Decision

    ★★★

    Clark Gable wants to bomb a German factory producing jet fighters that can run circles around any airplane that exists, but the high death toll has those in Washington worried. This is basically a filmed stageplay. It has some nice drama but struggles with staginess, and the subject matter was handled much better a year later in Twelve O'Clock High. Good performances from Clark Gable and Walter Pidgeon though.

  • The Freshman

    The Freshman

    ★★★★

    This is a cute, easy-going comedy that offers Brando a chance to just enjoy himself on camera and be funny. Broderick is the perfect film-school foil for Brando's crime scheme, and Penelope Ann Miller will charm your pants off. It gets a little too silly in a sequence at a shopping mall, but otherwise holds up beautifully.

  • My Night at Maud's

    My Night at Maud's

    ★★★★

    It's been a long time since I've seen an Eric Rohmer film. They're all the same: beautiful French people in love, which for Rohmer means talking about love for two hours. Generally they do it in sunny, colorful locations with very little clothing on, but this one takes place in a city in the middle of winter and is in black and white. This makes it slightly less charming, even though it's one of his most popular films. The dialogue…