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Bryan has written 265 reviews for films rated ★★ .

  • Fast Company

    Fast Company

    ★★

    Between Shivers and Rabid Cronenberg made this generic drag race movie that might be the least interesting (and least seen) film in his filmography. It's not a terrible film, but it will only appeal to racing fans (which apparently includes Cronenberg). There's a documentary-like presentation of the racing business, a by-the-numbers sports movie plot, weak performances, and a couple of tasteless exploitation moments. Basically, don't watch this just because you're a Cronenberg fan. It's got nothing for you. Watch Cronenberg's Crash instead.

  • Holiday Inn

    Holiday Inn

    ★★

    I get that with old Hollywood musicals suspending your disbelief is essential, but the film could at least try to meet me halfway. The premise is insane. Bing Crobsy wants to retire by turning his old farm into a dinner theatre that's only open on holidays, and by that he intends to only work 15 days a year. Literally! Elaborate, expensive sets, meals for hundreds, and entire shows seem to be written on the day. Performers arrive with no rehearsal…

  • Capricorn One

    Capricorn One

    ★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Another connection between Kubrick and Hyams is the idea that Kubrick helped NASA fake the moon landing, and Hyams made a movie that explores just that (except it's a manned mission to Mars). Capricorn One is a great idea for a movie, but the execution is a mess. It's okay when it's a conspiracy thriller, but it also wants to be a survival film and a comic adventure too, and it strays so far from conspiracy that it just falls…

  • Men Are Not Gods

    Men Are Not Gods

    ★★

    Miriam Hopkins falls in love with an actor playing Othello, and Desdemona is the actor's wife. Implausible, weak, and misogynistic love triangle story that was done better with Ronald Coleman in A Double Life. Hopkins is out of place in a British film and tries too hard to make everything funny. Rex Harrison is also there being loud and obnoxious. The only good part is the opening scene with the theatre critic.

  • London After Midnight

    London After Midnight

    ★★

    Todd Browning's London After Midnight is one of the most famous lost films of cinema, but the story has been reconstructed into an hour long film using a pile of still production photos, and it gives a fair idea of what the silent film might have been like. It's basically a variation on Dracula that feels like Browning warming up for his definitive Bela Lugosi version, and it's notable for Lon Chaney's extensive makeup, but the reconstruction is only for the supremely curious.

  • Fiend Without a Face

    Fiend Without a Face

    ★★

    An entertainingly awful sci-fi movie about invisible creatures that feed off nuclear power. It's obviously inspired by Forbidden Planet, and offers wooden acting, a creaky script, cheesy effects, and flying killer brains. The last 15 minutes are pretty much all you need to see.

  • Maria Full of Grace

    Maria Full of Grace

    ★★

    A young Colombian woman becomes a drug mule smuggling cocaine into the U.S. A TV-movie quality production that offers little surprises, but nicely details every step of the story with a strong central performance by Catalina Sandino Moreno.

  • The Doorway to Hell

    The Doorway to Hell

    ★★

    Cagney's the trusty sidekick of Lew Ayers, who's far too clean-cut and friendly to pass as a mafia boss, but he gives it his best shot (apparently there was some debate that casting such a handsome actor would make crime seem too appealing). Ayers takes over the illegal booze racket, rids the city of gang violence, and thinks he can retire, but the mob wants him back before everything falls apart. It's a somewhat naive early gangster film that's severely…

  • Taxi!

    Taxi!

    ★★

    Cagney's a taxi driver in his least appealing role as a brutish, angry hothead and a manipulative womanizer constantly threatening domestic violence - and he's supposed to be a good guy, or perhaps a warning to women about who not to fall in love with. Soft-eyed Loretta Young deserves better, and it's the women that carry the film. Cagney seems to be relying on his wise guy charm rather than his acting talents, although his crying scene is effective. The film's fame largely boils down to being the one where he speaks Yiddish and calls someone a "dirty rat." George Raft dances in a bit part.

  • The Crowd Roars

    The Crowd Roars

    ★★

    Cagney's a race car driver who develops a conscience after his kid brother gets involved in the sport, and it turns him into a real heel. The drama is stiff and unnatural, and there seems to be scenes missing as characters make sudden transitions. It's only 70 min long so maybe? The race car scenes are very well done and look ridiculously dangerous. There's zero safety for the drivers or the spectators, and an inevitable grisly death has pretty dark…

  • Blade Runner 2049

    Blade Runner 2049

    ★★

    Why is Ryan Gosling acting like a robot? Oh, because he is a robot. Well what about everyone else? Oh, some of them are robots too. Well what about the ones that aren't? Well, um.... Oh, thank god, Harrison Ford just arrived and is showing everyone how to act. Just look at the flood of emotions on his face. He's the only real human being in this whole film. Man, I wish he had a bigger role. Why did it…

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    ★★

    Martin McDonagh attempts to channel the Coen Brothers, and while the characters are fleshy and interesting, the story is a disaster. It's an under-developed script with lots of loose ends, pointless diversions, clumsy exposition, awkward humor that undermines the drama, and no real backbone holding everything together. It might work much better if Sam Rockwell was the protagonist and McDormand the villain, but the conflict between her and the cops is baseless anyway, and the movie keeps pointing in directions…