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Bryan has written 254 reviews for films rated ★★ .

  • 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…

  • Operation: Daybreak

    Operation: Daybreak

    ★★

    An historically based account of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich that might tell the true story but doesn't offer much in the way of drama or character. It's one of those mild-mannered, tasteful, serious British films that has a bland TV movie feel - nothing to complain about, and nothing to get excited about. A couple of things kept my attention: The script was written by playwright Ron Hardwood, who also wrote The Dresser, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly…

  • 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.…

  • Troll 2

    Troll 2

    ★★

    A worthy challenger to worst film ever made, and unlike most bad movies that are filled with lulls and tedium, Troll 2 keeps the horrible schlock rolling along from beginning to end. There is appalling acting, terrible special effects, an nonsensical story, and a hefty helping of 80s cheese. It does not fail to entertain, and there are actually no trolls in the movie.

  • President McKinley Taking the Oath

    President McKinley Taking the Oath

    ★★

    McKinley was the first president to be captured on film. Edison made a handful of shorts showing McKinley's inauguration and taking the oath, and following his assassination - his coffin arriving on a train in Canton, Ohio and his funeral parade. However, there's not much here outside of historical interest. More notable is that Edison also recreated the execution of McKinley's assassin using Edison's electric chair.

  • President McKinley and Escort Going to the Capitol

    President McKinley and Escort Going to the Capitol

    ★★

    McKinley was the first president to be captured on film. Edison made a handful of shorts showing McKinley's inauguration and taking the oath, and following his assassination - his coffin arriving on a train in Canton, Ohio and his funeral parade. However, there's not much here outside of historical interest. More notable is that Edison also recreated the execution of McKinley's assassin using Edison's electric chair.

  • Freakonomics

    Freakonomics

    ★★

    A surprisingly lightweight documentary that offers little in the way of factual information and tries really hard to be entertaining. It seem more excited to tout its many celebrity directors (in the documentary world, anyway) than it is in explaining anything about economics. There's only one segment here I can recommend watching, and only if you're interested in learning about corruption in sumo wrestling. Otherwise, avoid.

  • Operation Popcorn

    Operation Popcorn

    ★★

    Documentary about a botched arms deal in California that delves into the plight of the Hmong people in Laos. There's an interesting story here, but it lacks focus and feels incomplete and anti-climactic.

  • The Cars That Ate Paris

    The Cars That Ate Paris

    ★★

    I really don't know what was going on in this film. There's youth run amok, a closed community hiding dirty secrets, a doctor doing some kind of awful medical experiments, and a protagonist that seems slow in the head (I guess he's supposed to be one of the youth, but he looks to be in his late 30s (oh, but he was only 25! and later played Napoleon in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure)). It never makes much sense, but…

  • Whisky Galore

    Whisky Galore

    ★★

    Using almost exactly the same script as the delightful 1949 Ealing Studio original, this remake is slow, dull, and lifeless in comparison, despite everyone's best efforts. It just feels off and struggles for laughs.

  • The Adventures of Dollie

    The Adventures of Dollie

    ★★

    D.W. Griffith's first film is about a happy family whose daughter is kidnapped by a gypsy. There's a nice pastoral quality about it, but the pacing is abysmal and the story is too simple, esp when compared to the earlier Trip to the Moon or the Great Train Robbery. This is not a sign of greatness to come, and offers little more than historical interest.

  • Stereo

    Stereo

    ★★

    Cronenberg's first film is an hour long "silent" movie about a group of test subjects given pills to make them telepathic, and is considered a prelude to Scanners. It's arty in a sixties counterculture way (instead of psychedelia, it's futuristic brutalism) in that there's no sound except for the voiced-over clinical observations of the scientists, and seems like a high quality student film (along the lines of THX-1138). Restored by Criterion, it looks fantastic, but it's only interesting as an artifact.