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Bryan has written 31 reviews for films rated ★★ during 2015.

  • WR: Mysteries of the Organism

    WR: Mysteries of the Organism

    ★★

    A weird collage of sexual liberation, communist propaganda, and psychological theory. Parts of it are fun, but it sure didn't make much sense.

  • Gettysburg

    Gettysburg

    ★★

    Four hours of pompous speeches, endless marching, bloodless battles, and outrageous facial hair. Jeff Daniels is the only one that doesn't act like a revered historical figure, and he makes the first half of the movie tolerable. After that, you really have to want to know what happened at the battle of Gettysburg to enjoy this.

  • Cold Souls

    Cold Souls

    ★★

    A high-concept indie comedy about people having their souls removed or getting a new soul from a donor that's begging for a glossed-up Hollywood version. Unfortunately the movie fails to demonstrate how having different souls makes you a different person. It's a clever idea in the vein of Charlie Kaufmann without his sharp wit and humanity, and only made watchable by Paul Giamatti's typically angsty performance. Written by director Sophie Barthes.

  • Night and Day

    Night and Day

    ★★

    A dull look at the dull but elegant life of Cole Porter that's only watchable because of its lush Technicolor and song highlights from a dozen forgotten musicals. All Cary Grant is asked to do is dress nice and look handsome - easy for him - although he does sing a number or two (is he dubbed?). The only nod to Porter's homosexuality is that he puts his career before women, including two prolonged periods away from his wife. A…

  • The Return of Doctor X

    The Return of Doctor X

    ★★

    This has nothing to do with the original Doctor X other than the plot device of a reporter instigating mysterious murders. It's naturally more polished than the 1932 film, but isn't as entertaining. The only reason to watch it is to see a completely miscast Humphrey Bogart as a mad scientist with glasses and a white streak in his hair. Apparently he hated the role, but he hams it up good.

  • Scream

    Scream

    ★★

    A typical horror movie that pretends it isn't a typical horror movie by constantly referencing typical horror movies. The persistent film references get tiring (and only the most mainstream of movies get mentioned, so it's not really the film buff's movie it pretends to be) but as a horror movie it's not incredibly stupid and is generally well done, if very bland. Nothing in the movie really tops the opening though, which gives you a false hope that this film will offer a new twist to a very tired story structure. No, the movie loves the slasher genre too much.

  • The Black Rose

    The Black Rose

    ★★

    Exotic locations, lavish costumes, and solid performances go a long way to helping this mini-epic, but the story is dull, and child-like French actress Cecile Aubry is horrible as the romantic interest (which would seem pedophilic if Tyrone Powers actually showed any interest in her). Orson Welles plays a Mongol and looks the part even if his American dialect betrays everything.

  • The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans

    The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans

    ★★

    Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) **
    This is a very bad movie with a few very hilarious moments, and if Herzog had taken a U-turn into zany world it might have been worth watching, but as it is it's just a bad movie with Val Kilmer wandering in the background and I can't recommend it.

  • Giant

    Giant

    ★★

    Giant's an awful movie about how Texas went from cattle country to oil country in the first half of the 20th century. Awful because Rock Hudson is horribly miscast as a John Wayne-styled, Texas-loving, my-ranch-is-my-kingdom, oversized he-man (he's tall, but that's about it). Awful because director George Stevens has no sense of epic scale and gives us a three hour domestic drama that still skims over basic exposition (granted, he handles the drama well). Awful because the blu-ray restoration is…

  • Fire and Ice

    Fire and Ice

    ★★

    A movie that should be awesome but isn't. A collaboration from the great animator Ralph Bakshi and great illustrator Frank Frazetta, this is a silly but typical sword and sorcery tale that only marginally looks like a Frazetta drawing. If it had captured the look of his artwork it might have been incredible (despite the goofy story) but it just looks like some Frazetta-inspired sketches against colorful, painterly backgrounds. The rotoscoped action conveys natural movement but it's terrible at getting…

  • John Wick

    John Wick

    ★★

    A ridiculously simple revenge tale that kicks off with a double slam of tired cliches to win our hero's sympathy, but it all works because the film is stylish and well done (it really wants to be a black and white movie). Unfortunately the filmmakers think that winning the hero's sympathy at the beginning is all they need to do, but by the midpoint it's clear he's nothing but a heartless killing machine facing an army of colorless henchmen, and…

  • The American

    The American

    ★★

    My general disinterest in this film stems largely from the fact that I'm bored to death of the steely assassin/hitman movies, and this was every cliche from beginning to end. Clooney was doing everything he could to not be likable - but he's one of the most likable actors in business. It's his most positive trait. Didn't work at all. At least "Yellow Sea" made it's hitman human and relatable and kind of scummy. The movie's so spare that every…