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Bryan has written 501 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • Magic Mike

    Magic Mike

    ★★★

    A movie can go a long way on Channing Tatum's charm, and while this is Citizen Kane compared to Showgirls, but it doesn't really work. The story is split between two protagonists - a dull character that makes all the dumb mistakes, leaving Tatum to be Mr. Perfect. It starts off like it's going to be about their relationship - a master/student type of story - but that becomes completely unimportant as things develop and Tatum's story takes the focus.…

  • Capitalism: A Love Story

    Capitalism: A Love Story

    ★★★

    I lost interest in Michael Moore after Sicko but thought I'd go back to see what he had to say in the last decade. With each movie, Moore broadens his scope, but the bigger he gets, the less effective he is. He's gone from trying to meet the CEO of a company in his hometown to tackling an entire economic system that luckily just happens to have fallen into recession thanks to the housing crisis. His ammo against capitalism is…

  • The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

    The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

    ★★★

    It starts off as a terrific western comedy, with Paul Newman picking up where Walter Brennan left off in The Westerner and delivering an awesome portrayal of the hanging judge of Langtry, Texas. And that would be fine if that's all it was, but writer John Milius wants to turn this into an epic of the west, and the longer the story goes, the less it works, until Roy Bean becomes a legend, and a whole new movie starts up…

  • Conflagration

    Conflagration

    ★★★

    A student with a terrible stutter longs to be a Buddhist monk, and particularly to become the caretaker of a famous temple. It's an excellent character-centered piece, but the film is long and doesn't have much narrative thrust. The most interesting relationship is when he reluctantly befriends a pessimistic character with a deformed leg, but it's more of a subplot to the more philosophical/religious struggle.

  • The Florida Project

    The Florida Project

    ★★★

    A couple of years ago I stayed in hotel just like the one in this film on that same busy road in Orlando, and I can say that this slice of life look at that world is just about perfect. It's too bad it doesn't have a story, because after an hour or so of amusing but random incidents it starts to feel like they just turned the camera on and hoped those little snot kids did something fiendishly adorable…

  • Mifune: The Last Samurai

    Mifune: The Last Samurai

    ★★★

    A routine documentary covering the life and films of Toshiro Mifune that's aimed at a Western audience and seems to only skim the surface. i.e. a nice introduction to the man and his work.

  • The Foreigner

    The Foreigner

    ★★★

    This is a standard IRA action thriller, competently headed by Pierce Brosnan with a fake accent, that's given an added dimension by including Jackie Chan, who almost seems shoehorned into the story. Jackie acts very serious (these sort of films tend to lack humor, and no exception here) and is basically a one man army. There's some good action, some good plot twists, and it's generally smart and entertaining, but nothing great or remarkable. Still, much better than most of the films Jackie has made in the U.S.

  • Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

    ★★★

    Part buddy comedy, part muscle car chase movie, part road trip adventure, part heist film, and all of it a little off kilter. This is Michael Cimino's directorial debut, but it's a long way from Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate. It throws a bunch of oddball characters together - Jeff Bridges as the happy-go-lucky prankster, Clint Eastwood as a blue collar crook, George Kennedy as a bullying thug - with some wild 70s counterculture and it never really gels as…

  • Baby Driver

    Baby Driver

    ★★★

    It's flashy and it's kinda fun but it's so empty-headed, and unlike all of Edgar Wright's other movies, it's not a comedy, which is an issue because it leaves us with a straight heist movie we've seen a hundred times filled with two-dimensional comic book characters that Wright tries to jazz up with unending pop music, stylized dialogue, and over-edited action scenes. None of that matters if I don't like the characters. It offers something to chew on but it runs out of flavor before the movie's over, but I can't hate a movie that resurrects Paul Williams. Maybe it should have been a musical?

  • Hangmen Also Die!

    Hangmen Also Die!

    ★★★

    It's all about the pimple. Fritz Lang may have been Germany's greatest filmmaker in the silent era, but in the few Hollywood films I've seen from him, he tends to tackle political and social issues in the most blunt and heavy handed manner. Hangmen Also Die is a great Nazi resistance thriller about the assassination of Reinhard "The Hangman" Heydrich, but Lang undermines it by being too obvious in the way of bad propaganda. Dramatic situations play out with broad…

  • Black Book

    Black Book

    ★★★

    An entertaining spy thriller about the Dutch resistance, but there's also something cheap and exploitative about the whole thing, as if Verhoeven still hasn't washed off the stink from Showgirls. He was never one for subtlety, and this film goes a little overboard with intrigue, twists, and revenge.

  • 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.