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Bryan has written 509 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • I, Daniel Blake

    I, Daniel Blake

    ★★★

    A movie about an old man's frustrations at England's government bureaucracy that really just feels like an old man ranting about government bureaucracy. The human drama is less compelling, esp. when it takes a cliche turn.

  • The Bleeding Edge

    The Bleeding Edge

    ★★★

    It spends a lot of time on personal stories but basically concludes that the process for approving medical devices needs to be reformed but that the FDA has been captured by the medical device industry. Is this a surprise?

  • Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

    Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

    ★★★

    A biopic that's only interesting because of its connection to the Wonder Woman comic book (and I'll never think of Wonder Woman the same way again). It's a period look at what was considered perversion in the 1930s and 40s, but seems very modern in its attitude, theme, and dialogue. The performers are all terrific, esp. Rebecca Hall as Marston's progressive wife, but the whole film is a bit too academic and reserved, and since it spans over a decade, it skips over significant bits of their lives leaving me with questions. The message is loud and clear, but the drama could use more sizzle.

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    ★★★

    Despite the Nazi allusions, the Empire has pretty much represented the Republican party ever since Dick Cheney, and this new rebellion with it's multi-cultural cast is clearly the Democrats. This is why the most interesting moment in the story is the thought that Ren and Rey will put aside the old struggle and join together to start something fresh and new, which is needed more than ever right now, both in Star Wars and the real world. It's an idea…

  • Darkest Hour

    Darkest Hour

    ★★★

    It's true that this needs to be intercut with Nolan's Dunkirk, and it would improve both films. Darkest Hour would also work better if it weren't so overblown and over-dramatic, since it undermines all the good political intrigue going on. I could tolerate all of it though until horrible underground scene. Even though Churchill apparently did sometimes go out in public like that, the whole scene is just so forced and bad it really undermines the film. The only reason to see this is Gary Oldman's chewy performance and to get a better perspective on history than Nolan offers.

  • Woman of Straw

    Woman of Straw

    ★★★

    Ralph Richardson plays a despicable human being who gets away with it because he's filthy rich, while his nephew Sean Connery grooms nurse Gina Lollobrigida to be Richardson's wife so he can get the inheritance. A low-key thriller that simmers but never really cooks despite Richardson and Lollobrigida overplaying the melodrama. Connery matches the cool mood better in his first post-Bond role, and it's worth watching just for him. The story is so intensely focused on the three characters that it could really use a subplot to complicate things, and it sorely lacks the brisk pacing of all the other Dearden films.

  • Ray

    Ray

    ★★★

    A standard Hollywood biopic that rushes through Ray Charles' life events, is unevenly directed, ignores characters that spend years touring with him, and has a completely out-of-place schmaltzy ending. The positives are lots of great music, a showy performance from Jamie Foxx, and Booger.

  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

    ★★★

    They say you can't intentionally make a cult movie, but Buckaroo Banzai might be the exception. The movie is so loaded with clever ideas, funny sight gags, and hilarious performances from a gaggle of geeky actors playing 80s dress-up, that it's a shame the movie is so sloppily put together and the script lacks any sort of forward momentum (heck, the story is barely coherent). This movie needed a Spielberg or Zemeckis kind of treatment, not a first-time director, despite his writing credentials. But it's fun anyway!

  • 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.