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Bryan has written 520 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

    The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

    ★★★

    This is basically a college lecture on how different ideologies are presented in popular film, but it's made visually interesting by the way he inserts himself into the movie's sets. It certainly offers a different perspective on things. All art is political. Apparently it's a sequel to the Pervert's Guide to Cinema.

  • Running Scared

    Running Scared

    ★★★

    It's about as cliched a buddy cop movie as you can get without being a parody, but the unconventional casting of Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines sets it apart, and their chemistry carries the film. Peter Hyams either doesn't realize he's making a comedy or doesn't know how to, so he shoots it just like any nitty gritty crime drama, and that grounds Crystal and Hines in a reality that perfectly offsets their wisecracks (well, except when they go to…

  • Strange Brew

    Strange Brew

    ★★★

    There's some low-budget Canadian charm, but not enough to sustain the film for 90 minutes. The Bob and Doug characters are one-repetitive joke with nowhere to go, and the most creative, funny, and interesting stuff is in the first 15 minutes. It's harmless and amusing though, and definitely not a remake of Hamlet despite the occasional reference.

  • Predator

    Predator

    ★★★

    Remember how I complained about the last 60 seconds of The Florida Project? Well I feel the same way about the first 60 seconds of Predator. It destroys all the mystery of the film. It removes the audience from the character's perspective, and it reeks of the demands of some studio head that doesn't think the audience will "get it" (as does the curtain call credits that tries to put a smile on the dour ending). Predator's a far better…

  • The Public Enemy

    The Public Enemy

    ★★★

    Cagney's most famous pre-code film suffers from early sound technology and an episodic story. It certainly has some memorable moments (like the famous grapefruit scene) but it's kind if disappointing in comparison to the more polished "Blonde Crazy". It made Cagney a star, though, and he's definitely charming and ruthless, and gangster crime is depicted with all its brutality. It's the most violent movie of Cagney's pre-code days.

  • Smart Money

    Smart Money

    ★★★

    Edward G. Robinson's a gambler and Cagney is his live-in buddy who gets a handful of notable scenes (with homosexual overtones). Robinson doesn't command the screen the way Cagney does, and there's too much gambling and not enough drama. Robinson's nice guy criminal might be trying too hard to soften up his vicious "Little Caesar" persona into something a little closer to what Robinson really was. Evalyn Knapp makes a good impression as a troubled beauty, and Boris Karloff has an uncredited bit part near the beginning as a gambling pimp.

  • Hard to Handle

    Hard to Handle

    ★★★

    Cagney's not a crook in this one. He's something even worse - an advertising man - always scheming to bilk Joe Schmoe out of his dough. The story goes in fits and starts and seems to focus on finding the right financial moment to marry the girl he's in love with, although it's possible he's more in love with her ever-present mother. The two women dress alike, he has more scenes with the mom, and she's a wiley schemer just…

  • Picture Snatcher

    Picture Snatcher

    ★★★

    Cagney's an ex-con who gives up the mob to be a newspaper photographer, where his knowledge of the underworld comes in handy. It's "Public Enemy" meets "The Front Page", but not as well done as either of those films. It's entertaining though, and Cagney's full of energy. Ironically, Ralph Bellamy (the jilted fiance in "His Girl Friday") plays a hard-nosed editor.

  • G-Men

    G-Men

    ★★★

    Cagney's an honest, incorruptible lawyer who joins the FBI? What? This post-code Cagney movie is a complete turnaround from all the pre-code stuff, as if it's trying desperately to correct the record. This is the first movie made about the FBI (and far better than Jimmy Stewart's FBI Story) but for bad-boy-actors-playing-it-straight movies, it's got nothing on Edward G. Robinson's "Bullets or Ballots", which Seton Miller also wrote. It tries too hard to make up for the sins of the…

  • Tale of Tales

    Tale of Tales

    ★★★

    While the adult fairy tales are interesting and the production design is magnificent, the direction is bland and the pacing is very slow, not to mention that all the stories aren't really tied up in a satisfying way, making it hard to recommend what should be hailed as a delightfully inventive and visually stunning piece of cinema.

  • Two Weeks in Another Town

    Two Weeks in Another Town

    ★★★

    Ten years later, the team behind Bad and the Beautiful (star Kirk Douglas, director Vincent Minnelli, writer Charles Schnee, and producer John Houseman) are back with another behind-the-scenes story that's not a sequel, but shares the same universe in an early example of meta-filmmaking. The drama isn't as highly wrought and the ending is abrupt, but the Rome setting gives it a touch of La Dolce Vita, and of course they had to revisit that crazy car hysteria as if…

  • 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.