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Bryan has written 860 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Dive Bomber

    Dive Bomber

    ★★★★

    I assumed this would be a World War II movie but it's not. It was actually released a few months before Pearl Harbor, and is about research to keep pilots from blacking out during steep dives. As a movie about science, it's similar to The Dambusters, but throws in some real conflict and character development. Fred MacMurray and Errol Flynn play polar opposites who begrudgingly come to respect each other. My new crush Alexis Smith pops up just long enough…

  • The Best Offer

    The Best Offer

    ★★★★

    English/Italian film about an art dealer's mysterious relationship with a recluse that is finely produced and well acted by Geoffrey Rush.

  • Baby Doll

    Baby Doll

    ★★★★

    Tennessee Williams' first screenplay is a fairly stagebound look at Southern decadence meets Sicilian revenge - and it's a comedy. Terrific if talky performances from Karl Malden, Eli Wallach, and a naughtily innocent Carroll Baker. Condemned when it was released, although the raciest thing about it is the poster.

  • Logan Lucky

    Logan Lucky

    ★★★★

    I don't know if hillbilly Oceans Eleven is any better or worse than Soderbergh's 2001 film. The heists are equally ludicrous, Logan has a better sense of humor and stronger characters, but Oceans is prettier to look at and has more heart. Daniel Craig might tip me in favor of Logan. However, they're pretty much the same movie in different clothes.

  • The Great Ziegfeld

    The Great Ziegfeld

    ★★★★

    Here's a showbiz bio done right. At three hours long, it definitely takes its time to establish the characters and build up the drama. There's barely any musical numbers in the first half, but when they come, wow! The showstopper before the intermission is amazing. This is the stuff MGM built its reputation on. William Powell is terrific as the famed girl-chasing producer, and character actor Frank Morgan has a big role as his blustery rival. Don't expect much from second-billed Claudette Colbert, though. She doesn't even appear until over two hours in.

  • My Man Godfrey

    My Man Godfrey

    ★★★★

    A screwball comedy with incisive social commentary that doesn't overpower the zany humor. That's a feat by itself (although Sullivan's Travels does it better). William Powell steps into the role of butler so easily that it often feels like just the setup for a TV sitcom, and it's yet another film about class divide that gives the rich more substance than the poor, but that's asking a lot for a big studio picture that's just aiming to entertain, and it's terrific ensemble of talent does just that, and the film still has some bite.

  • Planet Earth II

    Planet Earth II

    ★★★★

    I don't think there are any action scenes in any recent film that are as harrowing and edge-of-your-seat thrilling as the life and death struggle of the Galapagos iguanas in the first episode of this series. Planet Earth II continues the glorious tradition of demonstration quality nature photography and the fascinating and surprising look at animal survival that began in Planet Earth, although ten years later it doesn't seem quite as remarkable. 90-year-old David Attenborough has more authority in his narration than even Morgan Freeman can muster.

  • The Panic in Needle Park

    The Panic in Needle Park

    ★★★★

    O squalor of 70s New York, why do I love thee? The concrete jungle. The exhaust fume haze. The ringing din of traffic and trains. The dimly lit, crumbling apartments. The multi-cultural melting pot of lowlifes, losers, drunks, petty criminals, drug addicts, and the simply impoverished. All of it is on fine display in Panic in Needle Park, whose youthful denizens seem right at home and even happy with their heroin-fueled stupor, as do the weary cops that are powerless…

  • The Trials of Henry Kissinger

    The Trials of Henry Kissinger

    ★★★★

    Based on a Christopher Hitchens book, this is a detailed and thorough condemnation of Henry Kissinger's alleged war crimes, and a testament to just how messy and corrupt politics can get while officials still remain unaccountable. However the film is more of an attack than a well-rounded portrait, so watch it with that in mind.

  • Ocean's Eleven

    Ocean's Eleven

    ★★★★

    Their heist plan is absolutely preposterous and relies on all kinds of coincidences, but the movie is so slick and entertaining and full of cool that it doesn't really matter. It's good fluff, and as much as Brad Pitt eats on camera, the guy should weigh 250 lbs.

  • Brave

    Brave

    ★★★★

    Even a lesser Pixar film still has plenty of leeway to be a decent film, and Brave is filled with humor and charm and beauty. Where it fails Pixar's high standard is creating a compelling central character. The red-head in Brave is simply too close to the mold of all the other recent Disney princesses - young and headstrong girl empowerment icons who embody easy feminism and budding femininity in equal parts. It's a character we've seen a dozen times…

  • Big Fish

    Big Fish

    ★★★★

    An oddball Forrest Gump-like fantasy that wants to be whimsical but keeps grounding itself with a serious father/son drama. It might always remain one of Tim Burton's forgotten films. Johnny Depp is missed, but Ewan McGregor makes a plucky substitute. I kind of like the movie despite its flaws - it's a mature fantasy and seems more focused on storytelling that most Burton movies.