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Bryan has written 911 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Paddington

    Paddington

    ★★★★

    The rumors are true. Paddington is a delightful and charming and unbearably cute movie. Am I gaga over it like others seem to be? No. Despite its witty writing, overly British sentiments, and Wes Andersony production design, it's a little too glossy and easygoing to fully win me over, and the pratfall comedy isn't particularly innovative. But I'll watch the sequel.

  • Faces Places

    Faces Places

    ★★★★

    88-year-old Agnes Varda is just a fun person to hang out with, and she has a great relationship with a sunglassed young artist named JR. Together they travel the French countryside bringing art and joy to the ordinary people they meet. That's really all it is, and it doesn't sound like much, but it's truly wonderful. I recommend.

  • Love in the Afternoon

    Love in the Afternoon

    ★★★★

    It's a great script - an unconventional romantic comedy with some really smart one-liners. The photography, which at times seems candle-lit, is sumptuous and alluring. Audrey Hepburn is radiant and a pleasure to watch. Maurice Chevalier is absolutely charming. It all comes down to Gary Cooper, and I know everyone is bothered by his age (only 56, but he looks 70), but I just have to ignore that and appreciate what works right with this movie. Although miscast, he still…

  • Princess from the Moon

    Princess from the Moon

    ★★★★

    The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is considered the oldest story in Japanese literature, and it was more recently adapted by Studio Ghibli as The Tale of Princess Kaguya in 2013. Ichikawa's live action version has Toshiro Mifune as the bamboo cutter, and it's a charming little fairy tale turned sci-fi with a heaping spoonful of Spielbergian effects. Yeah, it is a little bit E.T. I can't say the story is 100% logical - these types of stories usually aren't - but it was entertaining.

  • An Actor's Revenge

    An Actor's Revenge

    ★★★★

    A kabuki actor and female impersonator seeks revenge for the death of his parents, and the whole film is presented as a sort of stageplay with its proscenium-like compositions and stark lighting. It's a novel take on one of the most basic story genres, and there's a lot of humor added with the lives of petty criminals he meets along the way.

  • Being Two Isn't Easy

    Being Two Isn't Easy

    ★★★★

    Here's a strange film about the life of a toddler from birth until his second birthday, and while the child's perspective offers a surreal take on suburban life, the movie is really a loving tribute to the trials and frustrations of parenting and captures the experience of being a new parent better than anything I've seen.

  • Fires on the Plain

    Fires on the Plain

    ★★★★

    One of the most bleak, depressing, and hopeless films I've ever seen. It follows estranged Japanese soldiers starving to death as they wander through Burma in WWII avoiding American patrols and wondering if surrender would mean salvation or death. Like The Burmese Harp, it shows the utter desolation of war, but it doesn't offer the spiritual hope that prior film does. It's like a real life version of The Road.

  • Odd Obsession

    Odd Obsession

    ★★★★

    An art appraiser tries to get his wife to have an affair with the young doctor that's engaged to his daughter so that he can overcome his impotence with feelings of jealousy. Yeah, it's an odd obsession, and it's an odd movie too. Luckily, there's a streak of black humor running through it that makes it fun to watch.

  • Coco

    Coco

    ★★★★

    It may be rather formulaic at this point, but Pixar's storytelling is perfection. Coco's narrative just flows along and twists and turns like a powerful river, and the filmmakers are assured navigators taking us on an emotional journey that's always on character even when it diverts for humor, music, or action. Although there's not much here that appeals directly to me (it's primarily a kid's movie designed to introduce Hispanic culture to the world) I can certainly appreciate the craftsmanship.

  • The Sons of Katie Elder

    The Sons of Katie Elder

    ★★★★

    I was very impressed with the build-up of this film - a well-measured, character-focused drama that slowly heats up into a boiling kettle. It's a great script that reminded me of Tombstone, and I thought like Tombstone it would bite down hard and make all that simmering build-up really pay off, but instead it just reverts to a standard Western climax. Not terrible, but missed potential. However, it's one of the best performances I've seen from John Wayne - he's…

  • Blue Ruin

    Blue Ruin

    ★★★★

    A decent revenge drama that's been a little overhyped, and it's never entirely clear why he's seeking revenge. It marries violence with an indie film aesthetic, and the best part is how natural and awkward all the violence is compared to Hollywood's choreographed action thrills. I liked it enough to want to see Green Room.

  • The Young Savages

    The Young Savages

    ★★★★

    Burt Lancaster puts juvenile delinquents on trial in a movie that strives to be a powerful indictment of their impoverished upbringing - painting some youth as mental deficients but others as street-smart survivors. Despite its political message, it's a solid crime procedural, with one of the best "you're neglecting your family" wives I've seen in movies like this.