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Bryan has written 941 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Kinsey

    Kinsey

    ★★★★

    An entertaining historical drama about famous sex researchers that's well done without being anything remarkable. I found it interesting that Professor Marston and the Wonder Women was structured almost exactly the same way and made pretty much the same points. Kinsey's a better film though.

  • Younger Brother

    Younger Brother

    ★★★★

    An unusual family drama that offers an insightful look at the male/female differences Japanese families, and does the tricky twist of making you care for a character you initially thought was despicable. Apparently the film introduced the bleach bypass method of desaturating color, and the subtle tones look amazing.

  • Hardcore Henry

    Hardcore Henry

    ★★★★

    If Robocop is the best comic book movie that isn't a comic book, then Hardcore Henry is the best video game movie that isn't a video game. This first person film is extremely clever, funny, and filled with amusing action. Technically it's a marvel, but you can tell by the end that the concept has been stretched to its limit and doesn't have much more to offer than endless video game violence.

  • Blonde Crazy

    Blonde Crazy

    ★★★★

    "The age of chivalry is dead. This is the age of chiselry." Every frame of this movie oozes with immorality, whether it's running a con, double crossing "friends", leering at women, or getting slapped in the face; and nobody slaps or gets slapped better than James Cagney. Big-eyed Joan Blondell is the perfect foil for Cagney, and he's cute as a hotel bellhop. This film is arguably the best of Cagney's pre-code days. It's practically begging to be censored.

  • The Mayor of Hell

    The Mayor of Hell

    ★★★★

    Cagney's a mob boss who gets a cushy government appointment overseeing a boy's reform school, and decides he actually wants to reform the poor kids, despite the efforts of the punitive warden, played with relish by Dudley Digges. The sensationalist movie manages to wring a lot effective emotional moments out of the kids' plight. A seasoned film veteran at the age of 16, Frankie Darro ("Wild Boys of the Road") gives a terrific performance as "The Mayor." His diminutive stature came in useful later when he played Robbie the Robot in "Forbidden Planet", and he appears in "Public Enemy" as well.

  • Footlight Parade

    Footlight Parade

    ★★★★

    Cagney's a producer of "prologues," which are lavish live musical extravaganzas that take place before movie screenings. It's a quickly dying art form, and it's a strange musical that saves almost all of its numbers for the end. It's mostly a comedy full of racy one-line zingers, snappy comebacks, and scantily clad women. There's even a censor running around telling Cagney which towns will permit which costumes. A midpoint musical bit is surprisingly similar to "Cats", and the ending offers three consecutive Busby Berkley numbers that are gloriously extravagant, with Cagney stepping in to sing and dance for the finale - his first musical.

  • Lady Killer

    Lady Killer

    ★★★★

    Cagney's a con man who gets in too deep with his gang of swindlers and goes to hide out in Los Angeles... where he becomes a movie star! What seems like yet another crime film turns into an amusing spoof of Hollywood that puts Cagney into a lot of silly costumes. The comedic turn was welcome. Cagney gets duped in the exact same way Robinson did in Smart Money, so obviously there's some script recycling happening at Warner Bros. Who can remember two years ago?

  • Jimmy the Gent

    Jimmy the Gent

    ★★★★

    Cagney's a crooked genealogist (that's right, a genealogist) who scams to win unclaimed inheritances, but has trouble claiming Bette Davis' respect. This one's a flat out comedy, which means Cagney talks faster, yells louder, and slaps people around even more. The guy's a tornado. The film packs a ton into 70 minutes, and is loaded with slapstick, witty jabs, and class comedy. I was amused.

  • The Thin Man

    The Thin Man

    ★★★★

    To enjoy the first Thin Man, you need to care about murder mysteries about as much as William Powell does, which is not at all, even though he's the best detective in the business. Now that he's married an heiress, all that's behind him now, or at least he'd like it to be. He's the ultimate reluctant protagonist, and one of the more clever aspects of each movie is the way they pull our hero into solving the crime (the…

  • After the Thin Man

    After the Thin Man

    ★★★★

    James Stewart has a minor role in After the Thin Man, but when it's over you can see why he was an actor worth paying attention to, and it's probably the first role he could sink his teeth into and make an impression (although I enjoyed his prior lead role in the musical Born to Dance, he's no song and dance man). Unfortunately, I probably enjoyed this film the least. The mystery is just a mess (perhaps I tried too…

  • Another Thin Man

    Another Thin Man

    ★★★★

    Despite the bland title, this is the darkest of all the Thin Man movies, which gives it some dramatic weight to counter the comedic banter. Much of it happens at night, giving it a more noirish feel. The threats are serious this time, and consequently, I think I enjoyed this Thin Man movie the most, but only by a hair. Look for Shemp in a bit part.

  • Shadow of the Thin Man

    Shadow of the Thin Man

    ★★★★

    Revolving around a racetrack murder, this one feels like a fresh start for the series, despite adhering to the formula and everyone effortlessly reprising their roles despite noticeable aging. The addition of Nick Jr. as a character adds some welcome domestic humor. Donna Reed is the co-star, and Stella Adler has a small role.