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Bryan has written 264 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ .

  • Carnival of Sinners

    Carnival of Sinners

    ★★★★★

    A fantastic old-fashioned horror fantasy with a great performance by Pierre Fresnay. I risk spoiling it by saying more, but I have nothing to offer but praises and I highly recommended checking this out. A true classic.

  • Witness

    Witness

    ★★★★★

    This has long been a favorite film of mine, and it is still probably Harrison Ford's best performance, even though the script really feels like it was written for any generic lead actor (perhaps that's why it works). The concept is great, the message is clear, the worlds it explores are interesting, the direction adheres to the storytelling but gives the Amish life a beauty and awe that makes it appealing, esp. in contrast to the ugly city life. I think it's a great movie.

  • The Player

    The Player

    ★★★★★

    Famous as a sharp satire of life in Hollywood, but I didn't realize how much it's also a sharp satire of film noir. It might have more cameos of famous people than any movie ever made, although it's hard to tell who's playing themselves and who's playing characters. Altman alternates between the subtle and the in-your-face obvious, but somehow it works, and Tim Robbins is terrific.

  • WALL·E

    WALL·E

    ★★★★★

    Maybe the robots are a little too human, but the storytelling is exceptional, and this is one dystopian film that isn't just trying to make you feel bad about the future of the planet while still making its point in an entertaining way. Would make a great double feature with Idiocracy.

  • All Night Long

    All Night Long

    ★★★★★

    Richard Attenborough is a swank London millionaire who's getting his friends together for an all night jazz party, and those friends happen to include such celebs as Dave Brubeck and Charlie Mingus (playing themselves). The guests show up and start jamming when... Othello happens... and it's awesome, largely because of Patrick McGoohan's terrific Iago (and he can play the drums pretty well too!) The ensemble cast is stellar, the music is simultaneously a soundtrack and a live event (kinda like…

  • Victim

    Victim

    ★★★★★

    Dirk Bogarde risks his political career to find out who is blackmailing homosexuals in London. It's not just the subject matter that makes this film notable, but the way it's so brazenly open about homosexuality and the powerful condemnation of the British legal system while not condemning homosexuality itself. You won't find anything like this in 1960 Hollywood.

  • The Smallest Show on Earth

    The Smallest Show on Earth

    ★★★★★

    Ealing Studios' famed run of great comedies may have ended when it was sold in 1955, but the talent behind those films went on, and here's as good and quirky a comedy as anything produced in their heyday. The story is simple. A chipper young couple inherits a movie theatre and makes a go of the business. 35-year-old Peter Sellers convincingly plays an elderly projectionist, and the movie oozes with charm and good humor. Also known as Big Time Operators.

  • Pool of London

    Pool of London

    ★★★★★

    A complex story with dual protagonists that's part heist film and part sailors on leave finding love with an interracial romance thrown in for some pointed social commentary, and yet it zips along at a brisk pace and clocks in at just 85 minutes. The romance was so effective and heartbreaking that I didn't want the heist story to interfere, but then it all builds to a surprisingly well done car chase/action climax. A superior tragicomic noir film.

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    One thing that's always bugged me about Raiders of the Lost Ark was how did Indy know to close his eyes and not look at the ark? I'm not really questioning his archeological knowledge, but the reason is never explained to the audience. I know the ending is literally deus ex machina, but all you have to do is close your eyes and you're good?

    Well a couple of years ago Spock gave me the answer.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyiWkWcR86I

    In this interview,…

  • The Last Emperor

    The Last Emperor

    ★★★★★

    A nice balance of historical drama and lavish spectacle concerning major events in Chinese history. The fact that it's in English and made by an Italian doesn't detract from it in any way, since it's obviously made for an international audience, although I can't imagine the audacity of any outsider trying to tell this story. It's definitely the capper to Bertolucci's varied career.

  • Psycho

    Psycho

    ★★★★★

    What can I add about Psycho? Vera Miles looks perfectly believable as Janet Leigh's sister, and despite the justly lauded shower scene, the most interesting camera direction in the whole film is when Norman cranes his neck over to look at the guest register, and he distorts from a nice, average guy into a twisted, raptor-like creature. Wow. Transitioning the story from Janet Leigh to Anthony Perkins works because Perkins' character is so much more interesting and his performance is…

  • The Wages of Fear

    The Wages of Fear

    ★★★★★

    I still remember that night long ago when I couldn't sleep and tried to find something on TV at 3:00 in the morning. AMC had a French movie called Wages of Fear, and I watched it expecting little and was stunned. I haven't seen it again since that night but it's always been etched into my memory. I also remember discovering a movie called Sorcerer, which I also knew nothing about, and realized halfway through that it was a remake…