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Bryan has written 250 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ .

  • Le Silence de la Mer

    Le Silence de la Mer

    ★★★★★

    Jean-Pierre Melville's first film has a beautifully simple premise. A Nazi lieutenant in occupied France is given quarters in the home of a French poet and his niece and he tries to make friends with them, but they refuse to speak to him in protest. That's it in a nutshell. Basic storytelling rules are tossed in favor of adapting itself to the source material, which is a memoir based on a true incident. Howard Vernon as the soldier, who looks…

  • Casino

    Casino

    ★★★★★

    I haven't seen this since it came out, and although it doesn't break any new ground for Scorsese, it's sure-handed, masterfully stylized, and painfully funny, with a glossy Hollywood veneer he only toyed with before this. It's also a bold approach to storytelling with dueling narrators and a plotless narrative, yet the three hours just flies by. Goodfellas gets enormous praise but Casino is just as good.

  • The Westerner

    The Westerner

    ★★★★★

    A film where the sidekick is the star, and Walter Brennan gives one of his greatest performances. This film is all about his bromance with Gary Cooper, and William Wyler often lets the camera linger on their faces to give the acting its full due. A terrific film that transcends the Western genre to become an actor's showcase with a witty script and a touching ending.

  • Aguirre: The Wrath of God

    Aguirre: The Wrath of God

    ★★★★★

    I've got a soft spot for movies like this - man against nature meets early-American culture. The film seems far more allegorical now than when I first saw it. Hunchbacked Aguirre limping around on the raft is every bit Richard III as he connives to rule his tiny, floating kingdom. The conquistadors are so remarkably ignorant of the cultures they encounter, and strive so hard to retain their European culture, that it would be big joke if it all wasn't true. What's painfully obvious is the hardships the actors had to suffer just to make the film, which is why it still impresses 40 years later.

  • King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis

    King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis

    ★★★★★

    This documentary does for Martin Luther King Jr what Triumph of the Will did for Adolf Hitler. It paints a dynamic and persuasive portrait of a charismatic leader with the power to change the world. The narrationless film is almost entirely composed of historical footage of the events surrounding King's life interspersed with his speeches, telling his story visually in a way that makes you a witness to the events. The only weak spots are interludes of famous actors being…

  • Lawrence of Arabia

    Lawrence of Arabia

    ★★★★★

    All I can add about this film is that from today's perspective, all the British actors playing Arabs really stands out almost as much as the terrible putty nose on Anthony Quinn's face. The bluray restoration is beautiful though. Looks like it was filmed yesterday.

  • The Fallen Idol

    The Fallen Idol

    ★★★★★

    Another film with excellent rapport between a child and adult, in this case Ralph Richardson giving the most human performance I've seen from him. Add to that a great story and moments worthy of Hitchcock, and you've got a great, suspenseful picture.

  • The League of Gentlemen

    The League of Gentlemen

    ★★★★★

    If The Kingsmen were bank robbers you'd get The League of Gentlemen, a smart and very funny heist film with a cast full of terrific British b-actors led by Jack Hawkins. Nothing beats a clever script, and the movie feels like it's right on the cusp of the Mod 60s with its style and cynicism.

  • The Fall

    The Fall

    ★★★★★

    It's not just that The Fall is full of awe-inspiring visuals that would be the calling card of any filmmaker. The movie is front-loaded with eye candy and stunning locations from all over the world that make you wonder why you haven't seen these things before, but that's not what makes it great. What makes The Fall an incredible film is the palpable chemistry between star Lee Pace and what could be one of the cutest, most affecting child actors…

  • The Dresser

    The Dresser

    ★★★★★

    This is a wonderful actor's showcase, and Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay chew the scenery with the greatest of them. Despite taking place almost entirely in the backstage of a theatre, the film never feels too stagey or claustrophobic, and the story is truly touching.

  • Casino Royale

    Casino Royale

    ★★★★★

    This movie has everything you want from a Bond movie, and it's all done about as well as can be done; with stylish elegance, a convincing romance, a brutal edge, a believable villain, and one of the best action sequences in any Bond film. My only complaint is the title song is terrible.

  • Silence

    Silence

    ★★★★★

    A deeply passionate tale of faith and blind obedience where Scorsese masterfully emulates a classical Japanese filmmaking style (no doubt inspired by the 1971 original, which I haven't seen). There are some sticking points. It's hard to reconcile the Portuguese speaking perfect English, and you wish it was in its native language just to make it more authentic. Andrew Garfield is also a little hard to swallow. I like him as a quirky actor but he doesn't quite pull off…