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Bryan has written 261 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ .

  • 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…

  • City of Life and Death

    City of Life and Death

    ★★★★★

    Clearly taking its cues from Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List, this stunning, Chinese epic depicts the horrific rape of Nanking, one of greatest single atrocities of World War II. Although the characters are rather thin and it gets maudlin in places, the movie is impressive in its combat scenes, numerous crowd scenes, and general depiction of destruction, rape, and violence (all of it fairly watered down). The story follows characters on both sides, including a sympathetic Japanese soldier, and…

  • Embrace of the Serpent

    Embrace of the Serpent

    ★★★★★

    A movie that will transport you to another world. Embrace of the Serpent hearkens back to films like Aguirre: Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, Mosquito Coast, or At Play in the Fields of the Lord and is a worthy challenger to those films as a cinematic experience. This one follows two storylines of white explorers enlisting the aid of a native guide, and explores the culture clash not just between whites and natives but within the native cultures themselves. While not…

  • 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…