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Bryan has written 50 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ during 2013.

  • The Lion in Winter

    The Lion in Winter

    ★★★★★

    So to counter Pirates of the Caribbean, I watched a movie where the lies, deceit, backstabbing, and reversals all mean something to the characters -- they're not just trying to win the prize or whatever, they're trying to tear each others hearts out. The only bad thing about this film is the lighting - which completely betrays all the historical detail that went into the rest of the production. Absolutely must see. And yes, Oliver beat this and 2001 for best picture! What were they smokin'? Superb script by James Goldman (Robin and Marian, White Nights)

  • L.A. Confidential

    L.A. Confidential

    ★★★★★

    Talk about a screenplay that ties everything together. Wow!

  • The Kid

    The Kid

    ★★★★★

    Short but endearing classic that's worth seeing by all. Chaplin shot 53 times more film than appears in the final cut. Nuts! Disc includes some neat extras, esp. a comedic look at Chaplin's studio and workday.

  • Japan's Longest Day

    Japan's Longest Day

    ★★★★★

    Forget Seven Days in May. Here's an amazing TRUE film about the day Japan surrendered to the U.S. in 1945, and the military uprising that tried to stop the surrender. Extremely well made and factual. It's unfortunate the history and the film are so obscure because it's fascinating stuff. Script by Shinobu Hashimoto (one of the greatest screenwriters ever) from an authoritative book.

  • if....

    if....

    ★★★★★

    This prep school nightmare turned surreal revolutionary manifesto says a lot less today about the sixties cultural revolution than it does about kids going around shooting up their schoolmates. Funny that a subject that's almost taboo today could be handled so deftly nearly 40 years ago. If anything the movie doesn't go far enough, but that may only be because this is only prepping the world for A Clockwork Orange. Orange is almost a sequel. Worth seeing just because of that.

  • The Hidden Fortress

    The Hidden Fortress

    ★★★★★

    Amazing landscapes, great story, huge scale, and it's funny! Probably one of the most western-oriented Japanese movies I've seen. Great fun, great introduction to classic Japanese film, and you get to meet the inspiration for R2D2 and C3P0. Well worth seeing. Script by Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryuzo Kikushima, and Hideo Oguni - my Japanese heroes.

  • Häxan

    Häxan

    ★★★★★

    Like some newly unearthed ancient tome, Haxan recounts a well-researched history of witchcraft and religious persecution. It starts off with historical illustrations like some academic exercise, then explodes into visually stunning recreations of Satanic practices, Inquisitional torture, and Christian defilement, with the director doubling as one of the most interesting Satans ever put on film. It is one of the most profane movies I've ever seen (not that I've made a study of Satanic cinema) and displays more wicked flesh…

  • The Godfather: Part II

    The Godfather: Part II

    ★★★★★

    Needs more Diane Keaton. Otherwise perfect.

  • Glory

    Glory

    ★★★★★

    This old favorite of mine is starting to show its age, but it tells a fantastic and essential story that kicked off the whole Civil War craze of the 90s. I'm a fan of James Horner's soundtrack, but this time found the music to be overpowering. It's not a subtle film. Script by Kevin Jarre (Tombstone).

  • Forrest Gump

    Forrest Gump

    ★★★★★

    Love it? Hate it? It's ridiculously episodic, but holds together thanks to Hanks and its strong if simple-minded (and rather right-wing) theme. Surprised how well it still holds up, and how obvious the effects are. Script by Eric Roth.

  • Ecstasy

    Ecstasy

    ★★★★★

    One of the most erotic films I've ever seen. It's everything the production code was against and shows you what movies could have been without the heavy-handed censorship that stifled all of film for decades. Hedy Lamarr is young, beautiful, naked, and gives us cinema's first real sex scene. Surprisingly, it's an adulterous scene that isn't played as depravity, but as an honest fulfillment of her desire.. The camera follows Lamarr around along with beautiful pastoral photography. It's silent, with…

  • Dances with Wolves

    Dances with Wolves

    ★★★★★

    I'm sure everyone hates this movie, but it is saved by its dour ending done almost entirely in longshots. The director's cut clocks in at about 4 hours, and I love it all. Whatever is lacking in Costner's acting and direction is compensated for with terrific photography and an excellent score by John Barry. Plus I don't know of another movie with such a compassionate view of Native Americans (or even many that tell their side of the story except…