Tim Brayton

UW-Madison PhD student, and film critic at AlternateEnding.com

Favorite films

  • Casablanca
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • His Girl Friday
  • Suspiria

Recent activity

All
  • The Vagabond

    ★★★½

  • The Fireman

    ★★★

  • Our Dancing Daughters

    ★★★

  • Prey

    ★★★½

Recent reviews

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  • The Vagabond

    The Vagabond

    ★★★½

    An extraordinary, maybe even unprecedented attempt by an established film icon (and by this point in 1916, Chaplin was fully an icon) to consciously redirect his screen persona into a new mode. As such, it certainly feels a bit uncertain on its feet; it's more "complete" than the previous year's The Tramp or The Bank in merging Chaplin's knockabout comedy with sentimental character drama, but not as good as either. It feels like there's a constant negotiation going on within…

  • The Fireman

    The Fireman

    ★★★

    This is basically the last of Charles Chaplin's "Keystone-style slapstick, but slower and with more money to throw at it" two-reelers, and it's something of an extended yawn to say farewell to a mode that the filmmaker had used up and started to move beyond a good 14 months before this came out (which translates to ten movies, according to the delirious pace of comedy filmmaking in the '10s). The Fireman is perfectly fine and mostly lifeless, though not "bad"…

Popular reviews

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  • Judas and the Black Messiah

    Judas and the Black Messiah

    ★★★

    In retrospect, of course Warner Bros. wasn't going to put out a movie that genuinely grappled with Fred Hampton's revolutionary politics, and it's on me that I was idiot enough to wonder if they might. Instead, despite a couple quotes from Marxist literature, and one appearance each by the words "socialism" (at the start) and "proletariat" (at the end; also, I might have missed a "proletariat" in there, I wasn't really thinking to count it), this mostly turns Hampton into…

  • Detainment

    Detainment

    So first, I can't imagine how damn stupid you'd have to be to think you could get away with telling this story this way without getting life rights from the survivors, or heavily anonymising the details, or ideally both.

    Let's say you've decided not to care about any of that. That still leaves the question of what reason there is to tell this story. What is the viewer supposed to get from this? Is it just to grind our faces…