Larry Brand Reviews
John Q. Bolton - thestrategybridge
During the 80-minute assemblage of live performances captured in Beyond Glory, Stephen Lang shows a side that surprises and amazes. His virtuoso performance makes you forget you are watching a single actor, working with minimal props, augmentation, or respite for over an hour. 8180's film perfectly captures the feel of a live audience, even when shifting between multiple venues.
Steve Hancock - SteveoReviewsMovies
Beyond Glory is an experience for the audience, whether in a packed theater or alone watching on the TV screen. Perhaps never before have the experiences of war been as powerfully conveyed as how Mr. Lang does through these eight characters.
Scott Lee Fisk - Irish Film Critic
An eye-catching performance. Stephen Lang slips into and out of these characters with ease and an unpredictable, engaging, funny and edgy performance. Directed by Larry Brand, this one-man show inside a documentary has been shared with the world in the hope they will never forget.
Joe Bendel - J.B. Spins
Cross-cutting between several of Stephen Lang's more notable command performances, director-editor Larry Brand shows Beyond Glory in its entirety while conveying its wider significance during a time of war and armed hostility. There is no shortage of moments to choke you up and make you misty-eyed. Brand's mastercut approach is quite effective at relieving the inherent staginess of Lang's one-man show. Not matter who the actor is playing, he is always locked-in.
The Girl on the Train
Jeffrey Lyons - Lyons Den Radio
Deeply absorbing and intense. A fine multi-layered psychological thriller!
Pamela Powell - NPR's The Reel Focus
An engaging and suspenseful thriller.
Roberta Burrows - Talking Movies
Great film noir! Deliciously suspenseful!
John Thomason - Boca Raton Magazine
Fiction may or may not be more authentic than the truth in The Girl on the Train, a heady, slippery and thoroughly entertaining neo-noir from the low-budget thriller director Larry Brand. Henry Ian Cusick, of “Lost,” plays Danny, a filmmaker whose video camera is like a fifth appendage. He catches a glimpse of an attractive young woman (Nicki Aycox) crying on a train, and strikes up a conversation that will lead, we soon learn, to a bandaged hand and a police station, where he’s being interrogated by a perceptive detective (Stephen Lang, of Avatar). Brand’s screenplay jumps back and forth from his encounters with the woman—who is named Lexi, and who reappears all too conveniently in Danny’s life, with an offer he can’t, or won’t, refuse—and the present police investigation. Some of Brand’s dialogue sounds too perfect, too loaded with hidden meaning, to feel real; but then again, so did the screenplays of most of the great films by Hitchcock, whose preoccupation with the mystery and romance of train travel Brand shares. But the film’s structure is sound and always compelling, with enough twists to surprise us and not so many that the narrative would crumble under a mountain of implausible revelations. Its balance is just right. Brand is especially deft at peppering Girl on the Train with omens, coincidences and unlikely synchronicities, which keep both Danny and us on our toes; of particular interest is the film Danny is making while he’s busy becoming Play-Doh for Lexi. It’s a documentary about a Holocaust survivor who shares his story about receiving a Christian icon from a mysterious girl on a train, in a chance meeting that forever changes his life. It’s a wonderful subplot in its own right, while saving a brilliant punch line for the end. The Girl on a Train is not without occasional pretentions, but it successfully invigorates a familiar genre with surprisingly weighty philosophical detours that contrast, as Danny puts it, the “purity of imagination” versus “the spectacle of flesh and sorrow.”
Melissa Wojtkiewicz - Killer Reviews
A suspenseful drama/thriller, giving you just enough to keep asking for more. The script is well-written and very smart. The Girl on the Train is a film that would delight any moviegoer, crossing many genres. It is a story made to capture the imagination of anyone who likes to fill in the blanks, guess what's going to happen, connect the dots. It will be what you perceive it to be, leave you thinking and wanting to watch it all over again.
Hap Erstein - Palm Beach ArtsPaper
Put yourself in the hands of a talented storyteller, writer-director Larry Brand, who entertainingly keeps his audience off-balance, peeling away the onion-like layers of parallel tales in separate times and places. At its heart is a documentary filmmaker named Danny (Henry Ian Cusick of television’s "Lost"), enthralled by a Holocaust survivor (stage veteran David Margulies) whose account of his deportation to a death camp involved a fleeting glimpse of a young girl, seen through the slats of his cattle car. In the parallel story, Danny is struck by the sight of a young woman (Nicki Aycox) on a contemporary train, so he sits down next to her and tries to make a personal connection with her. Then there is an interrogation of Danny by a police detective (Stephen Lang), about the girl and her subsequent whereabouts. Brand ties these separate tracks together in a brief, efficient 80 minutes, a rare case of a film which you are likely to wish were longer, rather than shorter.
Michael Fox - San Diego Jewish Journal
It takes confidence and even audacity to weave the testimony of a Holocaust survivor into the plot of a psychological thriller—or any fiction film, for that matter. The risk of trivializing the suffering of millions is continually present, with the possibility that the audience will blast the filmmaker for fortifying his work with unearned gravitas. So give props to Larry Brand, the writer and director of The Girl On the Train, for sidestepping those pitfalls and pulling off a thought-provoking and potentially controversial rumination on our eagerness to believe stories. The audience is taken for a ride, along with the main character, and our susceptibility (gullibility?) is held up for review, although not ridicule. Danny (Henry Ian Cusick of “Lost”) is a documentary maker recently preoccupied with the idea of fate and chance meetings. New Yorkers are skeptics by nature, but a twinkle-eyed survivor named Morris Herzman has mesmerized the filmmaker (whose accent indicates he’s from the other side of the Atlantic) with his remarkable saga. Herzman (the excellent David Margulies) recounts his deportation to the camps, and how his father nudged him to the side of the car where it was cooler and he could snatch an occasional breath of fresh air. This allowed young Morris to somehow glimpse a girl through the slats when the train made a brief stop, and for her to miraculously drop a gold cross into his hand. As Morris tells it (to Danny but really to us), this precious gift—or act of kindness, or symbol that pockets of humanity still existed—gave him the determination to live. We can understand how Morris’s experience might inspire Danny with the seductive notion that a fleeting encounter with a stranger could switch his life from one track to another. So when Danny sees a young woman (Nicki Aycox) on a train who he’d previously “encountered” in the midst of crowd scenes he’d shot, he doesn’t let the opportunity pass to introduce himself. The Girl On the Train plays out in an extended flashback as Danny relates his version of events to a detective (Stephen Lang) in an interrogation room. Needless to say, things didn’t unfold quite the way Danny had intended or expected. He believed what he wanted to believe about the girl’s circumstances, and leapt to conclusions, and he’s lucky the end of the line wasn’t, you know, the end of the line. There’s an epilogue to Morris’s story, however, that raises questions a good deal more serious than anything engendered by Danny’s adventure. The movie can’t be construed as a form of Holocaust denial—lowlifes who believe the genocide didn’t take place already have all the “evidence” they need, anyway—but a sly poke at just how eager we are to embrace happy endings. In that regard, The Girl On the Train is a reverse twist on a fairy tale. For Larry Brand, whose career has been largely devoted to scaring the daylights out of audiences with horror and slasher flicks, this film hops a ride in the opposite direction. Instead of inviting us to fear the worst, it needles us about expecting the best.
Jane Boursaw - Reel Life With Jane
From the crystal-clear opening shots of New York City’s skyline to a brooding room with a guy duct-taped to a chair, The Girl on the Train is a mesmerizing odyssey, at turns a murder mystery, a crime drama, a psychological thriller noir, and a thought-provoking look into what is real and what is fantasy. And when you get to the end, don’t be surprised if you’re still not sure which is which. The Girl on the Train is a thinking-person’s movie. You can’t check your phone or think about your to-do list or go get popcorn (so stock up before the movie starts). You have to pay attention; otherwise, you’ll miss some crucial element of the film. In a sea of high-budget blockbusters and desperate sequels, The Girl on the Train is a welcome relief with just the right amounts of drama, crime, mystery and intrigue. Not too much of any one thing, and you get the feeling the actors, all of whom turn in solid performances, are there because they truly want to do this movie. The Girl on the Train is compelling film noir for the 21st century. I see so many commercial movies where the players just seem like they’re phoning it in. Their heart really isn’t in it anymore. So I’m always thrilled to watch a movie that really is all about the love of filmmaking and acting.
John McDonald - The VIdeo TapeWorm
Nicki Aycox of ''Cold Case'' shines as the mysterious and beautiful woman who crosses paths with a doc filmmaker (Henry Ian Cusick from ''Lost''), beguiling him to assist in a very personal errand. Soon he finds himself explaining to detective Stephen Lang (Avatar) how he finds himself duct-taped to a chair—with two dead guys on the floor. Wonderful storytelling and a brilliant use of language; one of the best psychological thrillers of recent memory.
Actor Stephen Lang has a monstrous presence that commands attention. It is an absolute testament to his flexibility in roles that he nails it in this ninety minutes of taut, suspenseful drama. It is a brilliant screenplay and all the actors get under the skin of their roles.
Peter Biskind (Author, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls)
A deceptively simple three hander becomes a riveting drama...a shocking story of opportunism, suffering, and sacrifice attendant on survival in a time of war.
An evocative drama set in post WWII Berlin, the film is beautifully lit and shot with a Red One digital camera, featuring perfect performances from Stephen Lang, Nicki Aycox and Jordan Belfi.
Christina is a perfect example that you don't need some over-blown Hollywood budget to create a great film; all you need is a well-written script and some actors who can bring it to life. The dialogue is intelligent and clever, creating suspense, mystery and drama that draws you in and puts you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what is going to happen next. The cast is simply amazing. Nicki Aycox brings so much emotion to her fragile Christina that you can't help but feel her pain and confusion. Stephen Lang's performance is one most actors only dream of -- his play of words with Christina is epic. Jordan Belfi does a terrific job. All three play off each other flawlessly and have great chemistry together. Director Larry Brand is a man of vision. He certainly knows how to create a thought-provoking and powerful film. I look forward to seeing what he has coming next. I can't recommend this film enough. It is a powerful, engaging film that forces its audience to think not only about this young woman and her problems but also about the effects of war today. Brilliant filmmaking and a cast to die for make this a must-see film for any lover of cinema. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for when this Indie gem comes out on DVD .
It s a difficult feat to maintain viewer interest when a modern film is about the dialogue and not flash and sizzle but Christina pulls it off with a nice twist in a film anchored by great acting.
Tribune of India
Once in a while Hollywood comes out with some exceptional films, for example Christina, directed by Larry Brand, which was easily the best of the 130-odd films of the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image Film Festival which concluded recently. Brilliant cinema, with the three characters glowing and dimming with rare intensity. Look for it when it is released shortly.
I applaud the newly formed Michigan-based 8180 Films for supplying the money to get this expertly acted and shot piece into theatres. Reminiscent of stage play-to-film adaptations like Oleanna, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Death and the Maiden, Larry Brand’s Christina completely takes place in the oddly luxurious apartment of the titular German character on the night of her American G.I.’s return. A police inspector soon arrives, dredging up past secrets that could risk unraveling all their plans. The closing night feature, as well as winner of Best Film, at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, Christina shows the kind of power that can be yielded from a well-crafted story, drawing you in deeper and deeper with every peeled back layer. Nicki Aycox is revelatory as the lead here, handling the accent and fumbling of English to perfection. Stephen Lang tries his hardest to steal the show, but I do believe only ends up matching her skill—they are both phenomenal. Christina shows us the hard decisions and the weakness of the mind to perform such unthinking deeds, all culminating in the unavoidable conclusion, perfect in its devastation.
Taking place largely in a single room, a beautiful young German woman (Nicki Aycox) is about to leave her war-ravaged homeland to live with her American fiancée when a police inspector enters the picture, asking about a missing child. An exceptionally fine no-budget indie drama based on real events.
On Screen and Beyond
Christina is a film set in 1945 Berlin as a GI and his German girlfriend prepare to start a new wife after the war. Enter a police inspector who is out to find the truth of her past. We are used to seeing Stephen Lang as a tough guy as in Avatar, but here he shows his excellent acting skills in a noteworthy performance. The rest of the cast, Nicki Aycox and Jordan Belfi also give riveting performances in this psychological thriller.
Every once in a while, a little movie comes along that simply takes your breath away. There may only be three actors in the production, it may all take place in one room, in real time, and still it leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat, dying to know what's going to happen next. Christina is one of those movies, thanks to spellbinding performances by Nicki Aycox, Jordan Belfi, and the always excellent Stephen Lang. The film's compelling performances and deft pacing make it an unexpected emotional tour de force.
The Video Vacuum
I love it when a movie shows me something I thought I’d never see in a million years. Hard Luck has Cybill Shepherd playing a loony tunes serial killer. If that isn’t hilarious enough, she acts like she’s still playing Martha Stewart as she’s always wearing an apron and baking cookies whenever she isn’t killing. Want more? How about her Asian husband that dresses like a Mexican wrestler. Incredible. The film was directed by Mario Van Peebles (who also has a small role) and it was his first collaboration with Snipes since New Jack City. All I’ve got to say is don’t wait so long next time in between movies guys; especially if you’re going to make ‘em this entertaining.
The Right Temptation
The Apollo Movie Guide
It would spoil the story to reveal too much more of The Right Temptation’s storyline. Nicely photographed, with an interesting and appealing lead character, this modern detective thriller slowly draws you in as you try to follow all the plot twists, deciding who is the bad guy and who is manipulating whom. While borrowing themes from Fatal Attraction, this film owes more of its feel to film noir detective films of the 1950s. The old fashioned names of the characters add to that atmosphere. You’ll be hard pressed to follow all the subtleties of The Right Temptation but you will also find that it’s worth the effort to pay attention.
Los Angeles Times
A sexy drama-comedy....The despair of the rich and famous is Overexposed. Director co-writer Larry Brand, who has an active camera...shows a brisk irreverent take on TV production and a good sense of how to fill out a scene with offbeat character touches.
Plotline is interesting, even surprising. Scripters (Larry Brand and Rebecca Reynolds) have taken the trouble to include a couple of effective red herrings, (and a) grotesque twist ending. Karen Black (gives an) entertaining turn as a babbling TV freak who calls the lead character a "whore of the airwaves" and tries to attack her with a TV Guide.
Masque of The Red Death
New Orleans Times Picayune
Masque is sophisticated trick-or-treat fare. An enjoyable facelift in a new adaptation by director (and co-writer) Larry Brand. Brand gives us a psychologically complex Prospero (Adrian Paul)...that seems halfway between a Shakespearean ne'er-do-well and one of Anne Rice's vampire protagonists. Brand stages the tale's climactic masked ball scene especially effectively. Moviegoers in search of scary fare for the trick-or-treat season will certainiy do better with Masque than with the slash-'em-senseless alternatives now making the rounds of local theaters. Brand has a fresh thoughtful approach to well-trod material.
Brand's Masque represents itself well...a gothic period piece (that's) both creepy and classy. Despite his limited budget, Brand manages to create a gloomy yet starkly beautiful period piece. Perhaps an early work from the latest star-to-be from the Roger Corman stable.
Masque of the Red Death is a brooding psychological horror drama with art-house overtones, (that) provides rich and agreeably off-trail viewing, a great change of pace from most of today's horror product. Within a horror-adventure framework, some ambitious and well-realized ideas about sin and redemption, God and free will, and the nature of power are released. You are drawn into its rhythms and its brooding darkness. Masque tries to do something cerebral as well as visceral, and succeeds in doing it.
The New York Times
The Drifter is a dark, tightly focused thriller having more in common with 40's film noir than a glossy contemporary update like Fatal Attraction. In a clever gender twist Julia (Kim Delaney) gets the Michael Douglas role. Mr. Brand allows the genre's familiarity to work for him, carrying his audience along effortlessly. If Mr. Brand can create this murderous diversion in 17 days for no money, think what he could do if he had, say, a month.
The Hollywood Reporter
The Drifter is an urban thriller that generates its share of goosebumps. Writer-director Larry Brand knows we've seen this "psycho with an obsession'" story before, so he tosses in a generous supply of red herrings to keep us guessing. Directorially, he does a skilled job on a purely visceral level, creating an ominous mood that makes his heroine's descent into terror unsettlingly real. (Kim) Delaney makes an attractive and believable protagaonist. (Miles) O'Keeffe carries off the brooding sexuality of his steely-eyed character. (Al) Shannon's weirdo private eye is enough to make you want to lock the doors and clasp the shutters.
Under (Roger) Corman's frugal thumb, first-time director Larry Brand has successfully created an original, offbeat suspense story (The Drifter) about a woman who just can't seem to get rid of a hitchhiker after a one-night stand with him. It required a good deal less money for Brand to outdo Adrian Lyne's trendy multimiIIion-dollar blockbuster.
Thumbs up...The Drifter is good rude fun....The last fifteen minutes are near classic.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
Drifter a good job all around....This thriller delivers despite its diminutive budget....An effective little thriller, made for a budget that wouldn't cover the trailer rentals on most studio productions. Looks better than most pictures costing twice as much.
The Drifter has a lethal edge that rests on two fine psycho turns (to say more would spoil the surprise), stylish cinematography and a tone that negotiates the fine line between fey romanticism and fatalistic hysteria with remarkabfe grace. A refreshing surprise that proves there's life in low-budget movies yet.
Jeff Craig (Nationally Syndicated Radio)
A relentless frightening pursuit....A cautionary tale of infidelity and insecurity written and directed by Larry Brand, The Drifter allows the terror to creep up on you. The action takes a surprising twist in the final reel and the tables keep turning right up to the final fideout. For a subtly suspenseful ride, pick up The Drifter.
Los Angeles Times
(Writer-director) Brand deftly establishes Delaney's well-played quintessential yupple, smugly satisfied in her career as a fashion designer, in her Southwestern chic apartment – with more cactuses than furniture – and her boyfriend Arthur (Timothy Bottoms), an attorney as upwardly mobile as she is. To her, the hitchhiker, for. all his passionate iovemaking, is as disposable as a used takeout food container.
What a surprise The Drifter turned out to be: a taut stylish exploration of guilt and complicity, it walked the razor's edge between self-awareness and smug homage, between a generic manipulation and simple exploitation, negotiating it with a finesse as breathlessly daring as it was exhilerating to watch.
The New York Times (Re-reviewed for television premiere)
A low-budget tingler called The Drifter clicks intriguingly. It's a tightlly wound yarn with a good harsh windup. (Larry Brand’s) percolating puzzle, reportedly brewed in l7 days, is worth sampling.
At-A-Glance Film Reviews
A Vietnam veteran is haunted by nightmares of what he went through in the war. His wife is supportive, but he seems to be getting worse, not better. I dare not reveal anymore. Other reviews do, but this thriller is best viewed without knowing anything else. The movie kept me guessing until the very end. Backfire is a fine study of a character ridden by guilt.