Vadim has written 98 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2013.

  • La Libertad

    La Libertad


    It's only been 12 years, but this already feels like some kind of cinematic turning point — more modest in throwing down the gauntlet than e.g. L'Avventura, but a movie whose strangeness/divisiveness at the moment of release is hard to recapture. Alonso said he was influenced by Kiarostami and thought of himself in the same vein as Tsai Ming-liang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul; slow cinema directors all, and Tsai and Kiarostami had already been working in that loosely defined idiom for…

  • A Song Is Born

    A Song Is Born


    Despised both by Hawks himself and most Hawksians, which baffles me a little: Danny Kaye is an admittedly acquired frantic taste, but as a showcase for that kind of mugging it's good fun. Ball Of Fire's emphasis on language allowed Billy Wilder to congratulate himself for his quick and total assimilation of American slang; here, the replacement emphasis on popular music is surprisingly comprehensive, with the long road from e.g. cakewalk songs to bop plausibly diagrammed on a blackboard. The…

  • Polyester



    Francine Fishpaw (Divine) of 538 (Jane) Wyman way gets more than the full Sirkian lot of suburban oppressions to work through, though aside from the opening intro of her house (with blue outside light refracted/distorted Fassinberishly through the windows) this is proudly cruddy filmmaking. The John Waters stock company internalize, magnify and vilify everything awful about conservatively mainstream American society, transfiguring it into lots of shrieking camp. A lot a lot a lot to take, and my limited exposure to…

  • Man's Favorite Sport?

    Man's Favorite Sport?


    Red Buttons firing a rocket to capture monkeys when I realized Hatari! was a lawless movie in which anything could happen at any time — but it comes pretty late in, and there's some tedium in getting there. Man's Favorite Sport? establishes its anarchic spirit way earlier, when Rock Hudson decides he needs a safe space to tell Paula Prentiss his terrible secret and announces, with no set-up, "Let's go to the piano museum." What piano museum? Well, it's a…

  • Inside Llewyn Davis

    Inside Llewyn Davis


    O Brother, Where Art Thou? claimed to be “based upon The Odyssey, by Homer," a link explicitly picked up here when the missing cat Llewyn Davis has been looking for most of the movie returns home — and his name is Ulysses! But the continuity's also musical, Joel Coen told Robert Christgau: “If you trace it back far enough it's all Americana, the same kind of music, the same family tree [...] We felt the folk music revival of the…

  • The Thing From Another World

    The Thing From Another World


    Dimitri Tiomkin's theremin is terrified, but Hawks knows better. (Or maytbe it's Nyby, whose generally perceived lack of input is a more vexed issue than I initially realized, regardless of his apparently undistinguished subsequent output.) The presiding spirit's familiar, including a typical Hawks self-quotation: like Cary Grant in I Was A Male War Bride, Patrick Hendry's told by his colleague/rhetorical sparring partner that he had "hands like an octopus." Their budding romance is unavoidably interrupted by James Arness in a…

  • Monkey Business

    Monkey Business


    "Still worse than infantilism, degradation, or decadence, however, is the fascination these tendencies exert on the same mind which perceives them as evil," Jacques Rivette wrote in 1953. Monkey Business "is not only a story about this fascination, it offers itself to the spectator as a demonstration of the power of the fascination." That seems about right.

  • Twentieth Century

    Twentieth Century


    So. Much. Yelling. I find this kind of continuous hysteria funnier now than on first high school viewing, when it was kind of terrifying, but it's a lot to take. The image that stuck with me from then and which still seems emblematic, is John Barrymore throwing a can of black paint onto a wall out of sheer frustration, watching as it drips down and totally takes over the frame. If you can't make a point quietly, try the visual…

  • Trouble Every Day

    Trouble Every Day


    I hadn't seen this since it came out, memory was alarmingly hazy, and Steve Erickson said "It has a memorable cum shot." I said I thought I didn't recall that particular cum shot, but re-watching this I realized gosh, I actually did; that's one incredibly specific, er, shot. Much more fun to watch than I remembered (though memory's got nothing to do with it; I was just 16 and not equipped for this at the time); don't find this as devastatingly epochal as others do, but I'm much more into Warm And Fuzzy Denis (U.S. Go Home, Nenette Et Boni, 35 Shots Of Rum).

  • I Was a Male War Bride

    I Was a Male War Bride


    Hawks has a penchant for quasi-documentary interpolations, and there's a moment here whose veracity's unquestionable: Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan on a boat, frantically paddling so as not to plunge over a dam. Their dialogue's too rough to be written and the sound's appropriately faint: clearly the mic's on land and sort of/not really picking up every detail, and they're struggling for real. As with Air Force, the plot lurches from one segment to another with a one-thing-after-another lumpiness reminiscent…

  • The Counselor

    The Counselor


    Ridiculously OTT misogyny: can't remember what decade produced the last artwork allowing me to watch/read men sitting around musing about what "women" (every last one of them) want or crave, not to mention predatory Cameron Diaz tattooed with a cheetah's spots (!). McCarthy's Philosophical Agenda is pretty basic (life is terrible and meaningless, women are whores and succubi) and Texas macho (A Man Defines Himself By How He Accepts Death). All that said, this is pretty compelling: two hours of…

  • The Conversation

    The Conversation


    Deep breath yes yes an immortal classic one of the great films of all time not fit to kiss its boots let me punt this over to Theo Panayides for a bit of heavy lifting: "the Catholic guilt is so shallow and tacked-on it's almost insulting, the dream sequence sucks big-time." Yup, although it's true I nearly always have trouble with heavily Catholic symbolism (personal block; that whole system of symbolic weights and guilt just doesn't connect with me), but…