Vadim has written 77 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Utama

    Utama

    ★★½

    Operating under the principle that an ominous cough heard in the first act must go off in the last, Utama turns out to be a fairly tedious harangue about the end of a traditional way of life and destructive ecological change. It’s almost impressive how Grisi drains the repeated sight of llamas—already one of the world’s most inherently comical animals, here also tricked out with pink feathers in their ears—of any humor. For a while, I entertained the possibility that…

  • When You Finish Saving the World

    When You Finish Saving the World

    ★★½

    Programmer Charlie Sextro noted in his intro that Eisenberg’s appeared in many Sundance premieres, including The Squid and the Whale. This movie falls into the incredibly specific category of feature debuts by the child stars of that movie (Eisenberg’s onscreen sibling, Owen Kline, has been in some kind of nebulous post-production on Two Against Nature for years). More broadly, while I’m loath to encourage the idea that A24 has some kind of homogenizing checklist of required elements for their output,…

  • The Most Beautiful Boy in the World

    The Most Beautiful Boy in the World

    ★★½

    2015’s documentary Helmut Burger, Actor embedded itself in Luchino Visconti’s frequent star/last lover’s filthy apartment. The prompt may have been ostensibly tied to high culture but the result was disreputably compelling, allowing Berger to rant at unedited late-night-drunk voicemail length and (sorry) climaxing with him masturbating to, as they say, completion at (?) director Andreas Horvath. John Waters got the camp-trash idea and named it the best film of 2015; Berger eventually filed a lawsuit. A companion piece in the…

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

    Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

    ★★½

    Baron Cohen’s method sometimes involves going into people’s spaces, but he’s also prone to constructing situations and seeing if people manifest their worst selves accordingly (or if he can at least freak them out). In one, Borat and his daughter attend a debutante cotillion, thereby inevitably catching middle-aged men saying creepy things—a small “gotcha” before an extended gross-out gag that didn’t land for me. One of the fathers at this event, Will Davis, describes how he got into this situation…

  • Léon: The Professional

    Léon: The Professional

    ★★½

    Just a note that I didn't actually watch Léon, because that is the name of the full director's cut. I just streamed the original theatrical release version (available on, of all things, a free CBS portal on Apple TV), which was more than enough.

  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    ★★½

    "A serial of serials, The Rise of Skywalker is a calamitously overstuffed series of exposition dumps, relentless incident and canon box-checking, like watching someone who’s on four hours of sleep and three Red Bulls try to do an immense task in as little time as possible so they can crash again—the movie is barreling through about three times as much information as it could reasonably bear." OK, we're done here.

  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    ★★½

    "I know everyone is tired, anxious and could probably use a hug; nonetheless, with no venom against the late Mr. Rogers, his status as one of the closest things contemporary American culture has to an agreed-upon secular saint is a trifle bonkers, no?" More here, from TIFF.

  • Synonyms

    Synonyms

    ★★½

    "The press copy for Nadav Lapid’s third feature stresses its autobiographical ramifications: 'like his Synonyms protagonist, [Lapid] soon felt he had to leave Israel determined never to come back. Uprooting himself, he moved to Paris because of his self-professed admiration for Napoleon and a passion for soccer star Zidane and Godard movies.' Quite a package there, and Lapid’s stand-in Yoav (Tom Mercier) is consistent with that biographical sketch: one of the first things he does upon arriving to Paris is…

  • The Brink

    The Brink

    ★★½

    "Bannon has constantly made himself available for coverage over the years; I’ve certainly read my fair share of profiles about him, but everything’s bled together, so I honestly can’t tell you which details here are breaking news. Brink is a portrait of a two-smartphones-and-Red Bull kind of guy who brings a manager’s mentality to everything. Bannon seems to love nothing more than scheduling endless meetings and conference calls—at one point, the Bannon Cinematic Universe collapses in on itself as he…

  • American Dharma

    American Dharma

    ★★½

    "In some (highly regrettable) ways, American Dharma is a movie I’ve been unconsciously preparing to review for the last ten years or so. I was reading Breitbart before there was Breitbart, via the aforementioned Nolte’s blog, Dirty Harry’s Place. Now apparently scrubbed from the net (alas!), this was where Nolte talked about how much he loved the Death Wish series and hated Communism; when the late Andrew Breitbart launched his web presence, Nolte was a super-logical choice to head its…

  • La respuesta

    La respuesta

    ★★½

    Inevitably time capsule-fascinating to compare/contrast this with fellow traveler-movies from other countries; as its own object, pretty flat. Initially presents as a film about a couple (successfully!) negotiating an open relationship while also strategizing student dissent, which frankly seems like a lot to handle all at once, but the dynamics are less complex than that. He’s a frowning, bearded, Very Serious type ready to make the Raskolnikov leap into killing the rich rather than just protesting them; she’s a server…

  • A Million Little Pieces

    A Million Little Pieces

    ★★½

    "Gear-switch: I am not, by and large, much for schadenfreude-fueled viewing. I have seen, and continue to be assigned on a freelance basis, more than enough garbage for review purposes that I do not actively seek out low-quality work for kicks; still, when I learned a few weeks ago that a film version of James Frey’s infamous “memoir” A Million Little Pieces was somehow a movie in the year of our lord 2018, I knew I had to set aside…