Vadim has written 249 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • R.M.N.

    R.M.N.

    ★★★

    Matthias (Marin Gregoire) is introduced working in a German sheep-slaughtering factory; when a factory supervisor curses him as a “lazy Gypsy,” Matthias promptly headbutts him and hits the road back to his Transylvania hometown. Everyone’s left home to find work elsewhere, which we know because the characters keep saying that, and Matthias’s bakery manager ex-girlfriend Csilla (Judith State) has been forced to recruit foreign laborers for minimum wage positions. Her hiring of two Sri Lankan employees (Gihan Edirisinghe and Amitha…

  • Brother and Sister

    Brother and Sister

    ★★★

    Arnaud Desplechin’s Brother and Sister ended to the audible reception of somewhere around seven boos, two derisive whistles and nothing else; if you’re someone who believes indifference is a worse reaction than active hostility, this somehow seemed to split the worst possible difference. Consensus holds, not inaccurately, that Desplechin’s peak work is, at least for now, behind him, with the arguable exception of My Golden Days—non-coincidentally, a prequel to 1996’s My Sex Life. His experiments outside of erratic interpersonal dramas,…

  • Scarlet

    Scarlet

    ★★★

    At the Nice airport, a sign greets arrivals with “Welcome to the Côte d’Azur” in French, Russian and (smaller type) English, giving an idea of the area’s most regular visitors. But at this year’s Cannes, the yacht count is likely to be down, what with presumably diminished attendance from extremely wealthy Russians. The first person to point that out was a friend before leaving, the second a stranger on the bus from the airport to Cannes—one of a pair arriving…

  • How to Save a Dead Friend

    How to Save a Dead Friend

    ★★★

    Marusya Syroechkovskaya’s How to Save a Dead Friend engages directly with the Putin-shaped present. Primarily constructed from footage Syroechkovskaya shot between 2005 and 2016, Friend demonstrates how far we’ve come since Jonathan Caouette assembling of Tarnation exclusively from home movie archives was a breakthrough. Now, any compulsive self-documenter can spend years filming, then decide which life thread to extract for their first film—which is not to diss Syroechkovskaya, a disciplined shooter from her teen years onwards. Friend focuses on her…

  • Top Gun: Maverick

    Top Gun: Maverick

    ★★★

    In some ways the press kit is more interesting than Maverick itself, with just over 30 pages of making-of material covering a lot, all grounded in Cruise. He tells stories about what he learned from Harold Becker on the set of Taps, how Sydney Pollack got him to take flying lessons and, most crucially, positions a large part of his goals for Maverick in capturing flights accurately, particularly G-force strain on pilots’ faces. That meant five months of intensive training…

  • The Balcony Movie

    The Balcony Movie

    ★★★

    In 1999’s Taka historia (translation: “that’s the way it is”), Łoziński made use of his apartment building by looking inwards to profile two neighbors, frequently roaming the building’s interior courtyard. Here, he turns his gaze outwards, setting up shop on a street-facing balcony. Acting as his own camera operator (and, arguably more impressively, boom operator), Łoziński spends many passing seasons standing and trying a variety of tactics to rope passers-by into acting as his subjects. The film is structured, perhaps…

  • West Side Story

    West Side Story

    ★★★

    For the eighth year running, I did a round-up of 2021’s US releases shot on 35mm, and this film seems like a fine place to park it on this site.

  • The Cathedral

    The Cathedral

    ★★★

    Regarding the voiceover over the Christmas Eve or Christmas night: that take was about eight minutes. And I did that not because I wanted it to last eight minutes of the film, but because we had prepared gifts for them. I mean, I had set up a whole little scenario for them. And I figured, “This is so wonderful to watch. I’m just going to let them go and do what they feel that they can do for as long…

  • Meet Me In The Bathroom

    Meet Me In The Bathroom

    ★★★

    Bizarrely, this opening is essentially repeated at film’s end, with the same narration now rushing back through the footage we’ve just seen. But, bookending portentousness aside, Bathroom delivers the not-on-YouTube early footage fans want: the Strokes in 2000, early Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol shows later that yeare and so on. To the extent that Bathroom got me pumped and and looking up Nancy Whang singles after watching, that’s pretty much exactly what you want from a music doc. Like…

  • Speak No Evil

    Speak No Evil

    ★★★

    Shudder announced the acquisition of Christian Tafdrup’s Speak No Evil just before the film’s Sundance premiere. It’s probably one of this year’s breakout titles—at any rate, enough people in my Twitter feed recommended it to redirect me from previously planned viewing and Tafdrup’s freshly signed to WME. In his “Meet the Artist” video, the co-writer (with his brother, Mads) and director displays an entertaining flair for hammy hucksterism in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents intro vein. Sitting in front of a…

  • Benedetta

    Benedetta

    ★★★

    A simplistic model of “humanistic” screenwriting complexity is to produce characters who initially seem Good but turn out to Do Bad Things and vice versa; Verhoeven regularly proposes a world with no well- or ill-meaning actors, where everyone’s waiting to take turn to get the upper hand and expose their true, almost invariably malign motives and/or assert themselves via brute violence. These actions are understandable as survival mechanisms within foul matrices (American society, the Catholic Church, righting nationalism); systems are the ultimate villains, but the people within them aren’t that far behind.

    More here.

  • The Card Counter

    The Card Counter

    ★★★

    In American Gigolo, Light Sleeper and First Reformed, redemption gets conflated with sex in the single figure of a romantic interest; saddled with the latest iteration of this unenviable function, Haddish is unprepared to make the leap to her “comic performer shows off dramatic chops” role. But both the hits and misses in Card Counter are irrelevant to its central charm, which is comparing/contrasting how it varies the tropes of Schrader’s self-created genre. Gigolo harvested “Call Me” for two hours…