Vadim has written 114 reviews for films during 2012.

  • I Are You, You Am Me

    I Are You, You Am Me

    ★★★½

    Only my second Ôbayashi — after House, natch, which works best in clip-party segments. This is equally impressive, but much more casually: dig the many shots of bicycles being ridden up and down hills parallel to trains and cars, elegantly impressive choreography of events that can only be harnessed, not arranged for. (Wikipedia tells me this is the first of nine films Ôbayashi shot in Onomichi, a suburb of Hiroshima.) The seaside vacation here clarified for me that that segment…

  • The Man Who Left His Will on Film

    The Man Who Left His Will on Film

    ★★★

    Already in 1970, the Japanese student movement has decayed into petty aphoristic squabbling about personal property and proper political perception, their squabbles a first draft to be revisited and rendered laughable in Regular Lovers et al. (The fierceness of United Red Army is nowhere to be found here.) Confronted with their dead comrade's final film, they're baffled and infuriated by his static shots of anonymous cityscapes, wondering why he made a document so politically hollowed-out. Perhaps there's political intent lurking…

  • Tabu

    Tabu

    ★★★½

    Here's my review.

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

    ★★½

    Oh is this the way they say the future's meant to feel? Or just 20,000 hobbits tramping through a field? It's not every day that the global filmgoing public is asked to evaluate an entirely new technology rather than simply the latest seasonal blockbuster's minor upgrades. The 48 fps of The Bobbitt: An Unexpected Gurney (thanks to Matt Singer for that one) is so compellingly different from anything I've ever seen it kept me occupied for the first two hours,…

  • Demons

    Demons

    ★★★

    "A tough sit," as they say, and I've got almost nothing. First act's a long con performed on a samurai — something that only becomes obvious gradually, to us and Genko (Katsuo Nakumara). Dramatically very overheated and demonstrative in the usual samurai movie manner, and presumably there's a wealth of political disillusion and subtext in its portrait of a madman performing one-man mass extermination (the protestor becoming as corrupted as the protested, or something). The violence is still effectively bloody. Mostly seems like a technical exercise in finding 100 ways to underlight and selectively shadow stage sets.

  • It's Such a Beautiful Day

    It's Such a Beautiful Day

    ★★★

    TOO BAD I'M DYING AND CAN'T APPRECIATE IT. Don Hertzfeldt is a very funny fellow, and I appreciate him sticking to his stick-figure guns after all these years. I have, nonetheless, significant reservations about watching him do his very own Uncle Boonmee; the contemplative opening "shot" (stop-motion night sky and nothing more) seems like an aggressive, possibly ill-advised attempt to use his chosen medium to go live-action master shot. The multi-frame split-screen and flashing backgrounds are pretty half-assed, and I detect a touch of strained seriousness. But apparently that's mostly just me.

  • Playing for Keeps

    Playing for Keeps

    ★½

    This was seen for review for Sight & Sound. This review will not be online. Poor world.

  • That Obscure Object of Desire

    That Obscure Object of Desire

    ★★★½

    "This one is practically a testament," said producer Serge Silberman on the eve of this film's American opening, before worrying that Buñuel wouldn't make another film (correctly, as it happened). Not just a restaging of Viridiana and Tristana (forming a trilogy of frustrated sexual desire for Fernando Rey) but a kind of grand synopsis of Buñuel's recurring preoccupations in general, with a kind of detached, proudly anachronistic gaze upon the '70s. (Anti-bourgeois bourgeois that he is, Buñuel's identification with Rey…

  • The Whole Town's Talking

    The Whole Town's Talking

    ★★★½

    By my count, I've seen 13 John Ford films so far including this one...but IMDB has him credited as director in part or whole of some 144 titles, so it feels like I'm not even remotely close to getting a handle on what Ford's signature elements might be. (Compare/contrast with e.g. golden age Hollywood fellow traveler Howard Hawks, whose work practically screams its idiosyncrasies.) So it's hard for me to isolate what elements of The Whole Town's Talking are "Fordian,"…

  • No Blade of Grass

    No Blade of Grass

    ★★★

    Not a terribly good movie — the performances are overheated, the dialogue overly blunt — but a remarkably forceful one. Opening montage of global devastation is composed of actual, unstaged contemporary damage to the land (anticipating Bresson's angry montage of ecological destruction in The Devil, Probably), and the film never really loses a sense of imminent wrath. The savagery is all rather overdone, but there's some laughs to be had out of the way people lose their temper with leader…

  • The Day of the Jackal

    The Day of the Jackal

    ★★★½

    Unusually successful in compressing the details of Forsyth's novel and following its structure almost exactly, hence a pioneering effort in the procedural "genre" (is it a genre? I think so). Extensive European location shooting now seems more valuable than ever, the labors behind the camera no less detail oriented than its antihero's. My only complaint, really, is that I wish that all the French characters weren't forced to speak English constantly in deferral to the marketplace; it's almost enough to…

  • Red Sorghum

    Red Sorghum

    ★★★

    "I am no good with delicate substance," Zhang Yimou admitted in a 1999 interview with "Film Quarterly." True enough, though who could've predicted that Yimou would eventually give up his anti-authoritarian inclinations entirely and become, effectively, an agent of the state? Weird to watch Red Sorghum in that light, even though the film itself was very much a state product: the sorghum was planted by locals on government orders to facilitate filming, and Mo Yan (so I've read anyway) is…