Vadim has written 37 reviews for films during 2015.

  • God's Not Dead

    God's Not Dead

    In the small town world of God's Not Dead, you're either a Christian or you're not, and if you're not, you have to explain why. You can't simply "be" an atheist, or a Jew, or a Muslim, or a happy-go-lucky person who just doesn't care; if you're not a Christian, you probably secretly "hate God" (as it turns out Kevin Sorbo, avowed atheist, does) or are otherwise activiely antagonistic to what everyone knows must be true, even if they don't…

  • Serena

    Serena

    ★★

    "Played as a kind of constant wake, grimly marching on to tragedy, Serena is hurt by relentless applications of Johan Söderqvist’s unimaginatively somber score and DP Morten Søborg’s reliance on lots of over-the-shoulder handheld shots, the camera swinging close to and around people’s faces and shoulders. There’s simply not that much to see in the performances. The Czech Republic stands in for the South, which isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. But Pemberton’s estate never seems like more than a few laboriously aged constructions populated by anonymous, largely silent extras—in other words, something like McCabe & Mrs. Miller's Vancouver-built mining town, only it never comes to convincing life."

    Meh.

  • Amour Fou

    Amour Fou

    ★★★½

    "Henriette is initially resistant to entering a mutual suicide pact, but when diagnosed with an incurable tumor she changes her mind, and not for the last time. It’s one of Hausner’s little jokes (repetition being a key principle of comedy) that this mutual consummation is scheduled, canceled and reattempted time and time again: this is a mutually destructive relationship comprised of only one, initially hypothetical act, with ancillary sexual and social relations virtually elided. This cycle is reminiscent of a…

  • Former Models

    Former Models

    ★★★★

    "The simplest way to describe this — a fantastical biography of Milli Vanilli’s Robert Pilatus, i.e. 'the one who killed himself' — eliminates its argumentative byways and additional layers. A prologue appropriates consumer-grade video of a plastics factory, its tonalities an ambient hum slowly clarified and reduced into a pure F-major chord, transforming the industrial apparatus into a producer of music. (Another interspersed thread buttressing that argument comes in thoughts from Andy Hildebrand, inventor of the seismic-wave detector that inadvertently…

  • Everly

    Everly

    ★½

    "Consumer guidance first: Everly went down a storm at Austin’s annual Fantastic Fest, where it was well-received by viewers inclined to enjoy all things “badass” in a fanboy idiom. Director Joe Lynch comes by this sensibility presumably honestly and from a place of deep affection (the title of his previous feature, Knights Of Badassdom, says it all). As such, viewers similarly convinced that girls with guns versus sadistic and eccentric Japanese killers equals automatic entertainment will probably be gratified."

    Not great, Bob.

  • The Fog

    The Fog

    ★★★½

    If John Carpenter was a chef, he'd be a nose-to-tail/root-to-stalk guy, because that's his approach to shot composition: all parts of the frame matter, even the presumably neutral ones. The opening scenes of The Fog play like an extended riff on Close Encounters' abduction-of-Barry sequence, in which objects come to life, possessed entities threatening physical harm. In a wide interior house shot, an armchair sits frame center, seemingly just a negative blocking element, then suddenly shoots forward towards the camera;…

  • Pervert Park

    Pervert Park

    ★★★

    "Predictably rough going, Frida and Lasse Barkfors’ Pervert Park focuses on the residents of Florida Justice Transitions. In this St. Petersburg trailer park community, 120 registered sex offenders live, communing in group therapy sessions and providing support for each other. The Barkfors’ structure is straightforward and not terribly satisfying: a few offenders are highlighted, their direct-to-camera recitations — of general life story and specifically what crime they committed, complete with unelided teary breakdowns — either filmed head-on or layered on…

  • The Duke of Burgundy

    The Duke of Burgundy

    ★★★½

    I was fighting The Duke of Burgundy hard for the first 15 minutes because its digital sheen didn't fit connotationally at all with its obvious reference points. The pre-credits sequence establishing putative sub Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna)— a '70s bookishly demure black-haired girl, peddling on a bike through a field on her way to a sinister rendezous at the mansion up the way to the strains of a knock-off Morricone tune with wordless female vocals (e.g.) — is structurally exactly what…

  • Matrimony's Speed Limit

    Matrimony's Speed Limit

    ★★½

    The just thing would've been for the steamroller to run them both over.

  • Z for Zachariah

    Z for Zachariah

    ★★★

    "Ann (Margot Robbie) lives alone on a farm with her dog, scavenging the city for usable materials in her radiation suit, then returning to her mercifully uncontaminated valley. Devout and lonely, Ann’s solitary existence is complicated by the arrival of Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an unexpected survivor. He bathes in radiated water, she nurses him back to health, and soon they’ve entered into a sexless, pre-lapsarian/post-apocalypse lifestyle. In the absence of other partner options, the entrance of sexuality seems (at least…

  • Tangerine

    Tangerine

    ★★★½

    "Sin-Dee (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez) sits on one side of a donut shop booth, her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) on the other. The camera’s on the table, restricted to shot-countershot looking up, with large windows setting both in sharp urban relief against different halves of a large L.A. intersection. With rapid cutting back and forth reminiscent of the dashboard cams in Kiarostami’s 10, Tangerine‘s opening is both intimate and epic, and it’s exciting to see all this space so clearly…

  • That Cold Day in the Park

    That Cold Day in the Park

    ★★★½

    For ~40 minutes, That Cold Day in the Park seems of the sub-Tennessee Williams school of hothouse claustrophobia, which means what's really going on can't be directly acknowledged. Comically repressed socialite Sandy Dennis' only diversions are managing a huge apartment's waitstaff and listening to her late father's friends carp about nothing in particular at dinner. Sex can't be acknowledged: Dennis' invitation to "make love to me" is painfully dragged out, even that mild euphemism hard for her to articulate. When…