Vadim has written 12 reviews for films during 2016.

  • Crisis in Six Scenes

    Crisis in Six Scenes

    ★★★

    "As has been widely noted, Woody Allen's Crisis in Six Scenes isn’t really a television series; its six episodes are not particularly self-contained, and plot developments crest and climax willy-nilly regardless of where each segment ends. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour movie, the longest one Allen’s ever made, and with the option of his usual brevity taken away by the demands of serialization, he’s forced to get weird to make it to the end. Even before the truly strange final two episodes,…

  • The Dreamed Path

    The Dreamed Path

    ★★★½

    "In the tradition of Straub-Huillet, this is a movie that simply cannot conceive of, let alone care about, a hypothetical viewer who should be made happy watching this. It is very much Art For Art’s Sake, and while that can be the excuse for a lot of garbage, its integrity of conception and intent is not up for question. I was, therefore, fascinated by the post-screening Q&A, a ritual I know well enough to avoid but in this case I…

  • Yourself and Yours

    Yourself and Yours

    ★★★★

    "The plot components are the same ones Hong normally works with — drinking, attendant addled confrontations, romantic fumbling, women correctly explaining to various men why they’re idiots — but with new variations, per usual. The fights are way uglier; normally, yelling comes rather pathetically, accompanied by weeping after prolonged drinking, but here they start sober, fast and unpleasant. No one announces they’re a director until halfway through, beer and makgeolli are being consumed instead of soju; most crucially, instead of…

  • Masterminds

    Masterminds

    ★★

    "The atemporality is usual for Hess, whose consistent aesthetic is poised somewhere between trailer-park chic and lower-middle-class tackiness: Though Masterminds ostensibly takes place in 1997, hard-working production designers have assembled a nightmare hellscape of leftover detritus from the last century. There are a variety of old Bell telephone booths scattered throughout, and everyone dresses as if they went to a 'best of 1985' anti-vintage sale. Frames are often symmetrical, with each prop placed for maximum visibility, like a junkyard parody…

  • God's Not Dead 2

    God's Not Dead 2

    ★½

    "The first film pandered to a heavy persecution complex; this installment’s relatively subtler, but there are dog whistles aplenty. When the school board is unwilling to directly punish Grace, a board member wonders, 'How do we make this go away without getting blood on our hands?' The public school system and those pesky teachers’ unions are Pontius Pilate, while the ACLU are the Roman soldiers prepping for another round of martyrdom. Kane approaches the parents of the student who asked…

  • Our Little Sister

    Our Little Sister

    ★★★½

    "With its sentimental score, passage of seasons, understated deaths, and aversion to the kind of confrontation that would make viewers truly uncomfortable, this is very much a Kore-eda film, but there’s a steely center: one sister hasn’t gotten completely past her teenage scars and another may never do so, and there’s not much to be done about that. Our Little Sister is deliberately small, but it’s 'nice' (in the most charitable sense) because it’s a safe space to process, acknowledge, and momentarily dispel those feelings."

    Full review here.

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

    ★★★½

    This is a movie made by angry, overgrown infants in the midst of dissolving relationships, and it's somewhat hard to defend; I'm a grown man who checked the junior novelization out from the library a number of times, meaning I weirdly know the plot inside-out but never saw the film except in passing snatches, and it's still hard not to wince at the absurd grotesquerie of the dinner sequence. Dave Kehr wasn't wrong to conclude that "the film betrays no…

  • Neruda

    Neruda

    ★★½

    Guillermo Calderón, Pablo Larraín’s co-writer on The Club, is apparently left to his solo-credited devices and comes up with a suffocating cloud of voiceover that tries to hit some kind of Chandleresque poetic-noir sweet spot and fails repeatedly and intolerably. This approach merges the film’s central meeting of languages - the crime novel-obsessed poet and his policeman persecutor - but is endlessly irritating. Meanwhile, Larraín and DP Sergio Armstrong double down on the visual hazing of The Club, and -…

  • De Palma

    De Palma

    ★★★½

    "Baumbach and Paltrow don’t remove themselves entirely; when De Palma describes mid-’70s United Artists as a 'classy' studio appalled by Carrie, a quick montage of the studio’s offerings includes a blatantly risible shot of dancing Russian peasants from Fiddler on the Roof, quickly/snidely/accurately making the case for De Palma’s obvious aesthetic superiority to his now-dusty prestige peers. Clearly more comfortable talking to fellow directors than he might be otherwise, De Palma offers up details about each film’s budget and how…

  • 10 Cloverfield Lane

    10 Cloverfield Lane

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Isn't the title a spoiler in and of itself? (If I were a blogger, I could get a whole essay out of this.) After Super 8 and Cloverfield, this is the third J.J. Abrams (affiliated) joint in which the monster is seen almost entirely in total darkness the entire time, for ostensibly motivated reasons related to time of day/location but in reality because that means it's less expensive to realize the CGI beast. I totally get it, but at the…

  • Benilde or The Virgin Mother

    Benilde or The Virgin Mother

    ★★★★

    "Anyone who was raised under too protectively sheltered circumstances will get Benilde on a visceral level: it’s effectively the story of a teen confined to her house, ostensibly for her own protection from the outside world, who inevitably goes insane as a consequence. It’s the ’30s, and 18-year-old Benilde (Maria Amélia Matta) has been raised virtually without same-age companions by her misanthropic father. For company, she has a hysterically religious maid and a middle-aged pair of ostensibly benevolent patriarchs in…

  • Embrace of the Serpent

    Embrace of the Serpent

    ★★★

    I may be slightly underrating this. At any rate, it's a nice change of pace.

    Interviewed the director here.