Vadim has written 19 reviews for films during 2019.

  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    ★★★

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

    I watched this a second time to see if I would like it more or if it would remain my least favorite QT since Inglourious Basterds, and though I ended up liking the opening stretch significantly more, this doesn’t ultimately crunch. The first time around, there were a lot of moments where I wondered, “Is this relaxing or just boring?” The second time around, I was very into it for a while. And, on a production design, world-reconstruction level, this…

  • 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.

  • No Safe Spaces

    No Safe Spaces

    For my sins, I went back to the conservative beat one more time.

  • 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…

  • Gemini Man

    Gemini Man

    ★★★

    Wrote about this here.

    One thing I couldn't work in: there's a quick shot of Benedict Wong up at night, keeping watch with his pet toucan. Literally every other seemingly incidental detail in the script is inevitably a plant: Will Smith kills a bee and says he has an allergy to bees, which turns out to be a setup for...well, nevermind; Mary Elizabeth Winstead drinks a boilermaker, which prompts to Smith to note it's a cop drink and her to…

  • Knives Out

    Knives Out

    ★★★

    "A passion project Rian Johnson has been mentioning since at least 2010, Knives Out will presumably be a cornerstone of some future retrospective on movies made after fulfilling the imperative to successfully execute a blockbuster, alongside Ridley Scott’s The Counselor and Colin Trevorrow’s The Book of Henry." More here. (This may gain half a star at some point.)

  • The Laundromat

    The Laundromat

    ★★★

    "Soderbergh’s other Netflix movie this year, The Laundromat, turns out to be something of an anthology film, and thus by definition pretty uneven. The subject is off-shore shell accounts, specifically those administered by the firm Mossack Fonseca, as revealed in the 2015 leak of the Panama Papers. I despise The Big Short for all kinds of reasons but give Adam McKay grudging credit for not simplifying the mind-numbing particulars behind credit-default swaps and the other previously obscure financial instruments inadvertently…

  • Life is Fare

    Life is Fare

    ★★★½

    This one fell through the cracks a little bit and is a real treat. I profiled director/star Sephora Woldu here.

  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

    ★★★

    There’s a brief shot of Ingrid Thulin coming out of Notre Dame. Whether this is Paris (where Four Horsemen was originally supposed to be filmed) or Hollywood (where it was mostly shot, when it turned out the locals were still understandably queasy about reenacting the occupation) is impossible to determine: there’s the doorway and wire fencing to the side, but no wider view to provide clues as to whether it’s soundstage or actuality. At frame left are three women, extras…

  • Killers Anonymous

    Killers Anonymous

    ★½

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

    I'm the kind of person who'll read plot synopses of horror/thriller films I'll never see just to find out what the twist is. Wikipedia does not have a full synopsis for this at this time, so if you're morbidly curious (this was a Sight & Sound assignment): this is one of those mostly-one-set thrillers where people sit around and talk at each other to kill time until enough of the running time has been achieved and the Big Twist can be…

  • Toy Story 4

    Toy Story 4

    ★★★

    "Arriving a full 24 years after the first installment (long enough for CG water to finally be mastered; I’m impressed) Toy Story 4 improves on its misbegotten predecessor, an unceasingly loud affair that climaxed with weirdly intense imagery of the toys on a conveyor belt heading towards an incinerator. It made me think of the Holocaust, and I know I’m not the only person who had that reaction (although showing it to a group of children and pausing it at…