Vadim has written 13 reviews for films during 2021.

  • 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…

  • Earwig

    Earwig

    ★★★

    This is Hadzihalilovic’s English-language debut, a pandemic production which began shooting November of last year. These factors aren’t as important as they might be for other filmmakers: she’s never been dialogue-driven, preferring layered atmospheric unease instead, nor aimed for naturalistic performances—in any case, I doubt this has more than 100 lines. The pandemic factor, too, is imperceptible without background knowledge: Hadzihalilovic’s previous studies in isolation make her ideally suited for the production particulars of this moment.

    More here.

  • Dune

    Dune

    ★★

    The biggest problem, though, is Hans Zimmer, whose score is incredibly loud and unremittingly the dominant sound for more of the movie’s 155 minutes than not. Zimmer’s approach to musical cultural appropriation has been blithe since at least 1994’s The Lion King, while his subsequent rise to Coachella fame has accelerated improbably. Both worlds collide in Dune’s score, a nightmare barrage of field-filling drums punctuated by the odd muezzin-ish call to prayer—given how fraught the material already is (brown-skinned desert…

  • Blackmail

    Blackmail

    ★★★

    [sound version, the last time I saw the silent one and I can’t believe these can’t be logged separately]

  • Serene Velocity

    Serene Velocity

    Here’s a little piece about visiting the hallway.

  • Annette

    Annette

    ★★★

    Leos Carax’s Annette begins with a variant on Holy Motors’s “Entrac’te,” now split from one mid-film break into opening and (mid-end-credits) closing musical numbers that set a similarly grimly determined/celebratory tone. The director and his real-life daughter are among the first people seen, leading Sparks and the film’s main cast out of the recording studio and into the world. Adam Driver gets on a motorcycle and zooms into the night to begin his diagetic story proper as confrontational stand-up comic…

  • Teenage Emotions

    Teenage Emotions

    ★★★½

    This is a good movie that I recommend, and I talked to Frederic Da about making it here.

  • Cusp
  • The Blazing World

    The Blazing World

    ★★

    At this point The Blazing World starts to resemble Ready Player One if the latter hadn’t, Overlook Hotel sequence aside, rendered its references as avatars and characters within an original (relatively, anyway) visual world of its own construction and instead made every single shot full-on pastiche. In a production design-minded way, Blazing is impressive, but to no end worth pursuing. On her quest, Margaret’s first dropped into a fantasy desert world to face off against her mom as a mask-wearing…

  • El Planeta

    El Planeta

    ★★★½

    I generally strive to be a well-informed viewer; in the case of Amalia Ulman’s El Planeta, however, I was perhaps better served by going in uncharacteristically ignorant. Because I didn’t really know anything about Ulman besides the fact that she’s a performance/video/web-artist, I wasn’t picking up on any of her debut feature’s connections to the personas she’s developed on Instagram and elsewhere. Instead, Ulman’s debut feature, shot in the town of Gijón, where she grew up, registered as exactly the type of movie I like, a droll comedy formally descended from Éric Rohmer.

    Good movie!

  • The Most Beautiful Boy in the World

    The Most Beautiful Boy in the World

    ★★½

    2015’s documentary Helmut Burger, Actor embedded itself in Luchino Visconti’s frequent star/last lover’s filthy apartment. The prompt may have been ostensibly tied to high culture but the result was disreputably compelling, allowing Berger to rant at unedited late-night-drunk voicemail length and (sorry) climaxing with him masturbating to, as they say, completion at (?) director Andreas Horvath. John Waters got the camp-trash idea and named it the best film of 2015; Berger eventually filed a lawsuit. A companion piece in the…

  • Atlantis

    Atlantis

    ★★★½

    I’m not crazy about what I wrote about this from TIFF, but it’ll serve and this movie needs a signal boost as it “enters American release,” so posting here.