Vadim has written 13 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2020.

  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things

    I'm Thinking of Ending Things

    ★★★½

    Adapted from Iain Reid’s 2016 novel, Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things returns to familiar preoccupations—solipsistic men and idealized girlfriends, already subjective memory’s decay, aging and death, ambitious futility. From the book Kaufman retains the text of page one (an interior monologue from the unnamed female narrator), some dialogue from the subsequent first chapter and the course of events up to about page 150 (out of 210). Otherwise, the dialogue’s almost entirely been junked before a final act of…

  • Pajeú

    Pajeú

    ★★★½

    "Diógenes got my attention within two minutes by briefly seeming to promise a horror movie with an opening daylight nightmare sequence of Maristela (Fatima Muniz) crossing a small bridge over the stream, then stopping and turning her head, her gaze arrested by a freaky-looking creature sitting mid-stream that ever-so-slowly unfolds and starts rising into the air. This is almost the equivalent of placing a bait-and-switch trailer at the beginning of your own movie—the nightmarish vision recurs, but without any additional…

  • A Voluntary Year

    A Voluntary Year

    ★★★½

    Everything I've read about this basically admits that the person writing has never heard of co-director Henner Winckler, and neither had I, so I looked him up. Short answer: he made two features early on as the Berlin School was getting its first features out, working with production company Schramm Film as did Angela Schanelec, Ulrich Köhler, Thomas Arslan and Christian Petzold: "when I was looking for a production company and noticed that they had produced these films by Arslan,…

  • Vanilla Sky

    Vanilla Sky

    ★★★½

    Every Crowe movie from Jerry Maguire onwards worries over the exact same scenario: a man who’s important in his field experiences failure and must rebuild.* Crowe was obsessed by the possibility of failure long before he actually failed (at least in terms of commercial performance and critical perception—again, I’m a fan) and the movies became a self-fulfilling prophecy. This tremendous fear of overreach and being leveled by hubris has big "gifted and talented kid meets world" energy behind it, which…

  • Bacurau

    Bacurau

    ★★★½

    I never did end up writing about this. But I did write some journalism about the first nine weeks of "virtual cinemas," the box office returns from those runs, whether those are numbers are good (and if so, for whom), and whether this window of exhibition is here to stay permanently. And since Bacurau is one of the early success stories of this experiment, I'm parking this link here.

  • The Pageant

    The Pageant

    ★★★½

    " The idea of an event called 'Miss Holocaust Survivor Beauty Pageant' seems so self-evidently dystopian that not even Southland Tales would have thought to include it, and my first reaction wouldn’t certainly align with the cheery evaluation of Ted Thornhill, filing for the Daily Mail on the 2016 edition documented in Ipeker’s film: 'These women show that joy can come from even the darkest of experiences.' My skin was crawling from the first scene, where two women from the…

  • Adaptation.

    Adaptation.

    ★★★½

    "There’s zero chance I was the only one who went to film school shortly after (fall of 2004) with a firm animus against McKee specifically, and 'good screenwriting practices' generally, stoked by Adaptation. The NYU reality turned out to be way grimmer than expected." More here.

  • Intimate Distances

    Intimate Distances

    ★★★½

    "Phillip Warnell’s Intimate Distances immediately situates itself at an intersection I know well: Steinway St. and 34th Ave. in Queens, the intersection of the closest M/R train stop to the (indefinitely shuttered) Museum of the Moving Image. DP Jarred Alterman’s camera rests on a roof, slowly zooming in and out of a (now mouthwatering) procession of normal New Yorkers going about their daily business, slowly settling on a short, white-haired white woman leisurely pacing back and forth. Over the next…

  • Mysterious Skin

    Mysterious Skin

    ★★★½

    "Mysterious Skin wasn’t 'sexually explicit' relative to such contemporary, 'boundary-pushing' releases as the unsimulated low-fi sex of Nine Songs or the considerably glossier The Dreamers, with its featured attraction of Michael Pitt’s penis as part of another attempt to reclaim the NC-17 for respectability." More here.

  • Kokoloko

    Kokoloko

    ★★★½

    I'm not entirely sure what the function of this is, but here's my interview with Gerardo Naranjo about his new movie, which is definitely fun, nominally premiered at this year's Tribeca, and which I have no idea when pretty much anyone reading this will be able to see it. I watched it on a streaming link from a sales agency watermarked twice over.

  • Ghost World

    Ghost World

    ★★★½

    "Ghost World is exactly the same as when I saw it at the precisely correct age of 15: teen angst springing in part from the (not incorrect) perception that American life is basically a banal nightmare to be escaped from, if not actively scorned, at every possible opportunity. Theoretically 18-year-olds living in 2001, Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) seem less like millennials on the cusp of workplace/college entry than especially snide Gen X’ers, their disdain (and the film’s) unevenly distributed around a number of targets, some more justifiable than others." More here.

  • Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day

    ★★★½

    This is one long joke about reshoots, changing actor reactions take by take, and continuity, which isn’t automatically a metaphor for anything, just a logistical pain in the ass. But it’s also an opportunity for redoes and seeing how each choice produces new, branching-off results, and I’m surprised every Hong movie since like A Tale of Cinema hasn’t been compared to this.

    This is a peak “Bill Murray vehicle” for him to be quippy, reflexively disdainful and so stuck within…