Vadim has written 235 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Widows

    Widows

    ★★★

    "A certain ideological incoherence is probably unavoidably imbricated in any major production, and I was amused to see in the end credits that Widows (a film, in part, unabashedly about systemic racism) credits as a consultant Bernard Kerik, the disgraced former NYPD police commissioner sentenced to four years in federal prison for tax fraud. Kerik was also a regular on Fox News at one point, which means ideologically he’s the opposite of everything this movie is for; this is a Fox film, so it’s also an example of synergy in action."

    More trivia/weighted ambivalence here.

  • Eighth Grade

    Eighth Grade

    ★★★

    "It’s certainly not Burnham’s fault that what’s actually a fairly accomplished film is already ridiculously overhyped, but here are my two significant problems. One is the rather standard coming-of-age arc: I don’t necessarily mind the YouTube monologues Kayla makes in an awkward stab at attaining popularity through vlogging, choked with so many 'likes' and 'ups' that making a legal transcript of them would be particularly torturous. I do, however, mind the way each one articulates sets up the theme and…

  • Piercing

    Piercing

    ★★★

    "The plot is simple: a man (Christopher Abbott) wants to stab a sex worker (Mia Wasikowska) to death with an ice pick, but she turns the tables. Pesce’s adaptation of Ryu Murakami’s source novel follows the arc and major events closely but omits all interior psychology and context. Murakami’s (excellent) book is, at its core, a story about a man abused as a child who thinks that performing this one act will make it all go away; shades of Claire’s…

  • The Disaster Artist

    The Disaster Artist

    ★★★

    "James Franco has been annoying a lot of people, myself included, for a variety of reasons, not least his relentless direction of a shocking number of movies, most quite poorly received: if I’m counting the credits on his IMDB page right, The Disaster Artist is his 16th feature since 2005 — not precisely Fred Olen Ray levels of shoddy productivity, but not that far off either. For easily his most mainstream effort (and, full disclosure, the only one I’ve seen),…

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    ★★★

    "Here’s where my reservations kick in: Mildred starts the film as a completely sympathetic and righteous character, tying her fury over the police’s incompetence to their legacy of racist conduct. But of course, All Is Not As It Seems: at various points, we learn that she drove drunk with her kids a long time ago, that her daughter wanted to leave and go live with Mildred’s ex-husband, etc. People are complicated and more than they appear to be at first,…