Vadim has written 39 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Serene Velocity

    Serene Velocity

    Here’s a little piece about visiting the hallway.

  • A Man Escaped

    A Man Escaped

    ★★★★

    The challenge is maximizing a poverty of resources. For the subject, it’s a matter of imposed necessity, for the filmmaker a self-imposed challenge. Bresson’s approach is fairly spectacular: lots of cavernous black and white and deep focus largely rejected, which makes the frame sometimes even more overwhelming (e.g. the shot of prisoners filing out into the courtyard frame foreground-left, their gun-toting guard in a beam of seemingly natural light back-right—he’s in control of what’s happening but the opposite of compositional…

  • Twelve Monkeys

    Twelve Monkeys

    ★★★★

    "12 Monkeys is, in a meaningful sense, a remake of La Jetée, but it’s more focused on Vertigo, about which it’s not particularly subtle. After Willis and Stowe put on their disguises, they sit in a rep theater and watch it, issuing the thunderously banal (but true!) observation that every time you rewatch a film, “You aren’t the same person who saw the movie before.” Gilliam takes this logic a few steps further by refashioning the material into deliberate visual…

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Stranger Than Paradise

    ★★★★

    I'd seen this once before, in high school, on a standard-def DVD. Obviously pretty iconic. Thought about two things while rewatching it:

    * Legs McNeil going off: "Television, burgers, drinking, violent behavior? ... I love all of that. I declare these things to be mine. I appoint liking Hogan's Heroes and McDonald's to be cool. I love America, too. I love everything about Modern America, the long freeways, Republicans, marching off to foreign wars for no reason, the whole bit.…

  • Asako I & II

    Asako I & II

    ★★★★

    "When Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s Happy Hour premiered in 2015, the 317-minute film raised a lot of questions, not least of which: who precisely was Hamaguchi, and what has he been doing for the last decade? There were some unkind trade reviews of his first feature films (Passion and The Depths) but not much else in English to draw upon, and his iMDB resume (including a full feature remake of Solaris!) raised more questions than it answered."

    I did an interview and filled in some background. This movie rules.

  • The Plagiarists

    The Plagiarists

    ★★★★

    "On one level, The Plagiarists arises from one of the simplest impulses for making a film: to create something that resembles, in recognizable fashion, the day-to-day details and mundane concerns of one’s friends and peers. That the details in this case are extremely specific (the anxiety of the independent filmmaker who doesn’t actually want to 'create content') is both part of the point and a cause for concern; the self-reflexive aspects don’t feel cutesy but self-interrogatory, as if the film…

  • Last Days

    Last Days

    ★★★★

    Both this and Gerry are pretty crucial movies as far as Developing My Aesthetic go. The Straight Story was my intro to slow cinema, Yi Yi blew the gates open and Gerry conclusively demonstrated to me that I was totally up for Hard Art. I was worried before it came to town that it might be Too Much Movie for me; J. Hoberman’s closing diss was especially intimidating: “In a recent issue of Artforum, John Waters declared his allegiance in…

  • The Task

    The Task

    ★★★★

    Here is a long write-up of True/False/2018, which covers this title. The piece begins:

    "In 1976, German screenwriter/producer Peter Märthesheimer wrote the punchily titled essay “What Can the Hero Do? He Can Change the World! A Few Problems Concerning Drama Production.” He began:

    Many television plays, good and bad, have come about because a drama producer or script-writer has said at some time or other, ‘Something ought to be made about…’ Then a so-called ‘theme’ usually follows, a ‘problem’ which…

  • Stranger in Paradise

    Stranger in Paradise

    ★★★★

    "A zippy montage prologue establishes an effective analogy between the refugee crisis and nothing less than the entire history of evolution and global dispersion of human life. Then we’re placed in a classroom for three labeled acts with one European instructor (Valentijn Dhaenens, scripted actor) vs. a room full of (non-actor, non-scripted) migrants in bruisingly direct sessions. 'You are not welcome,' he says unambiguously. 'We don’t want you here.' As soon as those words dropped, I thought of Malcolm X:…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Night Without Distance

    Night Without Distance

    ★★★★

    I'm not gonna excerpt this, but I wrote about this very cool short film here. The movie's all in negative reverse, so Blake Williams reversed some stills to see what the shots initially looked like, and the compare-contrast is pretty neat, I think.