Vadim has written 13 reviews for films rated ★★★★ during 2013.

  • Only Angels Have Wings

    Only Angels Have Wings

    ★★★★

    I know people who consider this a basically perfect film, which seems reasonable. Cary Grant's an unlikely candidate for gaucho pants but once you accept that...I've always been kind of impatient with the idea of Hawks' great theme being Professionalism, because there's a strong anarchic/anti-social streak in many of his films, but here Professionalism and Group Tomfoolery are two sides of the same (dual-heads) coin. I was in tears and can't really explain why.

  • Pather Panchali

    Pather Panchali

    ★★★★

    The kind of landmark it's easy to be reflexively precious about, something Wikipedia inadvertently gets with the sentence "Scholars have described parts or whole of the film as having lyrical quality." That'd be a mistake, cf. Ray himself looking back on it: "I would re-edit the film. It would improve. The pace sometimes falters; not in the second half though. We shot the film in sequence, and we learned as we went along, and so the second half hangs together…

  • Shadows

    Shadows

    ★★★★

    Down-and-out Manhattan, its feckless young men a step above the involuntarily dispossessed of On The Bowery but with the same sense of dark alcoholic comedy. "Everybody likes jokes," Hugh Hurd's told — a good rule when making films, lest things get too self-important, though a typical Cassavetes gag (here and later) is more in the comedy of awkwardness vein. Embarrassment, intoxication and misogyny are already key, though this is probably the lowest-key film ever made on the subject of "passing";…

  • Generation P

    Generation P

    ★★★★

    2nd viewing, first on the big screen, no changes or surprises — may have slightly overvalued this the first time around, but not much. The challenge is to find normative, even banal cinematic language to contains all the strangeness and Ginzburg succeeds with Premingerian resourcefulness.

  • Hahaha

    Hahaha

    ★★★★

    2nd viewing, in preparation for Nobody's Daughter Haewon. Over the last four years, I've realized Hong Sang-soo is a man after my own heart. He's lost in a loop, slowly shifting the male-female power balance; the women now rule, have more autonomy to say the men can get fucked, etc., but the men never change. I recognize the cultural specificity here (Admiral Yi!) and in all of Hong's films, but there's also something broader (some of which I must save…

  • Computer Chess

    Computer Chess

    ★★★★

    When you point a Portapak directly at the sun, it could destroy the camera — this is Weak Technology, but it's strongly responsive, making its own decisions about what to record and what to spit out — which is the perfect starting point for a movie that's about Technology's shift from passive tool to active agent. "That’s my Terminator fear of where we’re at," Bujalski said in this excellent interview with Phil Coldiron, "not that the robots have become self-sufficient…

  • Slacker

    Slacker

    ★★★★

    Small college town as both relaxing hang-out space and closed loop of ineffectual dissident paranoiacs.

  • Frances Ha

    Frances Ha

    ★★★★

    This is the kind of movie that causes strongly polarized reactions based on each viewer's capacity to tolerate/recognize/empathize with those on-screen. Some people just can't handle watching 20-/30-something white people undergo minor crises within a basically privileged framework, which is understandable. (That said, I'm not sure why someone with that mindset would ever go watch ANY NOAH BAUMBACH MOVIE and ask afterwards — as some guy did — " if it had any sort of larger social context… besides only…

  • Le Cercle Rouge

    Le Cercle Rouge

    ★★★★

    Talked about this on this podcast, which should about cover it (not that you should have 20 minutes on-hand for that, but that's the best I can do right now). Biggest difference between now and watching it last 5 (?) years ago is that I now always notice rear projection, which is annoying.

  • A Borrowed Life

    A Borrowed Life

    ★★★★

    The very first shot — the non-protagonist/on-screen identifying point's father carefully polishing his shoe with a brush, sitting on the porch, out of focus in memory's recollected glow — seems to anticipate a softer, very different film than what we get. The old man's a bit of a bastard, it turns out: not out of overweening malice (he stands up for his crippled brother, demonstrating an inherent righteous streak) but because he's simply not cut out to be a dad…

  • Computer Chess

    Computer Chess

    ★★★★

    Covered here.

  • Sister

    Sister

    ★★★★

    How sad is this? It's like E.T. if the alien never came. A feral survivor of a kid, with the kind of pained intensity rarely seen outside the Dardennes' films, making do as a ski lodge pilferer. From above, there's nothing to see below, and truly there's nothing there; home is an anonymous apartment tower, the view from the balcony into the parking lot equally depressing. Home was horizontal but this is vertical, with an EU's worth of displaced persons, both as well-off visitors and motley workers. Very well worked-out, but also simply an enormous emotional gutpunch.