TFCA Friday: Week of August 25th, 2017

August 25, 2017

Welcome to TFCA Friday, a weekly round-up of film reviews and articles by TFCA critics.

Reviews and features by: Andrew Parker (AP), Jim Slotek (JS), Norm Wilner (NW), Barry Hertz (BH), Peter Howell (PH), Gilbert Seah (GS), and Chris Knight (CK).

Opening this Week

All Saints (dir. Steve Gomer)

Birth of the Dragon (dir. George Nolfi)

The film aims high in revealing the fact that Bruce Lee changed his style of fighting and became the man he did, but the film is still quite mediocre” — GS

Fails at everything it attempts” — AP

Bushwick (dirs. Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott)

Just as conversation in America is turning to whether the president is stoking the flames of a second Civil War comes a film, shot in late 2015 and early 2016, that imagines one already taking place. It’s a flawed story, but it’s timing couldn’t be better” — CK

Sours in its final movement, going out with a flourish that might be meant as a cynical shrug but feels a lot like posturing nihilism” — NW

Packs a lot of fast paced action, great performances, and social commentary into a modest package” — AP

The trouble is that audiences have seen all this before in a dozen or so films of this nature” — GS

Letters from Baghdad (dirs. Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum)

The filmmakers aren’t content to merely look back on Gertrude Bell’s legacy, but let their subject speak for herself in their well researched and assembled documentary” — AP

The Only Living Boy in New York (dir. Marc Webb)

If you only see one movie named for a Paul Simon track this year, make it Baby Driver” — NW

You may find that the characters and their problems fade rather quickly from your mind. That theme music not so much” — CK

A smug, artsy fairy tale” — GS

Patti Cake$ (dir. Geremy Jasper)

Isn’t really a comedy; too much sadness and despair intrude to make it so. But it’s a joy to watch Macdonald in action, fearlessly going for broke in pursuing her rap aspirations, haters be damned” — PH

A hard watch from start to finish, though every minute is worth it” — GS

A star-making performance from Australian actress Danielle Macdonald” — AP, who interviewed the upcoming star and her writer/director

The Queen of Spain (dir. Fernando Trueba)

Some of it historically fascinating, as when we see pre-digital tricks like matte paintings and foreground miniatures made to look huge by the placement of the camera. But it’s not enough to save The Queen of Spain from its rambling plot” — CK

An entertaining romp, and a tribute to the nostalgic filmmaking of the 1950s” — GS

The kind of film that only an octogenarian who hasn’t seen a film in 50 years could love” — AP

The Space Between (dir. Amy Jo Johnson)

Functions nicely as a coming out party for Amy Jo Johnson as a budding filmmaker” — AP, who followed up and interviewed Amy on her Power Ranger past and her filmmaking future

Juggles a lot of shouty characters at varying degrees of eccentricity in a story about parents and children that never really makes much of a point about either” — NW

Sundowners (dir. Pavan Moondi)

Moondi wisely doesn’t push it to ridiculous extremes, the way a Hollywood production surely would” — PH

“It took a while to realize that I needed to go deeper with the characters, with the real intention to engage with the expectations of what a vacation-gone-awry comedy is,” says Pavan Moondi in an interview with Barry Hertz (who also reviewed the film, calling it “more Cassavetes than Chevy Chase“)

Sundowners is something closer to the kind of experience you expect with waves pounding the shore and a world-class sunset“, says Jim Slotek, who interviewed Moondi as well

Jovial, unforced, and delicately paced,” says AP, who also nabbed time with the filmmaker on his real-life inspirations for the movie

Should have and could have been funnier” — GS

The BBC’s Top 100 Comedies

From Some Like It Hot to The Nutty Professor, PH asks on the release of a new poll: “What’s so funny about film critics?”