TFCA Friday: Week of February 23rd, 2018

February 23, 2018

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

Opening this Week

Annihilation (dir. Alex Garland)

The visuals in Annihilation are for the most part as understated as the acting, which may be as much a comment on the film’s non-blockbuster budget as on Garland’s desire to preserve the headspace created by VanderMeer. Great science is about discovery; great sci-fi is about artful concealment” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star, including an interview with Alex Garland

A study of ordinary people trying to make sense of an extraordinary situation, driven by thoughtful performances and stark, striking images” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The entire final 20 minutes of the movie [feels] like the closing moments of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey remade by a very well funded David Cronenberg” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail, who also interviewed Alex Garland on the business (in a compelling feature) and the source novel author, Jeff VandeerMeer

More ambitious, thoughtful, and uncompromising than genre filmmaking gets these days” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Filled with stunning visuals, scientific propositions and biological concepts of human and alien integration” — Gilbert Seah, AfroToronto

The result is the feeling of entering a dream or a trance, but the enigma never feels capricious; there’s an underlying, fractured logic at work here” — Chris Knight, National Post, including an interview with Alex Garland

Every Day (dir. Michael Sucsy)

The setup is almost too twee for words” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

The film is sweet but never saccharine, engaging glancingly but thoughtfully with notions of gender and race, and the larger metaphor is ingenious: A is a walking embodiment of the grown-up regret that we first fall in love long before we know who we are” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Comes with a high concept plot that requires a somewhat lofty suspension of disbelief, but if you’re willing to go along with it, the results are unexpectedly delightful” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

It all adds up to a movie far more enjoyable than the premise suggests, and particularly so for the teenaged audience at whom it’s no doubt targeted” — Chris Knight, National Post

Game Night (dirs. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein)

Rachel McAdams takes the wheel in an interview with Peter Howell in The Toronto Star

Bravura filmmaking in service of hilarity and excitement; the rare instance where juvenile comedy is treated as seriously as a Marvel smackdown” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

A lot of fun and it’s neither a sequel nor a remake. Is that even allowed?” — Liz Braun, The Toronto Sun

A breezy bit of entertainment that delivers more than its premise might suggest” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Coming in at a trim 100 minutes, it doesn’t play its Get Out of Jail Free card too early” — Chris Knight, National Post

A genially sloppy farce with some good laughs” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Loveless (dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev)

A masterfully bleak reality check” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

A gripping drama and a devastating character study, and if that’s what you’re looking for, well, here it is” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Instead of showing the power of love, [Loveless] shows the opposite, how life cannot survive with love” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Zvyagintsev shows Putin-era middleclass Moscow as a realm of vanity, hate and heartless neglect” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Mom and Dad (dir. Brian Taylor)

Sprinkled with violence that is disturbing but mostly bloodless, with Taylor only testing his own self-imposed limits” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Will leave most viewers cringing and cackling in equal measure” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Perfect for parents needing to let off a little steam” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

A high-concept, low-taste movie that reverses the usual theme of teens run amok” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

My Piece of the City (dir. Moze Mossanen)

Well-meaning, suitably uplifting, but slight and narrowly focused” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Captures the hard work and drive of these people, often touching and moving mainly because these are real people dealing with real problems” — Gilbert Seah, AfroToronto

Porcupine Lake (dir. Ingrid Veninger)

[Veninger] finds her sweet spot in this story of hormonal girls trying to figure out what to do with themselves in sleepy cottage country” — Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine

In The Gate, Andrew Parker speaks with Veninger on her most scripted film to date

Works because Veninger shows she understands her characters, all of whom undergo development for the better” — Gilbert Seah, AfroToronto

In a perfect world – one where Canadian movies didn’t have to wait months to get a release (or years, or not at all) – Porcupine Lake would have been part of the conversation in the year of female coming-of-age movies” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Quest (dir. Jonathan Olshefski)

There is no grand narrative or point to be hammered home; instead, Olshefski delivers a subtle, sincere and honest portrait of barely making ends meet in modern America” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

One of the best and most balanced documentaries of the past decade” — Andrew Parker, The Gate, including an interview with the team behind the film

Tom of Finland (dir. Dome Karukoski)

Some solid performances and the fierce originality of its subject make this biopic about the eponymous Finnish-born gay male erotic artist worthwhile viewing. Too bad the film itself is all over the map” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

Worthwhile viewing, if not an eye-opener providing some insight of a prohibited lifestyle in Finland after WWII” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Anonymous Oscar Voter

Peter Howell in The Toronto Star speaks with someone who has some blunt opinions (and a ballot to cast)