TFCA Friday: Week of Friday, December 22nd, 2017

December 22, 2017

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

Reviews and features by: Peter Howell (PH), Brian D. Johnson (BDJ), Liam Lacey (LL), Chris Knight (CK), Barry Hertz (BH), Norm Wilner (NW), Gilbert Seah (GS), Jim Slotek (JS), Andrew Parker (AP), and Glenn Sumi.

Opening this Week

All The Money In The World (dir. Ridley Scott)

Plummer makes this role his own, finding in Getty’s miserly misanthropy a figure worthy of pity as much as scorn. Having played King Lear on stage and more recently Ebenezer Scrooge in the film The Man Who Invented Christmas, Plummer has ample experience finding depth within the shallows of selfishness” — PH, including an interview with Ridley Scott on his “insane” re-shoot

One can’t help but wince at the thought of Spacey raging around the sets in old-age makeup. Whatever else it might have been, this version of All The Money In The World has to be a better picture without him” — NW

Plays more like a suspense thriller than a biopic on the millionaire—still, there’s enough screen time given to Getty to  show the man he could be” — GS

Full marks to our Canadian icon Plummer for the successful pinch-hit” — JS

Neither all the time, nor money, nor wisdom in the world can ever fully sort out this kind of disagreement, which is what makes it such an endlessly fascinating source of storytelling” — CK

When the two actors face off toward the end of the film – a scene, it is only fair to note, that couldn’t have been shot more than a month or so ago – it is painfully obvious that both are wrestling with a weak script. But whereas Plummer turns an embarrassment into an embarrassment of riches, Wahlberg shrinks from the challenge” — BH

One of Scott’s best films in years… a project worth salvaging on such a tight schedule” — AP

Bright (dir. David Ayer)

BH chats with director David Ayer as the Netflix film begins streaming

I have no idea what the audience is for a film like Bright, but I can’t imagine there’s much of one. It’s one of the most ungainly misfires of the year” — AP, who writes on two other Netflix offerings in the same link

Downsizing (dir. Alexander Payne)

At two and a quarter hours, you can feel the parts starting to wear down, as though Payne and Taylor kept writing, convinced they’d eventually figure out an ending. What they settled on feels awfully, well, small” — NW

The most ambitious of all [Payne’s] films but it largely works thanks to the script” — GS

Suffice to say it feels like an underwhelming final note in Payne’s concerto. Audiences may, perhaps not surprisingly, leave Downsizing wanting more” — CK

It is both a surprise and a slight disappointment that Payne’s Downsizing is a shining beacon of hope, or at least a conciliatory pat on the shoulder that everything is going to be okay when in reality the world is going to hell” — BH

Both [Payne’s] most ambitious and markedly disappointing project to date” — AP

In embracing ambiguity, and sending Matt Damon down a slippery slope between utopia and dystopia, Downsizing is consistent with Payne’s other films, which resist easy arcs of redemption” — BDJ

The Greatest Showman (dir. Michael Gracey)

The film is still entertaining. Its best sections are the music sequences, contemporary pop anthems with great hooks that are choreographed to communicate much better than the clunky script” — Glenn Sumi

Clearly missing in this circus film is the excitement and danger of a circus. Still … makes for appropriate Christmas entertainment” — GS

As for the story, I would like to quote the immortal words of Jumbo the Elephant’s stable boy: “What a load”” — LL

I don’t think I’ve seen a bit of mainstream populist entertainment this ungainly and defiant of categorization since Robert Altman made Popeye. It’s by no means a good film, and yet, I’m in complete awe of it” — AP

I, Tonya (dir. Craig Gillespie)

Robbie delivers a performance that is breathtaking to behold, almost to the point of exhaustion” — PH

A savvy meditation on class, the bullshit inside the competitive skating world, and the dynamics of family abuse” — SGC

Portrays the skater as someone America loved to hate, but also [explores] her volatile and fierce personality as someone vulnerable to her surroundings and acquaintances” — GS

Gillespie keeps the mood as light as he can by backing the story with a jukebox full of ’70s and ’80s rock anthems, including Dire Straits, ZZ Top, Foreigner, Supertramp, Heart, Fleetwood Mac and Chicago” — CK

It’s not perfect, but in a world filled with safe bets clouding up multiplexes everywhere, we could use more films like I, Tonya” — AP, including an interview with director Craig Gillespie

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (dir. Jake Kasdan)

It’s surprisingly OK, largely due to the likability factor of the four leads. They’re willing to do just about anything for a laugh, which includes sex-change jokes and riffs about Johnson’s “smoldering intensity”” — PH

A couple of really solid laughs, and Kasdan finds a way to soften the most sadistic aspects of the concept that hung over Johnston’s original – though he doesn’t dig any deeper into the nature of the game than Johnston did” — NW

great ensemble comedy” — GS

Perhaps there’s one recommendation for buying a ticket: the Hawaiian location looks a lot warmer than here these days” — LL

I didn’t actively dislike (most) of what I saw unfolding on screen, but the second the iconic, titular Guns N’ Roses track started up over the rolling credits, I had forgotten almost everything that had come before them” — AP

Molly’s Game (dir. Aaron Sorkin)

The first half is the best, when Molly is fighting misfortune and sexism as she switches careers and locales, moving from Olympic skier to Los Angeles promoter of $10,000-per-player poker nights, which are dodgy but apparently legal” — PH

For a first feature, it’s fine – but it’s never anything more. For all the talking, and all the criminal activity, the stakes of Molly’s Game remain frustratingly low” — NW

Love it or hate it, the Sorkin dialogue film has its pleasures” — GS

That patter rattles at such breakneck pacing that if anyone other than Sorkin were directing, this movie would clock in at over four hours. As it is, the ride is over in two hours and 20, and feels shorter. There aren’t many slow scenes, but if you notice one, take the opportunity to catch your breath” — CK, including an interview with Sorkin and Chastain

As far as aesthetic choices go, Sorkin doesn’t get too fancy, using quick cuts and solid set design to establish the fast-paced, luxurious and high-stakes world of Molly Bloom” — BH

While there isn’t a whole lot of walking in writer Aaron Sorkin’s feature directorial debut, Molly’s Game, there’s certainly a lot of talking. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing” — AP

Ramen Heads (dir. Koki Shigeno)

An easy, pleasing viewing experience, but also mostly forgettable” — BH

TIFF’s 70MM Extravaganza

AP looks at TIFF’s latest 70mm offerings, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar, and The Right Stuff

PH revisits his favourite film, 2001A Space Odyssey, as a harbinger of fake news