TFCA Friday: Week of Friday, November 10th, 2017

November 10, 2017

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

Reviews and features by: Peter Howell (PH), Gilbert Seah (GS), Barry Hertz (BH), Liz Braun (LB), Liam Lacey (LL), Norm Wilner (NW), Chris Knight (CK), Eli Glasner (EG), and Jim Slotek (JS).

Opening this Week

Daddy’s Home 2 (dir. Sean Anders)

Basically just a gender switch away from last week’s even more dismal A Bad Moms Christmas, right down to the onscreen countdowns, outrageous product plugs, rude humour and fake sentiment” — PH

During its 263 minutes (I’m told in reality it is a mere 100, but I cannot believe that figure) – sprinkled with all manner of sexism, homophobia, gun fetishism and comedy so weak it is a surprise a screenwriter could muster the strength to type it out in the first place – I felt prepared for death” — BH

Snowflake that I am, I don’t get how a schtick about a child wounding someone with a gun is considered a hilarious idea right now, or perhaps ever, and especially in a Christmas family movie” — LL

This is how Mel Gibson continues his return from Hollywood exile? I felt touchy-queasy just watching him” — CK

Worst is the film’s climax, which must rank as the corniest set-up of all time that takes place in a cinema theatre during a blackout, with a shameless promotion of the good of going to the movies where audiences are encouraged to turn to the next person to greet them” — GS

Infinity Baby (dir. Bob Byington)

Plays more like a proof-of-concept exercise than a finished film. This may be entirely intentional, given the arrested-development gimmick at its core, or it might just be the result of a film that got away from the people making it. Whatever the cause, it’s unsatisfying” — NW

Feels a little underdone. It’s good company while it lasts, but before you know it you’re on your own again” — CK

Highly amusing for its inventiveness, weirdness and very funny humour” — GS

Jane (dir. Brett Morgen)

Takes us back several chimp generations, to the early 1960s, when it all began. But rather than looking over our shoulders, we’re seeing the young primatologist afresh thanks to a recently unearthed archive of footage shot then” — CK

Lady Bird (dir. Greta Gerwig)

[Gerwig] went ahead and made one of the funniest and most heartfelt movies of 2017, a film that really gets inside the outsider feeling of growing up” — PH

Alternately lively and thoughtful, Lady Bird is the work of someone looking back critically on a frantic period in her own life. The details feel authentic, from the music to the clothes, and the class divide between Christine and her richer schoolmates is underlined in a dozen subtle ways” — NW

Gerwig’s movie is difficult to define. It’s a coming of age story, it’s an homage to mothers and daughters, it’s a love letter to Sacramento (and to home) and it’s a nod to the transformative power of art” — LB

Lady Bird knocked me down, blew me away, destroyed and then built me right back up again. It is that rarest of pleasures in the movie world: a film worth the hype” — BH

There’s also just enough gentle wisdom to let you take away something more than your receipt and popcorn bag” — CK, including an interview with the director

Murder on the Orient Express (dir. Kenneth Branagh)

Billed as a motion picture. But it might better be thought of as a two-hour moving selfie of the director, who is also the lead star” — PH

I’m not entirely sure I see the point of a new adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express. But I didn’t mind sitting through it in the slightest” — NW

A lavish undertaking full of movie stars, attractive period detail, breathtaking scenery and high drama; it’s a shiny bauble, and exactly the kind of not-very-exacting entertainment you want for the holidays” — LB

A few actors have too little to do, like Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz, while others like Michelle Pfeiffer overact their roles for all they’re worth” — GS

My Friend Dahmer (dir. Marc Meyers)

The movie plays like a nightmare, but never quite tips its hand – which makes it all the more nightmarish” — NW

A fascinating, and even darkly humorous movie begins to turn frightening as we see Dahmer begin to act out his fantasies. Behind his friends’ idiosyncrasies are real plans and fully-formed adults beginning to break out of their misfit adolescent shells. Dahmer, on the other hand, is inexorably moving toward his first kill” — JS

On the surface, the film looks like Napoleon Dynamite with the leads in the two films looking a bit similar. The similarity stops there” — GS

Watchable as it is thanks to an understated central performance by Ross Lynch. With his droopy eyes behind oversized glasses and his stooped posture, he captures the sense of the shy, uncertain youth” — CK

Poor Agnes (dir. Navin Ramaswaran)

A middling exercise in psychological horror with one remarkable quality – the mesmerizing lead performance by Lora Burke as the eponymous Agnes” — NW

Like many genre films, Poor Agnes could be interpreted as either misogynistic or feminist, though it’s best seen as sardonic take on male foolishness” — LL

Humour (especially black) … particularly in the segment where Agnes attends a tortured victims support group” — GS