TFCA Friday: Week of Friday, November 17th, 2017

November 17, 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), Brian D. Johnson, Glenn Sumi, Barry Hertz (BH), Liam Lacey (LL), Norm Wilner (NW), Chris Knight (CK), and Jim Slotek (JS).

Opening this Week

Bill Nye: Science Guy (dirs. David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg)

It’s deeply pleasurable to watch Nye school conservative blowhards who make their living promoting lies, but I wanted Alvarado and Sussberg to explore their subject as thoroughly as he explores the world around him” — NW

Blade of the Immortal (dir. Takashi Miike)

Miike soaks [this] in blood and gore, and you can tell he’s having the best time. So will you” — NW

An entertainingly cheesy narrative, but overly comfortable for someone such as Miike, whose gonzo talents seem somehow muted here” — BH

As expected, lots of dismembered hands, feet, and limbs” — GS

To some degree, the difference between one fight scene and another is the difference between settings on a blender — chop, pulverize or liquefy — but each of Miike’s sequences are precisely and energetically choreographed in a way that puts Hollywood super-hero action sequences to shame” — LL

Considering Love and Other Magic (dir. Dave Schultz)

A tad dark for Disney, but still warm-hearted and mild enough for family fare, the problematically-titled Considering Love And Other Magic is a Canadian “ghost story” with a certain amount of charm” — JS

Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond — Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (dir. Chris Smith)

Whether you think you’re watching a genius discuss his greatest performance or an obnoxious actor indulging in and subsequently justifying his most pretentious, selfish instincts will probably depend on your own personal theories of acting, and how much you admire the man on the screen. (Either way, it’s fascinating)” — NW

Justice League (dir. Zack Snyder)

Marginally better than last year’s sour and dispiriting Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but that’s like saying that dental surgery is preferable to passing a kidney stone” — PH

At this point you know what you’re getting. It’s a DC movie; it’s loud and frenetic when it doesn’t need to be, overstuffed with peripheral characters who don’t matter and action sequences that barely register. But when it remembers to be quiet and let its characters actually talk, Justice League hints at better movies that might still come out of this franchise” — NW

“Justice, but no peace” — BH with a state of the superhero movie union

Simple and straight forward so nothing can go wrong. Batman forms the league, the league fights the villain, and the film ends” — GS

I still don’t know how Marvel puts together such great ensemble superhero movies, and I suspect DC doesn’t either” — CK

Mudbound (dir. Dee Rees)

Spends far too much of its running time focusing on the secondary characters played by Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke and Jonathan Banks. They’re fine actors doing good work, but their stories don’t amount to much. [The] real drama lies elsewhere, in a relationship that doesn’t even begin until the final movement” — NW

Deserves to be seen on the largest screen possible” – BH, going deep on the state of Netflix as well

Nary a dull moment and gets its message that friendship and tolerance will save the day” — GS

Paradise (dir. Andrei Konchalovsky)

An affected art-house filter on a grim Holocaust drama” — NW

The best thing about Paradise is the film’s authentic look in terms of period and atmosphere” — GS

Visually striking in its black-and-white cinematography, and conceptually novel in its faux-documentary approach, the drama, Paradise, is one of those films that starts promisingly and then feels progressively more misguided as it rolls along” — LL

The Star (dir. Timothy Eckhart)

Benefits from both not being preachy and giving the greatest story ever told a goofy twist (while staying respectful)” — GS

This year, Willem Dafoe narrated a lovely documentary called Do Donkeys Act? I thought it was a rhetorical question, but The Star answers with a resounding yes” — CK

Stegman is Dead (dir. David Hyde)

Ranges from funny to fair… it has spirit!” — GS

One of the best Canadian contributions to the Tarantino/Coens’ “stupid-criminals” genre, Stegman Is Dead is a grimly absurdist movie that could easily be mistaken for an early work of either” — JS

Thelma (dir. Joachim Trier)

It might broadly be defined as a horror—creepy music, menacingly calm cinematography—but it’s really more of a mystery, as Thelma’s attempts to figure out her condition lead her back into some bizarre family history, not least that incident at the lake” — CK

Paradoxical, I know, but the more Trier reveals, the less interesting his movie becomes” — NW

Trier pproaches the story with reserve and a slow burn, and no small amount of the Scandinavian secret-sauce: melancholy” — JS

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (dir. Martin McDonagh)

As great as McDormand is, she has at least one other awards-worthy player in her midst: Sam Rockwell. He plays Willoughby’s brutish and racist deputy Dixon, a man-child ripe for comeuppance and education, if the latter is even possible for so dense an individual” — PH

McDormand and Harrelson are tremendous – as is pretty much everyone in the movie, really. But keep your eye on Sam Rockwell as Harrelson’s nastiest deputy. You’ll think you’ve seen him play this part before, but trust me: he’s a goddamn revelation” — NW

In a fiercely original mix of cynical wit and tenderness, Martin McDonagh directs an incendiary Frances McDormand as “a hero who goes to places that aren’t decent, or humane or heroic” — Brian D. Johnson

Sam Rockwell, underrated? Not anymore, says BH

Smart enough never to forget the main issue at hand—the desperation of a mother to see justice done” — GS

[McDormand] gives as good as she gets—often better–in rants laced with profanity and more than a little violence. It’s as if, having realized that nothing in this world or the next will bring her daughter back, she’s lost all sense of decorum” — CK

Wonder (dir. Steven Chbosky)

It’s really Tremblay’s picture, and even though he’s covered in prosthetics, he still delivers a layered, honest performance that, despite the film’s flaws, will break your cynical heart by the end” — Glenn Sumi

For all its flaws, Wonder is a film made about a subject that matters” — GS