TFCA Friday: Week of January 19th, 2018

January 19, 2018

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

Reviews and features by: Peter Howell (PH), Radheyan Simonpillai (RS), Norm Wilner (NW), Susan G. Cole (SGC), Barry Hertz (BH), Kate Taylor (KT), Liam Lacey (LL), Chris Knight (CK), Gilbert Seah (GS), Jim Slotek (JS), Andrew Parker (AP), and Nathalie Atkinson (NA).

Opening this Week

Den of Thieves (dir. Christian Gudegast)

There are a few good performances here, especially by Schreiber and Jackson. But at a running time of 140 minutes, the heist is sacrificed” — PH

Wants very much to be a modern-day Heat. I do not blame it. Heat is a hell of a movie, a film anyone would be proud to make” — NW

Why anybody does anything in this movie is a complete mystery” — JS

Forgettable, moderately entertaining, and ultimately delivers on the modest expectations promised on the tin” — AP

The Final Year (dir. Greg Baker)

The compression required to fit a year as convulsive as 2016 into a 90-minute feature means we never stay on one point for very long, and that the election of Donald Trump in November just gets dropped into the narrative like a third-act twist” — NW

While no one wants to blame people for being smart, optimistic and cocky, The Final Year ends up feeling like a parable about hubris” — LL

Nostalgic… but a missed opportunity overall” — AP

Reveals the true nature of the Presidential Aides, many of whom are inspirational in their duties” — GS

If you feel an almost daily despair at the prospect of a racist, sexist, inarticulate liar holding the highest office in the world, you will despair even more mightily at the memory of a time when none of that was true” — CK

Forever My Girl (dir. Bethany Ashton Wolf)

Say what you will about Nicholas Sparks, the lucrative author behind The Notebook and Safe Haven: at least he’s given female characters a compelling emotional arc” — RS

So bland that it makes a clear plastic cup filled with room temperature almond milk feel like a tequila fuelled XXX-throwdown in the red light district” — AP

If your girl insists you watch this film, leave town and never return” — GS

Hostiles (dir. Scott Cooper)

The road ahead will be long and dangerous, although Masanobu Takayanagi’s cinematography, enhanced by Max Richter’s evocative score, makes it seem majestic” — PH

A ham-fisted Western in which a whole mess of people die so a white man can learn the folly of racism” — NW

Seems a more or less spiritually truthful portrait of a period in American history that gave birth to an arguably even more painful next” — JS

Too wrapped up in its own sense of personal accomplishment and air of ennui that it doesn’t realize how it’s conforming to negative stereotypes instead of subverting them” — AP

Quietly powerful; difficult to watch” — GS

Saddle up. Hostiles is the next great western, sure as shootin’” — CK

In the Fade (dir. Fatih Akin)

Asks questions about grief and justice that resonate with these perilous times, all the more so in light of recent terror atrocities the world over” — PH

Kruger makes you believe every second of it. She plays the grieving widow with an ever-changing mix of fury, numbness and determination that will keep you perched on the end of your seat” — SGC

Offers no easy solutions or quick uplift, yet there’s still a movie-of-the-week feel to the proceedings, which seem to offer topicality without context” — KT

deserves more credit for the direction of Fatih Akin and a commanding, empathetic performance from Diane Kruger than the film as warrants as a whole” — AP

Tackles the current problems of racism and prejudice, looking at the face of Neo-Nazism” — GS

An empathy gut-punch” — CK

The Road Movie (dir. Dmitrii Kalashnikov)

You’ll learn a variety of Russian swear words, helpfully subtitled. And granted you could stay at home and watch this kind of stuff on YouTube. But sometimes you want the communal experience. Or you crave the drive home afterwards” — CK

Where You’re Meant To Be (dir. Paul Fegan)

Gorgeously realized, profoundly moving… it would make for a delightful double bill with Agnes Varda and JR’s similarly themed Faces, Places” — AP

12 Strong (dir. Nicolai Fuglsig)

Even if 12 Strong is an accurate retelling, it’s devoid of any perspective or opinion, which keeps the interesting cast from doing anything interesting to flesh out their characters” — NW

Put aside your hindsight and at least you’ll be rewarded with some invigorating action” — KT

Hemsworth [goes] full John Wayne as he rides his horse in slo-mo through the Taliban missiles and B-52 bombs” — LL

Won’t be all that memorable, but the wealth of emotion, nuanced performances, and controlled storytelling are definitely worth commending” — AP

Places the audience in a totally foreign atmosphere and educates in what is involved in an almost impossible successful mission” — GS

In the service of a biopic, [it tilts] dangerously close to jingoism” — CK

The 2018 Canadian Screen Awards

BH has some thoughts on the 2018 film nominations (including snubs!)

Hollywood’s Cultural Legacy of Sexism

Nathalie Atkinson considers new Hollywood biographies that reveal the golden age legacy of income inequality and smear campaigns

The 2018 Academy Awards

KT and BH write about who and what they would pick if they could choose the nominations

The 2018 Sundance Film Festival

At Sundance 2018, Harvey Weinstein is the elephant no longer in the room, says PH

In similar conversations, PH adds, the festival is also “Ground Zero” for the age of rage