TFCA Friday: Week of January 26th, 2018

January 26, 2018

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

Opening this Week

A Futile And Stupid Gesture (dir. David Wain)

Some hearty laughs before turning heartfelt and serious, mostly without missing a beat” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The best National Lampoon movie to arrive since Christmas Vacation” — Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail

Ava (dir. Sadaf Foroughi)

Conversations tend to be too long and are staged too statically. And the English subtitles are, unfortunately, stilted” — Susan G. Cole, NOW

Powerful and surprising, this first feature from Iranian writer-director Sadaf Foroughi tells a familiar story of teen angst and parental control” — Chris Knight, National Post

A small, important, impressive first feature” — Gilbert Seah, AfroToronto

One of the best Canadian produced efforts of the year, and the kind of film the country needs more of: a culturally specific story with global resonance” — Andrew Parker, The Gate, who interviewed the director

Birdland (dir. Peter Lynch)

With its focus on sex, lies and surveillance video, at times it feels like the worst idea Atom Egoyan ever had. But there’s an alluring, stylish slipperiness that pulls you in instead of pushing you away; you never know what’s coming next” — Norm Wilner, NOW

A hard film to pin down, but it’s slippery in all the right ways” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

There’s less to like in the movie’s hyper-moody lighting and score, or in the always-dark-and-oddly-unpeopled streets of downtown Toronto” — Chris Knight, National Post

Jim Slotek talks to director Peter Lynch on quitting docs and going noir

Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool (dir. Paul McGuigan)

This handsome and emotive two-hander brings together Annette Bening and Jamie Bell for a story of actors divided by age, class and continents, but united by desire that defies definition” — Peter Howell, Toronto Star

As awards season kicks into full gear, I’m reminded that Annette Bening has never won an Oscar” — Susan G. Cole, NOW

There’s little that feels unseemly about the film, whose wish-fulfillment vibe is strengthened by the drab-chic look of 1980s Britain” — Chris Knight

They may not die in Liverpool, but this film dies a quick death” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Low-key for a film about famous figures with larger than life personalities, but quite moving thanks to its use of restraint” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

As Bening herself grows older, she has become particularly adept at revealing both the insecurity and the power of these aging women battling against the invisibility others might wish upon them” — Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail

Audio: Karen Gordon on Film Stars, CBC Radio

Free Lunch Society (dir. Christian Tod)

Makes the concept of a guaranteed, unconditional source of income for everyone on planet Earth sound like a capital idea, but … skirts too many potential pitfalls, setbacks, and oversights that could turn such an idea into a reality” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A quirky look at the feasibility and increasing acceptance of a guaranteed minimum income” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Hollow In The Land (dir. Scooter Corkle)

A photocopy of Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, switching out the socioeconomic insight for a simplistic murder mystery in small-town British Columbia” — Norm Wilner, NOW

Ends up a better than average atmospheric thriller with well developed characters that the director makes sure the audience cares for” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Better as a dark family drama than a twisting mystery, [it] has just enough great ideas to be intriguing and a commanding lead performance from Dianna Agron” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Given the modern-day setting and youthful protagonists, call it Murder, She Texted” — Chris Knight, National Post

A decalcified Winter’s Bone” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

The Insult (dir. Ziad Doueiri)

At its core this is a story about simple, stubborn pride, and what happens when anger obscures understanding” — Norm Wilner, NOW

Ends up as an often brilliant peace that in the end, shows more about tolerance and forgiveness” — Gilbert Seah, Toronto Franco

Not the strongest of this year’s crop of Best Foreign Film Oscar nominees, but it’s definitely the most political and timely” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A well-paced courtroom drama hits most of the right buttons, showing how larger political forces play out in everyday exchanges, and how rage is the flipside of vulnerability” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

The film faces stiff competition at the Oscars… but somehow it feels safe to say The Insult will come out on top” — Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail

Beautifully plotted, and you can feel the director wrestling with the notion of making it into a comedy” — Chris Knight, National Post

Audio: Karen Gordon on The Insult, CBC Radio

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (dir. Wes Ball)

The special effects are impressive but that is no reason to see a movie” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews 

Just like throwing shit at a screen, some of it will stick, and all of it will stink” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

If the genre is well and truly dead, Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a fittingly awful nail in its coffin” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

It pales in comparison to the 2014 original, which featured a tight-knit story and lots of actual running through mazes” — Chris Knight, National Post

The whole project seems unable to rise above its juvenile roots, stuck around the level of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan or a Boys’ Own Annual adventure” — Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail

Midnight Return: The Story Of Billy Hayes And Turkey (dir. Sally Sussman)

Archival footage of Brad Davis, who played Hayes in the film and died in 1991, is sadly limited” — Norm Wilner, NOW

Insightful and entertaining” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Monolith (dir. Ivan Silvestrini)

Strictly suited for watching at home on an afternoon where there’s nothing on television, the Netflix queue has dried up, and there’s no reason to go outside and do something more productive” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The 2018 Academy Awards

Peter Howell: The Shape of Water is Oscar’s best pick for #MeToo times

Barry Hertz: Analysis! Snubs!

Chris Knight: Give Deakins an Oscar already!

Brian D. Johnson: Your 2018 Oscars cheat sheet

The 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Peter Howell: The future is furry, with a cold, damp nose

Peter Howell: The Tale is the first #MeToo film

Peter Howell: The sons of Get Out score

Peter Howell: Ophelia finds the feminist side of Hamlet

… and finally: Peter Howell’s wrap on Sundance 2018

Jake Howell: An eighties revival? Stranger things have happened

Jake Howell: Skate Kitchen brings a female perspective to the world of skateboarding

TIFF Retrospective: Philippe Garrel

Liam Lacey discovers the French auteur