TFCA Friday: Week of July 26th, 2019

July 26, 2019

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

Opening this Week


Astronaut (dir. Shelagh McLeod) 🇨🇦

I’d argue that while Astronaut manages to get off the ground on the strength of its own dreams, it never earns its wings. Worse, you can see its final act coming as clear as the moon, and from about as far away” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Not a movie I’d recommend to space buffs, never going anywhere fast enough to achieve lift-off. But it has no small amount of genuine sweetness and heart and leaves the viewer at least a little verklempt” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Harmless, but ineffective, the feel-good drama Astronaut almost takes off thanks to its lofty premise only to come crashing back down to earth due to an inconsistent tone” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Meanders from being a family conflict drama and a space adventure while not satisfying either” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable (dir. Aaron Lieber)

Hamilton’s story (which will probably appeal mostly to wave chasers and Christian faith-based moviegoers equally) is a good one, and it’s shared with a minimum of preaching, a wealth of sometimes brutally honest detail, and a degree of humility” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Another entry in a growing field of soft PR/branded content documentaries, a fascinating new reality, especially in sports docs, that makes the doc especially notable for non-fiction filmmakers eager to explore opportunities for financing and the questions they bring” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Killing Patient Zero (dir. Laurie Lynd)

Lynd steers karma back in Dugas’ favour as the story of Patient O comes full circle. The film sees doctors and researchers praise his openness and transparency with his sex life, and give him fair credit for setting foundational research on the virus into motion. The final images of Dugas are of a man who is happily in the prime of his life. The film sets Gaétan Dugas free” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

“[A] moving, expertly crafted and breathless account” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

A reminder of how we react as a society to the unknown, especially when fuelled by the fire of ignorance and moral judgment” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

A thorough history lesson of the early 80s, capturing both the nostalgia and horror of the era” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

In Maclean’s Magazine, Brian D. Johnson writes on the powerful documentary by Canadian filmmaker Laurie Lynd that sets out to clear Dugas’ reputation once and for all

Once Upon a Time In… Hollywood (dir. Quentin Tarantino)

If there’s a message… it’s that’s movie fantasy and real life can and do cross paths — sometimes dangerously so for people who can’t tell the difference between the two” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

It’s the ninth film from Tarantino. I think I hate it. But at least he got off, and that’s the important thing” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Quentin Tarantino has finally done it – he’s made his comic-book movie” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Wistful, funny and complicated in interesting ways, Quentin Tarantino’s new movie… may be his warmest film since Jackie Brown” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A beautiful, brash rumination on the grime and beauty that Hollywood both represents and the real world effects of its mythmaking” — Jason Gorber, Slash Film

Precisely the kind of love letter to old school cinema, television, music, and aesthetics that one would expect from a brainy movie brat with an eye for exceptional visuals and fine details and an ear for snappy dialogue” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

No Tarantino film has failed to surprise, and this film is no exception” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The director also pivots his movie-geek sensibilities just enough to give us a sense of the larger time period as well” — Chris Knight, The National Post

On Charles Manson and #MeToo: Over at The Walrus, Brian D. Johnson writes on two different depictions of the Manson killings

The Other Story (dir. Avi Nesher)

Has a great core idea that’s executed with such brazen and over the top emotional manipulation that one almost wants to press assault charges against it” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The Stone Speakers (dir. Igor Drljaca) 🇨🇦

In troubled times, is it possible to escape politics with a vacation? Not in Bosnian-Canadian filmmaker Drljaca’s droll documentary, which explores four places in Bosnia-Herzegovina where tourism is being used to revive local economies” — Kevin Ritchie, NOW Magazine

Takes a low key, but emotionally powerful look at [the director’s] native country’s current troubles through the lens of its booming and unlikely tourism industry” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Conveys how any attempt to mythologize a nation invariably fictionalizes it,” writes Pat Mullen in POV, who also interviewed the director

TIFF 2019

In the Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz analyzes the first announcements, while interviewing Joana Vicente, TIFF’s new co-head

Last Year at Marienbad

As the Lightbox screens the recent restoration of Last Year at Marienbad, Nathalie Atkinson looks at how luxury brands are supporting cultural endeavours to burnish their image