Reviews include Across the Spider-Verse, Bones of Crows, and Close to Vermeer.
TFCA Friday: Week of March 13th, 2020
March 13, 2020
Welcome to TFCA Friday, a weekly round-up of film reviews and articles by TFCA critics.
Opening this Week
Afterward (dir. Ofra Bloch)
“Follows the Israeli-born and New York-based Bloch as she examines the legacy of the Holocaust and humankind’s capacity for hate. This powerful film provokes conversations that are invigorating and at times palpably uncomfortable. Through Bloch’s willingness to probe her own discomfort, Afterward offers hope to heal wounds that sting today” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine
Bloodshot (dir. Dave Wilson)
“A mindless, violent rip-off movie which offers little much except boredom” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto
“I wanted more out of Bloodshot. Much, much more than it was prepared to give” — Chris Knight, The National Post
The Booksellers (dir. D. W. Young)
“An extremely New York documentary – Fran Lebowitz features prominently – about the rare and used book trade and the people who inhabit it” — Chris Knight, The National Post
“It’s a wonderfully sensual experience and heartening for paper book lovers, with news that the small independent bookstore appears to be making a comeback” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!
“Anyone who has got lost for a couple of hours in the stacks of an old-fashioned used bookstore will find something relatable here. Perhaps too much so — Young’s documentary is uncomfortably reminiscent of those teeming, badly labelled joints, where biography, literature, old magazine issues, obscure biographies and auction catalogues coexist in precarious piles” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin
Extra Ordinary (dirs. Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman)
“The movie does suffer from wonky pacing, which takes the momentum out of the story when it should be charging to its relatively ambitious climax; once we finally get there, everything feels awfully rushed. But when it’s in its sweet spot of idiosyncratic ghost whispering and haunted Danish Blue, Extra Ordinary is dead charming” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine
“It’s all hands on deck, alive, dead or in-between with moments of deadpan humour and outright hilarity in the ages-old battle against Satan. Odd and disarming“— Anne Brodie, What She Said!
“It combines the natural and the preternatural in just the right measure, funny without tipping into look-at-me wacky. (Forte comes closest but pulls back just in time.)” — Chris Knight, The National Post
“Destined to hit cult status, this is a small budget film from Ireland full of quirky characters that is the funniest thing I have seen this year. Totally recommended” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto
First Cow (dir. Kelly Reichardt)
“Some movies deal with the settling of the American West as mythic. And then there are films like writer/directorKelly Reichardt’s First Cow, which strips it down to its basics for a more human scale and poetic vision of the Western era. Minus winners and losers, villains and heroes, this is a sparsely settled, muddy world where some people seek fortunes, and others do what they need day-to-day to survive” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin
“A reminder that a heist needn’t be heavy on action and violence to capture an audience’s attention. Sometimes all it takes is a little flour, sugar, lard, cinnamon and honey. And a cow. One will suffice” — Chris Knight, The National Post
“A deceptively simply told fable that gets under the skin and lingers” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!
“Reichardt really knows how to milk her material. At a time when movies move faster than ever, Reichardt finds power in stillness. She’s a master of slow cinema” — Pat Mullen, That Shelf
“Smaller in scope than Reichardt’s previous films… but her attention to detail and meticulous directing make First Cow no less riveting” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto
Hope Gap (dir. William Nicholson)
“It’s a dud almost from the opening scene, so mannered and proper that it risks lulling its audience to sleep” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine
“Feels very real in its dialogue and emotions, and it may also be why the story seems a little old-fashioned – or to put a more positive spin on it, “timeless.” All endings are the same, it suggests paradoxically, and all are unique” — Chris Knight, The National Post
“A sad and finely tuned domestic drama by writer-director William Nicholson… The slow pace may not be everyone’s cuppa, but it is undeniably faithful to its characters” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin
The Hunt (dir. Craig Zobel)
“Gilpin’s pissed-off avenger is an unironic anti-hero in the Snake Plissken mode, short on words and big on action, and she’s the one reason to see The Hunt on a big screen. The rest of it – the garbled messaging, the muddled direction, the waste of an ensemble that includes Hilary Swank, Glenn Howerton, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Madigan, Macon Blair and Emma Roberts – might as well have stayed on the shelf” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine
“Perhaps closer to reality than we care to admit, it shows what happens when the social contract breaks down and civilization devolves into trust-no-one lawlessness” — Peter Howell, Night Vision
“It’s not often that at a press screening you hear seasoned critics gasp when someone is violently dispatched but yup, they went there. Cool, fun satire” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!
“Filling your screenplay with modern touchstones and triggers – “deplorables,” “snowflakes,” “crisis actors” – and references to Animal Farm is not the same as constructing a reasoned appraisal of modern culture” — Chris Knight, The National Post
“In any case, a dozen deplorables get drugged, gagged, and dumped into a field where they awaken with metal gags in their mouths, which is a bit funny because they all sound like Elmer Fudd” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin
“Passable mindless fun — though the film loves to play with one’s mind, with plot details that make no sense” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto
My Spy (dir. Peter Segal)
“Well, every generation gets the family-friendly, fish-out-of-water action comedy it deserves, so here is My Spy, an especially frustrating exercise in creating a movie that small children will watch on repeat forever. And they probably will, but no one will have any fun at all” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine
“There comes a point in every tough guy’s movie career when he decides it’s time to settle down and look after some adorable urchins. It’s usually neither a pretty sight nor a wise move” — Chris Knight, The National Post
“Isn’t intended to be a cinematic masterpiece — and with that, I respect it is what it is: a passable time waster“— Gilbert Seah,
“Can we please retire this worn-out idea?” — Linda Barnard, Original-Cin
Red Snow (dir. Marie Clements) 🇨🇦
“The latest in a series of proudly First Nations stories making their way to screens; stay tuned for Blood Quantum, opening March 27. There are 10,000 more waiting to be told, I’m certain, and that’s no myth” — Chris Knight, The National Post
“At moments, the movie verges on something rich, a different kind of Western, where the refugees are the heroes, and a way of recasting history from the perspectives of the present knowledge” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin
The Whistlers (dir. Corneliu Porumboiu)
“Corneliu Porumboiu’s droll take on the neo-noir thriller, is the most conventional picture yet from the filmmaker who gave us 12:08 East Of Bucharest and Police, Adjective – though that’s by no means a complaint” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine
“This twisty, dark drama about our consuming lust for money reminds us that greed can overtake everything we believe to be good in ourselves, and morality is fluid” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!
“Alas, I think I’d rather watch a documentary about the history of el silbo than this convoluted tale of corrupt cops and robbers that jumps from sunny Spain to dour Romania before ending with a flourish in Singapore’s wondrous Gardens by the Bay, a tourist destination I’d now love to visit as soon as travel restrictions allow” — Chris Knight, The National Post
“The attention to detail and the outrageous plot unfolding in absolutely dead seriousness with style and wit is what makes Porumboiu’s film so deliciously wicked and entertaining” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto
“Isn’t quite the confection it promises to be. Progressively, the tone grows more deadpan and bewildered than dangerous and sexy” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin