TFCA Friday: Week of October 12th, 2018

October 12, 2018

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

Opening this Week

22 July (dir. Paul Greengrass)

A film made by someone who clearly has a fire in their belly and a grave concern about the fate of democracy around the world” — Andrew Parker, The Gate, including an interview with the filmmaker

All About Nina (dir. Eva Vives)

There have been many films about brilliant, self-destructive stand-up comics, but Eva Vives’s All About Nina – although made before #­MeToo exploded in the entertainment industry – feels eerily timely” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

Feels like a movie baked into the entertainment world’s here and now” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

A mediocre, unsurprising look at the darkness lurking in the hearts and minds of many stand-up comics that’s elevated considerably by a note-perfect and blistering leading performance and one timely scene that’s one of the year’s best stand alone moments” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

There’s no redemption in this unlikeable comedy” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

American Chaos (dir. James D. Stern)

There are a lot of harsh truths contained within Stern’s work that Democrats should heed and respect, but the film never becomes a successful tool for change” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A powerful film in a quiet sort of way” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Bad Times at the El Royale (dir. Drew Goddard)

For all the time-jumping, perspective-shifting and twist-dropping, Goddard’s script is surprisingly flat, spinning its wheels for nearly an hour (and eliminating one of its most interesting characters) before it even starts, and snuffing out its best ideas as it goes along” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Like an Agatha Christie story told by Quentin Tarantino and Peter Strickland” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

An overlong, but curiously still underdeveloped bit of entertainment that wins one over through the sheer force of the performances contained within it and a handful of good ideas” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Should satisfy bad ass movie fans with bad ass entertainment with its Tarantino / Rodriguez style” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Audio: “Full of clever twists and turns. It’s fun to sit back and watch how he’s going to solve the problems he’s set up” — Karen Gordon, CBC

Bigger (dir. George Gallo)

A hokey, inauthentic biopic of one of the biggest names in bodybuilding and fitness, George Gallo’s frequently risible and always unfortunate Bigger has a pair of unique leading performances and very little else worth talking about” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Squanders most of the potential that comes with dissecting such an under-explored world as the nascent body-building industry” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Entertaining, but cheesy” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The Weiders denounced drinking and espoused protein shakes, but the film suggests you can never have too much cheese” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The good in the movie is overwhelmed by its by-the-numbers approach to its story. There’s not enough to make a fan out of non-fans of body building, and there’s enough wrong to turn off the real fans” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

First Man (dir. Damien Chazelle)

There’s the grace, calm and near silence of observing a fantastic new world with the rapt eyes of the explorers whomFirst Man thrillingly recalls and honours” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star, who recalls how Neil Armstrong kicked off his writing career

It’s a visceral, bone-rattling ride — an experience designed with meticulous precision to put us right in the cockpit with the hero” — Brian D. Johnson, Maclean’s Magazine

First Man is, with perhaps a microcosm of exception, a four-star masterpiece” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

An original. even poetic, account of astronaut’s Neil Armstrong’s personal journey to stand on the lunar surface in 1969” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A deeply impactful look at a taciturn individual” — Jason Gorber, That Shelf

As for the space stuff – well, it’s magnificent. (Consumer advisory: see this in IMAX. It matters)” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The lunar footage is superb, and the next best thing to being there. Shot with IMAX cameras, it pushes viewers out of the tiny lunar module and onto the moon’s silent surface, undisturbed for eons. If you’re a fan of extraterrestrial exploration, this is your goosebumps moment” — Chris Knight, The National Post, who details the time he almost met Neil Armstrong

“Captures both the intimacy of Armstrong’s family life and camaraderie of his fellow astronauts effectively” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

One heck of an accomplishment” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Audio: “The film took my breath away. It’s made to be seen in a movie theatre” — Karen Gordon, CBC

Free Solo (dirs. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

Adds new meaning to the term ‘movie cliffhanger’” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

Gives a new meaning to the term edge-of-your-seat suspense” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

I secreted an absurd amount of sweat through my palms during the 97 minutes of Free Solo” — Jake Howell, Long Takes

Extraordinary shots of adventure in nature that are true to the National Geographic style while also witnessing one of the triumphs in mountain climbing history” — Marc Glassman, POV Magazine

People who hate heights should consider this a massive warning, but they’d also be missing out on one of the most gorgeous and multi-layered documentaries of the year” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

This spectacularly shot mountain movie demands to be seen on the big screen, as all grand outdoor adventures do” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (dir. Ari Sandel)

Closer to Stein’s original books in the worst possible ways. The characters are threadbare, their plights never in question, most of the corny jokes struggle to elicit even modest smiles, and none of the ghosts, ghouls, and monsters are used to their fullest potential” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The Kindergarten Teacher (dir. Sara Colangelo)

A delicate sort of film, and it’s one of the year’s most disarming dramatic experiences” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Knuckleball (dir. Michael Peterson)

Starts off as a prickly but interesting drama … but then it shifts gears and becomes something very different – a snowbound thriller rooted in jealousy and revenge that plays out at a much higher pitch” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A taut, Canadian, boy’s-p.o.v. thriller set on a snowy farm” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin, who has a great interview with the film’s Michael Ironside

Far from a genre classic, but a decent way to kill ninety minutes” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A very satisfying and absorbing albeit ultra-violent thriller” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Even if it’s a swing and a (near) miss, Knuckleball might be a fun watch for Halloween horror fans, preferably while home alone” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

The Hate U Give (dir. George Tillman, Jr.)

[Struggles] to fit all the novel’s strands into the film, resulting in some underdeveloped characters and a lengthy running time” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

A paradoxically angry crowd-pleaser drawn in broad emotional strokes” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Isn’t a perfect piece of cinematic activism or even a narratively balanced bit of storytelling, but it’s still perfect in all the ways that matter most” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Too manipulative, predictable and a crowd pleaser. This film contains no surprises and no new insight” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Raising Tomorrow (dir. Aaron Wolf)

The director explores the USA’s crisis of faith by chronicling the restoration of his childhood place of worship, Los Angeles’s Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Wolf’s earnestness sometimes gets the better of the film, and some viewers might be put off by the element of conservatism that underlies the doc, but the film’s heart and intentions are all in the right place” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

A celebratory tale of history, community, and a kind of resurrection” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Studio 54 (dir. Matt Tyrnauer)

The disco’s reputation as a drug den — a veritable snowstorm of cocaine blew through it — didn’t help the owners’ case before the courts, despite the battery of high-profile lawyers they hired to defend them. Tyrnauer documents it all with journalistic rigour” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Brings back fine memories and serves as a worthy tribute showing the immense trouble that goes hand-in-hand with the success of any huge club venue” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Filming Anthropocene

Speaking with Nathalie Atkinson in Zoomer, filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier discuss new technologies as a way of extending the experiential, non-didactic nature of the photographs and film in their Anthropocene project with Edward Burtynsky

How A Star Is Born Was Born

In Zoomer, Nathalie Atkinson talks to Lorna Luft about Hollywood’s previous versions of A Star is Born — including the fallout of the ill-fated 1954 version made by Luft’s parents Judy Garland and Sid Luft