TFCA Friday: Week of April 13th, 2018

April 13, 2018

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

Opening this Week

Abu (dir. Arshad Khan)

While some questions remain unanswered by the end, it’s still a fascinating look at navigating various cultures” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

With its flashes of melancholia and wit, it remains eminently relatable” — Chris Knight, The National Post

An extremely watchable and moving film, made entertaining from Khan’s personal style of filmmaking” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Beirut (dir. Brad Anderson)

Doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it’s a fine example of what’s possible within that when the people making the movie aren’t just going through the motions” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The story itself is predictable – there are double-crosses and red herrings and one CIA-focused plot hole that’s large enough to swallow Lebanon itself whole – but there is a unique confidence in not only Gilroy’s sharp sense of character and dialogue, but also Anderson’s smooth command of action and the chance to watch Hamm carefully think things through on-screen” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail, including an interview with screenwriter Tony Gilroy

Feels like a mix between Michael Clayton and the Bourne movies… with dialogue that’s more subtle and at times a bit cynical” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Big Fish & Begonia (dirs. Liang Xuan and Chun Zhang)

Notions of sacrifice and selflessness are played large in ways that most animated movies don’t dare” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The animation is nothing short of spectacular” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Borg vs McEnroe (dir. Janus Metz)

The actors are well cast. Shia LaBeouf captures McEnroe’s combative hostility, and Sverrir Gudnason recedes into Borg’s calculation and rigid physicality. But that’s all they’re allowed to do, and the film grows increasingly tedious the more Metz rehashes his thesis” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A must watch for tennis fans, especially” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Finding Your Feet (dir. Richard Loncraine)

Landing somewhere between a Mike Leigh weeper and a Richard Curtis laugher, … Finding Your Feet wobbles more than it pirouettes” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

A feel-good dramedy about British pensioners rediscovering their passions” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Cozy cinema at its coziest; I was going to suggest you take your mum, but perhaps better to skip a generation and bring granny” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Predictable… [but] lifted slightly by the presence of both Imelda Staunton and Timothy Spall” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Indian Horse (dir. Stephen Campanelli)

Harrowing… [a] turbulent journey from boy to man” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

The story would have been better served at miniseries length, where we could observe Saul’s growth rather than just have other people notice it” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

In Maclean’s Magazine, Brian D. Johnson writes long on the film’s importance, especially for Canada’s Indigenous population

Richard Wagamese’s novel … is an important part of reconciliation. It’s a powerful story. I just wish it were a better movie” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Most compelling in its first half, when the film depicts Canada’s residential school system” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Lean on Pete (dir. Andrew Haigh)

A road drama of many curves and a few tragic teardrops” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

For a film that’s nominally about a boy and a horse, the symbols never feel overdone; indeed, a continued motif in which Charley sees himself reflected in mirrors is done with stark, painful realism” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

A coming-of-age story that successfully evokes emotions and audience sympathy” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Rampage (dir. Brad Peyton)

Falls into that watchable genre we might call the Big Dumb Movie” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Knows exactly what kind of movie it wants to be: a movie made from a 90s video game where a bunch of giant monsters smash up a city, with Dwayne Johnson and a few other people running around trying to minimize the carnage. It leans into it with enthusiasm” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The chief delight of Rampage is the sight of the giant alligator slithering in and out of a glass tower several floors at a time or the giant gorilla simply swallowing one of the villains whole. It’s the destruction that’s appealing” — Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail

Johnson and Harris have some nice chemistry, both separately and in tandem, which is ultimately what makes Rampage the mildly enjoyable time-waster that it is” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Video: “The Rock turns into a big, bland boulder” — Eli Glasner, CBC

Sweet Country (dir. Warwick Thornton)

A new Australian classic” — Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail

Truth or Dare (dir. Jeff Wadlow)

Has more story and character development than the average horror flick” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

You Were Never Really Here (dir. Lynne Ramsay)

Ramsay turns it into violent, visual poetry. Cannes awarded her its Best Screenplay prize and Best Actor for Phoenix, both prizes richly deserved” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Masterful work from one of the best actors of his generation” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Phoenix is frighteningly believable as a man teetering on the edge of sanity, and putting his noxious talents to the best use he can” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Short, concise, and a marvel… Phoenix delivers a remarkable performance” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Set against the high-tension strings and jarringly funky synthesizers of Greenwood’s score, the film is transformative and transfixing… We do not deserve Lynne Ramsay” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Cannes 2018

Peter Howell explains why Xavier Dolan’s latest film isn’t going to Cannes, while also looking at what actually did make it into the Netflix-free Competition