TFCA Friday: Week of April 5th, 2019

April 5, 2019

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

Opening this Week

Acquainted (dir. Natty Zavitz)

Demonstrates a confident expansion in scope, shooting in locations in and around the city – mostly the Junction and Queen West – to tell a story of an emotional affair that threatens to become something far more complicated” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

As to where it will all lead, you’ll need to watch to find out. And while the film is not perfect – jobs seem to have been drawn from the rom-com directory, and at almost no point does anyone discuss having kids – it’s still a superb homegrown drama, clever and surprising” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Zavitz’s situations and dialogue ring true, and he seems to understand the destructive power being “in love” (as opposed to just “love”) can exert on people’s better judgment” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story (dir. Aaron Kunkel)

Few titans and villains of industry are as complicated and varied as Pearlman, and the interconnected nature of his deceptions haven’t been as thoughtfully and personally outlined before now” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Carmine Street Guitars (dir. Ron Mann)

Affectionate takes on alternate modes of existence. It may be more about yesterday than tomorrow, but it manages to feel as fresh as today” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Has the feeling of a lazy, pleasurable jam session, flowing along pleasantly for an even 80 minutes. The only real tension arises when a realtor drops by, reminding us of the constant, grinding gentrification of every corner of Manhattan and that sooner rather than later Kelly and his shop will be priced out of the neighbourhood” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

When a local property and former home of Jackson Pollack gets sold for $6 million, Kelly doesn’t seem worried. … “Well, if they tear it down, we’ll get some wood out of it”” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Highly nostalgic but it doesn’t suffer from a kind of ennui. Instead, it’s a celebration, a welcoming and warm introduction to this oasis where the expression is king” — Jason Gorber, High Def Digest

Doesn’t need to look fancy to succeed. It just has to give the person who’s stopping by for a visit something they can’t get anywhere else” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A treat for music fans, a close up look at Rick Kelly’s Greenwich Village guitar shop, a hub for musicians and the master craftsman who happens to be a gifted storyteller” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

A warm nod to artists everywhere who embed history into the magic they create and preserve it for years to come” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Edge of the Knife (dirs. Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown)

Comes stacked with stunning imagery embracing both the natural and spiritual world, not that the two are separate in the film’s distinct purview. This is a film that begins by mourning for a lost future. But in telling this story – in telling it this way – it finds hope” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Immersed in the lushly verdant coastal areas and West Coast rainforest, Edge of the Knife will take most filmgoers into an unfamiliar space. Co-directed by artist-sculptor Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown, fluidly shot by Jonathan Frantz, the film’s primary purpose is to preserve the Haida language and customs, with recreated costumes, masks and dwellings” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A resolutely original motion picture, but what it means to the culture it represents and preserves within its frames speaks volumes more” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Deserves to be seen for its depiction of the lives of the Haida people — an important part of Canadian history” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

New Homeland (dir. Barbara Kopple)

“Kopple observes five young boys, a mix of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, as they enjoy the Canadian wilderness for the first time in their new nation,” writes Pat Mullen in POV Magazine, where he interviewed the director

The Invisibles: We Want To Live (dir. Claus Räfle)

This powerful doc-drama hybrid tells the story of the 1700-odd German Jews who disappeared beneath the surface of Berlin and survived for years, long after Joseph Goebbels declared the city “free of Jews” in 1943… It’s a gripping tale of survival” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Is it better to hear about the Holocaust at first hand, from survivors? Or to take their stories and dramatize them with young actors for greater immediacy? The Invisibles does both” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Hard scenes of children being herded onto trains, heart pounding moments when discovery seems imminent, as some Jews are revealed as Gestapo snitches while they endure the terrible wait for an end to the war. You can’t make this up” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Doesn’t feel offensive but it is awkwardly misjudged. The dramatic action and music borrow from the vocabulary of a thriller, intended to make the stories relatable to a young audience but before the dramatic characters are allowed to develop, the film shifts to the interview subjects” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A worthy and insightful account of not only the triumph of the human spirit in surviving but also the inherent good in the few Germans who risk everything in helping the Jews” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (dir. Terry Gilliam)

Visually heroic, narratively tilting at windmills, Terry Gilliam’s 25-year obsession with Miguel de Cervantes’ eccentric knight-errant embraces illusion with such devotion I ended up liking The Man Who Killed Don Quixote more than fighting it” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Pet Sematary (dirs. Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmeyer)

There’s a much better cast this time, led by Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow, but they haven’t produced better results. Pet Sematary still isn’t very scary, but it’s gotten a lot more stupid” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

There’s a new candidate for worst movie adaptation of his books” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Skillful, spooky, and ultimately superfluous, Pet Sematary recycles about 85% of its big screen predecessor wholesale with modest improvements here and there and a respectable reverence for its source material” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

It could have been worse, I guess. It could have been a miniseries” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A worthy update on a classic of horror fiction, and a great way to mess up a new generation of spellers too young to remember Inglourious Basterds” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Shazam! (dir. David F. Sandberg)

David F. Sandberg keeps the scenario a lot lighter than in his horror films like Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation. He evidently had so much fun playing with all the CGI feats and freaks packed into this picture that he forgot to call “cut!” when scenes were running too long” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

The satire in Shazam! plays up the childishness in the material, but also relishes it in the way a child might. The movie just comes at everything with sincerity and affection” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Works perfectly well for those who couldn’t care less about the baggage of decades of comic book lore, and reminds us that these superhero movies can be a hell of a lot of fun without sacrificing richness of character” — Jason Gorber, High Def Digest

The title may end in an exclamation point, but I was left with a different punctuation mark hanging over my head” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The type of film that’s good enough and smart enough to make even some of the harshest genre critics forget that they’ve seen all of this before” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Sunset (dir. László Nemes)

Entrancing, unnervingly intimate, virtuosic and occasionally annoying in its manner of withholding information. We’re saddled to Írisz’s body, if not her consciousness, swept along on a breathless, often terrifying quest, while struggling to see the big picture” — José Teodoro, NOW Magazine

While the busy plot rattles along, with its rough coachmen, scheming shop girls, plotting anarchists and sadistic nobles, … the larger story never really comes into focus. To borrow a headgear metaphor from the American West, Sunset is all hat and no cattle” — Chris Knight, The National Post

It keeps us on the edge of disorientation. But moment by moment, you find yourself realizing it’s as much a mess as a masterpiece, or perhaps a mess-terpiece” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

It’s claustrophobic and puzzling, it’s challenging, intellectually and emotionally and Nemes’ rebellion feels dangerously authentic. Pay attention” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

The period atmosphere and setting are extremely well done.  The narrative fails to satisfy in what would have resulted in an outstanding film” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews