TFCA Friday: Week of August 16th, 2019

August 16, 2019

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

Opening this Week

47 Meters Down: Uncaged (dir. Johannes Roberts)

Not being a marine life expert, I can’t say whether a shark would be blind, albino and listless at the titular depth… But I do know a bad movie when I see one” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

It’s not that I wanted the characters to get eaten, but if you were to ask me to place the ones in which I was most invested in the relative safety of a vessel we see bobbing offshore, I’d be blunt: You’re going to need a smaller boat” — Chris Knight, The National Post

If [this] was nothing more than the final ten minute showdown it would be near perfect. Unfortunately, there’s 79 minutes that come before it” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

It is not often that you watch a killer-shark movie and start feeling sympathy for the shark. But 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is no ordinary killer-shark movie – it is much, much worse” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

A cash grab … ends up quite the bore” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

When thoroughly wet, add two large great white sharks. Now hit that purée button repeatedly” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

After the Wedding (dir. Bart Freundlich)

Explores what it means to want the best for someone, how we strive to make it happen, and the vast gulf that exists in between” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The whole thing was just so much better in the original Danish, and it would be silly of me to pretend that film doesn’t exist. Go dig out your DVD player and find a used copy. It’s one of [Mads] Mikkelsen’s best performances, and one of Bier’s best movies. No one will say anything like that about the remake” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The cast is better than the anemic script and direction, which belabour a twist that is easy to guess. After the Wedding went from being the Sundance 2019 opener to an August leftover, which may tell you all you need to know” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

These are modern people who are relatively self-aware, and so they talk and reveal and say things that should make the film emotionally resonant. But the interaction seems inauthentic and that resonance doesn’t happen” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

Does about half the work necessary to make a remake feel vital, but is half better than none? It’s a question that I’m still puzzling over after watching Freundlich’s version” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Remains a well told story of privilege, charity, and suppressed feelings” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Marvellous about this version are the performances of the leads” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

The Angry Birds Movie 2 (dir. Thurop Van Orman)

[The preceding short] Hair Love is absolutely worth seeking out and supporting. The Angry Birds Movie 2, not so much” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Blinded by the Light (dir. Gurinder Chadha)

It’s an upbeat, crowd-pleasing story, but director and co-writer Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) oversimplifies the narrative at every turn” — Chris Knight, The National Post

I really enjoyed the trailer… As for the entire movie, it’s basically the same thing, only about 40 times as long with diminishing returns” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A rare film whose joy is infectious and storyline inspiring, an instant classic that will leave audiences dancing in the dark” — Jason Gorber, High-Def Digest

A comedy that finds life inspiration from an unexpected source” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Chadha seems convinced that audiences will forgive her movie’s rough edges as long as they care about Javed’s journey, and maybe they will. But I suspect she’s also counting on those audiences not to care that it’s a journey they’ve seen many, many times before… just with a better soundtrack” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

[Its] highly stylized approach works intermittently, yet Chadha cannot decide how passionately she should lean toward musical fantasy versus kitchen-sink drama” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Might follow a bit too closely to the crowd pleaser playbook, but it’s certainly effective” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Bows to white commercialism stereotyping minorities, providing no insight to the problems” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Cold Case Hammarskjold (dir. Mads Brugger)

By the end of this nearly 2-1/2-hour film, which starts offhandedly and rather glibly but firmly rises to a bell-ringer of a finale, Brugger has connected many scattered dots. The picture that emerges is a vast global conspiracy” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

This is a wild tale masterfully and superbly told—or a dangerous lark of self-indulgent nonsense, depending how one assesses the evidence” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Probably best to take the whole film with a grain of salt. And enjoy the scenes where Brügger and fellow conspiracy theorist Göran Björkdahl, dressed as colonial explorers in pith helmets, go digging for the aircraft remains with absurdly tiny shovels” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Brügger’s indulging of his own stylistic fetishes proves to be a major stumbling point, leading to a work that uneasily hangs between cynicism and sincerity” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Brügger tends to spoils things by trying to make them too entertaining” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Can’t believe what I’m writing because it’s so extreme, but these are the findings of the filmmakers laid out in this explosive doc” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

A case where the search for the truth is more interesting than the truth itself” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The Divine Fury (dir. Kim Joo-Hwan)

Never feels terrifying enough to be taken seriously as a chiller or a reflection on lapsed faith” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Exit (dir. Sang-geun Lee)

[The] mix of action, mild romance, cornball comedy and vertiginous stunts means that an English-language remake could only possibly star Dwayne Johnson” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Good Boys (dir. Gene Stupnitsky)

Trades in lewd and crude humour, to be sure, but it does so by way of a funny story of a trio of Grade Sixers attempting to negotiate the hairpin turn from boyhood to manhood” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

A raunchy comedy with a tween cast who cuss up a storm between various misadventures with anal beads, a sex doll and MDMA” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

The few parts of director Gene Stupnitsky’s film that feel new, then, don’t feel that new at all, from the ultra-shaggy plot to the gross-out gags that misunderstand the power that repetition might hold (one line about the smell of anal beads is fine; two is pushing it)” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Despite its mature situations, overshoots the audience it is most likely to appeal to: Tweens who are not accompanied by an adult” — Thom Ernst, Original-Cin

There remains a good deal of heart along with the potty-mouthed hilarity, which had a recent preview audience chuckling merrily if a little guiltily, this watcher included” — Chris Knight, The National Post

An enjoyable, but exhausting, experience” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Inferior to Booksmart, which contains funnier jokes and more inventive set-ups” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy (dir. Jazz Boon)

Will scratch the itch of anyone who wants to watch something with a ridiculous plot, hard boiled performances, and a handful of impressive set pieces” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Mine 9 (dir. Eddie Mensore)

An indie film about a team of Appalachian coal miners trapped two miles down, trying to crawl their way up with an hour of oxygen, makes maximum use of the dark in all its frightening implications” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Writer/director Eddie Mensore makes the most of his limited budget; the fires and explosions aren’t first-rate visual effects, but everything else in the movie combines to create a sense of claustrophobia and doom” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Very effective at creating claustrophobia” — Gilbert Seah,

The most poignant and terrifying sort of drama: a film about good, hard working, sympathetic people in a life or death situation” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Spice It Up (dirs. Lev Lewis, Yonah Lewis, and Calvin Thomas) 🇨🇦

Rene’s struggle to make herself understood through her incomprehensible art is moving, in its awkward way, and it stayed with me for a good long while after the credits rolled. Maybe it’ll work for you, too” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

An enormous gamble birthed from creative frustrations, distractions, and detours, but one that pays off” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

If there was ever a profound lesson on how to reuse your own work for a greater cause, this is it” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (dir. André Øvredal)

The movie’s a little on the long side, and most of the secondary characters are just sketches, but when it focuses on the spookhouse stuff – or when Colletti and Garza get a chance to develop their awkward, gentle chemistry – it’s pretty satisfying” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Survival Box (dir. William Scoular) 🇨🇦

Mere survival may be enough of an objective when the world seems to have shut down, but cinema needs a loftier goal” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The story isn’t a metaphor or a microcosm; no one starts worshipping a boar carcass or divides the group into optimists and dead-enders. Everybody just sits around, dressed in utilitarian grey sportswear and waits for a plot to kick in” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

It’s the kind of slipshod, carelessly thrown together movie that has ‘tax write off’ practically written on the script’s title page” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (dir. Richard Linklater)

Some bad films are that way because they are dull and soporific; others because they lack intelligence. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, is, no question mark, the rare movie that fits into both categories. It puts the dumb in boredom” — Chris Knight, The National Post

It’s all supposed to be funny, in an archly comic way, with the cutesy score underlining each upset. Yet it’s also more than a little sad to watch Bernadette going through a personal meltdown, even if it is necessary to spark a career epiphany” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Better at asking questions than delivering answers. It’s a strange film, with A-list performers and a sensitive director producing a work that feels maudlin and messy, little more than some TV movie trifle” — Jason Gorber, High-Def Digest

A movie that feels disconnected from itself, swerving in tone from a comedy of manners to a satire of urban elitism to a midlife-crisis drama and back again” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

There is, buried deep somewhere in Linklater’s film or however many edits it may have undergone – the thing reeks of indecision – an insightful, even invigorating story about what happens to a creative genius once they stop creating. But the actual work presents a good argument that, for some artists, it might be best to quit while you’re ahead” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

An overblown dysfunctional family drama” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Certainly illuminating and funny at times, but it is Blanchett’s performance that matters, this flawed heroine with the strength to struggle survive and will herself well through creativity” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

One of director Richard Linklater’s most fascinating (and bound to be misunderstood) projects in years” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Loyalty is Tarantino’s Newest Obsession

In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell discusses the common thread in OUATIH: Love and loyalty

Rear Window Opens Again


In Zoomer, Nathalie Atkinson writes on Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock’s quintessential summer thriller which plays the Fox Theatre on August 22nd

TIFF 2019

In the Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz discusses the latest announcements of stars headed to the festival