TFCA Friday: Week of August 19

August 19, 2022

The Territory | Alex Pritz/National Geographic

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

In Release this Week

Beast (dir. Baltasar Kormákur)


“No prizes for guessing what happens next or where the story goes. But it’s worth noting that Elba, no stranger to heroic roles, rises above genre formula by playing Nate as more of a regular dad than a superman,” notes Peter Howell at the Toronto Star. “He’s fearless in the face of danger, and he’s a calm and capable battlefield medic and scrapper. But he’s not exactly handy with a gun and he’s hopeless at hot-wiring cars, something his daughters chide him for at one moment of truth.”


“Beast sees Idris Elba in full Liam Neeson mode as he endeavours to save his family from evil forces. Which, in this case, happens to be a bloodthirsty lion,” says Pat Mullen at That Shelf. “The problem, however, is that I was rooting for the lion throughout the film.”

Carmen (dir. Valerie Buhagiar 🇨🇦)


“Buhagiar has created a lively tall tale of a film,” writes Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “Left on her own, kicked out of the church, without a penny to her name, Carmen proves surprisingly resourceful. When the replacement priest doesn’t arrive, she begins to sneak into the church, sleeping on the pews or upstairs in the bell tower.”

Get Away If You Can (dir. Terrence Martin and Dominique Braun; Aug. 23)


“Marriage stale?” asks Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Well, you might think to Get Away If You Can, a shocker of a love/hate adventure that challenges our ideas of what love is. Filmmakers, stars, and real-life married couple Terrence Martin and Dominique Braun venture forth on a yacht to escape the humdrum of ordinary life.”


The Legend of Molly Johnson (dir. Leah Purcell)


“Purcell makes for an original Western figure, a worn-out, fed up woman in a big hat and a shotgun, who’s had all the abuse she can take. She convincingly spits out threats like, ‘I’ll shoot you where you stand and bury you where you fall,’” writes Liam Lacey at Original Cin. “On the whole, The Legend of Molly Johnson is the sort of film you wish you could like better if it weren’t forcing its interpretation so hard.  Behind the memorable visuals of Molly with a shotgun, the mountain vistas and emphatic strings and piano score, the film is encumbered by its agenda.”


Orphan: First Kill (dir. William Brent Bell)

Orphan: First Kill has few secrets and therefore little suspense. We meet Esther, then known as Leena, in an Estonian psychiatric hospital where she is considered a dangerous patient. She escapes, leaving a trail of blood, and somehow contrives to turn up as a missing child in the U.S., returned to her wealthy family after four years,” writes Jim Slotek at Original Cin. “There is at least one curveball thrown into this by-the-numbers coming-to-America story. This squeaky clean community has secrets of its own, and Esther ultimately must face at least one more psycho before going ‘missing’ again.”


The Territory (dir. Alex Pritz)

Filmmaker and producer Alex Pritz and Darren Aronofsky partnered with members of the tribe to make this stunning doc and provided them with state-of-the-art camera equipment, drones, education, and connectivity in their desperate fight to save their traditional homelands,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “The Uru-eu-wau-wau people hope the film and message will go global, let’s help them by viewing and considering activism.”


“It’s not explicitly stated, but the implication that this is what cheap fast-food hamburgers really cost is obvious. And with so much money at stake, people will do all sorts of horrible things, like terrorizing activist Neidinha by calling her and claiming one of her daughters has been kidnapped, sparking a frantic search,” observes Kim Hughes at Original Cin. “There are scant reveals in The Territory. The story it tells — of environmental assault, mistreatment of Indigenous people, corrupt government and business — is woefully familiar. But the brutality of it all never ceases to amaze.”


The Territory is fearless filmmaking,” writes Pat Mullen at POV Magazine. “It’s a thrilling feat that sees art and activism collide. Moreover, this film should be studied as an example of engaged collaborative filmmaking.” Mullen also chats with director Alex Pritz about engaging the Uru-eu-wau-wau in the telling of their own story: “I brought a small camcorder and we used that, not as a tool to teach people how to make films, but as a tool to open up conversation. I said, ‘You point the camera at me, I point the camera at you. You can interview me about my life: ask me why I’m here making this film. Ask me what I think this film can do,” says Pritz. “Flipping the camera around levels the playing field in terms of the power dynamics.”

Talk of the Town: On Docs and Dinos


At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen chats with TIFF Docs international programmer Thom Powers about the festival’s documentary slate. Highlights include new films from Werner Herzog, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, and Oscar winner Laura Poitras, who will be at TIFF for the first time with All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. The film chronicles artist Nan Goldin’s fight against Big Pharma. “We watch the real consequences that that come out of the protests that she helped organize,” says Powers. “Poitras’s work always has a high rigour of both artistry and reporting. This one, I think, is an exceptional work.”


At Elle Canada, Marriska Fernandes reports from a trip to Malta where Bryce Dallas Howard gave her the ins and outs on the stunts for Jurassic World: Dominion’s wild action scenes. “[I]f it’s something that’s too dangerous, requires a greater skill set than I have access to, then [stunt double Sarah McLachlan will] do it,” explains Howard. “There’s definitely a number of stunts Sarah did such as leaping over buildings here in Malta but it’s just something that I adore, because when you identify specific stunt challenges, like ‘Oh, this is the scene where I go underwater, this is the scene where I do the thing with a knife,’ you kind of keep that in your head and then you can practice and prepare for it. Then when you shoot it, and it gets done, you’re like, ‘Oh, look, I did it!’ and it’s just wonderful.”

TV Talk – On LaFlamme’s Firing and Other Stories


At The Globe and Mail, Johanna Schneller reflects upon the shocking firing of veteran news anchor Lisa LaFlamme from Bell Media and what it means for women in media: “I appreciate and agree that old media has to make room for new voices, and that underrepresented people deserve to and must have a chance to lead,” writes Schneller. “That’s the line Bell Media is trying to take here, but based on their treatment of [Omar] Sachedina so far, I don’t buy it. I also wonder why it’s always the woman who has to make room. Where are all the white male executives willing to give up their jobs?”


At Fashion Magazine, Marriska Fernandes chats with Never Have I Ever star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan about keeping in character, South Asian representation, and learning a sense of style from her character, Devi. “Devi and I honestly have very two different senses of fashion. Especially at the beginning of Never Have I Ever, I personally was someone who never wore colour,” Ramakrishnan tells Fernandes. “I really liked to stay away from colour for the most part. I still struggle to like match prints and stuff. Devi is on the whole other side of all the colour and all the accessories and necklaces and plaid and polka dots… But I will say that she has opened up colour for me. I think because I got to play around on set with different styles, I got to bring a little bit into my own life, but I still think I’m a little cooler than Devi.”


At What She Said, Anne Brodie has fun with the dark dramedy Bad Sisters: “Bad Sisters is a juicy, funny and dark tale of revenge verging on the Shakespearean as the four Garvey sisters conspire to take the abusive husband of their fifth sister out of the picture.” Meanwhile, Canada’s Tatiana Maslany bulks up in She-Hulk: “We get to know her because she speaks directly to us sharing her frustrations with this new life hiccup,” writes Brodie. Echoes on Netflix is pretty dark, but “Schitt’s Creek’s awesome Karen Robinson as the police sheriff offers brilliant comic relief to this florid tale.” For British humour, Brodie recommends The Thief, His Wife, and the Canoe, which features Eddie Marsan in a performance of “plenty of wild-eyed gusto.” The new comedy series Sprung, unfortunately is “as low-brow as it gets.” The doc series Becoming Orangutans, finally, celebrates primates: “This doc is optimistic, charming, and packed with information but let’s face it, the main draw is watching these little critters,” writes Brodie.


At Original Cin, Liam Lacey finds the disaster series Five Days at Memorial…a bit of a disaster: “Though it has some strong points, including a strong cast and first-rate production values, the series fails to live up to its potential. It’s hobbled by generic tropes…and a lopsided structure that softens its impact.”