TFCA Friday: Week of August 23rd, 2019

August 23, 2019

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

Opening this Week

American Factory (dirs. Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert)

Glass shatters frequently in American Factory, and the shards offer one of the most apt metaphors of the American dream that one may ever see” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Should be required viewing for anyone who ever questions why unions or labour movements are necessary and vital” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Angel Has Fallen (dir. Ric Roman Waugh)

Can I ask an awkward question? Does anybody like these movies? Not action movies in general, but this particular franchise. Each installment is a little dumber and a lot louder, churning through directors and stuntmen and pyro tanks to no real purpose” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Anyone who deigns to buy a ticket to Angel Has Fallen needs to lower their expectations accordingly” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Nothing here that audiences have not seen before, and louder and bigger do not necessarily make it better” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews 

Angelique’s Isle (dirs. Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Michelle Derosier) 🇨🇦

[This] Canadian survival drama is about as standard and unsurprising as these sorts of films tend to get, but that doesn’t mean it’s shoddily made or told without a fair degree of conviction” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The beauty of the Thunder Bay locations takes on a chilling evil as the men’s treachery carries out its will” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

A handsomely mounted Canadian Indigenous tale of hardship and survival” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Aquarela (dir. Victor Kossakovsky)

The film is 89 minutes of undeniably beautiful iceberg, tidal waves and waterfalls. But that gets redundant. And the occasional heavy metal intrusion on the soundtrack: oof” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

The film doesn’t preach; it doesn’t need to – it’s all there for the eye to see. Stunning, emotional and beyond debate” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Has a you-are-there clarity to unnerving effect. While Kossakovsky has said his plan was to show every emotion created by water, the emphasis is on the beautiful and the terrifying, from glaciers calving massive bergs into the sea off Greenland, to the devastation of Hurricane Irma in Florida” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Makes a compelling case that water will wage the next war against humans” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Best viewed on the largest screen with the best sound system possible, but it still feels like there could be more to this that isn’t being explored or pondered” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Pure cinematic delight thats comes complete with the all-important message of environmental conservation” — Gilbert Seah, 

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (dir. Xavier Dolan) 🇨🇦

A hot mess of great scenes that never quite come together. One wishes the film were the sum of its parts” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

A film with a fair bit to like within its shaggy, unwieldy construction, but not enough to outweigh the fact that Dolan’s latest is an unqualified mess” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Fidder: Miracle of Miracles (dir. Max Lewkowicz)

It’s a theatre kid’s paradise – a celebration of an American perennial that offers something richer and more meaningful than a few backstage stories and testimonials from famous fans” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

At its best when Lewkowicz and his interview subjects pull back from the material itself and look at how the musical has stayed relevant over the years” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

“There’s a reason why Fiddler on the Roof remains one of the most acclaimed and beloved musicals over 50 years after it debuted in 1964,” writes Pat Mullen in POV Magazine, who interviewed director Max Lewkowicz

The Peanut Butter Falcon (dirs. Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz)

Heartwarming and sweet, The Peanut Butter Falcon might follow a road movie trajectory that’s familiar to most audiences, but that doesn’t make its overall premise and approach any less original or enlightening” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A well-intentioned film featuring real life characters who have problems chasing their dreams” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Ready Or Not (dirs. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett)

Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett get amazing mileage out of the sheer absurdity of Grace’s predicament, grounding everything that happens in her disbelief and sense of betrayal while also letting the family members hunting her be complex, interesting people who’ve all talked themselves into this because of tradition, superstition and obligation” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A delightfully decadent dark carnival that seems primed for cult movie status” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

An amusing time-waster, aspiring — but never achieving — the giddy heights of deliciously wicked horror-camp like the Italian Giallo films popularized by Dario Argento” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Tigers Are Not Afraid (dir. Issa Lopez)

While there’s a version of [this] that could play as a straight thriller, that’s not the story López wants to tell. Her film is much richer and stranger, with fantastical elements slipping in and out of the narrative like spectral fingers” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The result is an emotionally moving thriller that smoothly negotiates the horrors of the supernatural and real world evil with haunting imagery and tension. And the cinematography creates a landscape that is almost post-apocalyptic in its crumbling disarray” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

A haunting, violent, and resoundingly timely modern fairy tale” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Touch Me Not (dir. Adina Piatilie)

A documentary-fictional hybrid about intimacy and people’s discomfort with their bodies. Though it probably takes on more issues than it can handle, Touch Me Not is an intriguing oddity: In a world saturated with sexual imagery but where the subtleties of intimacy are largely mysterious” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

It’s a bold film that seeks to destigmatize sexual dysfunction or other barriers that could inhibit a healthy libido. There’s no judgment to be found and plenty of empowerment and empathy” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The often disgusting film, which could be described as porn disguised as art, opens ones eyes (to put it mildly) to the sensation of touch and sexuality” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut

In Slashfilm, Jason Gorber writes on “one of the greatest artistic achievements of all time”

TIFF 2019

In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell interviews Cameron Bailey — and he’s got some tips for your festival picks