TFCA Friday: Week of August 24th, 2018

August 24, 2018

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

Opening this Week

1945 (dir. Ferenc Török)

The rare sort of ensemble drama where long internalized grief, shame, regret, and selfishness destroys characters more than external forces will” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

As powerful a fable about the relentless thrall of guilt as has ever been put to screen” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

A trenchant examination of what happens in the wake of genocide, to survivors, witnesses, the participants and those who merely stood and watched” — Chris Knight, The National Post

One of the best foreign films of the year” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The Bookshop (dir. Isabel Coixet)

A moderately entertaining adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald’s slender novel about Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), a widow who opens up a bookshop in a dilapidated stone house in a small Suffolk town in the late 1950s” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

This film is so threadbare it’s practically non-existent; a black hole that will mysteriously suck two hours of one’s life away and give nothing back in return” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A slow-moving affair, but it’s worth watching its stars go through their paces” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Unfolds at such a leisurely pace, it might turn out too slow for some audiences (just as people might nod off during reading a book, as one character in the film says)” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Breath (dir. Simon Baker)

Decidedly one of those “end to innocence” narratives, but it’s also a nice ending to an otherwise bombastic summer movie season” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Recalls the excellent Canadian film Sleeping Giant, with the difference that this is also a surfing movie” — Chris Knight, The National Post

An occasionally uplifting though flawed film about boyhood in an all white male surf setting” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Crown and Anchor (dir. Andrew Rowe)

A drama about family ties so knotted, it would require an axe to make sense of them, taking that archetypal thriller plot and adding a generation or two of seething familial resentment” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The Happytime Murders (dir. Brian Henson)

What starts off as an amusing idea quickly crosses the line from lewd to crude, with sex jokes both visual and verbal that don’t improve with repetition” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

If you want to see jokes about puppets doing drugs, having sex and killing each other, Peter Jackson’s Meet The Feebles wrote the book on that 30 years ago” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Doesn’t hold back on the raunchiness, but the ingenuity to make something this unnecessarily shabby into a satisfying experience is sorely lacking” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

There’s enough promise in The Happytime Murders for it to possibly work as a short-lived, gimmicky Comedy Network series. But the effort that’s put into stretching this gag over the length of a feature film is more painful than funny” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Two varieties of boring, fluid-based in-your-face humour: jokes you’ve probably seen done better elsewhere; and jokes you really don’t want to see done at all” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Little Italy (dir. Donald Petrie)

It’s not just that it’s badly written, cringingly performed and indifferently produced, but it’s so proudly phony, presenting a modern-day Toronto whose Italian community is trapped in the 70s, swaggering around making laboured Godfather references and yelling insults at each other at escalating volume. Air Canada is a prominent sponsor; I have no idea why anyone thought this would be good for tourism” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

With zero self-awareness and even less self-respect, Petrie and his Canadian screenwriters Steve Galluccio and Vinay Virmani happily reheat a Blockbuster Video outlet’s worth of VHS-era rom-com tropes, all while deploying racial stereotypes that make John Hughes’s Long Duk Dong seem thoughtful and nuanced” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Madeline’s Madeline (dir. Josephine Decker)

Sit down to watch Madeline’s Madeline, and you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. Her name is Helena Howard” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A harrowing, thoughtful, and borderline experimental look into the artistic mind, Madeline’s Madeline is unlike any film ever made” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Could be classified as inventive, exploring and original, going against the grain of narrative film. It could also be classified as a load of rubbish” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Papillon (dir. Michael Noer)

If you haven’t seen the original, Noer’s remake could offer a lot of excitement and drama. If you have, at least you’ll get a something that’s familiar, but not half bad” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Even if the remake is commendably entertaining, it can never escape its own shadow” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

It’s a little too late into the careers of Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek to call this a breakout hit for either of them, but it does involve a breakout, and could very well be a hit” — Chris Knight, The National Post

It would be interesting to watch both films back-to-back to observe the different treatment of each director and actors towards this timeless material. Both films are equally well shot and absorbing and definitely worth seeing” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Support The Girls (dir. Andrew Bujalski)

Takes a sitcom idea about a hectic Hooters-style Texas roadhouse and turns it into something that far exceeds the lowest common denominator” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

A charming, low-key character piece with dense emotional intelligence and exquisite comic timing; the writer/director’s specialty is showing us how people compromise themselves to function within their chosen environment, and Support The Girls offers him a new angle to explore” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Hall is a revelation worthy of serious Oscar talk” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A loose but sharply observed serio-comedy about B.S. jobs and female resilience that’s like a contemporary Office Space in pink halter tops and denim booty shorts” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

What Keeps You Alive (dir. Colin Minihan)

Runs out of ideas almost immediately… conventional from the get-go” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Works remarkably well at pitting two equal, but temperamental forces against one another in a battle that’s just as brainy as it is brawny” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The film is beautifully shot, the lake looking especially inviting. The overhead shot of the canoe with the dark lake waters is worthy of mention” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

TIFF 2018

In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell speaks with Cameron Bailey and Piers Handling on the upcoming festival, likely their last as TIFF contemporaries