TFCA Friday: Week of August 25

August 25, 2023

Golda | Bleecker Street

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


In Release this Week!


Bank of Dave (dir. Chris Foggins)


“Chris Foggin’s sweet small-town tale Bank of Dave has a big heart. It’s the true story of Dave Fishwick played by Rory Kinnear, a popular truck salesman and karaoke fan in Burnley, UK, a grown-up embodiment of Little Engine That Could story,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Fishwick was a self-made millionaire and often loaned money at low rates to villagers and it struck him – why couldn’t he open his own bank to help them and other local communities by providing low-cost financial assistance?”


Beautiful Disaster (dir. Roger Kumble)


“They’re both playing games, she’s not sure whether she should go for it and he is a bit too sure, and we are not sure about him, he’s cocky and a womaniser,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Will she be able to resist his alleged charms? Her college pals soon discover Abby is a renowned child poker prodigy. Gritty, and tough with a character we care about and one we wish would go away.”


De Humani Corporis Fabrica (dir. Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor)


“The notion of “immersive cinema” reaches new heights with the extraordinary De Humani Corporis Fabrica. The Sensory Ethnography Lab duo of Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor achieve their boldest feat yet by taking cameras inside the human body. Thanks to a tiny camera engineered specifically for the project, roughly the size of a tube of lipstick, they treat audiences to the intricacies of humans’ inner workings,” writes Pat Mullen at POV Magazine. De Humani Corporis Fabrica breaks the boundaries of cinema to marvel at the complexities of our bodies, but also the limitations of them. The juicy insides are gross, squishy, and messy—and a thing of beauty.”


Dreamin’ Wild (dir. Bill Pohlad)


“It’s a quiet, thoughtful movie that aims to be sensitive to the family, while plumbing some of the darker feelings that this late success wrought,” writes Karen Gordon at Original Cin. “That thoughtfulness is both an asset and a liability. It makes the film more complex, but it also slows it down and flattens it. Part of that is the film’s structure, which uses flashbacks to give us the full story…What helps mightily is the cast. Affleck is brooding, but he’s the kind of actor who is good at playing characters who are holding back a tide of inner turmoil. Goggins makes the almost inarticulate Joe a gentle, undemanding human. And the rest of the cast adds to the sense that this is very much a family prepared to ride out anything bad.”


“The fact-based Dreamin’ Wild is a fly-on-the-wall portrait of two young brothers with unrealised dreams that forty years later, may finally become real. Casey Affleck and Walton Goggins paint finely detailed, quietly persuasive portraits of Don and Joe Emerson who as teens recorded a compilation of their songs, called Dreamin’ Wild,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Performances under the direction of Bill Pohlad, are finely tuned, authentic, and intimate. We are right there in the cabin recording studio trying to figure out Donnie’s reluctance in the magical analog world of these brothers, and their loving family. Its sweet, simmering and sometimes withholding nature provides intimacy, strangely.”


Golda (dir. Guy Nattiv)


“Helen Mirren is somewhere behind the ageing, puffy physicality of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in a time of great crisis, in Guy Nattiv’s political fact-based thriller Golda. While the film isn’t the finest of its genre, it does shine a spotlight on a woman in power in the ’70s when few women had it,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Mirren’s Golda is taut, commanding, and businesslike; she has the men’s respect, but she and her female assistants are the heart of her work.”


“The film, a  little uneven though a compelling watch largely due to Mirren’s performance, unfortunately opts for a cop-out glossy happy ending that puts Golda up on a pedestal without any faults, going against the flow of the other parts of the film,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


“Nattiv gives Mirren a few moments here or there for us to see the stress.  And it is considerable. Some of the people in her office have children on the front lines.  There is nothing abstract to Golda or to her cabinet,” notes Karen Gordon at Original Cin. “Mirren gives a careful and thoughtful performance. And despite being encumbered by a costume (which includes, for some unknown reason, carrying a giant purse with her, to the point where it’s distracting), she does a good job of giving us a sense of the weight on her shoulders. She does this without diminishing those qualities of courage and strength of as a leader even under such extreme pressure.”


“In director Guy Nattiv’s political drama, the British actress stars as Israel’s first and so far only female prime minister, Golda Meir. But to do so, Mirren is slathered in head-to-toe faux-frumpiness, all wrinkles and wigs,” observes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “There is no real age difference here – Mirren is 78 years old, playing Meir at 75 – but there could not possibly be two women more dissimilar in physical stature or presence. It is both a testament to the film’s makeup team and detriment to audiences that Mirren is simply unrecognizable. Because with casting like this, audiences will spend the majority of Nattiv’s film searching for the real Mirren rather than paying attention to what the actress is attempting to do.”


Gran Turismo (dir. Neill Blomkamp)


Gran Turismo often pulls its cathartic punches, to the point where an emotional low point for Mardenborough feels decidedly unearned. And I know this is what movies do, but that incident (involving a race car spoiler; spoiler alert?) is moved to a different point in the man’s life than it actually happened,” writes Chris Knight at Original Cin. “But ultimately, if Gran Turismo were a car, it would have shoddy brakes, little pickup and bad cornering. If you’re looking to get from narrative point A to point B by the most direct route possible, it’ll suffice. If you want something more engaging, you may want to choose a different ride, one with a little more under the hood.”


Iron Butterflies (dir. Roman Liubyi)


”What’s impressive about Iron Butterflies is the brilliant artistic rendering of a catastrophic tale. Filmmaker Roman Liubyi, who wrote, edited and directed the film has worked with a talented team–sound designer Andrii Rohachov, composer Anton Baibakov and choreographer Bridget Fiske—to memorialize the dead while never forgetting the stupidity and absurdity of their expirations,” writes Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “Liubyi assumes that we know the bare bones of the story, which was broadcast worldwide, and plays out his telling in an avant-garde style. Choreography is employed to great effect, perhaps most alarmingly when dancers dressed as Russian soldiers burst into a Ukrainian home, terrorizing the three people living there, placing their hands threateningly over the mouths of these innocent civilians, who are effectively silenced in their own land.”


Iron Butterflies is a remarkable film, tightly paced and beautifully realized,” notes Jason Gorber at POV Magazine. “Liubyi takes on the incredibly difficult task of making sense of something nonsensical, and thanks to his acute eye for story, his impeccable skills of montage, and remarkable source material gathered for the criminal investigation, we’re treated to something as special as it is indelible. This film is an incredible achievement, and should be mandated viewing for anyone even beginning to make sense of what’s taking place this very moment in the region.”


“The image of that explosion influences the scattered jigsaw puzzle style of the film, including smartphone footage, vintage military propaganda films, animation, absurd Russian news coverage and black-and-white choreographed performances,” observes Liam Lacey at Original Cin. “The effect is, by turns, sardonic, moving, and, poetic: A murmuration of starlings against a dark sky over the crash site, contrasts with a later sequence showing a contemporary flight tracking map, with green airplane symbols moving across Europe, avoiding a hole over Ukraine…On the other hand, it can also seem misguidedly artsy and self-indulgent: Repeated scenes of dancers in black-and-white footage are trivial compared to the emotional impact of the victims’ belongings strewn over the fields of the wreckage site.”


Killer Book Club (Carlos Alonso Ajea)


At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah says the film “moves fast, is entertaining enough, especially for teenage horror fans, and has a script that manoeuvres well enough to create suspense and mystery. Though no horror masterpiece Killer Book Club is entertaining enough as a guilty no-brainer pleasure.”


Scrapper (dir. Charlotte Regan)


“Regan may have pushed the eccentric humour in her film a bit too far: we didn’t need talking spiders or nicely photographed groups of kids in identical colours—white girls in a semi-circle in pink, Black boys seated on yellow bikes—speaking directly about Georgie to the camera,” says Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “Still, Scrapper is a worthwhile first feature, especially due to the brilliant performances of Lola Campbell as the feisty Georgie and Harris Dickinson as the ever-cool Jason. It’s worth viewing and deserves the accolades it’s receiving.”


You Are So Not Invited to My Bar Mitzvah (dir. Sammy Cohen)


“Sandler, director Cohen, and all try their best to make everything work, especially making the film more accessible to non-Jewish audiences,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The bar mitzvahs are glamourised with star DJs and with a solid teenage playlist. The teen problems of jealousy, infatuation, and parent relationships – universal problems faced by all races are highlighted.”


“t’s a bouncy, fun, and relatable story that takes us back to our 13-year-old insecure, life-loving, learning, optimistic, and loyal selves,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “But it raises, intentionally and unintentionally, image issues that need to be addressed. Based on Fiona Rosenbloom’s book.”


File Under Miscellaneous


On the TFCA blog, Marriska Fernandes speaks with Wish director Fawn Veerasunthorn and producer Peter Del Vecho about making dreams come true with their upcoming Disney project: “When you look at Disney films from the past, there are so many moments of people gazing up upon the starry sky when [they’re] looking for hope or inspiration,” Veerasunthorn tells Fernandes. “In this movie, we’re taking that story even further and we’re pairing the magic of the stars with someone with such conviction. And together, they go on the journey to prove that there will be nothing in the way of someone who [has] that drive to go after your dream.”


At the Toronto Star, Peter Howell dives into the summer phenomenon that is Barbenheimer and explores what its success means for counterprogramming, a return to the theatrical experience, and promoting movies amid the strikes: “Counter-programming usually goes like this: a small film with a particular audience opens the same day as a blockbuster aimed at a different and larger audience, creating a “rising tide” to attract all moviegoers,” writes Howell. “This strategy worked brilliantly when the female-skewing ABBA musical Mamma Mia! opened the same July day in 2008 as the male-skewing superhero movie The Dark Knight. Both films did spectacular box office. This summer’s July 21 simultaneous release of Barbie and Oppenheimer originally began as counter-programming, but it morphed into a new form of synergy called Barbenheimer: movie fans of every stripe wanted to see both films, often on the same day, sending ticket sales soaring in both cases. Fan-generated Barbenheimer memes, mashing amusing visions of both pictures, helped goose this phenomenon.”


At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz chats with Toronto-born director Emma Seligman about her breakout film Shiva Baby, her new comedy Bottoms, and finding a place for her Canadian roots: “I definitely want to tell more Canadian stories, or stories that just take place in Canada,” Seligman tells Hertz. “With Shiva Baby, I didn’t grow up in New York, these characters are Toronto Jews and this is coming from the Toronto Jewish world, but it took place in some vague suburb of New York. I felt conflicted about that. I love when movies have a specific location and you can tell that this filmmaker understands the community. I hope to be able to tell more authentic stories from a Canadian perspective.”


At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen reports on the unexpected choice of the documentary Rojek, directed by Zaynê Akyol, as Canada’s Oscar submission for Best International Feature: “Rojek is a provocative work in which Akyol examines the consequences of war and fundamentalism in Syrian Kurdistan. The director, who was born in Turkey to Kurdish parents and is now based in Montreal, gains extraordinary access to members of ISIS. She looks them in the eye and asks them why they fight, what motivates them, and where they believe their cause will go. The film also takes audiences to refugee camps and tours the countryside to observe how everyday people survive amid conflict in a land that is literally and figuratively on fire.”


A Festival of Festival Coverage: Bell, Let’s Talk About Your TIFF Sponsorship


At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz reports that Bell may be exiting its role as TIFF’s lead sponsor: “Telecom giant Bell is expected to end its lead sponsorship of the Toronto International Film Festival after this year’s edition, two sources say, which could create even more financial uncertainty for the festival as the screen sector struggles to recover from pandemic lockdowns,” writes Hertz. “The festival is also facing a dearth of star power going into its 2023 edition next month amid major strikes involving U.S. actors and writers. Losing its main sponsor of 28 years, whose name has been emblazoned on the festival’s flagship TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre since the facility’s 2010 opening, would be a further setback in an era when many movie fans prefer to stay on their couches.”


At the Toronto Star, Peter Howell looks at the rumours that communications giant Bell is dropping its role as lead sponsor for the Toronto International Film Festival following this year’s event. Howell speaks with TIFF board member Barry Avrich about the implications. “The upside for TIFF is that they remain a prestigious consumer property,” Avrich tells Howell. “There will be opportunities to replace Bell if they can attractively position themselves as being the ultimate festival portal beyond the building, one that goes beyond the blurred lines of film and television to deliver an experience to a demographic that is consuming entertainment in so many different ways.”


TV Talk/Series Stuff

At What She Said, Anne Brodie explores the mystery of Wanted: The Escape of Carlos Ghosn:One of the most powerful and respected car movers and shakers, Lebanese-born Carlos Ghosn had a sterling reputation,” writes Brodie. “He was sentenced and fled Japan in the most extraordinary fashion.”