TFCA Friday: Week of August 31st, 2018

August 31, 2018

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

Opening this Week

Cardinals (dirs. Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley)

Raises deep questions about crime and punishment, justice and vengeance, and the ability of secrets to stay buried” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Sheila McCarthy gives the performance of her career in Cardinals” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

It’s McCarthy’s performance that literally IS the film. In a script that clues the audience in on a need-to-know basis, she communicates waves of quiet dignity, pain, love, self-sacrifice and resignation. She channels the movie’s tension with quiet control” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Despite an arresting first shot, this debut feature epitomizes Canadian cinema at its most frustrating: great performances in a slim script, only adequately brought to the screen” — Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine

Restrained dramas about old wounds and sins of the past festering into fresh new traumas aren’t anything new in the Canadian cinematic landscape… but few are done as concisely and poignantly as Cardinals” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Quirky and other highly original … Moore and Shipley create a unique personality that is impossible to copy” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Juliet, Naked (dir. Jesse Peretz)

If you have been jonesing for a British rom-com since the Hugh Grant era, then get thee to a movie theatre” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

A much more provocative title than it is a movie, but that’s only if you manage to resist this romantic comedy’s seductive charms” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke are so great together that they make Juliet, Naked’s exhausting narrative worthwhile” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Good for a few laughs, at least” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

There’s a lot of narrative ground to cover in Juliet, Naked… and the condensed take on Hornby’s character driven work struggles mightily to contain it all” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Kin (dirs. Jonathan and Josh Baker)

There’s a long, sometimes august history of shorts being made into science-fiction features… It doesn’t always work out so well, however” — Chris Knight, The National Post

A wildly uneven mash-up of high concept sci-fi and clichéd family-in-crisis tropes” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The Little Stranger (dir. Lenny Abrahamson)

A kind of gothic, ghostly mash-up of Downton Abbey and Grey Gardens, The Little Stranger is as mannered, tattered and morose as that marriage of premises suggests” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Is less concerned with obvious scares than the hidden desires that can drive us mad” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

This is the cinematic equivalent of watching a test pattern, but at least test patterns are colourful” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A disappointment … ends up with more period gothic atmosphere than genuine scares” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Searching (dir. Aneesh Chaganty)

Chaganty does a good job keeping the screen-only conceit working… but the screenplay is sometimes a touch too busy; happy to ride in thriller territory one minute, it will suddenly shift into an awkward critique of social media the next” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The screen-movie thing gets all the attention in the marketing, but the real innovation here is how first-time feature director/co-writer Chaganty uses the shorthand of smartphones and FaceTime to convey deep dramatic beats” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Credit should be given for a thriller with a break in trend, made with a Korean family and taking place on a computer platform” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

While this isn’t the best example of a film from this booming genre, Searching does manage to be three quarters of a great movie with a disappointing final quarter tacked on lazily at the end” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Trench 11 (dir. Leo Scherman)

Sometimes you just want to watch a war movie where a handful of soldiers battle a secret lab filled with rage zombies, you know?” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The historical elements and horror beats make for an admirably curious, but ultimately flavourless mixture” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A truly gory horror flick steeped in the terror of war” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

There’s far too much exposition on this expedition, some of it flirting with 21st-century speech patterns. No one wants a war of words” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Ends up a scary enough horror movie with interesting characters making effective use of its World War setting” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Leo Scherman takes this simple story and all the atmosphere at his disposal and gives us a gripping 90 minutes of literal escapism” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

TIFF 2018

Chasing the Buzz: In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell asks critics (including several TFCA members) their most anticipated pick (and if you need capsule reviews of many of the festival’s biggest titles, Peter Howell, Linda Barnard, and Bruce DeMara have you covered)

Did someone say capsules? Kate Taylor and Barry Hertz’s Globe and Mail write-ups have a beautiful interactive layout to boot

“It’s allowed me to dream my own dreams”: Barry Hertz has an exit interview with CEO Piers Handling

Finally at the Toronto Star and at the Globe and Mail: News breaks that Joana Vicente, digital visionary, is TIFF’s new co-head

Moviegoing is changing because cinema itself is changing. Can TIFF adapt? In The Walrus, Brian D. Johnson maps out the festival’s uncharted territory

There’s tons of features at TIFF, but don’t forget the shorts! Pat Mullen at POV details the smaller films at the sprawling festival that you need to see

Fall Movie Preview

In The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz outlines the Oscar bait and prestige dramas you can look forward to, including First Man (and if you want to revisit an old classic, why not The Dark Knight in IMAX? Yes, classic: It’s somehow 10 years old, as Hertz writes)