TFCA Friday: Week of Dec. 29

December 30, 2023

Good Grief | Netflix

Welcome to TFCA Friday (Saturday edition!), a weekly round-up of film reviews and articles by TFCA members.


In Release this Week


Good Grief (dir. Dan Levy)


“It’s comfort viewing for a lonely Saturday night,” writes Pat Mullen at That Shelf. “The collective group hug that Good Grief assembles loses its grip somewhat in the Parisian jaunt, though. Marc, Thomas, and Sophie have a lot of feelings. What begins as catharsis becomes a bit whiny as they talk things out again and again. And again. The gang’s more encumbered with emotional cargo than Moira Rose at a city council meeting. Whether one shares all the feels or responds with an eye-roll may depend upon how one relates to these characters and their situations. Good Grief is a very Millennial consideration of adulting and the responsibilities it entails”


Hell Camp: Teen Nightmare (dir. Lisa Williams)


Hell Camp is one of the most intriguing docs of the year for the reason of its subject,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The doc succeeds primarily because it encompasses a wide range of interviewees of everyone involved from the camp counselors, to the patients, to the parents to the investigators to Cartisano and his family.”


Thank You, I’m Sorry (dir. Lisa Aschan)


At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah calls it “an entertaining different family relationship comedy drama that is entirely watchable and light viewing”.”


The Best (and Worst) of 2023


At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah picks the top ten films of the year including Anatomy of a Fall (“Engrossing from start to finish”), The Zone of Interest (“mesmerizing and shocking”), and The Quiet Girl (“the simplest tale can create the greatest emotional impact”).


At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz recaps the year in Canadian film. Highlights include BlackBerry (“The culmination of years’ worth of trash talk from director Matt Johnson as to how the Canadian film industry ought to look, BlackBerry might be the defining film of a generation”) Red Rooms (“mixes the modern folklore of the internet with the pulse-pounding tension of a classic whodunit”), and I Don’t Know Who You Are (“wonderfully affecting, star-making performance from Mark Clennon”). Hertz also throws tomatoes at the worst films of the year, which include Pain Hustlers and We Have a Ghost (“These two high-gloss titles…speak to Netflix’s self-created fault lines”), Freelance (“John Cena underlined the unintentional irony of his film’s title in that he will take on any gig that comes his way”), and Marvel movies (“It is time to blow this multiverse up and start from scratch”).


At Shiny Things, Norm Wilner picks the best films of 2023. The list includes All of Us Strangers (“casts a gentle but unbreakable spell over the audience”), Godzilla Minus One (“See it in IMAX if you can. It’s astonishing”), and Showing Up (“If Reichardt is making a meta-commentary on her own career, it’s as artful and humane as everything else she’s done”).


At That Shelf, members Rachel West, Courtney Small, Jason Gorber, and Pat Mullen share their picks for the best films of the year. Past Lives tops the site’s collective poll, but the members’ individual lists offer a range of favourites with All of Us Strangers, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, The Zone of Interest, and The Taste of Things topping their lists, respectively.


File Under Miscellaneous


At the Toronto Star, Peter Howell speaks with musician and American Symphony subject Jon Batiste. The star opens up about the documentary, his Grammy wins, and telling his story honestly and authentically: “My art, and who I am as a person, it speaks for itself. And there’s a lot of toxic traits to our culture. We’re in a culture of people having hot takes and quick, uninformed opinions. I think it’s an indictment of the culture to have an artist or have a person not be recognized or not be understood, for all they’re doing for the culture and for all that they’re contributing,” Batiste tells Howell. “I’m not just talking about myself. I think this often happens. Whether it’s great artists, whether it’s dancers, performers, community leaders, teachers, advocates for great causes, we oftentimes can benefit from what these people sacrifice. But we don’t understand what it takes or we don’t see it until it’s in retrospect.”