TFCA Friday: Week of Dec. 31

December 31, 2021

Jean Marc Vallée | Searchlight Pictures

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


This Week in Movies!

Remembering Jean-Marc Vallée


“He knew what challenges his performers needed. He knew which songs would ensure that a film stuck in a moviegoer’s head forever. And, perhaps most importantly of all, he knew how to structure and cut a film with the fire of a thousand beating hearts,” writes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “His work was fiery, explosive and incendiary. He gave the entirety of himself over to his work, and audiences reaped the benefits of such painful intensity.”


“His departure makes a seismic quake and leaves a sense of void in Quebec, Canadian and world cinema comparable to that of Jean-Claude Lauzon, a fellow Quebec filmmaker whose films Léolo and Un zoo la nuit pointed to a brilliant career — one that was ended by an airplane crash in 1997, at the age of 43,” observes Peter Howell at the Toronto Star. “Vallée was proud to be part of Quebec’s vibrant film scene. He’s often referred to as being part of a Quebec New Wave of bold and visionary directors that also includes Denis Villeneuve, Philippe Falardeau, Denis Côté and Xavier Dolan. Yet true to his iconoclastic nature, Vallée didn’t want to be pinned down by definitions.”


At That Shelf, Pat Mullen reflects on Vallée’s significance with a look back at Wild: “Wild also teaches viewers that people walk with us even when they’re not physically present. The film’s associative editing makes Strayed’s late mother, Bobbi (Dern), an ever-present pillar of strength as memories and favourite songs motivate Cheryl in her journey. As the final cues of “El Condor Pasa” bring Wild to its emotional close, Cheryl finds strength in knowing that her mother now walks forever with her. Like Bobbi, Vallée is gone too soon, but his deeply humanistic work should inspire generations of cinephiles to find their best selves.”


Munich: The Edge of War (dir. Christian Schwochow)


“Director Christian Schwochow creates edge-of-your-seat tension, based on Robert Harris’ novel,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said.

Writing with Fire (dir. Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh)


At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah calls it “an inspirational documentary on journalism and low-caste women’s right that shows an India that is ripe for change.”


A celebration of shoe-leather journalism and indefatigable commitment,” writes Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto.

2021 in Review


At Original Cin, five members picks their favourite films of the year with five different titles representing a great year for movies: Pig for Jim Slotek (“a journey that morphs into a social critique of hipsterism and empty values”), The Lost Daughter for Linda Barnard (“Colman conveys Leda’s every emotion with boldness and nuance”), The Power of the Dog for Thom Ernst (“like a three-act orchestral piece building towards the booming conclusion of a fired cannon”), Licorice Pizza for Karen Gordon (“After a tough year, it was tonic”), Encanto for Kim Hughes (“transported me to another time and place”), and Judas and the Black Messiah for Liam Lacey (“The masterstroke here is the point-of-view of a second tragic figure”).


At Classical FM, Marc Glassman picks the best dramatic film, best documentary, and best Canadian film. Leading the pack? The Power of the Dog (“Mixing wealth, power and sexuality, the film sizzles with passion and repressed emotions”), Flee (“beautifully combines truly artistic drawn imagery with a remarkable rendering of [a] devastating life”), and Night Raiders (“will mesmerize audiences while having audiences root for Indigenous freedom against white conformism”), respectively.


At Metro Morning, Jason Gorber considers why it’s worth looking back not just on the end of the year, but on the classic films that preceded it and bring renewed rewards.


TV Talk: Merry with Harry


At What She Said, Anne Brodie looks at the upcoming Harry Potter reunion, Return to Hogwarts. “The spirit of joy, connection and renewed intimacy is warmly bracing and good for the soul, heart-filling, ideal holiday viewing spiced with tears, hugs and love,” writes Brodie. She also checks out Close to Me with Connie Nielsen, writing, “It’s escapist, easily digestible fun that reminds us to look beneath the surface of what we see and believe.”


Happy New Year!