TFCA Friday: Week of Feb. 10

February 10, 2023

One Fine Morning | Photo by Carole Bethuel / Les Films Pelléas. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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


In case you missed it, the TFCA recently announced Steve Gravestock the winner of the Company3 Luminary Award, Carol Nguyen the winner of the Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize, and Michelle Krasovitski the winner of the Telefilm Canada Emerging Critic Award.


In release this week!


Attachment (dir. Gabriel Bier Gislason)


At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah calls it “a confident and relatively absorbing film aided by apt performance of all its leads especially Sofie Gråbøl as the weird mother and Josephine Part and Ellie Kendrick as Maja and Leah, respectively.”


“Good performances, and the novelty of the situation, hold interest, as the drama moves from rom-com start through familiar bump-in-the-night scares to a conventional conclusion,” notes Liam Lacey at Original Cin. “There’s something a bit deeper here as well, a metaphoric exorcism, as Maya and Leah detach themselves from the conventions of patriarchal authority. But Attachment isn’t overly solemn in its messaging: It’s a love story, with more than usual cultural, and demonic, hurdles to overcome.”


Magic Mike: The Last Dance (dir. Steven Soderbergh)


“Risible dialogue and a thin plot drag down what should have been a joyous, energetic, final body-con adventure. Fortunately, Channing Tatum’s easy charm gives us something to work with as he gyrates and flops and whathaveyou,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “He’s Mike (third and final time) who impossibly winds up directing a male strip show in London with Max, Salma Hayek Pinault’s wealthy, shrewish divorcee who won a theatre in the settlement. He and Max have a business-based ‘emotional affair’ following a night in Miami when he gave her a lap dance to cheer her up.”


“Instead of something noble like saving the theatre or the art of theatre, the success of the new play is designed to feed the ego of the patron and owner Mendoza,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “Just like Jennifer Lopez’s Shotgun Wedding, the unfunny romantic comedy that is more interested in showing off Lopez’s body these ego tripping films Magic Mike’s Last Dance and Shotgun Wedding are vying for the worst film screened so far for 2023, and all made for Valentine’s Day.”


“We do get a final series of dance sequences that are energetic and skillful, and make the stage play look like the opening dance number at the Grammys,” says Karen Gordon at Original Cin. “The highlight, from a dance perspective, comes when Mike, who has insisted he will not dance, gets on the stage with a trained ballerina, for an intimate pas-de-deux in the faux rain. The intimacy of that dance is a contrast to all the shirt ripping and hip thrusting, and maybe puts a wee bit of magic back into Mike’s story. The rest is one big pas-de-don’t.”


One Fine Morning (dir. Mia Hansen-Løve)


One Fine Morning is an unvarnished portrayal of academic, and what we used to call bohemian, life in central Paris,” notes Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “The characters feel completely real, which isn’t surprising, given Mia Hansen-Love’s background. Her father was a philosophy professor, who recently died after years of dealing with the medical system. Hanson-Løve’s mother, also a prof, was the inspiration for her film Things to Come/L’avenir, which starred Isabelle Huppert as a tough, brilliant older woman, who figures out her life after she and her husband divorce.”


“Seydoux’s performance is a miracle of subtlety and naturalism, holding it together as she deals with burdens, such grace and compassion for others. Clement brings an unkind emotional imbalance and it comes crashing down on Sandra while she keeps the family together,” observes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “She carries it with dignity, a strong sense of self, and love for her daughter. The end isn’t really the end given her history. A provocative and stirring portrait of a woman keeping the universe in balance as we try to do.”


“For a character who works with words for a living, and whose father was a philosopher and writer, Sandra’s situation is summed up in remarkably few. Her husband is barely mentioned. She and Clément are more physical than chatty at this stage in their relationship. And conversations with Georg are stilted and short, as he loses track of his thoughts or slips into aphasia,” says Chris Knight at the National Post. “But Hansen-Løve’s script gives us just the right words when we need them. There’s a beautiful scene in which Sandra explains to her daughter that she feels more at home in her father’s library than when visiting him in hospital. ‘There, it’s his bodily envelope. Here, his soul.’”


“Hansen-Løve is exquisitely aware of the ups and down of ordinary life, awful one moment, joyful the next. And there is a lot of joy in the movie,” says Karen Gordon at Original Cin. “As a writer, she can weave a few lines into a simple scene, a thought that takes the film to a deeper level without rattling the walls or our psyches. There’s a measured, thoughtfulness in her work. And Seydoux’s performance — spare, quiet, nuanced — anchors it all beautifully.”


“Director Hansen-Løve is an expert in creating and developing emotional and realistic characters making Un beau matin immensely watchable and compelling,” notes Gilbert Seah at Toronto Franco.


The Outwaters (dir. Robbie Banfitch 🇨🇦)


“The film is a confusing mess that turns very bloody disgusting at the very end,” admits Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “No one really knows what is going on as the scenes are often unconnected. At times, The Outwaters feels like The Blair Witch Project with the camping done in the Mojave Desert.”


“Give Banfitch credit for making the most of his shoestring budget of $15,000. The film is laced with images of weird, snaky things emitting noises that sound like the cry of a baby extraterrestrial from Alien, and elongated shadows that might portend equally distended limbs or might just be a trick of the light,” says Chris Knight at the National Post. The Outwaters has been making the rounds of niche festivals before this brief theatrical run, followed by a home on horror streaming service Screambox. It did pick up a jury prize for best film at San Francisco’s Unnamed Footage Festival, but not the audience award. Make of that what you will.


Remember Yesterday (dir. J.R. Rodriguez)


“Film with lots of small town mentality that is recognizably present,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The little cake shop round the corner, the camaraderie among the town film and the familiarity of town gossip are all present here and used the story. And there is a smile around every corner of the street.”


Somebody I Used to Know (dir. James Franco)


Somebody I Used to Know suffers from a dislikable heroine, a predictable plot with a generally a hardly funny script in a lacklustre romantic comedy,” sighs Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


“Ally will steamroll, gaslight, fake befriend, and plant seeds of doubt in Cassidy while coming on strong, suddenly in bodycon outfits, gunning for him and his family,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “The wedding is the following day. Ally isn’t just the anti-hero, she’s the villain. Then she learns her show is being re-upped requiring her to go back to LA. Hers is an extraordinarily self-absorbed character who nonetheless manages redemption in this ballsy romcom. Brie is terrific and nicely multi-layered and carries it.”


Sweetheart (dir. Marley Morrison)


“Like AJ herself, Sweetheart feels a bit awkward, from AJ’s intermittent sardonic voice-over to the montages set to shoe-gazing soundtrack tunes. But there’s one twist that’s new. AJ’s working-class family are entirely accepting about AJ’s sexuality. They’re just really clumsy about it,” says Liam Lacey at Original Cin. “Tina wonders what’s wrong with being a little bit more feminine, “like whatshername —that lesbian actress who’s in that film where they all get stuck in a room.” (Jodie Foster in Panic Room.) “She’s a lesbian and you’d never be able to tell just by looking at her.”


At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah calls it “a caring little teenage gay lesbian British comedy that uses small town fare (here, small beach resort) as the setting for the film.”

To Kill a Tiger (dir. Nisha Pahuja🇨🇦)


“Indian-Canadian director Nishua Pahuja won’t please crowds as much as Hansen-Løve’s One Fine Morning with To Kill a Tiger, but her film is brilliant and accessible in its own way. Set in rural India, it is the true story of what happened when a 13-year-old girl was raped by three local boys after a wedding party had ended,” writes Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “Pahuja focuses on Ranjit, her father, who broke tradition by backing his daughter when she asked him to press charges against the rapists. Although Ranjit found allies through the Srijan Foundation, a progressive organization dedicated to changing India’s often backward traditions, he encountered lots of opposition along the way.”


At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen calls To Kill a Tiger “the best Canadian film of the year.” He also speaks with Pahuja about juggling the responsibility of protecting her central character and breaking the cycle of shame that forces women to stay silent. “Eventually, I started to actually feel that it was unethical not to show her,” observes Pahuja. “I felt that I was feeding into this idea in India that to show a rape victim means to show her shame, when, in fact, she has nothing to be ashamed of.”


BHM, ALFF, and Series!


At That Shelf, Courtney Small picks 28 films for Black History Month, including Chameleon Street: “A criminally underrated piece of cinema, this film tells the true story of Michigan con man Douglas Street who successfully climbed the socioeconomic ladder by pretending to be everything from a magazine reporter to a surgeon.” There’s also The Woman King, for audiences with some catching up to do: “Inspired by true events, this action epic starring Viola Davis tells the remarkable story of the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors, who protected the Kingdom of Dahomey from outside forces who wanted to claim the kingdom’s power and resources.”


At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen previews the Available Light Film Festival and offers some highlights from the Whitehorse fest, including the 25th anniversary screening of Picturing a People: “While stories of the Yukon have been staples in Canadian film with classics like City of Gold, this documentary directed by Carol Geddes was the first major Yukon production about a local subject by a filmmaker from the area. Tlingit filmmaker Geddes followed her work with the NFB’s Indigenous production unit Studio One with this portrait of a photographer who documented the early life of their tribe. Picturing a People offers ample freeze frames of Johnston’s photographs that captured Tlnglit life, but the film looks beyond the frame of his images to consider the stories and histories that need to be remembered. The film is significant as a work amid a new wave of Indigenous self-representation at the NFB.”


At What She Said, Anne Brodie breaks down the four-parter The Love Club. “Each film focuses on whatever love hardship the lead experiences whether it’s an unhappy time in a marriage, a refusal of love, unrequited love, or putting intense pressure on herself in order to win someone’s love,” writes Brodie. “Who wouldn’t want pals like that who immediately jump on planes and come to support a girl in a jam? It’s fun, light, sunny, and a winter antidote. Don’t expect readings from Emmanuel Kant, but settle in for harmless eye candy fun. Each movie stands alone and the four binge well.” Brodie also binges the doc series Gunther’s Millions: “Filmmakers Emilie Dumay and Aurelien Leturgie follow the dogs and the money around the world, capture revealing hot mic moments, and interviews, and are present when paying foreign hosts learn the dog they’re fawning over isn’t the Gunther – its a substitute.”