TFCA Friday: Week of February 8th, 2019

February 8, 2019

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

Opening this Week

Arctic (dir. Joe Penna)

It would be easier to count the words spoken in Joe Penna’s survival thriller Arctic than the number of beats your heart skips while watching it. Few of the former, many of the latter. But it’s not all jump scares in this smartly executed genre movie, which stars Mads Mikkelsen as a stranded northern pilot battling icy desolation and other natural threats” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Ultimately, a movie about waking up to the possibility of hope after a long dull silence – and if you’re going to put that on one actor’s shoulders, Mikkelsen is just the guy for it. He grabs the parka – or the flare or the axe or whatever – and gets to work” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A stripped-down survival story from first-time director Joe Penna, and it’s very, very watchable” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Few words, and a frozen living hell. Director Joe Penna’s attention to minute detail, his unerring gift for the dramatic build, and Mikkelsen’s quiet, stoic heroism make for a screen experience so specific and intimate that you simply can’t look away” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

If you had to spend 97 minutes trapped in the Arctic with just one person, you could ask for worse company than Mads Mikkelsen” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

A difficult but rewarding watch that shows man’s conquest over the elements” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The deliberate pacing, cinematographer Tómas Örn Tómasson’s images reminding of the vulnerable human scale against the landscape and the skeletal narrative, bringing a refreshing purity to a classic predicament” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Audio: The film belongs to Mads Mikkelsen… it’s a tour de force performance” — Karen Gordon, CBC

Bonus: Mads Mikkelsen Interviews

… with Chris Knight, The National Post: “I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of being dumped in a Canadian forest somewhere”

… with Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail: “I lost 14 pounds. My beard got annoying”

… with Peter Howell, The Toronto Star: “You’ve got to survive. You got to catch a fish, for God’s sake”

Cold Pursuit (dir. Hans Petter Moland)

I understand the appeal of remaking one’s own movie for a new audience, and a Liam Neeson revenge picture is basically a licence to print money, so I can’t really blame Moland for taking the shot. But he really shouldn’t have bothered; the story just doesn’t travel” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

There’s not much to recommend Cold Pursuit if you’ve already seen In Order of Disappearance, but not many did… those new to the story can enjoy the sight of Neeson getting his hands dirty as he kills his way up the chain of command of a local drug cartel. No need to worry too much about whether Skarsgård wore it better” — Chris Knight, The National Post

This suspenseful wild west tale is leavened by Fargo-esque humour and incredible set pieces and based on the extraordinary but far superior Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Ends up a lazy and uninspired Hollywood remake of the Norwegian original” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Far less interested in the straight-ahead action of Neeson’s recent filmography, and more concerned with exploring the idiosyncratic details of crime and punishment” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

The focus soon moves away from Nels to the impending White versus Native turf war. At this point, the script is all over the place” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

High Flying Bird (dir. Steven Soderbergh)

A dense story with plenty of moving parts, with a lean script from Moonlightco-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney that fills in the characters’ motivations and backstories on the fly, daring us to keep up” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The thrill Soderbergh and his co-conspirators are enjoying is contagious” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Audio: Comes to a very interesting conclusion” — Karen Gordon, CBC

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (dir. Xavier Burgin)

An engaging and informative look at the treatment of Black characters and culture in American horror cinema. It’s smart, funny and packed with interesting people clearly delighted to be talking about their work and the movies they love” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (dir. Mike Mitchell)

It feels like we’ve become the joke. The idea is stale, the characters are no longer cute and the story is convoluted beyond belief, when it’s not being patronizingly didactic about how brothers and sisters just need to love each other and get along, you know?” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Becomes a plot salad, a complicated framework for as many references as can be bloodlessly squeezed into the script” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Audio: So plot heavy that it’s hard to keep up… but for all of its flaws, it cheered me up” — Karen Gordon

The LEGO Movie 2 may not be as revolutionary as Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s inventive, irresistible product-placement masterwork, but it’s a worthy follow-up all the same” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A riot of colour, action and cameos from start to finish – literally to the finish; the closing credits, featuring a song called “Super Cool” by Beck and The Lonely Island, is worth the price of admission” — Chris Knight, The National Post

If The Lego Movie 2 had to exist, then its filmmakers went above and beyond the call of studio-mandated fiduciary duty” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Awesome. Just as inventive and hilarious” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Oscar Shorts (dir. various)

Norm Wilner (NOW Magazine) rounds up the shorts you want to catch, including likely-winner Bao (playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox)

Peter Howell (Toronto Star): “A banner year for Canadian film brevity

Pat Mullen (POV Magazine / Cinemablographer): The short docs? Bleak! The animated shorts? Amazing! The live action shorts? … Insufferable.

Plus! Five Documentary Short Subject highlights remind Pat Mullen why every category should be broadcast

The Prodigy (dir. Nicholas McCarthy)

Blithely borrow[s] from innumerable evil kid movies: The Omen, The Exorcist, The Bad Seed, Children of the Corn, and so on. [It doesn’t] bring much new to the party” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Isn’t awful or anything; it’s kind of dumb, I guess, but it’s well-acted and delivers a couple of unnerving moments in its first half. It’s just not original enough to distinguish itself from all the other bad-seed movies we’ve seen over the years” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The outlandish premise is the basis for an earth-shattering reality that envelopes the family, and way beyond. An intriguing hole at the end signals that a sequel that has probably already been written” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

At a recent press screening, there were more giggles than gasps at the supposedly scary moments” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Think Live’s Lightning Crashes music video crossed with the Child’s Play films, but far less entertaining” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Jackson Robert Scott is the scariest 10-year-old in America, courtesy of his portrayal of the demon-clown-possessed Georgie, Pennywise’s first child abductee in the movie It. And the image gets sharper with his co-starring role in the supernatural horror thriller The Prodigy” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin, including an interview with Scott and Colm Feore

Not without its loose ends, but still one hell of a thinking horror film” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

What Men Want (dir. Adam Shankman)

This movie relies completely on Henson, cutting loose as a woman who’s both on top and bugging out uncontrollably. She’s a riot with broad comedy” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Has its own minor flaws, and is just not an especially impressive fantasy rom-com, though it does travel some distance on the easy charm of its star, Taraji P. Henson” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Credit to Taraji P. Henson for trying really hard to make the film work” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The World Before Your Feet (dir. Jeremy Workman)

Follows New York blogger and photographer Matt Green on his quest to walk every street, park and public space in New York City – some 8,000 miles, by his reckoning” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

One can find life’s beauty in one’s own city, as well as travelling thousands of miles away. A simple tale, but wonderfully told” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The Canadian Screen Awards Nominations

Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail: The CSAs noms lean towards Quebec, and that’s a good thing