An interview with The Queen of My Dreams director/writer Fawzia Mirza on making her feature directorial debut at TIFF 2023.
TFCA Friday – Week of Jan. 14
January 14, 2022
Welcome to TFCA Friday, a weekly round-up of film reviews and articles by TFCA members.
Please stay tuned to our Twitter feed on Sunday as we announce the TFCA Award winners at noon EST.
In the meantime…
2022 Cineplex Emerging Critic Award!
Have you mastered the perfect Letterboxd review, blogged your heart out about a film you loved, and wondered how to take the next step? We are now accepting applications for the 2022 Cineplex Emerging Critic Award! Writers in the early stages of their careers are encouraged to apply. Get the details here.
This Week in Movies!
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (dir. Junta Yamaguchi)
“With long takes, simple locations, and finely tuned performances, this film clearly shows that minor masterpieces can be made on a shoestring budget but it needs a good story, script and thought,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
“You can enjoy the film for its fractal plotting, as Kato and his friends get lost in a comic fugue of causes and effects, or you can just sit back and enjoy the fluid grace of Yamaguchi’s high-wire cinematography, which remains calm while the characters grow increasingly panicked,” writes Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto. “Either way, watch it with as few distractions as possible – or you’ll have no idea whether someone is coming or going.”
Brazen (dir. Monika Mitchell)
“Grace manages to officially insert herself into the police investigation and outperforms them, with help – and warnings -from the handsome detective next door. Milano’s spare, effective perf as a warrior for women’s causes is deeply ingrained,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said.
“[C]learly a female movie that has gone so over-the-top that silly is no longer a word that can accurately be used to describe it,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “It is entertaining in a way to watch how everything so serious in the film has gone brazenly haywire.”
The Contrast (dir. Sean Dude and Presley Parras)
“[The] film’s downfall is its rooting in Harlequin type romance and a love at first sight mentality,” sighs Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
The Free Fall (dir. Adam Stilwell)
“A cursed trifle with an unpleasant aftertaste,” admits Anne Brodie at What She Said. “If only the plot lived up to the decor.”
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (dir. Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska)
“The script is clearly not only short of fresh ideas but desperate in doing anything to provide for laughs,” admits Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
(dir. Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels; Niki Lindroth Van Bar; Paloma Baeza)
“This visually stunning, thoughtful, and darkly funny anthology film is a must for anyone keeping the pulse of animation,” writes Pat Mullen at That Shelf. “It’s a thrill to see artists who’ve helmed award-winning shorts on the festival circuit take the next step.”
The Jump (dir. Giedrė Žickytė)
“On Thanksgiving Day 1970 Kudirka escaped a Soviet fishing boat and swam the icy waters to an American boat to freedom. But the Americans returned him to the Soviets. The now 86 year old takes us through his harrowing experience,” explains Anne Brodie at What She Said.
“Though the story of Kudirka’s attempted defection has been well-chronicled elsewhere, The Jump…is engaging for several reasons,” notes Liam Lacey at Original Cin. “[T]here is the fascinating examination of the memories and changing faces of other characters who were involved at an emotional point in their lives 50 years ago. We hear from the officers of the Vigilant, including the commander Ralph Eustis, who requested advice up the chain of command and was in tears when he released Kudirka back to the Soviets.”
The Runner (dir. Boy Harsher)
“Despite the film being confusing a hell, Boy Harsher’s music is trippy and catchy and it meets the mood and atmosphere of his film,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
See for Me (dir. Randall Okita 🇨🇦)
“Using the angles of the house to his benefit, Okita creates some of the film’s best edge-of-your-seat moments by showing just how close Sophie comes to crossing paths with one of the intruders as she searches for a way out,” says Courtney Small at That Shelf. “His patient camera work frequently reveals the various dangers that are literally lurking around the corner and the way he plays with shadows and lighting are superb.”
“Okita keeps a firm grip on the film’s action, maneuvering the story through its layers of twists and possibilities without putting too much of a strain on our disbelief,” writes Thom Ernst at Original Cin. “See for Me glides gingerly into the home invasion horror genre as not to collapse the narrative into a tawdry mess of violent retribution, although all comeuppances are intact. Okita’s not one to leave you hanging.”
“Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue’s efficient screenplay moves keenly through the beats of the genre, finding room to consider the uncomfortable implications of Sophie using a smartphone app to connect with a sighted assistant…who treats her client’s very dangerous situation as if it was a first-person shooter, and cinematographers Jordan Oram and Jackson Parrell make the most of their location, gliding Fincher-style through the darkness,” notes Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto. “A solid thriller for a cold night in.”
The Whaler Boy (dir. Philipp Yuryev)
“[The] film’s best and most effective moments depict Leshka’s lifestyle – him riding on a motorbike with his pal or wrestling him in the water, while swimming and hunting whales,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched (dir. Kier-La Janisse)
“If you have more than a passing fondness for the genre, you’ll notice some curious omissions: Ben Wheatley, whose Kill List, A Field in England and In the Earth all fit Janisse’s criteria, was the most glaringly obvious to me,” observes Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto. “But horror fans looking to expand their personal lexicon are likely to find at least one new favourite lurking within.”
Canadian Content and Sexy Stuff
At Original Cin, Jim Slotek considers how Canadians are watching Canadian movies, and what we can learn about the home-release/streaming world for our national cinema: “My hot take: Canadians actually embrace Canadian movies and watch them by the hundreds of thousands. They’ll watch them on their phone, on their TV, on their laptops, heck, maybe even on their Apple watches – anywhere but a movie theatre,” writes Slotek. “That’s not the audience’s fault. The release model for Canadian films sees them rushed in and out of theatres like a commuter with a bus to catch. Advertising budget? What’s that?”
In a TFCA long take, Marc Glassman considers the cinema of the flesh and wonders if films like Red Rocket, Benedetta, Titane, and Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn teach us something about the ongoing subversiveness of sex on screen. “Four films. Four dark visions of the world we inhabit,” writes Glassman. “Using sex as a driver, these films challenge orthodoxies that are falling apart in front of our eyes as conditions in the world worsen. While this quartet of festival award-winners from 2020 will never be popular successes, they do paint a picture of where we’re at today.”
And at Classical FM, Glassman dives into two Disney animated features, Encanto and Raya and the Last Dragon: “Six people contributed to the story for Encanto, and six completely different writers worked on Raya and the Last Dragon’s tale. And yet both have the sensibility of one man, who has been dead for over 50 years. Walt Disney’s magic and storytelling philosophy still profoundly affects the fables that are released under his banner.”
A Festival of Festival Coverage: Sundance Approaches!
At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen and Jason Gorber pick ten documentaries they’re especially excited to see at Sundance this year. For Mullen, it’s The Princess: “Diana fever is in the air! … Ed Perkins’ archival doc re-examines in Diana’s own words and images the media-frenzy and re-evaluation of the monarchy that she inspired.” For Gorber, We Need to Talk About Cosby provides many talking points: “Leave it to W. Kamau Bell… to provide what looks to be a provocative, intelligent, and no doubt fascinating dive into this murky topic that we definitely need to talk about rather than simply ignore.”
At What She Said, Anne Brodie says to carve out some time to binge-watch Inventing Anna: “The question of Anna’s character and background niggle still like mosquitoes on a humid evening. Well-made, nicely paced and filled with surprises – and those psychological reveals! Inventing Anna is an engaging series, well made and revelatory, with great pacing, so hunker down for 10 hours of WTF moments.” She also has good words The Teacher: “Sheridan [Smith]’s a terrific actor who can pull off this tawdry tale….”
At NOW Toronto, Norm Wilner goes along for the ride with Peacemaker: “Filled with left-field jokes and gruesome, tactile violence, Peacemaker sometimes has the feel of a greatest-hits album for Gunn, as he runs through themes of unlikely families, daddy issues, the pitfalls of hero worship and one idea from –Slither and The Suicide Squad that’s starting to feel a little shopworn, all set to a preposterously specific hair-metal soundtrack.”