TFCA Friday: Week of January 10th, 2020

January 10, 2020

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

Opening this Week

Botero (dir. Don Millar)

The film receives intimate and remarkable access to Botero and his family. Millar, a long-time friend of Botero and his family, has a comfortable relationship with his subject. That observation is, of course, a double-edged sword that might infuriate members of the academy in the same fashion that Botero’s art does. The film is accessible, enjoyable, and pleasing, but it’s sure to invite some skepticism” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Chasing Einstein (dirs. Steve Brown, Timothy Wheeler)

While the average viewer probably won’t leave Chasing Einstein with a firm grasp of the science behind dark matter et al, they will relate to the subjects’ desire to confront life’s larger questions” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Cunningham (dir. Alla Kovgan)

It’s structurally daring, presented in 3D, and devoted to showing rather than explaining, via archival footage and colourful new interpretations of the artist’s canon” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Just Mercy (dir. Destin Daniel Cretton)

Set in the Alabama of the 1980s, yet it speaks to everywhere today about the endemic evil of wrongful convictions” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

The film holds its Black characters up to an impossible standard, seeking sympathy from a demographic that thinks Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin had a hand in their own fate” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

[While it] doesn’t aim high as a film, it tells its story effectively, and the story itself is powerful enough to overcome the movie’s shortcomings” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Overdramatizes true events in painful Hollywood style” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Like A Boss (dir. Miguel Arteta)

The plot doesn’t make sense. The script doesn’t have jokes. And the director doesn’t seem to have a clue what to do with this movie set in the beauty industry, which drags all the talented people gathered around it to hideous new lows” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Appears to have followed the Judd Apatow process of gleaning moments from the actors’ takes and constructing the story in the editing. Clocking in at a brisk 83 minutes, it’s uncomfortable to imagine what scenes were left out” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Clumsy, all over the place, and cliché” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Luba (dir. Caley Wilson) 🇨🇦

A drama about a young Toronto woman trying to get her life back on track while dealing with a difficult kid, an unstable ex and a lack of options. And if that sounds like something you’ve seen before… well, yeah, it probably is. But bear with me” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

At BeatRoute, Pat Mullen interviews Andrew Rodriguez and Vladimir Jon Curbt on the music of the film

Underwater (dir. William Eubank)

It’s one thing to ask an actor to flesh out a type. Underwater throws its cast into the deep end with little more than name tags, and all we can do is watch them flounder. Welcome to January, folks” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Part of the blame belongs with the script. We don’t know much about Norah and even less about her crewmates. The “plot” is just derivative nonsense, including the tacked-on environmental message” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

A dull piece of off-season horror flotsam, Underwater suffers from genetic drift” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Stewart manages to take her job seriously and rises above the material, direction and design” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

An underwater Alien, coupled with cheap scares and uninteresting characters” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Treadstone (dirs. Tim Kring, Ben Smith)

It gets really repetitive really quickly, with three or four close-quarter fights every hour, as well as at least one scene where a character discovers a friend or family member has been part of the conspiracy all along” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Golden Globes Analysis

No single movie swept the Golden Globes, but there was one message heard loud and clear: Hollywood isn’t giving up the streaming battle without a fight, writes Peter Howell in the Toronto Star