TFCA Friday: Week of January 24th, 2020

January 24, 2020

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

Opening this Week

And the Birds Rained Down (dir. Louise Archambault) 🇨🇦

A moving, languid, often achingly-sad drama about second-chances amid the generations-long aftermath of a wildfire that all but destroyed a Quebec town” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Archambault’s beautifully intimate piece examines old age and social and environmental issues with a deft touch and much compassion” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

It’s muted and moving, patiently assembling its characters and gliding alongside them, offering us a sense of individual stories coming together. The narrative balances its familiarity with texture and feeling; there aren’t too many surprises, but Archambault offers a specificity – a sense of people and place – that grows richer and more moving as her film unfolds” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

At the TFCA blog, Pat Mullen interviews Archambault on her latest feature, and at That Shelf, a review of her “bittersweet and poignant love story”

Color Out of Space (dir. Richard Stanley)

You know Nicolas Cage has reached peak freak when he’s the scariest thing about a space-alien invasion of Earth” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Hokey, sure, but Cage is dependably hysterical” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Nicolas Cage as an alpaca farmer? What could go wrong? Well, nothing, really. But it doesn’t exactly go right, either. There’s some good stuff, but there’s also a lot of stuff in general, and eventually it all sort of drowns itself out” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Even a sci-fi-horror film that takes its characters into the irrational should have at least one toe in reality, an organizing principle or a base of logic” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

Horror craziness at its best” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

The Gentlemen (dir. Guy Ritchie)

Consider yourself warned, but also prepare to be entertained, if you enjoy watching charismatic actors act naughty, talk dirty and shoot first” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

An exhilarating adventure demanding little of our brains with outrageous plot twists, admirable zingers, exceptional insults and non-stop action. The perennial elegant Hugh Grant’s blackmailer is incredibly, deliciously, skankily unwholesome” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

The plot is so cluttered with switchbacks, reversals and fake outs that it’s a wonder any of it makes sense. Or maybe it doesn’t: the whole thing is built around a screenplay that, based on the chronology of events, Fletcher wouldn’t have had the time to write” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

You know a crime film is needlessly complex – innit? –  when one of the culprits begins the film pitching the idea of a film based on the events and is still pitching it when the movie ends” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Be prepared for a wild ride” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

All the Ritchie-isms are on display – the profanity, the banter, the profane banter, the profound profanity and characters who turn out to be much more dangerous than you at first thought” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The Last Full Measure (dir. Todd Robinson)

A commendable showcase for actors who aren’t given the chance to do a lot of acting these days – Hurt and Harris are as good as I’ve ever seen them… But it’s also one of those movies where everything is as safe and comforting as possible” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A boring trip filled with typical Hollywood clichĂ©s” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Quezon’s Game (dir. Matthew E. Rosen)

Based on the true-life story of Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon, Quezon’s Game tells the inspiring story of a figure in short supply today: a selfless and heroic political leader… Too bad [this] is an often amateurish, overlong effort weighed down by a clunky script from Janice Y. Perez and Dean Rosen (also the film’s composer)” — Linda Barnard, Original-Cin

Best Actor: Pitt vs. Phoenix

In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell writes: Brad Pitt and Joaquin Phoenix show there’s two wildly different paths to an acting Oscar

Sundance 2020

Naoki Higashida’s ground-breaking book The Reason I Jump receives a documentary treatment that is equally revelatory,” writes Pat Mullen at POV Magazine