TFCA Friday: Week of July 13th, 2018

July 13, 2018

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

Opening this Week

The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger (dir. Katherine Schlemmer)

A rare Canadian film in which the actors actually eat their spring mix instead of just pushing it around their plates” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

Quirky, consistent, meticulous, and occasionally insightful” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Filmworker (dir. Tony Zierra)

Proceeds from the assumption that working with Stanley Kubrick was worth whatever it took out of Vitali – but then, of course, its subject can’t possibly allow himself to wonder if it wasn’t” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

While Zierra delivers some nuggets on Kubrick’s oeuvre, he loses sight of the film’s deeper meaning” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Hotel Transylvania 3 (dir. Genndy Tartakovsky)

Chris Knight tunefully reviews the film, the latest sequel in the animated series about a hotel for monsters, natch

The jokes are as silly as they get, which fortunately are quite hilarious” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The King (dir. Eugene Jarecki)

Is there a better metaphor for the United States of America than the career trajectory of Elvis Presley? Eugene Jarecki makes a bold claim that the life of the King is inextricably linked with the American ethos” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

As much as Elvis represents the American Dream, the film accurately reveals the truth that it should be peace, love and the pursuit of happiness” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Luk’Luk’I (dir. Wayne Wapeemukwa)

Follows a handful of people during the 2010 winter Olympics as they try to carve out some small measure of happiness, escape or human connection in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood… a strong thesis, and a story worth telling, but Wapeemukwa’s execution just doesn’t deliver on his premise” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A first feature and it feels like one … Wapeemukwa makes no attempt to link the stories together” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Mary Shelley (dir. Haifaa Al-Mansour)

Once you get over the way nobody ever gets dirty (a consistent flaw in costume films) and the lapses into melodrama, you can appreciate Haifaa Al-Mansour’s feminist take on the story of writer Mary Shelley” — Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine

Turn out to be less a biography of the author than a period love story. Worse still, al-Mansour’s decision to have her film punctuated with Percy’s poetry distracts from the fact the film is about Mary and not about him or his work” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Has an attractive Masterpiece Theatre sheen in its production values, and the quality of reliable stage-trained performances we expect of English costume dramas” — Liam Lacey,

Skyscraper (dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber)

The physics-defying acts get so ludicrous, at one point I thought Johnson was going to swim up an indoor waterfall to rescue somebody trapped at the top” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Efficient and occasionally even clever – especially in the second act when it really embraces its inner Towering Inferno – but it never figures out how to be anything more than a knockoff” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Basically an answer to that childhood question: If you dropped a Rock from the top of the world’s tallest building, would it hurt anyone?” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Is The Rock impervious to box office failure?” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

The kind of action movie that seems as if the script was written after the film was shot, so unimportant are the plot details” — Jim Slotek,

Sorry to Bother You (dir. Boots Riley)

Is Sorry to Bother You a caustic racial satire, calculated to offend the entitled? Or is it a zany comedy about the downtrodden 99 per cent vs. the upwardly scheming 1 per cent? Yes and yes … and stay tuned” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star, including an interview with the director on making America think again

This is one of the best films of the year. You need to see it. And then see it again to understand how it does what it does. And maybe pick up the soundtrack, too” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Far be it from me to fault a film for having too many good ideas, but, my oh my, does writer/director Boots Riley’s feature debut ever have it going on. It is almost distractingly original, even if that overly busy nature also holds it back from five-star greatness” — Chris Knight, The National Post

A roiling mix of wry race comedy, economy-grade dystopian sci-fi, and Silicon Valley satire. Also, it’s as funny and as caustic as hell” — Liam Lacey,

Audio: Creative, unpredictable, at times funny, but mostly provocative” — Karen Gordon, CBC

A textbook example of maximum effort with minimum results” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Boots Riley challenges the status quo: In BeatRoute, Pat Mullen speaks with the filmmaker

Three Identical Strangers (dir. Tim Wardle)

A documentary with a story so outlandish it might well have been rejected by a Hollywood studio had a screenwriter pitched it as the basis of a fictional movie” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Wardle’s approach suffers from the documentarian’s anxiety over holding a mainstream audience’s attention: overly illustrative stock footage, a soundtrack that’s too on the nose, too much cutting and repetition” — José Teodoro, NOW Magazine

Ninety-five minutes later, not only will you believe the tale; you’ll realize that it was even more bizarre than you first thought. It’s an amazing and heartbreaking story” — Chris Knight, The National Post

One of the most compelling, and disturbing, American documentary family portraits since Capturing the Friedmans” — Liam Lacey, POV Magazine

They say a documentary is often as good as its subject. What could top this in subject intrigue?” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Audio: Tells the kind of story that has to be true, otherwise you wouldn’t believe it” — Karen Gordon, CBC

Wardle carefully deals out the critical information, with the odd red herring, for maximum effect. In its defense, the film is consistently compassionate and fair-minded. Ultimately, the film confirms its investigative legitimacy by refusing to offer easy answers” — Liam Lacey,

Whitney (dir. Kevin Macdonald)

Whitney Houston just wanted to dance with somebody who loved her. But life moved too fast for the tragic pop diva” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

A warts-and-all documentary of one of the world’s most famous singers of all time” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

It’s easy to say that Whitney Houston was a force in the music world. But to truly know it you have to feel it, and Kevin Macdonald’s thorough documentary Whitney features two scenes that provide that visceral experience” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Audio: It’ll rip your heart out” — Karen Gordon, CBC

As sad as it is celebratory as it reaches down to Houston’s deepest troubles while hitting the highest notes of her career” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Summer Camp Classics: The Fresh Air Fund

Summer days, movie nights: Peter Howell interviews summer camp directors on campers’ favourite flicks