TFCA Friday: Week of June 14

June 14, 2024

Kidnapped | Mongrel Media

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


In Release this Week


Inside Out 2 (dir. Kelsey Mann)


“But while the first Inside Out easily and quickly transformed Pixar skeptics into infinity-and-beyond boosters, I’m afraid to report that its sequel Inside Out 2 is not going to repeat history by turning things around on the strength of a single film,” argues Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “While the new movie is certainly (Buzz) lightyears ahead of the studio’s recent batch of films – including the middling Elemental, Luca and Onward – it is about as imaginative as its title (a simple ‘2’ was the best that the Pixar brain trust could come up with?), and ultimately as necessary as a migraine. Perhaps now more than ever, the Pixar folks seem to be stuck inside their corporate heads instead of listening to their beating hearts.”


“Story aside, Disney’s Pixar animation is once again nothing short of astonishing, as can be obscured throughout the film, especially in the segment where the emotions led by Joy ride, like surfing the entire amount of coloured orbs,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The hockey scenes are also well executed mirroring the excitement of real matches. There are also some neat fresh ideas in the plot.”


“Riley is on a journey to figuring out who she is as she starts to leave the simplicity of childhood behind and begins to feel the contradictory pulls in her life. It’s messy, painful, and embarrassing at times, but also wonderful. You might want to bring a few tissues,” advises Karen Gordon at Original Cin.


Kidnapped (dir. Marco Bellocchio)


“The film offers some shocking insights.  The kidnapped boy, similar to what is known as Stockholm syndrome, grows to love his new lodgings – the routines including the mass, the warmth, the food and the other comforts,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The film also demonstrates the love the boy’s parents have for him, despite the fact that he is one of half a dozen children they have. Director Bellocchio paints a bleak picture of the period. Yet his camera still reveals a magnificent picture, often in pale and dark colours, of the Italian landscape.”


“Writer-director Marco Bellocchio’s version of the story is melodramatic and coercive, with a telegraphing score, crammed with weeping violins and scenes of crying and wailing,” adds Anne Brodie at What She Said. It’s a solid, emotionally powerful story on its own without these distracting and decorations. Also stars Fabrizio Gifuni, Fausto Russo Alesi, and Barbara Ronchi.


“History is wonderful: it relates stories to all of us, but at its own pace and rhythm,” notes Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “Marco Bellocchio has made a somber, elegantly paced film. Through his eyes, we watch a Pope move from an emotionally intelligent leader into someone who has lost his way. We see a quiet, smart child discard his background and religion to take on the glamorous and gorgeous trappings of a wholly different life as a Catholic. The drama effectively takes place within these major, historic scenes.”


Kidnapped runs into some problems with its presumption of historical knowledge on the part of the viewer,” admits Chris Knight at Original Cin. “This critic’s grasp of mid-19th-century Italian geopolitical rivalries is scant. I was confused by the notion of Rome being conquered by Italy in 1870, unfamiliar with the timeline of unification. And the Bologna uprising of 1859? If you told me it was a contretemps over sandwich toppings, I’d believe you.”


The Mysteries of the Terracotta Warriors (dir. James Tovell)


At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah says the film is “definitely worth a watch, especially for North Americans who might know little about Chinese History.  For those in the know, the fascination continues.”


Queen Rising (dir. Princeton James)


“The various topics and film’s shifts of mood do not always work well,” admits Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The romance, mystery, drama and dance elements create a bit of a mess and the director’s confidence in the material causes her to overlook the film’s shortcomings, especially the twist at the end.”


The Present (dir. Christian Ditter)


“It’s an unusual film, filled with love and joy and the impulse to make things better, acknowledges there are magic moments in our lives that we must recognise and look for, and help others find theirs,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “It’s a power for good here, gentle and child-friendly. A family film with intelligence and a keen sense of fun that looks at the interior lives of children with special conditions in a loving, informed way.”


Queendom (dir. Agniia Galdanova)


“This amusing light-hearted eye-opening documentary that covers tough issues follows the celebrity Jenna Marvin also known as Gena Marvin,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “Still, the film captures the desperation and struggle she faces.”


Queendom captures the plight of a generation of LGBTQ+ people as Galdanova observes Gena at home and out in public,” says Pat Mullen at POV Magazine. “The 21-year-old Gena, born and raised in the remote small town of Magadan, lives with her grandparents having lost both parents as a child. Gena shares how her grandparents struggle to accept the drag artist who differs from the young boy they adopted.”


Red Fever (dir. Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge 🇨🇦)


Red Fever depicts a positive and spirited view of the Red Indian indigenous people of North America,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


“While Red Fever adds to the conversation of Indigenous (self-)representation, it frequently plays like a stronger film that Bainbridge and Diamond have made before,” admits Pat Mullen at POV Magazine. “The emphasis on Hollywood, which offers visual material in every chapter of the film, simply evokes the excellence of Diamond and Bainbridge’s Reel Injun. The 2009 film, which won a Peabody and a slew of Gemini Awards, might be the definitive work about Hollywood’s problem with representation and authorship. Reel Injun really digs into the topic and the impact of negative representation, as well as the benefit of positive representation. But Red Fever covers an awful lot of terrain selectively.”


Reverse the Curse (dir. David Duchovny)


Reverse the Curse is a story about losers, as director Duchovny confesses in the press notes,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “They cannot change the ending to their stories, or even the facts of what happened. Duchovny’s film changes the way the story is told so that the art of storytelling can empower the perspective of the change.”


Treasure (dir. Julia von Heinz)


“Lena Dunham’s 1980s meditation on the father-daughter relationship in Treasure is authentically emotional,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “She’s Ruth, a journalist who joins her Polish American father Edek, played by Stephen Fry, on a trip to Warsaw Poland to see the places of his past.  He’s a Holocaust survivor but appears upbeat and funny.”


Tuesday (dir. Daina O. Pusic)


“One of the most interesting things about Tuesday is its vast constellation of possible reference points. I found myself thinking about how psychedelic drugs have helped terminally ill patients cope with impending death by somehow letting them better see their place in the broader universe, as so eloquently detailed by Michael Pollan in his 2018 book, How to Change Your Mind,” shares Kim Hughes at Original Cin. “I don’t know if Oniunas-Pusić considered that when she was writing her phantasmagoric tale, but it’s as good a metaphor as any for the existential dilemma of death, and how we gauge our meaning against it.”


Tuesday is an odd film to categorize and to champion. It won’t be for everyone,” cautions Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “The subject matter is off-putting, and the treatment is undeniably quirky. Those who are willing to go to the director’s artistic terrain will be rewarded. But it’s also understandable that some people will not want to go on Tuesday’s journey.”


“A shapeshifting pre-historic bird called Death (an incredible vocal and physical performance by unseen dancer Arinzé Kene) comes to wrap his wings around Tuesday and take her life but Zora will not allow it. She tries to reason with it, argues, fights it, and offers up her own life, but can’t dissuade it,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Tuesday tries to put the bird off her mother’s sake, telling it long stories like Scheherazade to avoid the inevitable, and they become friends. They rap, smoke weed, and talk about life and death. Zora’s horrified and determined to kill the bird, but it’s harder than she thinks, so she eats it, the turning point in this strikingly original, high-minded, frankly eccentric fable.”


Tuesday is a magnificent nightmarish exercise in originality, though the not-so-adventurous audience should take caution,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


“Even Louis-Dreyfuss cannot manage to figure out just what to do with the story, instead resorting to putting on her best sour face to convey dissatisfaction with either the cards life has dealt Zora, or perhaps the dialogue that the actress has been compelled to spout,” observes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “Petticrew, too, gives the material her best shot, though ultimately Tuesday the character succumbs to a fate similar to Tuesday the film: there can be no light at the end of the tunnel when the designer of said tunnel is squinting through the narrative and emotional dark. Only Kene, who gets the best lines as the exhausted and cynical Death, glides in and out of Tuesday with wry grace.”


Ultraman Rising (dir. Shannon Tindle)


“The film cannot decide whether it should be an action superhero movie, relationship drama or a family (family is everything is the message put across with decisions made to protect the ones we love) animation movie,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Waiting for Dalí (dir. David Bujol)


“Director Bujol possesses a sense of style and an almost perfect comedic timing.  There are hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments scattered throughout the film, and his weird placement of the camera all adds to the fun of the comedy,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


File Under Miscellaneous


At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz asks why the streaming tax of Bill C-11 left out one part of the screen sector: feature films. “The absence of feature-film support isn’t the only dent in the CRTC’s latest measures, of course,” notes Hertz. “There is still the curious demand to support local news, even though Netflix and its fellow U.S. giants have seemingly no ambitions to get into the regional-journalism game. The CRTC still is a long way’s off from updating the definition of what, exactly, “Canadian content” means today. And there hasn’t yet been any discussion on the critical importance of promotion and marketing CanCon, versus merely subsidizing production of it.”


TV Talk/Series Stuff


At What She Said, Anne Brodie goes for gold with the documentary The Power of the Dream: “The doc follows the teams’ contributions to sport, culture, politics, and social action, unthinkable a few short years ago, and became cultural leaders.  The players, predominantly Black, and gay, have championed causes that directly affect and move them, including women’s, LGBTQ2, Black rights, police violence and racism, mental health, and progressive causes with an emphasis on voting.” Meanwhile, the cop series Blue Lights can be intense: “Well, buckle up – it’s a ride!” And on the environmental front, Hope in the Water offers, well, hope: “These are extraordinary ideas and much needed as we keep straining our resources.”


At Original Cin, Karen Gordon suits up with Becoming Karl Lagerfeld: “The performances are strong. And, as it happens, and as history tells us, Lagerfeld does indeed find his groove.  The series ends by introducing a key moment in his career in the early ‘80s, which begs the question of whether this series will go to a second season.”


Also at Original Cin, Liam Lacey gives his verdict on Presumed Innocent: “Packed with narrative turns, cliffhangers, and dead ends, the current series has the recurrent beats of episodic television (there are repeated scenes of Rusty and Barbara’s intimate conversations in their vast suburban backyard) rather than the rising momentum of a thriller. Arguably, this approach is an opportunity to flesh out the characters but some of these tangential subplots feel like padding.”