TFCA Friday: Week of March 1st, 2019

March 1, 2019

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

Opening this Week

Apollo 11 (dir. Todd Douglas Miller)

The film is heaven for space nerds, even those of us old enough to remember watching the moon voyage unfold in real time on a B&W home television set, during the halcyon summer of ’69 when it seemed that anything was possible and the sky was no longer the limit” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in an IMAX presentation that offers a glimpse at the scale of the endeavour, and how complex and terrifying it must have been for both the astronauts on the voyage and the people running the show back at NASA” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The historic mission of the Apollo 11, one of the greatest milestones in human history, receives a truly spectacular restoration just in time for its 50th anniversary…a marvel of technical accomplishment” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Is as amazing when it’s Earthbound as it is when it enters the vastness of space” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Birds of Passage (dirs. Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra)

This poetic film… is a beauty, soaking up the colourful Wayúu garments against an austere landscape. They tell a classic rise-and-fall crime story as elliptically as a dream while giving spiritual visions and traditional interpretations as much authority as a loaded gun” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Takes an unusual tack on both fronts by examining the roots of a fictional cartel. And without glorifying the business or exonerating its participants, it suggests that such crimes can be the result of many small steps, individually defensible yet ultimately leading to bloodshed and misery” — Chris Knight, The National Post

This is a western, a crime thriller and devastating look at familial ruin, all under the gaze of watchful birds” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Intense and riveting… an enthralling fable that sees capitalism as the new colonialism” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine, including an interview with director Cristina Gallego at That Shelf

Captures the conflict of the clash between the old and new worlds, making this stand out as a different kind of gangster film” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Climax (dir. Gaspar Noé)

Noé never fails to shock and push his limits” — Gilbert Seah, Toronto Franco

Undeniably the work of a master filmmaker. But it’s also solid proof that the rule of the auteur needs to go” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

At about the 45-minute mark, Noé decides to roll credits, and if you were to take this as your cue to leave you’d be getting back an hour of your life that I’ll never see again” — Chris Knight, The National Post

As cruel and grotesque as things get — as much as you feel your face is being ground into the nihilistic muck — there’s a built-in distancing escape hatch here that Noé’s films don’t usually provide. Take a breath, brace yourself and enjoy the dance, even if it’s modern dance on acid” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin, including a pretty wild interview with the director

Goalie (dir. Adriana Maggs)

I have no idea how it’ll play with sports fans, but as a movie, it’s a welcome surprise – an emotionally raw, performance-driven study of a man who gave everything to a sport, and couldn’t get anything back” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The Canadian film features some fine production design in aid of its period setting, but ultimately fails to fully find its footing” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The pacing of the movie is a little off-putting. If Sawchuk’s life was one of highs (winning) and lows (pain and self-doubt), we don’t ride that rollercoaster with him. There’s a sameness to the telling, where each event, big or trivial, good or bad, seems like just another thing that happens en route to a bad end, by which time the audience feels like its absorbed as many hits as its protagonist” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin, including an interview with the director and star of the film

Greta (dir. Neil Jordan)

A guilty pleasure, largely thanks to Jordan’s flare for the weird” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

A simple, almost charmingly old-school lesson for New Yorkers; beware French women on the subway!” — Chris Knight, The National Post

No one involved in this movie will be placing it at the top of their resume. Though she finds some spine in the preposterous last act, Moretz’s character in particular is pretty much of a mouseburger, going along with events and fretting” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

A Madea Family Funeral (dir. Tyler Perry)

Isn’t the best outing with Madea, and even that isn’t a high bar to clear. But it’s as good a farewell as we’ve come to expect” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Ruben BrandtCollector (dir. Milorad Krstic)

This is Krstic’s first feature and it’s obvious that he has visual flair to spare. If he can only find a story worthy of it, he’d have a real work of film art” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Krstic’s visual design is impressive, all the more so because much of the animation is hand-drawn. But much like the recent animated sleeper Loving Vincent, there’s no substance to what we’re watching beyond its reference points; the characters barely exist, the heist narrative keeps getting interrupted by another of Ruben’s lavish dreams, and that spy-game subplot doesn’t work at all, raising unpleasant questions about key characters while pretending it pulls the story together” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

I’m struck by Krstić’s flat-out obsession with American pop culture. I admire the film intensely, but it’s hard to connect because it is entirely superficial – art thrice removed” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

For a 66-year old director whose first animation is this stunning, one can only eagerly await for his next project” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

What Walaa Wants (dir. Christy Garland)

Over the course of six years, Garland watches her young, camera-friendly subject figure out who she is and whether she can navigate the world on her own terms, and how her evolution affects the people around her; the film that results is an immersive, occasionally charming look at life in Palestine from an unexpected angle” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Despite illustrating life of a Palestinian teen experiencing hardship, Garland has more sympathy for her heroine than she deserves in a film that could use clearer direction” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

“I Feel Betrayed”

Peter Howell (Toronto Star) interviews one of Don Shirley’s original bandmembers on that fateful road trip depicted in Green Book