TFCA Friday: Week of March 22nd, 2019

March 22, 2019

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

Opening this Week

The Aftermath (dir. James Kent)

The actors acquit themselves well — Knightley is particularly good at expressing the limited emotions of the perfunctory screenplay — but as with the rest of the movie, the real drama happened previously and elsewhere” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

This one is so bloodlessly directed that there’s never any sense of a tragic collision of fates; it’s more of a gentle waltz towards the end credits” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

It’s as if everyone on set realized that they weren’t filming the Oscar contender they signed up for, but, good Brits that they are, soldiered on and got the job done” — Pat Mullen, That Shelf

In many ways this is all too tidy… The romance between Rachael and Stephen, when it emerges, feels similarly forced, narratively convenient rather than organic” — Chris Knight, The National Post

A sprawling romantic drama that could have been more effective if the film emphasized certain parts instead of playing everything with uniform importance” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

An Audience of Chairs (dir. Deanne Foley)

The movie’s script, written by Rosemary House, is more careful in not treating mental illness as amusing, or all that eventful… as a portrait of mental illness, it all feels uncomfortably sane” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A difficult film that immerses us in her pain and frustration and contrasts with the exquisite backdrop of craggy, seaside Newfoundland” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Ash Is Purest White (dir. Jia Zhang-ke)

It’s a familiar theme for Jia, explored in such previous works as A Touch of Sin, Unknown Pleasures, Still Life and Mountains May Depart, all of which starred actress Zhao, director Jia’s wife and muse. Echoes of these films resonate within Ash Is Purest White, which takes its title from a poetic observation about a volcano, which may or may not be ready to erupt” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

If Jia Zhang-Ke’s Ash Is Purest White sometimes feels like a greatest-hits album from one of China’s greatest living filmmakers, that’s not necessarily a bad thing” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The film’s structure is a little clunky at times. Aside from the chronological leaps, there are entire subplots that fall away. But that doesn’t mean the episodes aren’t enjoyable in their own right” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Ash Is Purest White — constantly dislocating and unpredictable moment by moment — feels all of its 135-minute running time but long after, the individual sequences hang in the memory” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

This commanding, sure-footed and epic portrait burns brightly and long after its over” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

A moving story, one so deep in emotions it should keep audiences fully glued to the characters and the narrative” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Coriolanus — Stratford Festival on Film (dirs. Barry Avrich and Robert Lepage)

Lepage’s production worked so well, partly because it was a play using film techniques. There were even occasional video projections in it. Watching a film of a film creates an odd distancing effect” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

The Dirt (dir. Jeff Tremaine)

Much like all of Mötley Crüe’s output since their inception in 1981, The Dirt ain’t exactly high art, but there’s an undeniable amount of charisma, energy, and drama to be mined from the lives of those involved” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The Highwaymen (dir. John Lee Hancock)

A handsomely photographed and brutally effective police procedural for the age of Trump, where simplistic solutions to complex problems command the most attention” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

The film offers something of a riposte to the much-fetishized tale of flashy young killers, which has inspired any number of movies about love on the run” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

The Hummingbird Project (dir. Kim Nguyen)

Sits pleasantly between curious buddy movie and by-the-numbers corporate satire, and if that seems like an odd combination, well, the whole thing is about strange combinations” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

There’s something refreshingly simple behind the idea of building a super-straight speed-of-light pipeline under the Appalachians to quicken commerce. Strip away the tech-talk and it’s basically the story of 19th-century railway barons” — Chris Knight, The National Post

A classic business thriller set in a world that’s unfamiliar to most of us, high stakes trading.  It tells a gripping, fast-moving story that reveals the dark underside of institutions we depend upon” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

These characters are fascinating both together and apart, and their problems might not always be classically entertaining, but they’re consistently thoughtful, engaging, and realistic” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Also impressive is the turn the story takes towards the end, where the project turns into beautiful mayhem … and then everything closes in complete synchronicity with nature” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

The Mustang (dir. Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre)

Wears its heart on its sleeve: it’s a film about the impossibility of rehabilitation without empathy or compassion, and how the American prison system has become a source of cheap labour rather than a means of sending people back into the world as functional members of society” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Absolute surprise and delight lie in the film’s closing and extremely moving shot” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The Quietude (dir. Pablo Trapero)

A soap opera on the surface, it takes a long while for Pablo Trapero’s The Quietude to rise above its plot of rich, unfaithful couples, random sex and sullen, unspoken grudges. When it does, it becomes a story of big lies that metastasize” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Us (dir. Jordan Peele)

Nyong’o is the glue that binds Peele’s busy screenplay, which occasionally threatens to implode not just from the weight of expectations following the Oscar-winning success of Get Out, but from its load of incidents and symbols, many of which resist easy explanation” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Doesn’t feel as revolutionary as Jordan Peele’s first feature… but it’s a damn good one. It’s smart, sharp, artfully made and entirely entertaining, even if the last beats don’t land perfectly” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

I was a little underwhelmed by the relatively thin story and modest scares of Us. (I only had to hide behind my splayed fingers once!) But it’s still miles above the average horror fare. Peele spoiled us with his last film, and his delivery of a merely moderate success with this one is hardly cause for alarm” — Chris Knight, The National Post

A well shot, artfully chilling movie, one awash in mood but which doesn’t fail to deliver the story” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Like the best horror movies, Us chillingly lingers with dread long after the credits have rolled, and like the smartest and most entertaining films, it’s something I wanted to watch again the second it ended” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

10 Things You May Have Missed in Tarantino’s Latest Trailer

Peter Howell of the Toronto Star picks up the magnifying glass to find details in the teaser