TFCA Friday: Week of March 29

March 29, 2024

Godzilla X Kong New Empire

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


In Release this Week


Autumn and the Black Jaguar (dir. Gilles de Maistre)


“[A] decent family film, entertaining while having a solid message on the environment and the saving of endangered species,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Femme (dir. Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping)


“Actor Stewart-Jarrett and George MacKay are both excellent performers who carry this sexually [charged] revenge drama,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The dark and seedy atmosphere of the gay London clubs where bare walls showing bricks are reminiscent of the real gay clubs in London.”


“There’s no clear hero or villain here. Rather, Femme is to queer cinema what Elle was to indie arthouse movies,” writes Pat Mullen at That Shelf. “Giving Isabelle Huppert’s performance a run for her money, Stewart-Jarrett’s astonishingly nuanced and downplayed performance is a feat of brooding, simmering anger. Yet Jules’ refusal to be a victim and his eagerness to toy with notions of consent, his willingness to let Preston brutalise and demean him—or, at least, his effort to lead Preston into situations that invite brutalisation—let him audaciously straddle the roles of victor/victim, just as a drag show lets one be both Victor and Victoria.”


Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (dir. Adam Wingard)


“Anyone expecting headier, more nuanced entertainment along the lines of last year’s Japanese blockbuster Godzilla Minus One (or even the American backed Godzilla reboot that started all of this) would best look elsewhere,” advises Andrew Parker at The Gate. “Those who find comfort in not asking a lot of questions and simply watching lots of pretty colours and things blowing up real good, however, will have a good time with Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Much like he did for Godzilla Vs. Kong before it, returning director Adam Wingard turns in a lean, mean monster machine that has a handful of great ideas and no pretensions to be more than what it is.”


Godzilla x Kong is not a movie. It is a video game where the players are someone else,” groans Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The film proves that two actors in Godzilla and Kong costumes can provide more entertainment [than] two CGI-generated tag team monsters. Despite all the expense and effort, the ‘movie’ is a complete bore!”


“The best of the new beasties, glimpsed in the trailer, is the snickering Skar King, a red-furred giant orangutan. He wears a bandolier made from the spine of a vanquished enemy, which he also uses as a whip. It’s quite the fashion statement,” observes Peter Howell at the Toronto Star. “Skar King leads a band of fellow simians who look like they’re auditioning for a remake of Beneath the Planet of the Apes. They help make this new blockbuster more of a Kong show than a Godzilla strut.”


“[T]here’s nothing wrong with movies that are just sort of slide shows of fights, explosions and squinting action heroes. They have a style, vernacular and goals all their own, and (usually) shouldn’t be judged by how deep and insightful their stories are. This is coming from the guy who actually defended Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” admits Jackson Weaver at CBC. “But Godzilla x Kong takes that style to the depths of its own hollow Earth. Its barely coherent plot flips between three impossible-to-follow arcs, it’s populated with characters less sympathetic than the cast of Succession, and it has all the aesthetic flare of ChatGPT art.”


Heart of the Hunter (dir. Mandla Dube)


Heart of the Hunter is an above-average international (South African) action thriller, full of thrills, action, suspense, romance and colourful locations, not to be missed,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The film opens for streaming on Netflix on Easter Friday.”


Rest in Peace (dir. Sebastián Borensztein)


“The film concentrates more on drama than the crime itself, though the film is described as a crime drama,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The drama is that of Sergio as the film is divided into three parts.  The first is of Sergio’s debt, the second is his new life in Paraguay under his new identity with his new life and the final part of the re-unification of his family.  The their parts are quite different but interesting enough as an entertaining film.”


Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus (dir. Neo Sora)


“Mesmerizing and soulful, Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus is a heartfelt final testament to one of the greatest composers and instrumentalists of all time,” notes Andrew Parker at The Gate.


Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus is a film shot in black and white with just the maestro and his piano with the opus heard on the soundtrack is a celebration of an artist’s life in the purest and unadulterated form, serving as Sakamoto’s definitive swan song,” adds Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Someone Like You (dir. Tyler Russell)


“A mixed bag of tricks,” admits Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. Someone Like You is at its worst, too sappy and faith-based, though it covers a good bit of a far-fetched story on forgiveness and the surprises that life can offer.”


Stolen Time (dir. Hélène Klodawsky)

Stolen Time asks the question how far would one go to protect our loved ones? This shocking eye-opening doc on the abuse of the elderly in nursing homes can hardly be called entertaining for what it reveals on-screen,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.

The Truth Vs. Alex Jones (dir. Dan Reed)


“A stark portrait of callous opportunism and a tireless fight for accountability, Dan Reed’s The Truth Vs. Alex Jones looks to the trials of a controversial, outspoken ‘pundit’ and uncovers a collective American mental illness and sickness in the process,” says Andrew Parker at The Gate. “At nearly a full two hours, The Truth Vs. Alex Jones is a long time to spend in such a dark, depressing, and depraved head space, but it’s also an important look at the spread of misinformation and baseless conspiracy theories, and the personalities that perpetrate them and profit from the discomfort and heartbreak of others. It’s a wrenching, infuriating, but necessary reflection of our times.”


A Festival of Festival Coverage – Catch-Up with Hot Docs


At Variety, Jennie Punter reports on the Hot Docs line-up announcement and gets some highlights from director of festival programming Heather Haynes. “Haynes points to Jalena Keane-Lee’s Standing Above the Clouds, one of seven world premieres in the 10-title International Competition, the juried program of global doc cinema formerly known as International Spectrum. ‘These are young emerging woman filmmakers — the producer has roots that are native Hawaiian — who made this film, and it has a strong stance of women and protest and Indigenous rights to preserve land,’ Haynes said.”


TV Talk/Series Stuff: A Tale of Two Martins; Ripley Rises


At The Gate, Andrew Parker has a laugh with the STEVE!, the Steve Martin doc in two-parts. “Essentially two separate movies that just so happen to be about the same person, director Morgan Neville dives fathoms deep into the work and mindset of comedy legend Steve Martin, a talent known for upending expectations while still managing to give mainstream audiences what they want,” says Andrew Parker at The Gate. “For a reflection of a comedian who started their career by trying to push established conventions while still putting on a heck of a show, STEVE! (martin) a documentary in 2 pieces hits an unusually pleasing, comprehensive sweet spot without compromise.”


At What She Said, Anne Brodie raves about Ripley with Andrew Scott taking over the role: “Breathtaking events take us by storm and despite six prior films on Tom Ripley, this one’s startlingly fresh,” writes Brodie. “Elegant black-and-white photography serves many psychological purposes as well as setting Zaillian’s story apart from the others and suits Andrew’s eerie bloodless vibe. His Tom/Richard works his way under the skin sloughing off suspicion while plotting ever more daring, dizzying gambits; you may not sleep well wondering how many Ripleys walk around.” Meanwhile Renegade Nell is “[a] joyous, triumphant, yet dramatic and funny…with a deeply feminist heart!” For more girl power, try GIRLS5eva: “Funny, funny, funny, with wit and whimsy, silly, and appealing.” And Is It Cake? asks if a show can have its cake and eat it: “Baker stories are fun, the actual competition suffers from too much scripted cheering.”


At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen speaks with Mae Martin about hosting the documentary Fluid: Life Beyond the Binary and what it means to debunk longstanding falsehoods about gender identity. “‘There’s sometimes a perception that only trans people have a gender identity,’ notes Martin. ‘To empower people to think about their own and realize that everybody has a gender identity and preferences and sexualities that can evolve and are meant to change over time—hopefully that’s empowering.’ By offering an inclusive conversation, Fluid expands the ways in which even cisgender people challenge the cleanliness of the binary.”