TFCA Friday: Week of March 29th, 2019

March 29, 2019

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

Opening this Week

The Beach Bum (dir. Harmony Korine)

Harmony Korine is a sloppy director but a sharp social observer, and as such his latest provocation The Beach Bum has one redeeming aspect: It kicks sand in the starry eyes of anyone who believes there’s romance in self-destruction” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Middle-aged wish fulfillment, plain and simple” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Though Korine doesn’t figure out how to make his protagonist breathe (at least smokelessly), he does do a commendable job of making the Florida Keys come alive with sunshine, pastel colours and partying” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Korine’s latest is an uneasy meshing of his outsider sensibilities with a more commercial project, leading to a film made by a master provocateur that has no lasting impact whatsoever outside of a handful of decent laughs” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Blue Note Records: Beyond The Notes (dir. Sophie Huber)

It’s less like a standard, interview based documentary, and more like being invited to an intimate dinner among friends you haven’t met yet” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

As standard a documentary as it is in presentation, Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes is cleverly assembled and edited, making the most of available archival material to flesh out the stories” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Rare footage where the audience gets to see and hear the best jazz performances as performed by history’s best artists” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

An intelligent, modestly stylish account of what this particular production company has achieved since 1939 — yes, this is their 80th anniversary — and, in particular, during its peak period from the mid-Fifties to the late Sixties” — Marc Glassman, POV Magazine

Dumbo (dir. Tim Burton)

Burton’s strangely meek version amplifies the family epistles of the original movie while nearly doubling its running time. Yet some of the director’s cool ghoulishness sneaks through” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star, including an interview with Danny DeVito

Here’s hoping Disney’s next offering is more “Oh!” and less dumb” — Chris Knight, The National Post

My kids clapped. The movie will likely make close to a billion dollars. And Burton will likely follow-up with Disney’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

For all that it is worth in terms of gloom vs. feel-good, Dumbo does pull the audience into the adventure of the circus” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

A piece of studio product that has been designed with love and care, but is ultimately built for the faintest of praise” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Lands with a thud. It’s a flawed attempt to expand the original story by adding in human emotions and frailty, merging socially rich drama with the fantasy of a flying elephant” — Jason Gorber, High Def Digest

Set in 1911 but for all intents and purposes, is as modern as this minute. Get out your handkerchiefs and enjoy yourselves” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Falls Around Her (dir. Darlene Naponse)

An unexpected homecoming becomes a mystery story in Falls Around Her, a movie marking the first lead film role for Tantoo Cardinal in her 48-year career” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

If you’re hoping for narrative clarity, you may be disappointed. A conclusion of sorts feels rushed, even imported from another kind of movie entirely” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Relatively minor missteps aside, Falls Around Her succeeds overall thanks to Naponse’s emotionally credible script, her strong sense of direction, and Cardinal’s layered performance” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Darlene Naponse’s vivid and thrilling journey through the eyes of a beautifully multi-faceted, mature character is dazzling. Cardinal is radiant and fierce” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Firecrackers (dir. Jazmin Mozaffari)

An elemental story, with washed-out hues, restless camera work and sandpaper grain reminiscent of Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, which had a similar trajectory of seeking freedom from stifling lives” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

It’s as if someone forgot to tell director/writer Mozaffari that making your first feature film is a tough go, filled with doubts, indecision and second guessing; her choices never seem obvious yet always feel right” — Thom Ernst, Original-Cin

People from different strata, be they gender, class or race divisions, will find in the movie many aspects that mirror their own experiences, while others feel completely foreign or even reprehensible. That dynamic is too often absent in this type of independent filmmaking, and it makes Firecrackers such an explosive debut” — Jason Gorber, High Def Digest

Giant Little Ones (dir. Keith Behrman)

A modest, beautifully shot coming-of-ager about a kid who isn’t ready to define himself yet, at least sexually” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

An excellent drama, first and foremost. It may incidentally help a lot of confused kids. It may even confuse a few as well. That’s OK” — Chris Knight, The National Post

An excellently paced, remarkably moving film about coming-of-age, acceptance, and a whole lot more” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

It’s a film made for life as we know it today, and while it’s not a perfect package, the impact it could make on the people it needs to reach the most shouldn’t be understated” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

At its best when it speaks for the characters without saying anything. These explosions in the sky are warmly reassuring gestures in an intimate coming of age story” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

Hotel Mumbai (dir. Anthony Maras)

Watching the carnage of Hotel Mumbai certainly drives home the horror and insanity of a terror attack, along with the good instincts of regular people trying to assist each other. But the film leaves a feeling of numbness, not enlightenment” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Maras steers a middle course in telling this tale. Most of the deaths are neither off-screen nor deliberately close up, and the cinematography is efficient and unshowy. But the physical layout of the hotel could be better portrayed” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The intended inspirational message — how humans from varied backgrounds can unite in courage and compassion — feels perfunctory” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin, including an interview with the director

A gripping dramatization of the real life survival drama” — Pat Mullen, That Shelf, including interviews with the cast, director, and a lengthy, must-read feature with star Armie Hammer

Riveting… a moment to moment depiction of events rendered with shocking immediacy” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Through Black Spruce (dir. Don McKellar)

The movie stands on its own merits, as a simmering whodunit where plot basics are secondary to personalities, thanks to a superb cast” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Six months after its TIFF premiere, Don McKellar’s Through Black Spruce is opening in theatres – and we’re still debating who gets to tell Indigenous stories on film. This movie feels like it’s on the wrong side of the argument… Through Black Spruce doesn’t feel like anyone’s movie at all. It seems adrift, trying to find an undertow of suspense in inevitabilities” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The movie seems to be engaged in a civil war where one side wants to be a thriller and the other vies to be socially discerning; it might have been both, but sadly, it’s neither” — Thom Ernst, Original-Cin-

An entertaining mystery that sheds a little insight on the troubles of the Indigenous people of Canada” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

At BeatRoute, from Pat Mullen: Calm Quiet Strength: An Interview With Through Black Spruce Actress Tanaya Beatty