TFCA Friday: Week of May 10

May 10, 2024

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes | Disney


In Release this Week


The Burning Season (dir. Sean Garrity 🇨🇦)


“Part of what makes The Burning Season so persuasive is its relatability. This kind of stuff happens every day to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons,” writes Kim Hughes at Original Cin. “But the impacts are disproportionally profound compared to the mundaneness of the act, especially when it happens to those bound by a secret. Talk about a concept, told here with panache.”


The Burning Season a deft and honest examination in why we are capable of risking our entire existences on that idyllic idea of passion and love that usually blows up in our faces,” says Dave Voigt at In the Seats.


The Coffee Table (dir. Caya Casas)


“I am not likely to see a film more terrifying this year than director Caya Casas’ The Coffee Table, and—for the sake of my well-being, and my sanity—I hope I never do,” admits Thom Ernst at Original Cin. “The writing in The Coffee Table is almost acrobatic in its delivery, manipulating feelings and ideas by rendering deep guttural emotions in the all too familiar ways. The terror in Casas’ film is linked to the unknown. But differing from other horror films, the unknown in Casas’ film is neither ethereal nor otherworldly.”


Evil Does Not Exist (dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)


“As the title Evil Does Not Exist [suggests], there is no inherent evil in any of the deeds of the story’s characters though the results might be questionable,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The story contains a mystery element with lots of solitude enabling composer Eiko’s music to make a greater impact.”


“Patient and meticulous in its pacing, Hamaguchi’s film keeps an extraordinarily careful check of its narrative calculations and thematic ambitions,” writes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “There is a reason why the director chooses a marathon town-council session – a quietly furious airing of grievances that is so naturally chaotic it feels pulled from a documentary – as the point in his story to switch perspectives from Takumi to his two PR foes. A film that starts off as a dignified whisper turns into a stifled scream, even if it is in fact a darkly funny yelp as the world expands to explore the inner lives of Takahashi and Mayuzumi, which in turn recasts Takumi’s pride as something perhaps not so admirable.”


“[A] slow-burning wonder, an eco-fable of meditative beauty and menace, down-to-earth realism, and mythic resonances,” says Liam Lacey at Original Cin. “Music is a big and constantly changing part of Evil Does Not Exist, ranging from full orchestra to electric guitar and ambient synthesizer noises, abruptly cutting to silence. In fact, the film was originally conceived as 30 minutes of video images to accompany a live electronic music performance by composer Eiko Ishibashi. Typically, the music stops when people begin to talk.”


“Hamaguchi is a filmmaker that wants the audience’s constant engagement; always finding a way to the heart through the brain,” says Andrea Parker at The Gate. Evil Does Not Exist is as observant and humane as Ozu and as politically charged as Ken Loach.”


“In a long car ride back to the village, Mayuzumi and Takahashi discuss their lives, aspirations, and philosophies,” says Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “Neither is a straw dog villain. They have their griefs and sadness: Mayuzumi has no idea who she is while Takahashi is lonely and truly questioning why he is acting as a front man for an organization that doesn’t care about him or have any business principles. A master at creating dialogue scenes in cars, Hamaguchi offers us another one here.”


The Final: Attack on Wembley (dir. Rob Miller and Kwabena Oppong)


“With compelling security footage and first-hand testimony from both fans and those in the industry (like the event manager at the stadium and the reporters) and visceral user-generated content, this is the dramatic story of a day that began with euphoria and ended in a nation left reeling from shame,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The term hooligan has been rightly reserved for football fans gone amok.”


For Sale (dir. Christoper Schrack)


“The film proves to be both scary and funny with a few jump scares provided as well,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “For a very small indie film, For Sale achieves its humble goals.”


Guardians of the Monarchs (dir. Emiliano Kuprah)


“[T]he doc teaches the audience a few important lessons,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “One is the importance of nature conservation and the delicate balance between plants and insects. The doc also champions the important deeds of Homero Gomez who had moved into politics to further his course, though with adverse results.”


H2: The Occupation Lab (dir. Idit Avrahami & Noam Sheizaf)


H2: The Occupation Lab is an immensely watchable and informative documentary, taken right out of current headlines that proves once again the impossibilities of different cultures living in harmony together,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (dir. Wes Ball)


Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, while not the flashiest film given its blockbuster trappings, is a fantastic example of spectacle, smarts and social conscience, which is the bedrock of the science-fiction genre,” writes Dave Voigt at In the Seats.


Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a fun enough distraction. Featuring more hot monkey-on-monkey action than any of the Apes entrants before – even if it is digitally created, rather than prosthetic-enabled in the traditional Roddy McDowall style – Kingdom has so much simian shenanigans, including a whole lotta horses, that it threatens to imagine what might happen if Michael Bay acquired the National Geographic channel,” observes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “But it is also a self-consciously serious affair, absent the imaginative wit and propulsive momentum of its immediate precursor, 2017′s War for the Planet of the Apes, which was dark but far from dour.” Hertz also speaks with actor Kevin Durand about going ape with motion capture: “It started off that way – being a 6-foot-6 man, I was always afraid of being pushed into a corner in my career, with people saying, ‘This is who you get to play.’ But when I saw the material here, I became obsessed. I’m like a pit bull, I can’t let go. You just dive in, and it was the most physically and emotionally I’ve ever been pushed and stretched,” he tells Hertz.


“The good news here is that as the events stretch further and further from the previous trilogy’s revolution and messiah metaphors, they’ve become less overt. The bad news is that without that central purpose at its core — or many humans to rally against — this fourth entry has even less of a reason to exist,” assess Jackson Weaver at CBC.


“Ball takes his time introducing his characters, which pays off by making us care about their struggles,” adds Peter Howell at the Toronto Star. Actor [Owen] Teague, best known for playing the character Nolan Rayburn in the Netflix crime series Bloodline, is particularly effective as Noa, who learns life-altering secrets about his world while grappling with immediate threats. Exhibiting both doubt and defiance, Noa’s journey makes Kingdom a coming-of-age story as well as a blockbuster adventure.”


“It’s not a reinvention of the wheel by any stretch, but thanks to an assured point of view, outstanding performances, and a continuing tradition of boasting some of the finest visual effects in cinema today, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes remains captivating in the same way as some of the best popcorn movies,” writes Andrew Parker at The Gate.


“Well developed motion capture and computer graphics allow for some truly fine emotional beats, even when the characters doing the emoting are pan troglodytes, a.k.a. chimps,” says Chris Knight at the National Post. “There’s also action aplenty, and a great deal of ruinous after-civilization set pieces. If, like me, you get a perverse thrill from seeing what a few centuries of neglect will do to our buildings and machinery, Kingdom will deliver. But more than that, it offers a real sense of morality as played out in a topsy-turvy world. We could learn a thing or two from these apes.”


Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes runs a hefty 2 hours and 25 minutes, but director Wes Ball keeps the audience intrigued from start to finish,” adds Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The production sets are nothing short of magnificent, the jungle, the sea and beaches and interiors. Story aside, director Ball manages to achieve the feat of having a solid film despite a flimsy storyline.”


At CBC, Eli Glasner asks if we really need another Planet of the Apes movie.


“What it isn’t is the full-out action film that the trailer suggests. And what violence there is, is ape-on-ape. We don’t even see any humans in the first act, and they exist mainly as a MacGuffin,” notes Jim Slotek at Original Cin. “One megalomaniacal ape with a gorilla army who’s dubbed himself Proximus Caesar (voiced and motion-captured by Canadian Kevin Durand), has figured out that these dumb human brutes were once smart enough to design literally killer technology. And he’s built an ape city around a military vault that remains frustratingly unopened.”


Lazareth (dir. Alec Tibaldi)


Lazareth is intriguing for the fact that its story could happen to the world if the Pandemic went out of hand into a full-blown scale, which most people will remember as a time that shook the world,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Let It Be (dir. Michael Lindsay-Hogg)


Let It Be is a 1970 music documentary about the Beatles, the most celebrated group in pop history. It’s also one of cinema’s most misunderstood and hard-to-find films,” says Peter Howell at the Toronto Star. “Viewed without the immediate drama of the band’s break-up, Let It Be indeed comes across as the ‘curious and fascinating character’ Lindsay-Hogg has always maintained it to be. It proves that the Beatles were always able to rise to the occasion when making music, despite any personal or business differences they might have had.”


Let It Be now seems triumphant and nuanced when compared to everything that came out about The Beatles in the terrific Anthology miniseries and [Peter] Jackson’s Get Back,” notes Andrew Parker at The Gate. “Instead of seeing anger, jealousy, and an aversion towards working together, Let It Be now captures more low key senses of confusion and resignation. If Get Back traded in unfiltered minutiae that had a kaleidoscopic emotional impact, Let It Be is the succinct overview that does more or less the same in a smaller, smarter package.”


“A nostalgic look down memory lane especially with George Harrison and John Lennon no longer with us, the re-issue of Let It Be is totally magic, myself having seen the film when it was first released and now once again with opening commentary by directors Peter Jackson and Michael Lindsay-Hogg,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Living with Leopards (dir. Brad Bestelink, Alex Parkinson)


Living with Leopards is an exciting and educational doc that also shows the care and difficulty of filming a true nature documentary,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


The Outside Circle: A Movie of the Modern West (dir. Craig Rullman)


“[I]t’s hard, painstaking physical labour but these folks know nothing different; they share a can-do attitude and expect and prepare for hardship without complaint,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Overall, they’re a jolly bunch who love the lifestyle and promote faith, family, friends, and community. You’ll note loyal ‘boss\ dogs who ride with the cowboys, wrangle the herds, and know cows. Note to the squeamish: calf harnessing, and branding as part of the culture.”


We Grown Now (dir. Minhal Baig)


We Grown Now is an homage to time and place, specifically to a ‘90s childhood in the Cabrini-Green apartments in Chicago. It’s a sweet story of childhood friendship wrapped in a depressing piece of American history,” notes Liz Braun at Original Cin. “This coming-of-age film captures the exuberance of childhood even as it shows the gradual encroachment of outside social pressures.”


“It’s a film that certainly looks the part and pours a lot of effort into re-creating settings that no longer exist today and boasts natural leading performances from some incredibly talented young actors, but We Grown Now also features a lot of forced poignancy when a more delicate and restrained touch would’ve pushed the material further,” writes Andrew Parker at The Gate. “It’s the kind of film where one can appreciate the passion that went into it, but something still doesn’t sit quite right.”


“The mainly Black residents had come north and settled in Cabrini Greene seeking relief from violence and racism down South, and now they face the same fears from law enforcement,” observes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “The boys cling to each other for safety and comfort but things are about to change when Malik’s mother lands a job that will pull them out of Cabrini-Green and poverty. They’ll move to Peoria.  Handled with tenderness, and a lovely sense of childhood, We Grown Now is compelling and as a cinematic work unusually beautiful.”


We Grown Now is a lovely poetic film. Cutting against the grain of sensational urban Black narratives, Minhal Baig has fashioned a sensitive account of a family living and growing in tough circumstances in Chicago,” says Marc Glassman at Classical FM. “Yet the film isn’t about violence. It’s about the love that a grandmother and mother feel for their children and the powerful friendship that evolves between two boys in a housing project. Baig has made an important film that people should see and embrace.”


“The setting more often than not, is an important factor in the coming-of-age process.  The setting of Cabrini-Green in We Grown Now is as interesting as the film’s gives importance to both in his moving story,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


A Festival of Festival Coverage: Hot Docs Wraps


At Variety, Jennie Punter speaks with the team behind Disco’s Revenge creators Omar Majeed and Peter Mishara and learns about one of the most popular must films at Hot Docs for its portrait of the collapse of the disco scene. The film features record producer Nile Rodgers as a key interviewee: “We wanted the film to feel like an oral history of everyone within the scene. Nile of course has authenticity of his experience and understands the deeper story, so it was never a bunch of talking points,” says Majeed. “He’s a busy person, so we had to work to pin him down, but once he’s in the chair he gives you so much. We were trying to bring something out of him that we hadn’t seen in previous interviews.”


At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen chats with So This Is Christmas director Ken Wardrop about sharing the true meaning of the holidays: ““My mom passed away in July, so it was my first Christmas without my mom. It was particularly tough. I think I will forever more say I dread Christmas more than my mom,” he says. “If there was a purpose behind the film, it would be for people to sit up and take a moment to think about their neighbour who may not be having as lovely a time as Christmas as you. Maybe knock on the door.”


At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz breaks the news that TIFF Lightbox is Toronto’s newest landlord as it welcomes Luminato as a tenant: “Nothing compares to the challenges of leading through the pandemic, but now we’re energized and thinking of new ways of doing things. ‘Transformation’ and ‘collaboration’ are the new words,” Celia Smith, Luminato’s chief executive, tells Hertz. “It’s a challenging time out there – I’m fundraising every day – but it’s good to be able to deliver solutions like this, and look forward to the future.”


TV Talk/Series Stuff


At Exclaim!, Rachel Ho looks at Under the Bridge, which stars Lily Gladstone and Riley Keough in a dramatization of the Reena Virk story: “In addition to the two leads, Vritika Gupta amazes as Virk,” writes Ho. “The young actor exemplifies the insecurities that all teenagers embody, but specifically the insecurities that teenagers from immigrant families living in predominantly white neighbourhoods experience.”


At Original Cin, Karen Gordon recommends the “compulsively bingeable” Bodkin: “It’s wonderfully written, with an ear for smalltown life, and a plot that is intriguing, and intelligent, as well as highly entertaining. Some of these seven-part series feel padded out but every moment in Bodkin feels purposeful.”


At What She Said, Anne Brodie calls British murder mystery After the Flood “a call to action on climate change.” Meanwhile, the Tudor-era series Shardlake has “plenty of atmospheric dread.”


On the In the Seats with… podcast, Dave Voigt chats with Constellation composers Ben Salisbury and Suvi-Eeva Äikäs about setting the mood for Apple’s new sci-fi thrill ride.


At Original Cin, Chris Knight reports on the return of Doctor Who: “The series opener certainly has a light tone, as befits a Christmas episode — with its bright red double-deckers on their way to Notting Hill, befuddled British bobbies keeping order on the streets, and a cheerfully multiracial but still ever-so-British cast, it feels like Paddington Bear could amble by at any moment.”


At The Gate, Andrew Parker weighs in on Under the Bridge: “Under the Bridge is a great example of a standard issue series elevated tremendously by a talented cast putting in great work. Based in part on a true story of a shocking 1997 murder in small town British Columbia and a bestselling recounting of the events by late journalist Rebecca Godfrey, Under the Bridge has a great premise, but pitches it at the level of just another run-of-the-mill procedural potboiler.”