Reviews include Riceboy Sleeps, Brother, and Tenzin.
TFCA Friday: Week of May 13
May 13, 2022
Welcome to TFCA Friday, a weekly round-up of film reviews and articles by TFCA members.
In Release this Week!
Firestarter (dir. Kevin Thomas)
“I leave you with this: I saw Firestarter at a late-night screening,” concludes Thom Ernst at Original Cin. “A person in the audience talked loudly on their phone for much of the film’s second half. No one asked them to stop. No one cared.”
Happening (dir. Audrey Diwan)
“With abortion laws expected to change in the Unites States sometime next month, the release of this French film could not be more timely,” notes Chris Knight at the National Post. “It is not an easy film to watch, though that’s part of the point. As the weeks tick by, Anne grows increasingly frantic, unable to concentrate on her studies or find a way out of her predicament.”
The Innocents (dir. Eskil Vogt)
“Director Vogt’s images are stark and scary and he ensures that there is much thought that goes between his images,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “If there is one film you have to see after recovering from the pandemic, this is the one!”
“These are heavy issues to deal with at any age, and Vogt does a tremendous job of grafting major moral matters onto his youthful protagonists,” says Chris Knight at the National Post. “The actors, led by first-time performers Rakel Lenora Fløttum and Sam Ashraf as Ida and Benjamin, step up to the task handily.”
“There is a reason we’re reluctant to give our kids that BB gun they keep asking for. It’s not out of fear that our children would commit atrocities as in Vogt’s film, but because most parents recognize that irresponsibility does have consequences, and that children are more likely to act on instinct rather than reason,” writes Thom Ernst at Original Cin. “Vogt masterfully—undoubtedly infuriating for some – understates the horror in his film by filtering it through a bright summer Nordic sun while adults mill about oblivious to the violence around them.”
Memoria (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
“I suspect that the jack-in-the-box ending is deliberately silly, a mood lightener and a way to dispel the film’s overall solemnity,” muses Liam Lacey at Original Cin. “But I also couldn’t help but be reminded of how much comic book blockbusters and genre cinema employ these same themes — time-travel, the multiverses, the blurring of the line between life and death, and the plasticity of the material world. Weeraskathul also explores how identities emerge, dissolve, and connect but he steps onto that shifting ground of memory and experience through a poetic, reverent portal.”
“If you’re the type who would pay money to watch the ethereal Tilda Swinton just mosey around Colombia for two hours, Memoria might just be the movie for you,” writes Chris Knight at the National Post. “Not a whole lot happens to her character, Jessica Holland, during the two-plus hours of the film. And yet it’s oddly captivating, the kind of story that has you leaning forward in your seat, trying to make sense of just what quiet, semi-magical things are going on.”
“Memoria’s beauty and shock walk masterfully in a place between belief and disbelief while asking much from viewers,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “A unique and wonderful, and disturbing experience in which Swinton frees herself to allow this stunning story to unfold.”
“How do you create slow cinema at the speed of sound?” asks Pat Mullen at That Shelf. “When the answer finally arrives in Memoria, it truly underscores the subjectivity of sound and memory. Punctuate the ensuing silence with applause, dear readers.”
The Sadness (dir. Rob Jabbaz)
“[T]hrow caution and reasoning to the wind, enjoy violent excesses of blood and gore in a film with little plot or story,” advises Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
Senior Year (dir. Alex Hardcastle)
At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah says the film “succeeds at both its target teen audience while also catering to the adult audience delivering sufficient humour with a dash of lively musical numbers.”
Sneakerella (dir. Elizabeth Anne Rosenbaum)
“Its’ complicated- heartbreak, lies, tears, misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and those stepbrothers,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Its unique twist on the fairytale, with a Fairy Godfather, a strong ecological message, and its powerful modernity.”
The Village House (dir. Achai Mishra)
“A very personal film based on the director’s childhood experiences, and it shows in her simple and beautiful film,” observes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
Films of the Future
At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz has a power lunch with producer Robert Lantos, who reunites with director David Cronenberg for the Cannes-premiering Crimes of the Future. The veteran producer tells Hertz how streamers have changed the game and how financing a Canadian body horror picture isn’t easy these days: “‘Some great films will still get made, but they will be made against all odds, because the world is dominated by the streamers and what remains of the movie studios, which are essentially nothing other than superhero factories. Neither of them produce what I or you call cinema,’ Lantos says while picking at his salade niçoise. ‘If they do make those kinds of movies, it’s an afterthought. It’s so far down the priority list. So, what’s left?’”
Also at The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz unpacks what’s finally hitting the big screen for summer movies after distributors enjoyed two years of spring cleaning on VOD. From popcorn movies, dinosaur romps, stuff for sickos, and multi-verse madness, there’s something for everyone, including Lesley Manville’s long overdue summer blockbuster, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris: “Don’t pretend you’re not out there, Manville-heads. And for those who know what I’m talking about, here’s a little slice of polite British comedy that seems to be the unofficial prequel to Phantom Thread, with Manville playing a cleaning woman in 1950s London who, after receiving an unexpected widow’s pension, travels to the City of Light in the hopes of purchasing a couture Dior dress,” writes Hertz.
A Festival of Festival Coverage
At Variety, Jennie Punter chats with one of the winners of the Rogers Audience Award for Canadian Film at Hot Docs, Barri Cohen, about her documentary Unloved and what it means to premiere on home turf: “It is deeply gratifying not only because it’s the top doc festival in the world, but it’s one that I had a hand in founding some 29 years ago,” says Cohen. “I was on a volunteer board of filmmakers who initially put the festival together so I’m incredibly grateful to see how it has grown and expanded in its support for filmmakers in Canada and around the world.”
Punter also speaks with rocker Tom Wilson and director Shane Belcourt about their Hot Docs premiere Beautiful Scars for Variety. The film adapts Wilson’s memoir of the same name and observes as he connects with his Mohawk roots. “‘Throwing yourself on the bloody tracks of a documentary is, you know, well, I can get pretty paranoid about this film,’ said Wilson in his distinctively subterranean baritone. ‘But at the same time, it opens up the door for this country and the world to better understand the effects of colonialism on identity.’” Punter also speaks with Don Haig Award winner Mila Aung-Thwin and learns about his upcoming project, and The Killing of a Journalist’s Matt Sarnecki about his explosive exploration of true crime and corruption.
TV Talk / Series Scribbles
At What She Said, Anne Brodie looks at the two-parter doc The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks. “The sketch series explores saying goodbye to the fax machine, naked and I mean naked, thieves, Pete Davidson, sensitive waiters, elderly male pole dancers laid off from GM featuring Lord Greystroke, a blue Zoom call, a baby doctor’s drop average, a nostalgic celebration of the Glory Hole and the Rivoli, a sinister tropical fruit platter, much more including the Guy in the Towel, Catherine O’Hara, sex and a 70’s cocktail party,” laughs Brodie. She also has a hearty laugh with the return of Hacks (“a salute to the bottomless well of talent of Jean Smart”), a bit of a trip with The Pentaverate (“one of the weirdest series ever”), chills with The Essex Serpent (“Effectively scary, verging on horrific”), unexpected fun with The Lincoln Lawyer (“a fast-paced, fun series”), and get ready to salute the Queen!
At POV Magazine, Jason Gorber also weighs in on the Kids in the Hall: “Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks provides a perfect summation of who these Canadian comics are, why they mattered, and why they continue to matter to this day. It’s a sympathetic telling but one not succumbing to a two-dimensional portrait, a deserving biographical documentary for these five remarkable individuals.”