TFCA Friday: Week of May 3rd, 2019

May 3, 2019

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

Opening this Week

Body at Brighton Rock (dir. Roxanne Benjamin)

The kind of movie that sucks one in immediately, only to gradually let them down at the slow realization that it isn’t going anywhere new or exciting” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (dir. Joe Berlinger)

Might be the most apathetic and emotionless movie to boast a title almost entirely comprised of adjectives and adverbs” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Hail Satan? (dir. Penny Lane)

I never would have imagined that the American religious and political landscapes would reach a point where Team Baphomet Statue would be the one with the most appealing theological arguments. But these are weird times” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A fine example of counter-cultural history, drawing from broadcast sources, archival material, old movies and interviews to explore the history of religious fear-mongering” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

The stunts start to get repetitive, especially after it dawns that many Satanic Temple members are in it just for the hell of it” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

As a portrait of a social movement that’s still in its awkward infancy, Hail Satan? is thoroughly fascinating, and a studious look at grassroots advocacy and provocation in the digital, media savvy age” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Lane’s film ends up a satisfying, eye-opening doc about the Satanic Temple” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The Intruder (dir. Deon Taylor)

Overblown and cranked to eleven at all times, the ludicrous home invasion thriller The Intruder isn’t a great movie, but it’s a great time at the movies” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Deon Taylor injects very few thrills into this thriller, with Charlie popping up pretty much every time you expect him” — Chris Knight, The National Post

We’re told that the Napa Valley house that is the Mcguffin in the transparent and ham-handed stalker film The Intruder, was listed at $3.5 million – which is the scariest thing in this suspense-free experience” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

The otherwise unimpressive film film benefits from Wilson’s occasional inspired direction and Quaid’s campiness” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

JT Leroy (dir. Justin Kelly)

Only scratches the surface. The film doesn’t dig deep enough into the story’s thorny complications, nor does it elicit much real feeling” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Yet despite the efforts of its stars and the inherent juiciness of its source material, the film falls flat when it should bounce with surreal glee” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail, including an interview with Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern

The viewer is left to identify with Savannah, left sadder but not much wiser, in a switched-identity story that remains no more than wig-and-sunglasses deep” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Watching annoying characters doing annoying things trying to be cool [is annoying]” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Knock Down The House (dir. Rachel Lears)

Get ready for the most inspiring, empowering, invigorating, motivating, and electrifying film of the season” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

I cheered. You will, too” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The definitive AOC doc awaits, but Knock Down the House provides a bracing first draft” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Long Shot (dir. Jonathan Levine)

A smartly crafted, sharply written romantic comedy with real stuff to say about the modern political landscape” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Take The American President, Notting Hill, and Pretty Woman and put them into a blender with some modern political subtext, copious amounts of illegal substances, and a handful of jokes about unfortunately timed erections and you’ll get Jonathan Levine’s Long Shot, a film that’s far more charming, sweet, and hilarious than I probably just made it sound” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

May be about a schlub, but it is far from schlubby” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

One yearns for the more amusingly cynical Rogen of Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, where he delivered smart wisecracks with a pleasant rumble” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Could be shortened and made tighter but the isolated incidents of comedy just coincidental to the main plot are still as hilarious” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Red Joan (dir. Trevor Nunn)

A bland, flavourless mash of spy thriller, family drama, and historical romance cliches stitched together without any sort of regard for larger social or dramatic context, Red Joan is a muddled movie made up of background noise and broken parts” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

An improbably dull tale of a young woman/physics phenom who worked within the British nuclear program as an agent for the Soviet Union” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

A muddled romantic espionage story based on true events that leads nowhere” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

UglyDolls (dir. Kelly Asbury)

An animated adventure based on a toy line that’s waning in popularity, with a nice message about accepting one’s own imperfections that’s aimed squarely at kids who still see their childhood playthings as their best friends” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

There is sloppy lip service to the idea of acceptance (“It’s our differences that make us shine!” is one of many blunt lines of dialogue delivered by your children’s favourite stars such as, um, Blake Shelton and Charli XCX, I guess?), a handful of forgettable songs, and perhaps appropriately ugly visuals (more likely a result of the film’s small US$45-million budget)” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

What I can’t completely figure out who is who this is for? At first, it seemed to be for little kids. But as the movie goes on, it seemed to take a turn to elementary school age kids and even tweens” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

It’s a bad film, but it’s catered to an audience who will laugh at everything” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Hot Docs 2019

Barry Hertz in the Globe and Mail: “How can Hot Docs filmmakers actually navigate the festival circuit? Documentary Organization of Canada offers a way

At POV Magazine: Pat Mullen’s interview with Ingrid Veninger, and Marc Glassman’s essay on Essay Films in the Age of Trump

At Variety: Jennie Punter’s interview with the filmmakers behind Our Godfather

Toronto Jewish Film Festival

At NOW Magazine, Norm Wilner previews some films from TJFF to catch, like Tel Aviv On Fire

10 Films to Look Forward To This Summer

Have you read up on Booksmart? In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell has you covered (including a feature on Game of Thrones and peak Hollywood / TV)

In the Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz offer a Summer Movie Preview

You Can’t Will A Franchise Into Existence

It is a lesson many studios choose to ignore, says Chris Knight in the National Post