TFCA Friday: Week of November 1st, 2019

November 1, 2019

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

Opening this Week

The Cave (dir. Feras Fayyad)

Provides a visceral and harrowing portrait of several women in Ghouta, a city just 15 km away from Damascus, who provide emergency care for their neighbors as the country endures relentless bombings and attacks by the regime. This film is not for the faint of heart” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

A stark reminder of the toll of war, but also of the tenacity of the human spirit. God may not be watching, but we all should” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Won this year’s People’s Choice award for documentary at TIFF, and it’s easy to see why: it’s intense, it’s cinematic and it tells a story few people want to hear. It’s also manipulative in an uncomfortable, almost shameless way” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Sometimes his camerawork is almost too perfect, and the addition of a dramatic score threatens to shatter the documentary realism. Besides, it’s not really needed. Dr. Namour sometimes pulls out his phone during surgery to play videos of classical music while he works” — Chris Knight, The National Post

In all its earnest intentions, accomplishes its aim at wrenching concern and sympathy from the audience” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Harriet (dir. Kasi Lemmons)

A well-meaning, well-shot biopic from director and co-writer Kasi Lemmons [that] feels a bit like staring for two hours at a ten-dollar bill” — Chris Knight, The National Post

It’s incredible there has never been a movie made about the slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Harriet remedies that with an affecting story hampered only by its earnest ambitions” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

Motherless Brooklyn (dir. Edward Norton)

A smart, cautiously paced crime drama with a masterful eye for direction, environment, and character” — Pat Mullen, That Shelf, including an interview at BeatRoute with Ed Norton on the music of his film

The result is patchier than Columbo’s raincoat and also more eccentric, with Norton playing a gumshoe with Tourette Syndrome whose random verbal outbursts make it hard to be a truly private eye” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

There’s much to enjoy, whether you immerse yourself in the gritty city or try to keep ahead of Lionel as he feels his way through the story’s central mystery” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The sort of risk-taking effort that deserves kudos whether it works or not. As it happens, this lengthy film-noir labour of love by writer, director and star Edward Norton, is well worth the ride” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

A totally enjoyable watch, with Norton giving full respect to his source material while never downplaying the syndrome for cheap laughs, but offering his audience intelligent look at the rare disease” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Synonyms (dir. Nadav Lapid)

Full of sly gestures, disturbing comedy and linguistic humour, [this] is an energizing and mordant movie that cuts to the core emotions underlying wider geopolitical crises, specifically the refusal to reckon with dangerous nationalism” — Kevin Ritchie, NOW Magazine

Wraps itself in so many layers of metaphor – the final shot shows someone pounding on a door that refuses to open – that it loses any sense of character or plot. The results are grandiloquent, portentous, even ostentatious. I could go on, but I’d hate to be accused of being sesquipedalian” — Chris Knight, The National Post

One of the most spirited films of the year — never mind the theme or message — and a great pleasure to watch” — Gilbert Seah, Toronto-Franco

Terminator: Dark Fate (dir. Tim Miller)

The Jurassic World of Terminator movies: a much-later sequel that uses the passage of time as an excuse to restage the franchise’s greatest hits and reset the table for a new generation” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

It’s not exactly clearing a high bar to say that Terminator: Dark Fate is the most effective and entertaining franchise instalment since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

It’s a blast to see Hamilton share the screen for the first time in 28 years with Schwarzenegger, who has aged into a pretty dapper gent for a killer cyborg, with whiskers and gravitas that suggest a Dos Equis commercial is in his future” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star
With each new film reaching further back into the past to tweak parts of the franchise history and kill off others, it’s clear who the real Terminators are; the filmmakers, and the audiences. And they’ll be back” — Chris Knight, The National Post
A fine sequel that provides enough of what came before while adding to the narrative without the baggage that has bogged down the majority of the other offshoots. It has a welcome clarity of purpose” — Jason Gorber, High-Def Digest
Acknowledges the success and keeps to the feel and atmosphere of the first two original films” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

News From Home: TIFF’s Chantal Akerman Retrospective

At Original-Cin, Liam Lacey writes on the TIFF Programmer Andréa Picard’s Chantal Akerman retrospective

Changing the Conversation About Drugs

At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen interviews director Shawney Cohen on Rat Park, his new documentary that explores drug use and the opiate crisis

VR: More Hollywood Than Games

In the National Post, Chris Knight examines the shifting boundaries between VR and other storytelling