TFCA Friday: Week of November 22nd, 2019

November 22, 2019

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

Emerging Critic Award

The TFCA’s annual Emerging Critic Award is open for applications. With a $1,000 cash prize, this Award aims to elevate a new (or new-ish!) writer whose focus is critical perspectives on film. Read about this opportunity here.

Opening this Week

21 Bridges (dir. Brian Kirk)

This is a rare action movie starring two Black leading men. The movie never feels like it’s trying to make or prove a point with its casting, nor that race is all that relevant to its subject matter” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

We’re left with empty action calories, and memories of events that make less and less sense every minute after you’ve left the theatre” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (dir. Marielle Heller)

[Heller] brings us into “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in a manner that suggests she too, really, really cares about us, about what we think and how we feel” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Tom Hanks is perfection as Rogers, a man he’d wanted to play for decades and completely inhabits” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

I’d compare it to Green Book, but that would give the wrong impression; where that film was a mediocrity elevated by two very committed actors, this one works all the way through. It’s a parable, and it’s kind of wonderful” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Tom Hanks is a cinematic S’more — comforting, nostalgic, warm and sweet. And so I won’t begrudge you the pleasures of watching one marvellous man portray another” — Chris Knight, The National Post

As for the rest of us, I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Atlantics (dir. Mati Diop)

Pairs reality with folkloric fantasy for a beguiling romance that woos the eye along with the heart” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

A magic realist fantasy, a ghost story, a love story  and political allegory, Atlantics packs a deceptive amount of complexity in a gauzy, slender film” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator (dir. Eva Orner)

A pre-#MeToo tale for the post-#MeToo world: At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen interviews director Eva Orner on her new Netflix documentary

Frozen II (dirs. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee)

It breaks my icy heart to see the exact same creative team who gave us the delightful, moving and slyly subversive original deliver such a hollow product this time around” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Six years later, the magic remains and the gang’s all here (again), but as with almost every sequel ever made, the followup fails to top the original” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Lessons are learned. Bonds are formed. Characters pair up. Even Elsa gets a horse. Children will take what they what they will out of the message” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Feels as though it’s relying more on good will and name recognition than any inherent charm in its screenplay” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The film, though visually stunning, lacks the innovation and fresh ideas of the original, thus leaving it — sorry for the pun — frozen in its delivery” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Marriage Story (dir. Noam Baumbach)

This is one of the best movies of the year, and it’s a damn shame most people will see it on Netflix. It needs to be experienced in the dark, with a crowd, all of us sniffling – or holding our breath – together” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

It’s one of the best movies of 2019. But it leaves you feeling that love is the most fragile of all human conditions” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

A tough watch, especially for those with experience in that painful endeavour – splitting up. Shot and told simply, its intimacy is in your face, powerful and unrelenting. The intimacy of couples breaking up contrasts with that other natural occurrence, confrontation, hateful intent and hopelessness. And this is a film that takes no prisoners” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

What makes Marriage Story so profound and affecting is its tenderness. Although there are points where one character’s choices puts the other into serious difficulty, Baumbach doesn’t demonize Charlie or Nicole, and never ever asks us to judge either of them” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

Reveals both the heartbreak and glory of love in a very dramatic and sensitive portrait aided by excellent performances by Johansson and Driver” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

It’s a perfect pairing this time, as is the chemistry between the lead actors. They can make us believe in the love they once had, even though we’re now seeing only its attenuated remains. And we need that belief. How else will they make us weep at the loss” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The Report (dir. Scott Z. Burns)

Never becomes anything more a catalogue of horrors – and one that now feels almost pointless, given America’s post-Obama embrace of Donald Trump’s targeted cruelty. What good can a 6,700-page report do if the new guy won’t read it?” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

One of those incendiary political dramas that will have audiences hooked, enraged, and hungry for change” — Pat Mullen, That Shelf

It’s talky, but it’s just as equally sharp and witty” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Waves (dir. Trey Edward Schults)

The camera’s on fire and so is the acting, as the story hurtles toward unforeseen outcomes” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

These are part of life’s gauntlet, but they’re played at such an intense pitch that is viscerally painful to watch. The young performers are sensational, but it’s tough thinking of Brown as a villain, as his characters are often upstanding. A difficult subject, difficult times of life in a fiction feeling like cinema verité” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

The film is too often caught up in style with near-hallucinatory pastel-and-neon sights and pulsating soundtrack cues, drumming up emotions with a sensory assault rather than insight and sensitivity” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Clearly determined to make a big statement here in this 135-minute emotional beat-down. This is the sort of film that will divide audiences between those who will have their hearts torn out… and those who will want to tear out their hair” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

It’s overlong — and could have easily lost an additional 30 minutes” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

“Breathes with musicality,” writes Pat Mullen at BeatRoute, in his interview with Kelvin Harrison Jr. and director Schults

Blood in the Snow Film Festival

Jim Slotek previews some of the coolest thrillers and freakshows playing at the city’s genre festival this week

Empathy in Joker and Parasite?

In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell asks: What draws us to films about underclass misery?

Backhanded Brexit

Genna Citron, our Emerging Critic, writes on the wishy-washy politics of Last Christmas