TFCA Friday: Week of November 30th, 2018

November 30, 2018

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

Emerging Critic Award

Are you an aspiring film critic? Announced at our Gala, the TFCA’s Emerging Critic Award is a fellowship and mentorship opportunity. Applications are open and due December 3rd, 2018.

Opening this Week

Clara (dir. Akash Sherman)

The question of whether science and “feelings” can be reconciled is practically a personality test. And it’s central to your appreciation of this three-hankie tragic romance” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin, including an interview with Akash Sherman

Though the finale is clearly very meaningful to the film’s maker, an outside observer might see the whole of this film as prelude: it’s a story that stops just where it ought to begin” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

That rare specimen of science-fiction in which the fiction doesn’t overwhelm the science” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Will make audiences gaze up at the stars with wonder” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer, including an interview with the director

A mixed bag of sci-fi tricks, with some good moments” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

While a handful of Sherman’s plot elements are predictable and visible from space, Clara remains a gorgeously mounted, well paced, admirably restrained, and exceptionally performed low-key crowd pleaser” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back) (dir. Tom Edmunds)

By never building tension or filling the void with some risk taking laughs, [the film] remains inoffensively forgettable, but rarely entertaining” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Edmunds balances the tone nicely, keeping things from getting too dark by employing a jolly/ironic soundtrack, wonderfully quirky characters … and a handful of well-timed Monty Python references” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Wryly amusing” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

The movie falls flat early and never recovers” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

Only mildly funny comedy at best and a whole lot of predictable fare” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Happy as Lazzaro (dir. Alice Rohrwacher)

Reads like a great novel and has a firm grasp over time and space, but it’s as blank of an experience as its titular character in its weaker moments” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Nothing Like A Dame (dir. Roger Michell)

What happens when four living stage legends sit down to tea? In Roger Michell’s charming documentary, they gossip, argue and admit that they don’t remember everything” — Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine

It’s hard to imagine a lovelier fly-on-the-wall experience” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Company with these dames is as splendid as whisky in a teacup on a cold day” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

These women need no introduction, but Nothing Like a Dame will tell you all you need to know about them” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

It’s an intimate afternoon… good times!” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

A unique and rare opportunity to enter into their presence and share their esteemed company” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The archival footage is wonderful; these women have all been working since the ’50s, and we get to see them grow up in fast motion” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The Possession of Hannah Grace (dir. Diederik Van Rooijen)

A complete and utter waste of time made by hardly anyone who seemingly wanted to craft a genuinely entertaining film” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz (dir. Barry Avrich)

He was just a 27 year old lawyer when he was named Chief Prosecutor for the U.S. Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trials at Nuremberg in Germany… It remains the largest murder trial in history” — Anne Brodie, What She Said

His energy never seems to flag, in a film that pays full tribute to him — while also sounding the alarm that his work is more urgent than ever” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Barry Avrich … has found his best subject yet” — Marc Glassman, POV Magazine

This is a man so well spoken and passionate about what he does that not much else is needed to convey the importance and nuance of his tireless work” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Must-see viewing, not only for people who care about the past, but about the future” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

The talking heads are a gathered chorus singing Ferencz’s praises. What’s clear in Prosecuting Evil is that Ferencz is far more convincing when speaking for himself, and for those who didn’t survive” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Roma (dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

Will be tough to beat as the best film of 2018. Alfonso Cuarón’s naturalistic masterpiece is at once a tribute to the women who raised him and a comment on turbulent times” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star, including an interview with Yalitza Aparicio, star of Roma

Isn’t merely a great film from a masterful auteur. It’s a life experience unlike any other” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A childhood memory film, both beautiful to look at and intriguing to contemplate” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

There’s never been a movie like this” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Watching with a packed audience … I couldn’t help but marvel and wonder if this was what it must have felt like to be among the audience to see Vittorio de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves or Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura for the first time” — Pat Mullen, Beatroute

A profound piece that is tough to shake off … a must-see” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Comprised of outstanding segments done with an old-fashioned, no gimmicks aesthetic” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Perhaps this is the natural order of things: a filmmaker matures and his sense of compassion and social conscience deepens—as does his longing to recapture the ever-more-rapidly receding past in painstaking detail” — José Teodoro, Film Comment

I could spend the next several hundred words doling out superlatives – and I will – but the words “sublime” and “dazzling” and “brilliant” fail to match just how tremendous a work Roma is” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland (dirs. Kate Davis, David Heilbroner)

What truly matters is how Sandra Bland lived. The film is most impactful when it focuses on that, with family testimonials and old footage that ensure Bland won’t just become another African-American defined by a fatal encounter with overzealous police” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Tiger (dir. Alister Grierson)

Takes a great story of overcoming prejudice and stereotypes and trades it all in for the most simplistic, pandering material possible” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Predictable and clichéd” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Encourages staying the course and working to uphold one’s beliefs” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

A movie struggling to punch way above its dramatic weight class” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Adds romantic entanglements and some unlikely familial revelations, much of it heavily telegraphed and set to a clichéd score that punctuates every blow both physical and metaphorical” — Chris Knight, The National Post

What’s worse is the boxing scenes themselves, which lack visual finesse and feel far too bloodless to be taken seriously” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Sundance 2019 Preview

In the Toronto Star, Peter Howell looks at the “triple-A” offerings at Sundance