TFCA Friday: Week of Oct. 2

October 2, 2020

Trial of the Chicago 7
The Trial of the Chicago 7 | Photo: Nico Tavernise / Netflix

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


In Release this Week

2067 (dir. Seth Larney)

“If your idea of sci-fi escapism involves a world where everyone walks around wearing a mask and society is on the brink of total environmental collapse then, um, enjoy this ambitious, confusing and slightly undercooked dystopia adventure from Australian director Seth Larney,” advises Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail.


The Antenna (dir. Orçun Behram)

“What makes The Antenna tick is the scary dystopian atmosphere director Behram creates with the use of both his camera and logistics,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Ask No Questions (dir. Jason Loftus and Eric Pedicelli)

Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto observes that the “research done by the filmmakers is most impressive.”


The Boys in the Band (dir. Joe Mantello)

“The trouble is that while Crowley’s work rebukes some of the presumed expectations of his time, the original story and characters are so firmly rooted in a particular era that this new production cannot quite escape its period-piece construction,” writes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail, who also has an interview with director Joe Mantello.

“But even if it’s not updating the story or characters, Mantello’s film, the performances, and the style employed are doing the best by the material,” says Andrew Parker at The Gate.

“What’s surprising is that the new version of The Boys in the Band hasn’t become successful by parodying the initial Broadway hit nor by indulging in nostalgia,” writes Marc Glassman at Classical FM.

The Boys in the Band, which can be now considered as a period piece, reveals an era that is past and perhaps not missed,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


A Call to Spy (dir. Sara Megan Thomas)

“As well as being a mighty undertaking, A Call to Spy is immensely interesting,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Shades of Trumpism in the Nazi occupation are startling.”


Dick Johnson Is Dead (dir. Kirsten Johnson)

“Unabashedly toying with the conventions of obituary, the documentation of the infirm, and the memorialization of a parent, the end result is a triumph,” praises Jason Gorber at POV Magazine.

“Instead of focusing only on the difficulty of watching a once strong loved one slowly slipping away, Kirsten and Dick want to enjoy the time they have left together without ignoring the elephant in the room,” writes Andrew Parker at The Gate.

“I look forward to Johnson’s next act, whilst I look over my shoulder,” says Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail.

“Somehow reminiscent of both Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act Of Killing and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life, Dick Johnson Is Dead manages to be charming and crushing in equal measure,” raves Norm Wilner in a NNNNN review at NOW Toronto.


Epicentro (dir. Hubert Sauper)

Epicentro is Cuba – as seen by the people of Cuba,” observes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.

“If cinema is indeed witchcraft, then Sauper wears his pointy hat very well,” writes Pat Mullen at POV Magazine.


Eternal Beauty (dir. Craig Roberts)

“Scattered by design, strangely compelling, and expertly performed, Eternal Beauty is the sort of film that wants to make a connection despite the fact that it doesn’t entirely add up to a cohesive whole,” says Andrew Parker at The Gate.

At Afro Toronto, Glibert Seah praises, “Sally Hawkins is reason enough to see Eternal Beauty.”


A Fire in Cold Season (dir. Justin Oakey) 🇨🇦

“If the film takes the ‘landscape as character’ conceit to excess, there are also some strong performances, especially from its two leads,” writes Liam Lacey at Original Cin.


The Glorias (dir. Julie Taymor)

“When Steinem’s narrative becomes one of being a triumphant feminist iconoclast, events prove less consequential on a personal basis and Julianne Moore’s charismatic performance has to be used to the utmost to keep the narrative flowing,” writes Marc Glassman at Classical FM.

Anne Brodie agrees at What She Said, noting, “As Steinem, the warrior is Julianne Moore, a fully formed woman, thinker, and fighter.”

“Like all of Taymor’s previous efforts, The Glorias feels like a film at war with itself, caught somewhere between overabundance of style and substance,” observes Andrew Parker at The Gate. “And yet, The Glorias still boasts enough smarts and ingenuity to do right by the film’s subject, with a couple of great performances that keep Taymor’s loftier aspirations from spinning completely out into orbit.”

“Whatever happening to straight forward storytelling where the filmmaker is confident of the material?” wonders Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Meeting the Beatles in India (dir. Paul Saltzman) 🇨🇦

“The photos, capturing the Beatles at a high point in their creative lives but also relaxed and candid around their mild-mannered Canadian friend, are stunning,” says Chris Knight at the National Post. “But the rest of the 82-minute documentary sometimes feels like so much filler.”


Money Machine (dir. Ramsey Denison)

“If you love to get all riled up in anger with blood gushing though your veins, especially with lies that been told to you and how unethical and evil man can be, then Money Machine is the number 1 doc to see,” advises Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


On the Rocks (dir. Sofia Coppola)

On the Rocks feels doomed to be dismissed as “minor” work that “could’ve been directed by anybody” by some critics at large. While Coppola isn’t coming close to reinventing the wheel with her latest effort, On the Rocks still has plenty of charm and emotional truthfulness to coast on likability alone.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate.

“It’s the sort of movie Woody Allen used to make, in that a lot of it takes place in very nice lofts and restaurants around Manhattan, with neurotic people trading references to artists and authors,” writes Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto.

“Thanks to his deadpan delivery, his overwhelming likability, his effortless essence of fizzy cool, [Murray] has made bearable Hollywood’s most superficial projects,” observes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “Including, regrettably, On the Rocks.”

“Coppola’s screenplay is a thing of wonder, the way it pulls you into Laura’s orbit while she in turn gets dragged into her dad’s worldview,” writes Chris Knight at the National Post.

“Coppola is a minimalist by nature,” says Karen Gordon at Original Cin. “And although this is the most distinctly comedic film she’s ever done, it still has a quiet grounded center to it, which to me, is a hallmark of all of her films.”

“This is hardly the greatest film the talented Sofia Coppola has ever made but she may have guided Murray to a best supporting Oscar,” notes Marc Glassman at Classical FM.


Possessor (dir. Brandon Cronenberg) 🇨🇦

“The killings are crunchy and sticky and very much yeaghghghghghghghg-inducing,” raves Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. He also chats with Cronenberg and company about their twisted tale.

“When it comes to the Cronenberg clan, not only does the apple not fall far from the tree, it lands with a satisfying, pulpy splat,” writes Chris Knight at the National Post.

Possessor “shows similarities to his father’s (David Cronenberg) work but also holds promise as an important work,” notes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.

Possessor is a rather empty film to sit through. Something this well made shouldn’t leave this little of an impression,” admits Andrew Parker at The Gate.

“It’s not every movie that asks you to depict consciousness, and to that end, Possessor Uncut is arty and engrossing,” says Jim Slotek at Original Cin.

At NOW Toronto, Norm Wilner speaks with stars Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott, and calls the film “a nifty meditation on personality and identity, and the ways we all adjust our performances of ourselves depending on who else is in the space with us.”

Jason Gorber chats with Brandon Cronenberg for /Filmnoting, “In the best of ways, this feels like Brandon and his collaborators are making this space his own while being unafraid to echo the work of his father and others masters of the genre and generate direct comparison without ever feeling redundant, referential or reverential.”


The Projectionist (dir. Abel Ferrarra)

“Highlights the fact that repertory cinemas play a big role in a film lover’s life.” -Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto.


Save Yourselves! (dir. Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson)


“Mani’s timing on Su’s darkest secret delivered the biggest laugh I’ve had in months,” chuckles Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto.

“The low-key science fiction and cut-rate special effects call to mind Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, although Save Yourselves! plays as dark comedy rather than outright parody,” remarks Chris Knight at the National Post.

“Funny, satirical, ultra-zany and filled with love and optimism,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said.

“Outside of a couple of chuckle-worthy bits scattered throughout, Save Yourselves! is a disappointing slog at the best of times and abrasively annoying in its worst moments,” notes Andrew Parker at The Gate.

At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah says the film is “based on a simple premise” and “unfortunately runs out of ideas as well as fresh humour after a while.”


Sno Babies (dir. Bridget Smith)

Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto says the film has “”taken too much on its plate instead of dealing with fewer issues with more depth.”


Splinters (dir. Thom Fitzgerald) 🇨🇦

Splinters may try to cram one too many revelations into its brief, 87-minute runtime,” writes Chris Knight at the National Post. “But it’s a beautiful homegrown tale, and deserves all the recognition it can muster in these times.”


The Trial of the Chicago 7 (dir. Aaron Sorkin)

“Given The Trial of the Chicago 7’s snapshot of an era of an almost hopelessly divided America, and Kafka-esque and monstrous misuse of power by a bullying President, the timing for its release couldn’t be better,” observes Jim Slotek at Original Cin.

“Sorkin avoids his usual verbal density for an elegance, persuasive and mature film that hits all the right notes,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said.

Barry Hertz’s verdict at The Globe and Mail: “It is one thing to bask in the supreme confidence of someone who is convinced they are unimpeachable, another to withstand Sorkin at his most cheesily, naively idealistic.”

“It’s all arguing all the time, which plays to Sorkin’s strengths as a writer, though his directorial chops are still undeveloped,” notes Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto.

At The Gate, Andrew Parker says, “It bridges the past to the present without being too obvious or coy about its goals, and that might be Sorkin’s greatest achievement with his latest.”


Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own (dir. Daniel Traub)

“Traub’s fascinating documentary of Ursula von Rydingsvard is as fascinating as her artwork and life.” – Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto.


Festember – the month of film fests!

How did the attendance  at TIFF pan out amid COVID? Barry Hertz crunches the numbers at The Globe and Mail.

Inside Out says goodbye to executive director Andria Wilson. At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz talks with her as the festival begins.

Speaking of Inside Out, Andrew Parker recommends Ahead of the Curve and Cowboys, while an enthusiastic “yee-haw!” for Steve Zahn’s performance in the latter.

Norm Wilner offers five Inside Out highlights at NOW Toronto, including Monsoon and Dating Amber.

At Original Cin, Liam Lacey says that a virtual film festival might be little more than a party of one, but Inside Out and the Toronto Japanese Film Festival have some offerings for a worthy fête.

Besides Inside Out and TJFF, Norm Wilner reminds us at NOW Toronto that this week also has the Toront Motorcycle Film Festival and the Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals.


The Future of Fall Movies – and TV

Barry Hertz reports on how movie theatres in Ontario are responding to recent re-closures in Quebec after a very difficult year.

In case movie theatres stay open this season, Chris Knight has a fall movie preview to help plan the rest of 2020. (Or maybe moviegoing in 2021 if things change.)

Anne Brodie at What She Said tells us about the binge-worthy Tehran: “Tehran is extremely intense, and it’s smart and fast, with little dramatic relief.” Michelle Latimer’s Trickster, meanwhile, is “top-notch.”