Reviews include Akilla’s Escape, In the Heights, and New Order.
TFCA Friday: Week of Oct. 9
October 9, 2020
Welcome to TFCA Friday, a weekly round-up of film reviews and articles by TFCA critics.
In Release this Week
100% Wolf (dir. Alexs Stadermann)
“It’s forgettable fluff, enough to keep the pups entertained without driving their parents to distraction, though you can take comfort that if you’re one of those cinema-forswear-wolves, you won’t be missing much.” – Chris Knight, National Post.
Black Box (dir. Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr.)
“A smart, yet simple blend of suspense and sci-fi, director and co-writer Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr’s first feature Black Box stitches together some familiar genre tropes into a thoughtful and refreshing package,” writes Andrew Parker at The Gate.
At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz talks with Blumhouse’s Jason Blum about Black Box and the production house’s road so far.
The Cleansing Hour (dir. Damien LeVeck)
At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah says it, “might entertain the true horror fan, but all the possession silliness will likely be a bore to most others.”
“The Cleansing Hour is a busy film with multiple characters and several locations, although LeVeck confines most of the action to a single space; a factory studio with plenty of dangerous industrial things to fling at, drop on, and wrap around the helpless cast and crew,” writes Thom Ernst at Original Cin.
Company Town (dir. Peter Findlay) 🇨🇦
“It’s good that the historical record of what happened in Oshawa is available for all to see,” writes Marc Glassman at POV Magazine. “But it’s fair to say that Findlay’s film won’t ever be compared to Final Offer or Roger and Me.”
The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (dir. Thomas Robert Lee) 🇨🇦
“The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is long on mystery and ambiance, short on resolution and closure,” sighs Chris Knight at the National Post.
“Although it outsmarts itself right out of the gate, the austere, elevated, and still sufficiently gruesome Canadian horror flick The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a good example of a movie that steals from the best while still carving out an identity of its own,” says Andrew Parker at The Gate.
There is “much to enjoy in this deliciously wicked film that occasionally resembles the best horror films like Roman Polaski’s Rosemary’s Baby, Robert Eggers’ The Witch and Ari Aster’s Midsommar,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
“Terrible things come to pass, in this interesting, and rather florid tale, brightened by a gorgeous harvest palette,” notes Anne Brodie at What She Said.
“The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw isn’t as focused in its witchy-revenge as is a straight ahead scare-fest like, say, The Craft,” writes Jim Slotek at Original Cin.
Cut Throat City (dir. RZA)
“It’s certainly not a forgettable movie by any metric.,” admits Andrew Parker at The Gate. “The good bits are worth pondering after the film has ended, and the bad bits will make the viewer wonder where everything went so far off the rails.”
The Forty-Year-Old Version (dir. Radha Blank)
“Frequently flighty, a bit stagey, and always steadfast in its desire to remain truthful and honest, The Forty-Year-Old Version is far from being a perfect film, but it’s a powerful work from someone who’s putting themselves out there and announcing their long overdue arrival,” writes Andrew Parker at The Gate.
“Radha Blank has an uncanny skill at crafting a scene so that truths can be told but in a quirky funny style,” says Marc Glassman at Classical FM.
“Blank’s humour is fast and deep, the memorable one-liners, sometimes just tossed out are genius,” laughs Anne Brodie at What She Said.
“Blank comes out of the gate blazing – the first 10 minutes alone are a laugh riot, mixing deadpan cringe-comedy, visual gags and a barrage of acerbic one-liners,” raves Kevin Ritchie at NOW Toronto.
Hubie Halloween (dir. Steven Brill)
The Lie (dir. Veena Sud)
Major Arcana (dir. Josh Melrod)
My Name Is Pedro (dir. Lillian LaSalle)
Nail in the Coffin: The Rise and Fall of Vampiro (dir. Michael Paszt) 🇨🇦
Percy (dir. Clark Johnson) 🇨🇦
“Johnson’s gently provocative fact-based story feels like a fable celebrating the little guy triumphant,” says Anne Brodie at What She Said.
“Walken gives a remarkably undemonstrative performance as Percy Schmeiser, a Saskatchewan farmer who locked horns with the multinational Monsanto in the late 1990s over the matter of some seeds,” notes Chris Knight at the National Post.
“Despite director Johnson’s effort to make his film more commercially accessible, he is still to be praised for making Percy, a daring film,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
“In playing Percy, Walken tones down the nervous energy that has dominated many of his previous roles, and he manages to level out the identifiable rhythm of his delivery,” observes Thom Ernst at Original Cin.
“One could just as easily Google the case itself and probably learn a lot more than the film offers; the only difference being that they’ll miss out on some very watchable performances and stunning cinematography,” argues Andrew Parker at The Gate.
“Their hearts may be in the right place, but they forgot to give the movie a pulse,” notes Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto.
“The film takes time to denigrate the green activist for being unreliable but never gets into the terrifying story of Monsanto,” writes Marc Glassman at Classical FM.
There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace (dir. Lulu Wei) 🇨🇦
“The film considers the existential threat of urban gentrification, and more specifically how Toronto has changed in the years since Ed Mirvish’s beloved discount department store was a haven for working-class families,” writes Norm Wilner at NOW Toronto.
“This story should touch every Torontonian, and perhaps every resident of a thriving metropolis who worries about how much longer they can hang on to their home,” says Pat Mullen at POV Magazine.
Also at POV Magazine, Susan G. Cole talks with director Lulu Wei and producer Ali Weinstein to learn about the film’s Toronto connections and paying it forward.
“There’s a lot more to be told about Mirvish Village, but for now, Wei has produced a wonderful look at what was and what might be.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate.
The War with Grandpa (dir. Tim Hill)
“If the premise sounds lame, it is,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “But the film scores top marks as a family comedy.”
“In what universe is Jane Seymour a cashier?” asks Anne Brodie at What She Said. “And that my friends, is just one of the ways this film is radical.”
“Why not just smear meat on the film and release it in a lion’s den?” wonders Chris Knight at the National Post. “Can’t imagine the critics will be any more kind to it than a pride of hungry cats would be.”
“There’s nothing wrong with an actor broadening his brand, and a great actor doing mediocre work is more interesting than a mediocre actor at his best,” suggests Liam Lacey at Original Cin.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow (dir. Jim Cummings)
Anne Brodie at What She Said calls it a “zany and original take on an ancient werewolf movie genre.”
Yellow Rose (dir. Diane Paragas)
“The film’s important issues like family struggle and illegal immigration are compromised by its aim to be a feel good movie,” argues Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
“[T]here’s something a little off in Noblezada’s performance,” writes Chris Knight at the National Post. “The character is 17 while the actor is 24, and there’s a confidence in the way she holds herself that doesn’t ring true to the story.”
“Paragas’s script is messy and a little too on the nose, with several plot lines left dangling,” writes Glenn Sumi at NOW Toronto.
On The Haunting of Bly Manor, Andrew Parker says, “Instead of starting slow and building to a grand finale, The Haunting of Bly Manor opens strong and slows way, way down just as things should be picking up steam.” Meanwhile, Anne Brodie, What She Said calls it “lighter than a souffle but atmospheric.”
At What She Said, Anne Brodie checks out Des, Shakespeare & Hathaway, and the remake of The Right Stuff. Of the latter, she says, “The eight-parter covers the mission and its historic, political and economic impact, with special focus on John Glenn (the “showboat”), Alan Shepard and Captain Gordon Cooper.” On the other hand, Norm Wilner at NOW says, “[I]t’s disappointing to watch the show reduce what’s arguably humanity’s most important achievement to a pissing contest between Shepard and Glenn.”
Festember – The month of festivals!
At What She Said, Anne Brodie offers some highlights at Planet in Focus and Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema.
Pat Mullen at POV Magazine recommends Jennifer Abbott’s The Magnitude of All Things at Planet in Focus.