TFCA Friday: Week of October 18th, 2019

October 18, 2019

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

Opening this Week

April in Autumn (dir. Warren Sulatycky) 🇨🇦

Maybe it’s because I’ve complained so much about melancholy being the default mode in Canadian movies, there was a stretch during April in Autumn where I thought I was watching a very dry satire of same” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

But the film takes a welcome jog near the end, for a resolution that may feel like a letdown to some. But fearing a tidy conclusion, I was happy for the ambiguity. Life’s like that” — Chris Knight, The National Post

By the Grace of God (dir. Francois Ozon)

It’s intense and often painful, but Ozon’s tonally on target, artistically, cinematically and in every way, meticulous and important as he reveals higher meaning” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Francois Ozon’s brand is cinematically playful and socially provocative films such as 8 Women, Under the Sand and Swimming Pool .In contrast, By the Grace of God [is] unexpectedly conventional” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

What starts out as Alexandre’s lone crusade quickly mushrooms into a local movement after others get wind of it and step forward with their own stories. Ozon, who wrote as well as directed the film, sketches out several victims in various stages of denial and anxiety” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Ozon’s film might not stop child abuse in the Catholic Church, but his heavy film will almost certainly make the guilty ashamed” — Gilbert Seah, Toronto Franco

David Foster: Off the Record (dir. Barry Avrich) 🇨🇦

In a feature interview, the Toronto Star’s Peter Howell talks to David Foster on his hitmaking career

Greener Grass (dirs. Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe)

Despite a cast of gifted comic performers – including Saturday Night Live’s Beck Bennett, Silicon Valley’s Neil Casey, The Good Place’s D’Arcy Carden, Thunder Road’s Jim Cummings and Comedy Bang! Bang! ringers Mary Holland and Will Hines – and a visual aesthetic that somehow evokes both David Lynch and Desperate Housewives, Greener Grass just doesn’t have anything to say” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A deliciously twisted suburban fable of a pastel-coloured universe of a neighbour living nutty lives held together by pink frosting” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

Reactions have been divisive, with Atlanta naming it best narrative feature, while some audience members were left scratching their heads. Put me in the second camp” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Might just end up on the list of cult films to be remembered” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The King (dir. David Michôd)

This year’s great big Netflix costume epic is well-intentioned, very serious and sadly miscalculated” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The muddiest and bloodiest take yet on Henry V. This dark and brooding film by David MichĂ´d adapts William Shakespeare’s plays with thrilling vigour” — Pat Mullen, That Shelf

What redeems The King, beyond the excellent performances, is the way the film gets around to asking questions about making war. Why go to war and who benefits is part of the story here, which leaves it in an interesting place” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (dir. Joachim Rønning)

Hits the familiar notes – a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, meddling old folks, various other anthropomorphized creatures and a trio of chipper fairies who flit about. But they’re essentially background here for [yet] another apocalyptic conflict” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Happily ever after? Not while there’s box-office to be made!” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho)

Bong wants to flood our senses as he pricks our consciences. He succeeds, and then some. Parasite seeps into your soul as one of the year’s best movies” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Bong Joon-Ho’s nearly perfect, nerve-rattling comedy thriller is a shock to the system. It’s outrageous, comic, deadly serious and genre-bending, precise, poetic and mathematical, symmetrical in its construction, and deeply satisfying” — Anne Brodie, What She Said!

With its economic underpinning, it’s as if the Marx brothers had included Karl” — Chris Knight, The National Post

You think you know where this is going, right? You do not. Parasite isn’t out to subvert our expectations; it wants to shatter them. It never stops being a comedy – this is, beat for beat, Bong’s funniest movie to date” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

It is so dark and comical and weird and surreal and twisted. You just can’t help but love it” — Jason Gorber, That Shelf

It draws upon conventions of horror cinema, especially the simmering slow burn that defines many South Korean terror tales. Parasite defies categorization, so let’s simply call it a masterpiece” — Pat Mullen, That Shelf

Parasite is on another level, sure-handed and sly, with a moral compass that wavers as the tables turn” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

The River You Step In (dir. Jon Michaelson) 🇨🇦

Astrid Van Wieren anchors this ensemble drama set in Toronto’s east end… Leslieville and Riverside are characters in all this. [The River You Step In] feels made [by] artist types. The marginalized characters are too thin and carefully sanitized to be written by marginalized people. That’s all fine, because the film takes its cues and perspective from the white do-gooder at its centre” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Zombieland 2: Double Tap (dir. Ruben Fleischer)

The zombified script really is the problem here, suggesting that 10 years of foot-dragging did this project no favours” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Features the same director, the same principal cast, and the original’s mix of clever sitcom timing and blood-splatter effects. In short, it’s that rare film with both brains and braaains” — Chris Knight, The National Post

A chance to hang out in the world you presumably enjoyed the first time, with celebrity references and inventive zombie kills and a general sense that you don’t need to invest very much in anything or anyone on screen. It’s a post-apocalypse hangout movie. That’s a thing now, I guess. Happy Halloween” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Plenty of sequels are made for no good reason. Zombieland: Double Tap may be the first I’ve seen to implicitly and hilariously admit it” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

The special effects are excellent, as is expected. There’s lots of fun gore and violence” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto