TFCA Friday: Week of October 26th, 2018

October 26, 2018

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

Opening this Week

Bel Canto (dir. Paul Weitz)

Moore and Watanabe conjure a mature, simpatico understanding that makes their characters’ dialogue – rendered through an interpreter played by Ryo Kase – seem almost unnecessary” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Trades what could have been stimulating and exciting for simplistic emotional gains and familiarity so brazen that the actors might as well be reading plot points from a checklist” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Feels as long as any hostage situation” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Falls short of the operative notes director Paul Weitz attempts to hit” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (dir. Marielle Heller)

One of the year’s best films, this fact-based caper stars McCarthy as Lee Israel, a New York biographer turned forger who conned the literary world into believing that the bons mots she was peddling came not from her own typewriter but from the magical machines of Parker, Noel Coward, Fanny Brice, Lillian Hellman and other famous wordsmiths” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

[Has] a disreputable chemistry that works like cognac on a winter’s night, warming the film from the inside out. It’s okay to get drunk on it” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The finest performance of McCarthy’s career” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

It’s a testament to both screenplay and performer that we can root for someone so despicable she not only steals a coat from her agent’s house party, she brazenly wears it for the rest of the picture” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Most of the brilliance of Can You Ever Forgive Me? won’t hit viewers until long after the movie has ended” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

A courageous role for Melissa McCarthy, bringing us a story many can root for” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)

The darker, bloodier take on the teenage witch inelegantly sorts through competing tones, influences and plot lines before finding its groove at the midway mark. The latter half is addictive, fun and sufficiently spooky” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

Dark Money (dir. Kimberly Reed)

Exposes the frequently sickening truth behind American political campaign finance and why it’s so hard to reform a hopelessly broken system” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Hunter Killer (dir. Donovan Marsh)

I wouldn’t mind watching The Hunt For Red October again” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Does indeed barely keep its head above water, although that might be by moving fast rather than any natural buoyancy” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Has no shortage of manly men yelling, posturing, and exploding” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A flavourless, unoriginal, but occasionally charming bit of suspense in the tenor of a Tom Clancy knock-off” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Manages to sand down everything that a good (read: bad) Gerard Butler film should be” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Johnny English Strikes Again (dir. David Kerr)

Shake, don’t stir, repeat” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

Comically inert” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

There isn’t a single laugh to be found” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Young kids might find this entertaining” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Maria By Callas (dir. Tom Volf)

A slightly fawning but fascinating documentary about the Greek-American soprano’s life and career, told in her own words” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

Go for the music, but the most captivating words are the ones Callas speaks—not the ones she sings” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine, including an interview with the director

An eccentric, if appealingly personal documentary… offers a portrait of the later superstar opera singer entirely in her own words” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A unique and rigorous look at the weight of fame and the burden of expectation” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Mid90s (dir. Jonah Hill)

May not have much of a story, but it’s agreeably resistant to any attempt to caution or lecture” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

[Feels] both refreshing and narrow in aim, its slice-of-life ethos simply capturing childhood moments without burdening the characters with having to mature for narrative satisfaction” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

If we take Stevie … as a fledgling skateboarder stand-in for Jonah Hill, newcomer feature filmmaker, the fact that Mid90s impresses is more or less the same as smiling when Stevie lands his first ollie” — Jake Howell, Long Takes

There’s assuredly a whole lot of external perspective that’s missing from Mid90s, but that’s also what makes it so captivating on the whole” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Feels less like a recreation of the era, and more an actual artifact of the time” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

A goofy, tough, and surprisingly sweet coming of age story” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

A street-smart down-to-earth crowd pleaser, despite its flaws” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

The Night Comes for Us (dir. Timo Tjahjanto)

You have never experienced as ludicrously violent and gore-soaked a film” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Room for Rent (dir. Matthew Atkinson)

Puts [Brett] Gelman and [Mark] Little together for a comedy about two grown men acting like children, to which both actors are very well suited” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Certainly hits a pleasing, enjoyable comedic sweet spot” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Audiences are more likely to cringe than let out a belly laugh, if only because they’ve all been there. And with housing prices as prohibitively expensive as they are, we’re all likely to be there again” — Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer

A little comedy, a little romance, all surprisingly twisted and unexpectedly inventive for a small budget Canadian feature” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Shirkers (dir. Sandi Tan)

Part personal essay, part collage, part mystery, part mea culpa, and wholly entertaining” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

What They Had (dir. Elizabeth Chomko)

A well-made movie with a cast of fine actors giving strong performances… and yet, in the end, it just sort of sits there, unable to distinguish itself among all the other projects about a family dealing with dementia” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

There isn’t a moment [that] doesn’t ring truthfully and honestly” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Chilling Confessions

In the National Post, Chris Knight discusses watching horror films for work — not for pleasure

Bergman at TIFF

At Original-Cin, Liam Lacey considers: Was Bergman a 21st-century superhero?

At Toronto-Franco, Gilbert Seah has selected capsule reviews for the TIFF retrospective

Planet In Focus Film Festival

At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen selects some of the five films you should see at the environmentally-focused event (including Point of No Return)

Farewell to Michèle Mayheux

In The Toronto Star, Peter Howell pays tribute to TIFF’s outgoing COO