TFCA Friday: Week of October 4th, 2019

October 4, 2019

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

Opening this Week

First Love (dir. Takashi Miike)

A delirious gangland thriller that takes place (mostly) over one very eventful night in Tokyo” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

[Miike] gives us plenty to love in this, a highly energized, rowdy bit of cinema mayhem” — Thom Ernst, Original-Cin

This whole exercise is totally silly, loud, annoying — unless one is a [diehard] Miike fan” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

Human Nature (dir. Adam Bolt)

This densely informative but surprisingly accessible documentary provides an objective study of the present state of genetic engineering” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

By matching human faces to the science – most memorably David Sanchez, a kid whose debilitating sickle-cell anemia could be eradicated with CRISPR treatment – Human Nature turns data into an engaging narrative, and one that’s more hopeful than hysterical” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A succinct, eye-opening 94 minutes. It’s a smart, sensible discussion, comparable to if someone had made a primer on atom-splitting science in 1934, long before the world realized the promise of nuclear energy, the fear of nuclear war or the dream of controlled fusion” — Chris Knight,  The National Post

Certainly educational, though at times a tough to understand film — a provocative study on an urgent subject that will change the course of the human race” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

In the Tall Grass (dir. Vincenzo Natali) 🇨🇦

The story is a little on the familiar side, but I got the sense that Natali was really enjoying the chance to play with so many of King’s most familiar tropes… It’s less derivative than affectionate, which makes a world of difference” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Joker (dir. Todd Phillips)

Soft-shoeing on the stairs, Phoenix looks almost skeletal, so much weight did he lose for the role. But he’s added something intangible for the scene, something that completes the transformation of his character. It’s disturbing, but you can’t take your eyes off him” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Has what may be the best lead performance of the year, but it is not for the faint of heart. Director Todd Phillips digs deep into the shadow side of society for one of the darkest movies in recent memory” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

If you feel anything for Phoenix’s damaged title character, it’s because of the actor’s superb performance, which graphically expresses the toll that untreated mental illness exacts upon individuals and society” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star, including an interview with Joaquin himself, and a feature with director Todd Phillips

But will this Joker change the game for superhero cinema? Is it an important movie? A potential Oscar contender? Don’t make me laugh” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

The Laundromat (dir. Steven Soderbergh)

It’s an amazing feat of acting that shows the range of Streep skills, moving from uber-theatricality to fiery naturalism, as she ends the film with the punch it needs. Leave it to Meryl to iron out any wrinkles” — Pat Mullen, That Shelf

It’s all lively and eccentric and kind of insubstantial, despite the obvious talent in front of and behind the camera” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Broken up into star-studded series of vignettes, with narration and on-screen text, it’s more or less an anecdote-stuffed Power Point over-view of financial corruption and its human cost” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Soderbergh keeps it smart and funny in this educational and entertaining film” — Gilbert Seah, Afro Toronto

The Laundromat had splashy premieres at festivals in Venice and Toronto, and gets a limited theatrical release before moving to streaming services. But that title offers a suggestion of where to see it, if at all; no one leaves the house to visit the coin wash by choice” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Robbery (dir. Corey Stanton) 🇨🇦

The ticking-clock heists, timed to the limited span of Frank’s short-term memory, give Robbery a nifty gimmick on which to hang its action, but Stanton digs a little deeper, giving his characters credible motivations and surprising complexities” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

An above-average Canadian indie with a twisted sensibility” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Otherwise, this is a over-complicated caper plot with some family issues” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

At our TFCA blog, Linda Barnard interviews Corey Stanton on the making of his first feature film

Roger Waters: Us + Them (dirs. Roger Waters, Sean Evans)

The film is simply a concert movie — nothing more and nothing less — so it doesn’t actively engage with the power of images in a world increasingly driven by distraction… Even if there’s no real purpose to this outing aside from putting a concert on the big screen, the music’s pretty great” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Offers a meticulously constructed concert experience for a fraction of the price of a live ticket and a chance to join a chorus in yelling back at the TV. For the casually curious, be forewarned: While Waters still burns with righteous zeal, at an often repetitious 135 minutes, the film will leave your backside feeling uncomfortably numb” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

A very moving experience” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Sometimes Always Never (dir. Carl Hunter)

A distinctly English kind of sweet mush, featuring that reliable stick of rhubarb, lanky, poker-faced actor Bill Nighy” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Gets my vote for the most original script of the year” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Where’s My Roy Cohn? (dir. Matt Tyrnauer)

In this new light, Cohn seems more Machiavellian, evil, and uglier than ever” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

You’ve heard of the warts-and-all biography? Cohn was all warts. Relatives and even a former lover seem more amazed at his gall than truly admiring. The man was allergic to the truth” — Chris Knight, The Naitonal Post

Tyrnauer’s film doesn’t seem to trust its material enough to allow the power of the stories to unfold without a constant hammering of a B-level-journalism music soundtrack — the kind best-suited for tabloid news programs” — Thom Ernst, Original-Cin

Cohn is the real-life villain everyone loves to hate” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

VIFF: Now Is the Time

Reporting from the Vancouver International Film Festival, POV’s Pat Mullen interviews Christopher Auchter, a Haida filmmaker on Now Is the Time, a new short