Reviews include Close, Knock at the Cabin, and Alice, Darling.
TFCA Friday: Week of Sept. 2
September 2, 2022
Welcome to TFCA Friday, a weekly round-up of film reviews and articles by TFCA members.
This Week in Movies!
Burial (dir. Ben Parker)
“Despite Parker’s apt depictions of the atrocities of war, including but not limited to misogyny, harassment, abuse of power, and crimes committed without accountability, it is a story weakened by allowing the audience to know more than the characters,” writes Thom Ernst at Original Cin. “Careless reveals render a potentially suitable thriller into a merely passable one.”
Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul (dir. Adamma Ebo)
“An immensely talented comedian, Hall brings the funny in every way we’ve come to expect,” writes Rachel Ho at Exclaim!. “What may surprise audiences, especially those who didn’t catch her in Master, is her abilities as a dramatic actress. This is exemplified in one of the best scenes in the film, when Hall delivers a tragic and heartfelt monologue while sporting mime makeup.”
“A compelling watch, a close up rather unpleasant character study of the desperation of how much a human being is willing to go through, despite all odds, to regain fame and fortune,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
“The two leads fully commit to their cringe-worthy characters, with Hall’s best moments those of silent response, when she reacts to something Brown has said by somehow appearing completely appalled in her eyes, even as her wide smile stays fixed, faithful and unmoving,” agrees Chris Knight at the National Post. “It’s a master class in facial communication.”
“If there’s any choice that seems clunky, it’s the device of having the Childs’s “comeback” recorded by an off-camera documentary crew. After years of The Office and Modern Family, that’s about as cutting-edge as ‘all that and a bag of chips,’ admits Jim Slotek at Original Cin. “Still, with its themes of the superficiality of arena-sized hallelujahs and the worship of riches, Honk for Jesus: Save Your Soul is a terrific platform for some solid actors to strut their sanctimonious stuff.”
The Horror Crowd (dir. Ruben Pal)
“Doc could have included more horror film clips – of classic and perhaps hidden gems, so that audiences will have a list of must-see films to take home,” admits Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “The doc could also have included a few more more famous names.”
I Came By (dir. Babak Anvari)
“The (other) thing that distinguishes this script and film from other thrillers in the genre is the multiple shifting of protagonists,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “Once Toby is out of the picture, the protagonist turns out to be Toby’s mum, Lizzie and then Jay. The film contains an ending but not necessarily happy. This fact also distinguishes this thriller from the others.”
Love in the Villa (dir. Mark Steven Johnson)
“It hangs on a myth but the story is familiar and rooted in possibilities and a nice twist on a romcom in which a woman can behave just as badly as a man and win,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Plus a visit to a vineyard, exploring the city gripping consecutive gelatos and a cute wardrobe.”
The Movie (dir. Michael Mandell)
“It is difficult to make a good movie about the making of the worst movie of all time,” observes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
One Way (dir. Andrew Baird)
“An ok thriller with a limited story potential and leads only One Way and that way is not up,” sighs Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
Saloum (dir. Jean Luc Herbulot)
“The film is not perfect, as it is messy and occasionally confusing, but the energetic Saloum is definite evidence that director Herbulot has the best that is yet to come,” notes Gilbert Seah at Toronto Franco.
Three Minutes – A Lengthening (dir. Bianca Stigter)
“In slightly less than 70 minutes, Bianca Stigter has made a film of considerable artistic importance. Three Minutes—A Lengthening incorporates history, home movies, the Holocaust, memory and the importance of capturing images. It is a true cinematic essay,” writes Marc Glassman at POV Magazine.
“Stigter’s film-about-a-film evokes the difference between watching and seeing,” observes Jason Gorber at POV Magazine. “With the former one merely apprehends what’s provided to you on screen while in the latter, there is an active engagement. Stigter entices the audience to seek the story behind the pictures, investigating the lives behind the faces, and delving with forensic acuity into the street signs and other details that are inevitably missed the first time one experiences the footage.”
Also at POV Magazine, Pat Mullen interviews director Bianca Stigter and learns about her process, and how digital archives shape a researcher’s work: “Film and photography are themselves major changes because technology gives you a whole other relationship with the past because you can see those people on a given day,” says Stigter. “Then, of course, you get all the changes through the internet—you can access information so easily, but at the same time, it makes it more fleeting. There’s such a barrage of images that it’s hard to concentrate on one image or a few images. With this film, we tried to slow down the process of watching.”
Who Invited Them? (dir. Duncan Birmingham)
“Written and directed by Duncan Birmingham and aptly played by relative unknowns, the film plays as an expected deliciously wicked parlour game with the true colours of the uninvited couple finally revealed at the film’s climax,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.
A Festival of Festival Coverage: T-Minus One Week ’til TIFF!
At the Toronto Star, Peter Howell interviews TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey about this year’s festival and the return of the big screen experience: “You know, we’re hearing that people have been waiting for this, that they’re so excited that the festival is back,” Bailey tells Howell. “They can’t wait to see movies in theatres again with an audience. We’ve had the whole summer movie season to get used to the idea of going back to movie theatres and there have been some big blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick and others. I think the movie-going habit has come back.”
Also at the Toronto Star, Peter Howell’s annual ‘Chasing the Buzz’ poll returns with TIFF picks from people who know movies. Atop the list this year, which has favoured eventual Oscar winners premiering at the fest, are Brother and Weird: The Al Yankovic Story among a list of 48 films. Many TFCA members weigh in, including Victor Stiff on The Woman King: “Gina Prince-Bythewood brings her signature brand of heart, soul and swagger to a visually stunning historical epic. Factor in Viola Davis as a general training an all-female unit to defend their African kingdom and you’ve got a must-see event.”
At CBC, Brian D. Johnson chronicles the making of his TIFF-bound documentary The Colour of Ink, which travels the world with the inks of artisan Jason Logan: “Jason and I had both spent most of our lives in publishing, creating work in the mainstream print media that would end up as ink on a page. He never set out to be an inkmaker, and I never set out to be a filmmaker. He picked up a black walnut; I picked up a digital camera. Somehow our rabbit holes aligned, and we ended up on the same path, following a line of ink to see where it went.
At Classical FM, Marc Glassman previews the TIFF documentaries and includes a special highlight for Patricio Guzmán’s My Imaginary Country. “When he was a young filmmaker, Guzmán made a classic trilogy, The Battle of Chile, about the overthrow of the socialist regime of Salvador Allende by rightwing forces,” writes Glassman. “The films became famous even while the Chilean director spent decades in exile. But in the last couple of decades, he’s been able to return and since then, Guzmán has made poetic, though political films about his country and its complex acceptance of its mixed right-and left-wing pasts. In his new film, Guzmán shows the effects of a new leftist uprising in Chile over the past couple of years as a young generation went out on the streets to make a new political reality in his country.”
At POV Magazine, members Marc Glassman, Pat Mullen, Susan G. Cole, Jason Gorber, Rachel Ho, Liam Lacey, and Courtney Small contribute to the latest print issue, which you can pick up at the TIFF shop or the TIFF Industry Centre at the Hyatt next week. This issue includes coverage of TIFF docs Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On, To Kill a Tiger, Ever Deadly, The Colour of Ink, Black Ice, and Moonage Daydream.
At The Globe and Mail, Johanna Schneller, Barry Hertz, and Kate Taylor pick some of the buzziest films at the festival. Here’s Schneller on When Morning Comes, the latest work from former Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize winner Kelly Fyffe-Marshall: “This new work is her first feature, and it sounds like it expands her explorations into autonomy and belonging. Rambunctious young Jamal (Djamari Roberts) revels in his native Jamaica, but his single mother Neesha (Shaquana Wilson) thinks he may have a better life in Canada. I’m packing tissues.”
At That Shelf, Rachel Ho, Courtney Small, and Pat Mullen pick some must-see TIFF movies. Here’s Small on Brother: “[A]nytime Clement Virgo has a new film it immediately moves onto my must-see list,” writes Small. “Adapting David Chariandy’s gripping novel of the same name, Brother is a coming of age tale that explores masculinity, family, race, and more from the perspective of two brothers in a Scarborough housing complex. If there is one director who can bring this rich story to life, it is Virgo.”
At Xtra, Pat Mullen speaks with the directors of four Canadian films making a notably queer splash at the festival: Luis De Filippis with Something You Said Last Night, Ashley McKenzie with Queens of the Qing Dynasty, Gail Maurice with Rosie, and Joseph Amenta with Soft, which was called Pussy when announced. Here’s Amenta on the power of the original title: “I think the word is gate-kept and it holds a lot of power for us,” Amenta tells Mullen. “That power is not necessarily understood by other people. Even from some of my biggest allies, it was a challenge to get people to understand the meaning of this word, how it’s used within the film and the soundtrack, and what that means for the underground cultures of queerness.”
Fall Movie Previews
At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz offers a preview of fall movies to accompany all those pumpkin spice lattes after TIFF. Highlights include Tár, which isn’t coming to TIFF even though its star Cate Blanchett weirdly is. “Director Todd Field hasn’t made a film in 16 long years … but that last film was Little Children, a devastating drama that confirmed the filmmaker (and sometimes actor) as a major talent after his debut, 2001′s In the Bedroom,” writes Hertz. “Whatever Field has been doing in the interim, all eyes are on his new film, TÁR, which stars Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, considered to be the greatest living composer.”
At the National Post, Chris Knight gives a fall movie preview/TIFF preview double-bill to advise you to use your TIFF tickets wisely: “The Toronto festival won’t even be over – it wraps Sept. 18 – when its premieres start rolling into regular cinemas. They include Viola Davis in The Woman King (Sept. 16); Ti West’s Pearl, prequel to this year’s slasher-horror X (Sept. 16); the David Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream (Sept. 16); Billy Eichner in the rom-com Bros (Sept. 30).”
At Yahoo Canada, Marriska Fernandes highlights everything that’s coming to streaming this month, including a live action Pinocchio: “This movie is a live action and CGI retelling of the beloved tale of a wooden puppet who embarks on a thrilling adventure to become a real boy,” writes Fernandes. “Tom Hanks stars as Geppetto, the woodcarver who builds and treats Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) as if he were his real son.”
TV Talk/Streaming Scribbles: The Rings Have Power!
At Exclaim!, Marriska Fernandes speaks with the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and learns from star Nazanin Boniadi why Tolkien’s world continues to resonate: “As a human rights activist, what resonates with me is the theme of finding home, and what home means to us, and with the refugee crisis worldwide,” Boniadi says. “It’s so relevant to what we’re experiencing right now.”
At What She Said, Anne Brodie tackles the $1 billion behemoth of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. “Every penny is on the screen,” writes Brodie. “Perhaps the longest end credit list in existence and for good reason. It’s stunning.” The nature series Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory, meanwhile, “takes a decidedly different approach to the genre.” Recipes for Love and Murder, on the other hand, offers a sweet escape. “It’s sweet, funny, honest, and, well, there’s cake with recipes,” writes Brodie, while the procedural Redemption is “compelling and compassionate.” For lighter courtroom stuff, After the Trial is “a strenuous but fun game of cat-and-mouse.”
At Exclaim!, Rachel Ho reviews The Patient, which has stars and pacing issues galore: “Generally speaking, a character-based show such as The Patient should thrive in a miniseries format like this,” writes Ho. “There is more time for audiences to get to know the characters and deepen their understanding of their plight. As the miniseries has grown in popularity in Hollywood, there have been many feature films released that would have benefitted from having 8 to 10 hours of screen time. The Patient, though, has this problem in reverse.”