TFCA Friday: Week of September 21st, 2018

September 21, 2018

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

Opening this Week

14 & Muslim (dir. Wendy Rowland)

Offers a snapshot into the lives of Muslim students growing up in Canada at a time when prejudice and Islamophobia are on the rise and when ultra-conservatism and white supremacy are sadly making a comeback” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Assassination Nation (dir. Sam Levinson)

How much of a kick you might get out of Assassination Nation depends on whether you think the words “trigger warning” count as a punchline or not” — Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail, including an interview with the director

Having already tagged all the talking points that incite woke Twitter’s outrage, the movie essentially gets backed into a corner with nothing to say, giving way to a bloodbath meant to feel like girl power retribution” — Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine

A stylish work of exploitation, like an expertly done YouTube video whose choppiness is its charm” — Jim Slotek, Original-Cin

Glorified violence, inane dialogue and scenes that make no sense” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Fahrenheit 11/9 (dir. Michael Moore)

A movie that begins as a “WTF?” lament about Trump ends with hope for the future — but only, Moore persuasively insists, if citizens everywhere pay attention and get involved” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star, who also may need to send the filmmaker some Coffee Crisp bars if the November elections stay red

In this scathing polemic, in between detours to Florida (teens against lax gun laws), New Jersey (teachers striking for a living wage) and his hometown of Flint, Mich. (an ongoing water crisis), he takes aim at those he holds responsible” — Chris Knight, The National Post

The shift from democracy to despotism is alarming and Moore convincingly ends the film by suggesting the worst is yet to come—unless every American gets off his or her lazy ass to do something about it” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Moore succeeds in preaching an energetic sermon to those of us who sing generally in his political choir” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

Not his best effort. It takes a full 90 minutes for him to get around to dubbing a Trump speech over footage of Adolf Hitler. It’s like Moore’s even forgotten why he got into this business in the first place” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

A mixed bag, combining newfound layers of Moore’s sometimes purposefully abrasive, smart-assed personality with some of the Michigander’s worst impulses” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The House With a Clock in its Walls (dir. Eli Roth)

It boasts delightful production design, including a house that may have been designed by the Addams Family, replete with sentient armchairs and flatulent topiary griffins. The movie, however, contains very few real scares and even less of a story” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

The film walks a fine line here, delivering enough frightening moments to qualify as a thriller-comedy, while also creating enough drama and character development to let adult chaperones feel they’re watching an actual movie” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Amply stuffed with fantastical curios and quirky characters but burdened with a middling story and pokey pace” — Liam Lacey, Original-Cin

As familiar and inviting as a mug of hot chocolate and a comfortable sweater” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Life Itself (dir. Dan Fogelman)

Fogelman drags his anvil-bashed cast across decades and from New York City to rural Spain and back again. All in pursuit of a theme tediously expressed by central figure Abby (Olivia Wilde): “Life itself is the ultimate unreliable narrator.” Uh-huh” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

You’ve been warned; if this sounds like a film jerking its viewers around, then Life Itself may not be the story for you” — Chris Knight, The National Post

I hate his work on almost every conceivable level, and in a sick, sadistic way, I kind of admire the chutzpah it takes to make something so forcefully manipulative. Dan Fogelman might be an evil genius” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Sit back and enjoy the excellent storytelling” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

Love, Gilda (dir. Lisa D’Apolito)

My biggest motivation has always been love,” Radner wrote in another of her diary entries. The feeling comes through in Love, Gilda, prompting us to return it in kind” — Peter Howell, The Toronto Star

This affectionate portrait of the comedienne is a fine celebration of life, love, and, above all, laughter” — Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

Does a fine job of coordinating the material and letting Radner speak for herself, confronting her body and health issues respectfully but not delicately” — Norm Wilner, NOW Magazine

Her tragic passing at a young age left the comedy world with a Gilda sized void. Love, Gilda makes one properly appreciate the size of that void and what it represents” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

It is hard to fault D’Apolito’s doc, but one would have expected something more biting and funnier” — Gilbert Seah, Festival Reviews

In The National Post, Chris Knight writes on the five things he learned from Love, Gilda, including how she once got a bizarre fan letter

Quincy (dir. Alan Hicks)

As a single volume take on one of the most fascinating entertainers to ever live, Quincy will do just fine” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

The Wife (dir. Björn Runge)

Close here is once again a magnificent screen presence as Joan, the wife of a Nobel Prize-winning novelist” — Susan G. Cole, NOW Magazine

The performances in this family drama are all top notch. But the script is another story. If Close does win an Oscar, it will be in spite of the movie, not because of it” — Karen Gordon, Original-Cin

It’s simultaneously as wooden as a two-by-four and as on-the-nose as a pimple, but it’s also hyper-intellectual to the point of silliness. If not for the cast, The Wife would be irredeemably dreadful” — Andrew Parker, The Gate

Cleverly circles back on all manner of tiny details, forcing us to see fragments of married life refracted in new and revealing ways” — Chris Knight, The National Post

Above: Meg Wolitzer talks to Nathalie Atkinson about the dynamics of power and female ambition in The Wife, reminisces about when her friend Nora Ephron directed a film version of This Is My Life, and what it means to have Nicole Kidman option her latest book

Canada’s Oscar Contender?

Over at Cinemablographer, Pat Mullen looks at the stray Chien de garde, Canada’s Oscar selection, described as “a nitty gritty family drama set in the world of petty crime