TFCA Saturday: Week of May 4

May 4, 2024

The Fall Guy | Universal Pictures Canada


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


In Release this Week


Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg (dir. Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill)


“Pallenberg’s first Stone was Brian Jones, but she couldn’t bear his drug addled, violent rages,” writes Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Keith stepped in to protect her in a relationship that lasted two decades while Mick was rejected; wags called her the Alpha of the Stones. A gossipy and florid look at an era and a touchstone is immensely interesting but tinged with sadness with the many tragedies that befell Pallenberg and her circle.”


Down the Rabbit Hole (dir. Manolo Caro)


At Afro Toronto, Gilbert Seah calls the film “masterful, comical and cruelly happy.”


The Fall Guy (dir. David Leitch)


The Fall Guy is hugely entertaining. A love letter to stunt persons and to filmmaking in general, the film is a romantic comedy for everyone who hates romantic comedies and an action thriller for those less than keen on the genre,” writes Liz Braun at Original Cin. “It is simultaneously hilarious and thrilling. Just add popcorn. From Gosling’s narration at the beginning of the movie to a handful of outtakes shown at the end, The Fall Guy is all about breaking the fourth wall — and keeping it broken. Both Gosling and Blunt are in their element here, and all involved appear to be having a good time.”


The Fall Guy lards in so many Hollywood and stunt industry in-jokes, it’s like the inside baseball of inside baseball. Colt regularly quotes lines from old movies, everything from The Fast and the Furious to Thelma & Louise,” writes Peter Howell at the Toronto Star. “Other characters enliven the show. Winston Duke (Black Panther) plays the Metalstorm stunt co-ordinator, an old pal of Colt’s. Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once) is Ryder’s capable personal assistant. But the movie belongs to Gosling and Blunt, and a thrill-seeking dog named Jean Claude that takes commands only in French. That pooch, an Australian Kelpie, has true ‘Kenergy,’ stealing almost as many scenes as Gosling did in Barbie.”


“The story element in the film is quite hokey but action fans will likely overlook this shortcoming and focus instead on the action set pieces complete with elaborate stunt work and the romance between hotties Gosling and Blunt,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “In this respect the film delivers.”


“After offering a short and sweet taste of the pair’s ability to bounce off one another, Leitch physically separates the two for almost the entire second act and far too much of the third,” observes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “Sure, it’s fun to watch Gosling (playing a stuntman for the second time after 2011′s Drive) haplessly bounce from one violent antic to the next, just as there is joy to be found in seeing Blunt (adopting a slightly wispier voice than normal) bring a delicately light touch of screwball comedy to Jody’s travails. But too often, The Fall Guy is bizarrely determined to throw its heavenly match.”


“In place of an interesting storyline, the movie includes some amazing stunts and sequences that are shot in a dynamic and exciting way; the movie even set a Guinness World Record for most cannon rolls in a car,” says Rachel Ho at Exclaim!. “Above all, The Fall Guy acts as a well-deserved tribute to and celebration of the stuntmen and women of the industry, with tongue-in-cheek dialogue about the disposable nature and invisibility of stunt performers, mentions of the lack of recognition by the Oscars, and behind-the-scenes footage of the stunts while the credits roll.”


The Idea of You (dir. Michael Showalter)


“For his part, Galitzine — who previously charmed fans in Red, White & Royal Blue — yet again proves he’s leading man material, whether he’s on the throne or on the stage,” writes Marriska Fernandes at Exclaim!. “He brings an unspoken maturity with how he carries himself, which makes the love story between the two feel authentic. His boy band charm, coupled with the puppy-dog eyes — not to mention the tattoos and the British accent — makes him a shoo-in for a Harry Styles-like pop singer, who many fans of the book believed to be the fan-fiction source.”


“Hathaway could have used such spice in her dialogue, though the actor still comes out on top. In her hands, Solene is searing, sexy, solidly alive,” notes Barry Hertz at The Globe and Mail. “While Galitzine seems often in over his head, Hathaway levels out the heartthrob at every turn – their quickly ignited romance is beyond believable, instantly getting the audience on their side. While the sex scenes are largely tame – semi-steamy, as if taking place under a broken shower-head – there is a quiet heat to the pair, especially because the power balance is weighted in favour of Hathaway.”


Jeanne du Barry (dir. Maïwenn)


“Depp’s pretty good as the dissolute but loving King and Maïwenn’s powerful presence carries the film, but it suffers from the longest, most drawn-out death scene in movie history,” sighs Anne Brodie at What She Said. “The visuals, art direction, costuming, and look of it are gorgeous, a big screen experience to be sure and it’s fun to learn who was in the public crosshairs before Marie Antoinette showed up to marry the King’s son, le Dauphin, played by Maïwenn’s son Diego Le Fur.  The film’s an eyeful more than anything and there’s nothing wrong with that.”


“The window dressing on Jeanne du Barry is genuinely fabulous. Costumes, sets, gardens, palaces… it’s all magnificent, captured by dappled sunlight and flickering candelabra flames by cinematographer Laurent Dailland,” says Kim Hughes at Original Cin. “Yet for all the finery, Depp is startlingly uncharismatic, though it’s unclear whether the intent was to keep focus trained on the dazzling Maïwenn as a woman who outshone a king, or whether Depp is slumming, along for the experience of a foreign-language setting where he wouldn’t be expected to improvise.”


“The one huge plus about the film that makes it entirely compelling with is the film’s production values,” notes Gilbert Seah at Toronto Franco. “The extravagance of King Louis XV and his court is matched by the extravagance in the film’s production values.”


Let It Be (dir. Lindsay Hogg; 1970)


“It’s an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the band preparing and recording some of their most loved rock anthems, and the mixed emotions they shared as their time together dwindled,” says Anne Brodie at What She Said. “Bittersweet, nostalgic, and filled with revelations, it followed their final split following the famed London rooftop concert. They’d tried to make a go of it once more and recapture the past but failed, bringing to an end to the most beloved bands of all time.”


Lost Soulz (dir. Katherine Propper)


“The ultimate question is whether one might be converted to Sol’s music after listening to his songs,” says Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “There is definitely a strong possibility.”


New Life (dir. John Rosman)


“A small but efficient thriller that forces the audience to think, New Life, blends several genres such as horror, cat-and-mouse thriller, dystopian futuristic and action,” writes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto.


Secret of the Neanderthals (dir. Ashley Gething)


“The subject of the secrets of Neanderthals is not one that audiences can get super-excited about, not for a doc or for any film for that matter,” observes Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “But the filmmakers do their best, stressing the untiring dedication of the archaeologists and restorers as well as emphasizing the importance of knowing one’s past.”


She Is Conann (dir. Bertrand Mandico)


“There is hardly any story or plot.  The colourful visuals make this wicked and horrid film look like a fantasy,  Director Mandico appears pleased with himself for including as many disgusting scenes as possible including a child eating her own dead mother’s body in order to live and violent, bloody killings,” says Gilbert Seah at Toronto Franco.


Unfrosted (dir. Jerry Seinfeld)


“Meh.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said


“Hilarious enough despite its silly subject, Frosted is an easy watch on Netflix,” admits Gilbert Seah at Afro Toronto. “But as Seinfeld had said (to diffuse a cast member freaking out on the set) during the film production: “This is not important!  This is a pop-tart movie. Nothing is important.”


A Festival of Festival Coverage: Hot Docs Wraps               


At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz reports on the departure of Hot Docs board members.


At The Globe and Mail, Johanna Schneller profiles producer Ina Fichman, who has three docs at the festival: The Bones, 7 Beats Per Minute, and Adrianne & the Castle: “The ultimate job of a producer is to buy into the vision of the director, because you’re the one who has to help them realize it,” Fichman tells Schneller. “Taking the time to understand what the story and the style are, and figuring out how to convey that to the filmmaking team, my partners, my buyers. Being able to say, ‘This is the film,’ even when others are saying, ‘No, it should be this or that.’ And not walking away or panicking when unexpected things happen. Because they will.”


At CBC, Jackson Weaver reports that the troubles at Hot Docs may be a reflection of larger struggles within the documentary field: “If you go by overwhelmingly successful films like Blackfish, Bowling for Columbine and An Inconvenient Truth, it might seem like documentaries are everywhere we look, affecting and influencing how we perceive society and the world at large. But even as audiences clamour for true stories on their screens, the documentarians that make them are sounding alarm bells about the future of documentary filmmaking.”


At Variety, Jennie Punter chats with Standing Above the Clouds director Jalena Keane-Lee about getting her project to screen: “‘We were able to be in Hawaii and film while engaging in industry forums and pitch events (including Hot Docs’ Deal Maker in 2021) because everything was online,’ she said, adding that [Amber] Espinosa-Jones’ familiarity with the array of foundations and funds supporting issue-based documentaries was key to sustaining the film’s momentum.”


Punter also speaks with Devi director Subina Shrestha for Variety and learns about her lead character’s journey from sexual assault survivor to crusader for justice. “The filmmaking was helping Devi build her strategy while working through the impact side of it,” Shrestha said. “Now she’s doing her own thing. When we started the film, there was nothing in Nepal’s transitional justice process for sexual violence. Now there is an amended bill and all the demands she asked for are included.”


At POV Magazine, Courtney Small speaks with Adrianne & the Castle director Shannon Walsh, whose finds new creative freedom in her Hot Docs selection and DOXA opener that conjures a tale of enduring love: “Walsh is quick to note that she views the segments recreating the couples’ past as ‘memory prompts’ rather than re-enactments. ‘I con­sidered what we were doing as creating fantasy worlds which Alan could inhabit as a kind of alternative way of doing an interview.’ The director continues: ‘They were less for the audience than they were for Alan to fully explore his experience with Adrianne.’ In mining St. George’s memories, Walsh also had to figure out how to effectively bring Adrianne to life onscreen.”


At POV Magazine, Pat Mullen speaks with Vancouver native Natalie Rae and Angela Patton about their Sundance Audience Award winner Daughters, which had its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs and brought the story of the daddy-daughter dance in prison to the fest. “‘The project always had people that were really close to the subject matter, so that’s been very important to me,’ notes Rae. The director cites the lived experience of cinematographer Michael “Cambio” Fernandez, whose mother was incarcerated for eight years. ‘Cambio has the emotional intelligence to have been through that as a child. All the decisions around who’s in the space, who’s capturing it, who’s editing it, and how the film is being edited comes from a very personal place.’”


At POV Magazine, Rachel Ho speaks with Seguridad director Tamara Segura about making a story about her Cuban family in Canada: “I think that Seguridad could have never existed in a place different than Canada. It’s really the only place where a story like this is possible. The culture and just the way it’s funded, especially for immigrants. I came here with no English, no French, no money, no family. It’s almost a miracle that I got to make a feature film. Also the themes [of the film] and how I managed to talk about those things, I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t come to Canada. That’s not the culture in Cuba.”


At POV Magazine, Jason Gorber speaks with director Oksana Karpovych about her documentary Intercepted, which draws upon covertly recorded phone calls of Russian soldiers invading Ukraine. “In parallel with my job as a local producer, I developed a habit of listening to the intercepts. I discovered them online, on the official YouTube channels of the Ukraine security services. Right away, I was fascinated with this material. The stories sounded crazy in a way that I didn’t know that such things could even exist. I thought what the Ukraine security services were doing by publicising these intercepted messages was brilliant.”


At POV Magazine, Marc Glassman reports from the Hot Docs Forum: “Long considered the finest North American documentary pitch session, the Forum maintained its high level of quality this year with 20 projects deftly proposed by filmmakers from countries as diverse as Nigeria, Paraguay, Russia, and Palestine, as well as the Unites States and Canada. Moderated by Industry veterans Mila Aung-Thwin, Simon Kilmurry, Elise McCave and Catherine Olsen, the Forum featured a roundtable of decision-makers, experts from such renowned stations as ARTE, ITVS, BBC, CBC, TVO and PBS as well as funders and foundations, who gave feedback and support ranging from financial to aesthetic.”


And at Original Cin, Liam Lacey surveys the Mayworks festival devoted to labour. Highlights include the migrant worker drama Richelieu. “[Pier-Phillipe] Chevigny’s conceived of his film as a documentary exposé but when migrant workers involved were reluctant to be exposed on camera, he decided to create this social realist drama in the Ken Loach tradition,” says Lacey. “The film unfolds from the perspective of Ariane (Ariane Castellanos), a translator working for Guatemalan temporary workers in a corn-processing plant in the Richelieu Valley, at the southeast edge of the greater Montreal region.


TV Talk/Series Stuff


At The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz chats with Montreal’s Fred Nguyen Khan, who offers a breakthrough turn on The Sympathizer. They chat about Nguyen Khan’s Vietnamese heritage, family, and journey from stunts to speaking parts: “My first love has always been kung fu movies. Growing up, my father and I bonded over watching those. I was always hoping one day I’d be one of those Jet Li or Jackie Chan types. But stunt work landed in my lap randomly for me. My first gig was on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which shot in Montreal. I was just a random background soldier doing light stunt work, but it reignited something in me.”


At What She Said, Anne Brodie catches up with Baby Reindeer: “so well made that it gets into your emotional bloodstream immediately, stays there and leaves you gasping.” A Man in Full, meanwhile, stars Jeff Daniels “in a wowzer of a performance as Charlier Croker, owner of a powerful Atlanta real estate company, a despicable human being with no guardrails,” while Bodkin offers an “odd entry in the pantheon of folksy British crime series.” Better Brits, finally, come in the third season of Sister Boniface: “What fun!”