I’m taking a pause in between a gaggle of end of year ‘must sees’ (whew!) to pick off five more indie films that may provide some cinematic satisfaction. (Or may not!) Grim tales of horror, dramatic stories of second chances, criminal activities, almighty homicide and gun battles done in a noble fashion – what a group! Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews of The Eyes of My Mother, Run The Tide, Anonymous, Blood Brothers and The Duelist all provided below!
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER
One of the most disturbing and unsettling films I’ve seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (and a hard film to proclaim to “like”), The Eyes of My Mother is nevertheless incredibly effective. (Even in a stark black and white!) Following the lifelong exploits of a traumatized farm girl as she grows up under a demented dark cloud and continues to create horror havoc of her own is an exercise in distressing cinema. From her undying love for her deceased parents (who says you can’t still spend time?!) to her tried and true way of keeping chained friends alive and well (see no evil!), Writer/Director Nicolas Pesce’s malevolent Francisca is the most dangerous predator of all – one who doesn’t know she’s one.
RUN THE TIDE
(Momentum Pictures/Orion Releasing)
For another movie effort from Twilight dud Taylor Lautner, Run The Tide is way better than expected. Matched with the likes of high-caliber actors like UnREAL actress Constance Zimmer (here playing a highly effective damaged mom out of jail looking to reconnect!) and The Shield alum Kenny Johnson (playing Zimmer’s equally damaged better half!), Lautner brings up his game and does a more than decent job playing a protective brother looking to keep his kin safe. The script is standard TV movie of the week stuff and the story predictability is off the charts, but the cast here is so good, so seasoned and so heartbreakingly believable that they thankfully elevate the material – both the tide and the talent run high here.
Kind of less charismatic 21 dealing with internet theft as opposed to gambling scams, Anonymous suffers from a big case of film familiarity. Complete with sassy lead character voice over, slick cons and heists and typical double crosses that get ‘complicated’, the film goes through all the genre tropes with the subtlety of a gym teacher with a checklist. The only saving grace here – and single stand out piece of acting amidst a myriad of mundane – is the turn by an almost unrecognizable Clifton Collins Jr. playing an eccentric disfigured computer hacker named Zed. Everything else is a deep cinematic sea of seen it before.
What starts as a ruckus and riotous ride involving two sadistic brothers looking to take their evil desires to the next level turns into a heavy-handed and mundane morality tale of the consequences of such deadly deeds. It’s a shame because there’s so much American Psycho-esque potential in Blood Brothers – from the kick ass music to the over-the-top tilt of actors Graham Denman and Jon Kondelik as two morbid and morose siblings out for a little freaky fun. (Not to mention a ton of haunting nude blood fun via femme fatale Hannah Levien in spicy dual good girl/bad girl roles!) But the film gets way too bogged down in messages, forced black comedy and ‘dangerous’ drama to keep the cult cool initially displayed going. (And being loosely based on a true story is no excuse!) Even the inclusion of iconic genre staples like Barbara Crampton and Ken Foree can’t keep the laughs lively – the blood via these bros is seriously watered down.
(Sony Pictures International)
What could have been a zesty Russian import about a revenge seeking gent out to noble gun duel various unsavory characters is instead a long winded soap opera that isn’t sure what it wants to be. Is it a lean tale of vengeance? A story of how love sooths the savage heart? (Though the whole love angle comes too little, too late here!) Or simply a 19th Century period piece made to look good in IMAX? (Beauty fades, but dumb is forever!) Well, none of the above make anything but a lukewarm first impression and even Pyotr Fyodorov’s laser focused gunman grows tired – The Duelist dies fast.