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Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Five New Indie Titles

Eight times may be the charm for big budget flicks this week, but on the indie scene five seems to be the magic number.  (There’s more of course, but hey I’m only one man!)  Auteurs examined and explained, the great lengths some go to for their kids, dealing with death, organ donation from both sides of the story and animated disaster high school movie fun all bring us into the mindset of the smaller films reviewed via Encapsulated Movie Reviews this week.  David Lynch: The Art Life, Graduation, Truman, Heal the Living and My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea all get their critical due below!

DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE
(Janus Films)

While the uninitiated may see this captivating doc as spending little time on the cinematic works of indie auteur David Lynch, those who adore the wizard of weird will absolutely get incredible insight into both the man and his films.  Meaning within the dark early tales of childhood woe (there’s one story involving a neighbor he can’t even finish!) and askew fascinations (Lynch’s vast array of somber art would make even John Waters take pause!) there’s explained inspirations behind everything from Isabella Rossellini’s damaged naked dame in Blue Velvet to the use of Wizard of Oz in Wild At Heart for those who really listen.  But the capper that makes this a five-star affair is the construction via helmers Jon Nguyen and Rick Barnes whose surreal style throughout the doc matches the strange work of the famed filmmaker. Interesting, insightful and the most revealing portrait of the notoriously secretive cinema creator to date, David Lynch: The Art Life is a film brush that makes all the right strokes.

GRADUATION
(Sundance Selects)

A tale of morality examining just how far parents are willing to go to protect their children, Graduation also adds extra layers by playing out at times like a fine tuned Hitchcock thriller and the result is one terrifically taut time.  Meaning the initial premise of a teen girl who gets assaulted right before her all important college determining tests and the lengths her father goes to save both her and her future is lovingly riddled with tense moments, close calls and an unpredictability that makes it far more than some deep drama with message.  Writer/Director Cristian Mungiu truly has a knack and skill for stylistic storytelling (see 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days!) – as such Graduation ranks top of the class.

TRUMAN
(XLrator Media )

Truman is a classic cinematic example of projecting so much while saying very little.  (Of course it’s foreign – they know how to do this stuff!)  Its story of one man who has decided to forgo treatment for cancer and his close lifelong friend that helps him spend his final days tying up loose ends could have been a emotionally wrought talk fest for sure.  But in the hands of helmer Cesc Gay and his two equally expressive actors Ricardo Darín and Javier Cámara the film has a myriad of quiet moments, humor and above all else humanity that takes the terrific Truman to a whole other level.

HEAL THE LIVING
(Cohen Media Group)

Telling a tale from two different perspectives can be a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand it’s nice to see many facets of a films events leading to more layering.  But in the case of the well-meaning Heal the Living, a film about the tragic death of a boy and then the revival of an ailing mother via his organ donation, it’s just plain jarring.  With both sides of the story told one after the other and not given equal time, the end result is wonderful things like solid work by grieving parents Emmanuelle Seigner and Kool Shen and gripping and gut wrenching moments of despair get sidelined and like a shot of morphine ultimately dull the drama.

MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA
(GKIDS)

Most will say that the critical opinion laid out here has to do with the old school quaint collage mixed media style of My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea that interjects everything from drawings and painting.  But the animation work is actually the up side here, giving way to some creative visual fun. Unfortunately the story doesn’t follow suit, with a boring, tepid and uninspired satire on high school that even with the inclusion of voice talents like Jason “Rushmore” Schwartzman, Maya Rudolph and Susan “Lunch Lady” Sarandon (playing the only saving grace character!) can’t rise above being lame – this sea swallows for a reason.

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I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include Starpulse.com, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend and partner James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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