Indie films stretch vastly over high and low dog ratings this week – not to mention covering the full spectrum of genres to boot! Unlikely superheroes, ex-boyfriend and father bonding, sci-fi wackos, elder basketball star docs, horrific curses, deadly office games and damaged gals seeking revenge fill out the seven films that make up the Encapsulated Movie Reviews this week. Check out the cinematic skinny on They Call Me Jeeg, All Nighter, Atomica, Coming Back To The Hoop, Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word, The Belko Experiment and Psychos below!
THEY CALL ME JEEG
A gritty import from Italy featuring blood, boobs and bad language, They Call Me Jeeg takes the subject of superheroes to a whole other level. Quiet bad guy Enzo (the highly effective Claudio Santamaria!) comes in contact with radioactive waste while running from the law and wakes up with a new inhuman strength and other assorted superpowers. Terrific moral tale of a bad guy going good (with the help of Ilenia Pastorelli’s Anime loving woman child Allessia!) complete with a creepy cartoony bad guy (Fabio freak Luca Marinelli) and enough raw and raunchy moments that would make Deadpool blush – They Call Me Jeeg is not your mothers superhero movie.
(Good Deed Entertainment)
Featuring the common comedic mismatched buddy/buddy scenario – a down in the dumps boyfriend is forced to face life again via a crazed evening with the father of his ex-girlfriend – All Nighter is a familiar flick that’s given severe elevation due to a qualified cast. As the low-key odd couple, Emile Hirsch and J.K. Simmons do a fine film job playing funny dysfunctional duo and even hit the films’ few dramatic moments with surprising gusto. Plus infused with savory side characters like catty couple Gary and Roberta (the hilarious Kristen Schaal and Taran Killam!), a drunk best friend (life of the party Xosha Roquemore!) and a little Bob Seger bonding, the night moves of All Nighter are enjoyable ones.
Good news is Atomica not only features some off the charts kooky character turns by both actors Dominic Monaghan (surprise, surprise!) and Tom Sizemore (not so much of a surprise!), but also some killer sci-fi eye candy reminiscent of the work of an early Ridley Scott. Set inside a dark and dim isolated nuclear power plant, Dagen Merrill has a knack for making the barren bold and his savvy visual style is old school filmmaking 101 to watch for. Bad news is the overly complex story of Atomica threatens to derail its better bits, with a distinctive ‘trying too hard’ vibe that grinds any good to a screeching halt. So while heroes and villains in Atomica may be in doubt, it’s the on-screen movie magic of Merrill that truly saves the day here.
COMING BACK TO THE HOOP
(Random Media/Pittsure Company)
A great subject for a doc – the trials and tribulations of an older ladies basketball team – that is severely watered down due to a lack of film focus. Meaning player and film helmer Jane Pittman starts the story off as first person personal story to get back to the ball game against all odds, but then wavers back and forth between select players and the coach for a less than effective journey. All avenues here of course have their effective bits (hearing the tale of one woman who uses the game to ease the suffering of her daughter’s death is raw and real), but without clear narrative from start to finish Pittman drives her doc to the basket and ultimately misses.
JOHNNY FRANK GARRETT’S LAST WORD
Director Simon Rumley, effective in small segment doses via flicks like Little Deaths and The ABC’s of Death, here tackles a feature length frightmare and the results are less than stellar. The real life story of the disappearances and mishaps of folks involved with the trial and death of convicted killer Johnny Frank Garrett who himself claimed to be innocent is fascinating for sure, but instead of using the reported occurrences to cinematically creep the audience out Rumley adds a gaggle of unneeded heightened horror that blows hot air. (Meaning lots of mundane movie mayhem and shots of lead Devin Bonnée with scary grimaces!) As a result what could have been an effective true terror tale feels tame.
THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
As penned by former Troma scribe and Guardians director James Gunn, one would expect this Battle Royale in an office building flick to have equal parts horror and humor. Problem is not only is the fear factor via Wolf Creek helmer Greg McLean lacking, but the caustic comedy promised is almost non-existent. What’s left is a film that desperately wants to be seen as clever first and foremost (the Cabin in the Woods like story direction has already been done dudes!) and as such its colorful cast of characters seriously suffers. Any film that can’t make decent deadpan use of greats like Michael Rooker, John C. McGinley and James’ brother Sean Gunn is in serious trouble – Belko is a movie experiment gone wrong.
Again, a great movie premise here featuring three gals plagued with past demons who find themselves reunited when their kidnapper as kids comes calling. The execution of Psychos is sadly another story featuring thinly sketched out characters hard to care about, inane scare scenarios and obtuse story turns that prove laughable. Featuring gals and gore that turn the cinematic stomach equally (and not in a good way!), Psychos is the poster child for leaving the past behind.