Dances With Films Festival 2017 – Three Features/Five Shorts Reviews

With the still ongoing 20th Annual Dances With Films Festival 2017 (taking place June 1-11 at the Chinese 6 Theaters at Hollywood and Highland – go to www.danceswithfilms.com for more details!) heading into its final weekend there’s still plenty of time and tickets to check find that cinematic hidden gem you’ve been looking for.  (I’m going to be there all day Sunday movie watching myself!)  But to get you excited about heading into the unknown we’re checking out a second wave of flicks and the results are pretty spectacular.  Meaning in the three features and five shorts covered below there are a lot of notable items that prove Dances With Films know their stuff.  Depressed teens looking for solace, strange gals from outer space and homeless hustlers, plus angry zen masters, ladies who love themselves, worry warts, tainted tots and the effects of dementia are all themes explored in the Encapsulated Movie Reviews below.  Check out the critical opinions on the features Holden On, Imitation Girl and Landing Up and the shorts Herbie, Wink, Panic Attack!, Thirteen, and Tonight And Every Night below!



“Holden On” – While this immersive and dark drama involving one youth’s battle with severe mental illness based on a true story is of course important work, it doesn’t make Holden On any less taxing to take.  Fully engulfing the viewer in the struggles, madness and dangerously damaged psyche of the lead character, the film feels much like the troubled teen must have felt – overwhelmed. And while there are a few moments of surface solace for both the character and the audience, it’s Holden On’s daring desire to embrace the darkness within that is both a blessing and a curse.

“Imitation Girl” – Watching Imitation Girl I couldn’t help feeling that I was witnessing two very different films.  Meaning in following a troubled girl and also an alien who has taken her form via the cover of a dirty magazine, the films veers off in opposite directions.  The first features a woman who has immersed herself nefarious activities and the toll its taken, while the other is about someone experiencing everything new and for the first time – sort of the beginning and ending bookends to one odd story.  But in the middle of it all there’s ample actress and Jug Face alum Lauren Ashley Carter who pulls off a challenging dual role with real skill – she’s one to watch.

“Landing Up” – This almost felt like the anti-Pretty Woman outing with the gal in question being fully morally reprehensible as the film goes on, the suitor totally unsuspecting and with a downward story spiral that has the final sting of a Twilight Zone episode.  But while there are ups and downs to Landing Up, there’s something sweetly haunting about the work by homeless hopeful Stacey Maltin’s conniving character that stays with you – a broken gal with no happy ending in sight lingers long.



“Herbie” – A short with the caustic Denis Leary seal of approval, this tale of how not to become a calm Zen master is cleverly comical.

“Wink” – Love this short involving an ailing wife’s journey going rogue, embracing herself and enjoy “against the norm” activities – women who take action kick ass.

“Panic Attack!” – Ever have a panic attack about something small?  What goes through your mind?  Eileen O’Meara’s Panic Attack lays it all out with full hand drawn delight.

“Thirteen” – While the premise of this one involving a tough female soldier taken hostage and her young captor chatting in between torture is familiar, there’s a savvy sense of style via filmmaker Sasha Sibley that is way too impressive to ignore – feature please!

“Tonight and Every Night” – Though at times a little too nail on the head, still loved the mixing in this short of an elderly man’s dementia in both real life and via a fantasy late night talk show involving the same cast of characters in different roles.  Clever, heartbreaking and poignant.


Check back with is here at WhySoBlu.com for final film reviews and a “Best of Fest” Wrap Up to boot!  In the meantime get your movie on and head over to the Chinese 6 Theaters at Hollywood and Highland in LA this weekend for the final flicks and festive fun via the Dances With Films Festival 2017!


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 nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, 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, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

  1. No Comments