Dances With Films Festival 2018 – Many More Father/Son Reviews

The older and younger Coleman critic clan are going cinema strong by still watching many movie outings via the current Dances With Films Festival 2018 (taking place June 7-17 at the Chinese 6 Theaters at Hollywood and Highland – go to www.danceswithfilms.com for more details!) and it’s far from over film fans!  So below as they head into the home stretch (only two more articles left to go!) is an array of nineteen film reviews – seven features and twelve shorts – all for your reading pleasure.  Check out the critical skinny on The Lake Vampire, Shooting In Vain, Murder Made Easy, Bully, Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration Of Psychedelics, Caligari In The Desert, Sam Did It, The Truth Seeker, Rotting Love, Deep Dish Apocalypse, Third Date, Silence, Wytches, Midnight Delivery, Pardon Our Pixie Dust, The Avocado, 1968 all below!

Narrative Features


Jason’s Reviews

“Murder Made Easy” – A delightfully dark whodunnit for the somber cinema crowd, Murder Made Easy proves to be utterly effective on many levels.  On a story level there are many unforeseen twists and turns that would make even the most ardent detail expert take pause.  In the area of genre there are both serious comedic laughs and serious killer carnage, both of which are each given ample equal time ala helmer Dave Palamaro.  And finally all the players, not unlike their uniquely created menu meals, provide colorful characteristics to make what is essentially a talking heads piece never dull.  (Love the dripping sleaze of Daniel Ahearn’s Damien!)  But best in show here are the two lead women – actress Jessica Graham and Cinematographer Sherri Kauk.  So cunning, conniving and deliciously ice-cold is Graham and so sleek and visually divine is the captivating camera work ala Kauk that their pairing on Murder Made Easy is what truly kills.

“The Lake Vampire” – Rife with cinematic style that’s at times almost gothic, this Venezuela import takes the story of a blood lusting killer and mixes it with a crime investigation via a tenacious detective and journalist for a flick that’s very well executed.  Jumping from past to present and back again with visual ease (and great grainy camerawork!), helmer Carl Zitelmann’s tall tale is steeped in mood and mystery for a flick that definitely keeps the audience guessing.  Lush, layered and featuring a bevy of blood, even for the undead this lake provides refreshing genre rejuvenation.

“Shooting In Vain” – What starts as a familiar but still engaging tale of a meek teen (the odd Sebastian Gregory!) who meets and falls for a force of nature gal (the magnetic Diana Hopper!) turns into a heavy and inane melodrama about loss, drugs and love addiction.  With plot holes galore (why after multiple attempts did angry best friend Alexandra Park suddenly invite the sullen Gregory in for a chat?!) and a finale that has no redemptive or even satisfying qualities of any kind (did the camera run out of film?!), Shooting in Vain feels more inconsequential than important.


Michael’s Reviews

“Bully” – If there was one guilty pleasure for me via this year’s crop, Bully is it. Resurrecting the Karate Kid of old, this one sees overweight kid Jimmy training to beat a local bully via Machete himself Danny Trejo.  The film is predictable but with ample amounts of comedy, colorful characters (Jennifer Montague steals her scenes as the mom with moxie) and heart it skillfully knocks any naysayers down for the count.

“Murder Made Easy” – Fans of Clue will revel in this little ditty about murder, but with many surprises be ready to enjoy a different kind of game.  The style and visuals grab attention right from the get go and all performances are pitch perfect.  No spoilers here – a fun flick that will feed a fans inner Sherlock Holmes.

“Shooting In Vain” – This story of an up and coming photographer, who is derailed by a personal tragedy and is forced to go back and deal with past demons is tedious at best.  Drugs and flashbacks wrapped in mundane style, this one gets one star for a cast that does so much with so little.




Michael’s Reviews

“Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration Of Psychedelics” – Dissecting the effects and medicinal properties of psychedelic drugs from his past, Stand-up comedian Shane Mauss takes us on a journey of his experiences with everything from magic mushrooms to LSD.  Plus suffering from Bipolar disorder himself, Mauss also dives into the areas of treatment for mental disorders and the like.  Fun and informative.




Jason’s Reviews

“Caligari In The Desert” – A terrific and wondrous examination of the ‘not a business’ street workshop of desert rat and creative hermit Roger Ball.


Midnight Shorts


Jason’s Reviews

“Sam Did It” – A five-short that sees a morgue worker meeting his favorite dead celebrity – funny, clever and with a ton of surprises to boot.  (The final song even keeps the comedy going!)

“Silence” – In what plays out like Lynch through a Cronenberg filter, Silence is a captivating and confusing short that would give the mind blowing Naked Lunch a run for its mystifying money.

“Midnight Delivery” – Think an updated but still scary Trilogy Of Terror but with a hat instead of a Zuni Fetish as the aggressor.  Way too short – feature please.

“The Truth Seeker” – Who says giving a little kindness, even to someone who’s torturing you, won’t come back to you – quick and cutting.

“Deep Dish Apocalypse” – Who knew that cheese breath could be a telltale for zombie infection?  This one has a good amount of visual style within its fromage framework.

“Wytches” – A decent Tales From The Crypt type outing involving a girl paying the price for health and immortal happiness.

“Third Date” – Dug the feisty fortitude of the female lead as she battles low self-esteem, a creepy guy and a possible mayhem-seeking monster on a dreaded third date from hell.

“Rotting Love” –  A couple comes in contact with the undead, but it doesn’t stop them from airing their relationship grievances while in battle – a tad predictable.


Doc Shorts


Jason’s Reviews

“Pardon Our Pixie Dust” – A disturbingly unsurprising doc about the disparaging way family friendly Disneyland treats their hourly workers – Walt would be ashamed.  (Only problem is I wanted to see Disney spokespeople have to answer for some of their crimes Michael Moore style – still room to dig deeper!)


Fusion Shorts


Jason’s Reviews

“The Avocado” – A perfect sweet, but ultimately sad romance befitting of dating in the Trump era.


Downbeat: A Celebration Of Music & Dance Shorts


Jason’s Reviews

“1968” – Take the angst and battles of protestors via the famed 1968 Democratic Convention and add song, dance and a pinch of foul language – dug it.


One more day to head over to the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters at Hollywood and Highland for the ongoing Dances With Films Festival 2018 so get out there and support – only two more articles to come!


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.

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