Dances With Films Festival 2017 – Final Film Reviews

The shows almost over via our coverage of the 20th Annual Dances With Films Festival 2017 and it’s been a busy movie ride indeed.  But before we head into out final Best of Fest article we’re slapping down a few more reviews just for good measure.  So below are an additional six features and 4 shorts with topics ranging from saints to safe crackers to make this movie meal complete.  Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews of DWFF 2017 feature flicks Resistance Is Life, The Midnighters, Tater Tot & Patton, Jimmy The Saint, The Scent Of Rain And Lightning and All I Want, plus shorts Land of Happy Dreams, G-4, Hidden Daylight and Supermom below!


“Resistance is Life” – Amidst this tale of life during ISIS war attacks through the eyes of young and surprisingly upbeat child Evlin, what’s even more striking about Resistance is Life is how utterly informative it is.  Not that the moments of infectious positivity via the spirited and wise beyond her years featured girl are not a huge highlight (she’s inspirational for sure!), but for those with only a modicum of knowledge on the dangers and threats of ISIS militant actions of late this doc is a huge eye-opening wake up call.  Boldly mixing both harrowing and smiling inducing events involving Evlin and her fellow weary Kobane comrades, this powerful piece is a lot like the situation faced by the folks it so bravely documents – riddled with ups and downs.

“The Midnighters” – While the tale of a guilty absent prison father now out and trying to save his ailing son is not exactly the epitome of originality in terms of story ideas (not to mention a safe heist to boot!), what sells this stirring, sincere and steeped in style outing is the tour-de-force work (yup, I went there!) by leading man Leon Russom.  As an aging dinosaur with a single skill for cracking any safe in mere minutes, Russom’s dour dad is a man haunted by the demons in his past and it shows in every lavish frame.  So expressive, yet subtle is Russom that he conveys creative character wonders like back baggage and dramatic gravitas with just a single soulful look – Russom is the righteous rock of The Midnighters.

“Tater Tot & Patton” – The familiar Tater Tot & Patton pits a spoiled big city girl against her uncouth country uncle for a little On Golden Pond forced bonding that audiences have become accustomed to.  (Though there’s music to die for here!)  Fortunately this one has two aces in the hole in the form of Bates Wilder’s surly troubled Erwin and Jessica Rothe’s highly emotional Andie as the feuding family members.  Their chemistry, comical timing and deeply dramatic work together make this cinematic spud satisfying.

“Jimmy The Saint” – Stereotypical in story, Jimmy The Saint is a film that manages to kneecap every interesting angle it has and contains a cast of characters who are very hard to root for.  The lead young man of the title is a naïve guy with a good heart who also turns a blind eye to forced prostitution and turns male tricks, the local muscle to the heavy whom he owes is a one-note thug and the victimized woman who runs a sex ring has no problem turning unapologetically on her fellow females.  This might be fine for a film where the layering of all character foibles was front and center, but Jimmy The Saint definitely tries to be seen as a moral story with clearly defined good guys and bad guys.  Like trying to squeeze a round ball into a square peg, something in this flawed film doesn’t fit.

“The Scent of Rain and Lightning” – While the book that this film was adapted from may have been a real page turner, the execution of said story on screen proves utterly lackluster.  So much so that it takes the movies best assets like a killer cast (the likes of Maika Monroe, Will Patton, Justin Chatwin and Bonnie Bedelia!) and moody staging (helmer Blake Robbins has a knack for affecting visuals!) and shackles them to a story so slow, boring and arduously drawn out that by the end the weary audience is happy there’s any kind of closure.  The only lingering smell off The Scent of Rain and Lightning is the strong stench of a stale story.

“All I Want” – Containing no memorable characters, lacking comical creativity and altogether trying way too hard to be quirky, All I Want is a classic example of why people hate “getting together and talking” flicks.  The revelations here are lackluster at best, the people unbelievably pretentious and even the carefully constructed food falls flat.  (That’s a film feat!)  An unfun soiree if ever there was one, all I wanted to do was run.


“Hidden Daylight” – While the predictability factor of this creepy horror tale involving a distraught husband seeking out his missing wife via a psychic is high, this shorts wicked visual wares ala director Adrienne Lovette still provide sinfully savory cinema.

“Land of Happy Dreams” – Taking the typical and kicking it up a notch, this short showing the lengths a mom goes to in order to keep her ailing child safe is creative…and creepy.

“G-4” – More a performance piece than a short film, this David Lynch like stream of character consciousness sees the leading lady doing everything from eating weird wall goo to ripping off her own facial skin – odd is undeniably the special of the day.

“Supermom” – A nice take on what makes a person a superhero with a young girl thinking her mom may be a life saver – she is.  (Plus look for a trouble free character turn by Nip/Tuck alum John Hensley – good show!)


And check back for our own Best of Fest ‘Wrap Up” where we crown our own winners from the ample crop via this years Dances With Films Festival – stay tuned!


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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