Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Five New Indie Titles

Indie never ends – thanks goodness!  Five smaller screen outings this week up for dissection that may or may not cleanse the cinematic palate for the avid film fan seeking on-screen solace.  (You ultimately decide folks!)  Tales of resurrecting love at all costs, putting life on the line for another, human survival in Nazi times, weird ways to clear the mind and body and the truth about the SAT’s are the subjects of the flicks via this week’s Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the cinematic skinny on the films Andover, Bad Samaritan, The 12th Man, The Cleanse and The Test & The Art Of Thinking all below.  (Plus you can join me for a little Q&A fun this Friday, May 4th at 7pm AMC DINE-IN Sunset 5 in LA for Andover with the likes of Jonathan Silverman, Scout Taylor-Compton, Writer/Director Scott Perlman and many more – click HERE for tickets and details!)

(Gravitas Ventures)

While on the outset the genre jumping elements of Andover makes for some unusual story bedfellows, there’s a singular permeating romantic quality that nevertheless keeps the flick endearing. Meaning the tale of a genetics professor who looses his wife to an accident and decides to keep cloning her in search of the love he lost combines everything from deep drama (lead Jonathan Silverman hits all the right lovelorn marks!) to silly slapstick (Private Parts alum Richard Portnow provides the prerequisite comedy!), but under the watchful eye of writer/director Scott Perlman the film works in its message of love at all costs.  But best in show is the unexpectedly moving turn by horror fan favorite Scout Taylor-Compton as Silverman’s adoring assistant – hers is engaging work worth watching over and over.

(Electric Entertainment)

Geostorm helmer Dean Devlin fully redeems himself with this wickedly wild ride about a robber who breaks into the wrong house and finds a helpless girl captive inside.  There are of course a few inane bits and suspension of disbelief moments, but the beauty of Bad Samaritan is how much fun there is within the sometimes frivolous but always tense film framework.  Plus you have to give it up for lead David Tennant who plays the film’s resident baddie – his over-the-top wacko provides insane inspired amusement.

(IFC Midnight)

The only thing more harrowing than the challenging events that befall The 12th Man’s lead character is the fact that they are based on true events.  Meaning watching the physical and emotional anguish of Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud (played with impressive gusto by actor Thomas Gullestad!) as he tries to stay alive after a failed anti-Nazi mission that leaves his eleven comrades dead and lands him behind enemy lines under deadly weather conditions is one utterly agonizing (how about a little missing toe gangrene!), yet all inspiring show of human endurance against serious obstacles.  Plus with icy Nazi Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the films’ formidable foe, The 12th Man appropriately gives an epic feel to a small story.

(Vertical Entertainment)

A strange mix of comedy, drama and emotional slug monsters, The Cleanse is by far the strangest film I’ve seen all year.  It starts off normal enough with sad sack Johnny Galecki answering an ad about going on a spiritual cleansing retreat, but does a sharp right turn into Charlie Kaufman land when he arrives and the drinks given provides some odd upchuck results.  (What do you expect with Angelica Huston and Oliver Platt playing retreat leaders?)  With a firm bevy of irregular moments that work and some that don’t, The Cleanse still gets the ‘go bold or go home’ award for utter originality.


The main problem with The Test & The Art Of Thinking, which focuses on the history, evolution and eventual monetary abuses of the famed SAT test, is how unsurprising it is.  Told with the same educational savvy of a mundane PBS special, this one firmly states the obvious – from the cheats of the no brainer test (write longer answers and pass!) to the hold over schools by big business. (Money being made equals the test stays!)  The only thing sadder than the obvious scathing facts about the test within it is that everyone knows and puts up with it – this doc needed to dig deeper.



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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