Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Five New Indie Titles

Since I’m gonna be dealing with family X-mas events over the next few weeks, wanted to get my final film reviews of the year up for those looking to do cinema over the holiday.  And the end of the year indie film fare has all angles covered with cowards forced to turn strong in the old west, smart and sassy women with a knack for business, revenge from a female perspective, killers who use kids games and a love of all things Bill Murray cover the subjects of the flicks in this final 2017 edition of Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the critical skinny on The Ballad of Lefty Brown, Molly’s Game, In The Fade, The Bill Murray Experience and Hangman all below!


An authentic feeling old west tale of a meek ranch hand that has to summon the courage to exact some payback when his longtime friend is gunned down.  Not only a soulful swan song for lead actor Bill Pullman as the affable lead Lefty (though Zero Effect is still his best work!), but The Ballad of Lefty Brown is also a cinematic reminder of what a skilled Director of western themes material helmer Jared Moshe continues to be.  (Hi previous outing Dead Man’s Burden is a hidden gem!)  Plus with supporting turns by the likes of Peter Fonda (that guys was BORN to play a cowboy!), Kathy Baker (give her more work ASAP!) and Jim Caviezel (great bad guy!), this one definitely carries the John Ford seal of approval.

(STX Films)

Molly’s Game is one of those films that has a magnificent script – and it shows.  Meaning the dialogue and staging all via the mind of Aaron Sorkin are certainly top notch, but also leaves little doubt that the words coming out of actors’s mouths are simply right off the page.  Not that Jessica Chastain and Idris Alba aren’t notable actors, but spouting Sorkin’s prose leaves little room for their own individual charms to come through and less than natural.  (There’s even a ton of Chastain voice-over during the quieter bits so Sorkin’s words stay front and center!)  Forgetting that a great actor can sometimes make even a sensational script obsolete, this game needed to even the odds with a little thespian trust.

(Magnolia Pictures)

This very different take on the revenge genre starts with an effective emotional bang when a woman’s husband and son are killed in a bomb attack.  The film then skillfully follows her through her emotional morning period and a taxing trial ending in injustice, but it’s the final section involving vengeance that’s unfortunately lacking.  With little focus, purpose or furious state of mind, lead Diane Kruger never quite feels like an gal out for blood, so when getting even events do eventually occur it feels forced.  Successful as a story of loss, but not so riveting in the area of retribution, In The Fade needed to get angrier.

(Gravitas Ventures)

Another doc involving someone dying to meet their celeb crush, though this time helmer Sadie Katz (an actress in her own right) actually engages by seeking out not merely the famed person in question but an actual ‘experience’ with said subject.  Known for wacky personal interactions like crashing weddings and throwing clothed people into pools, Murray seems the perfect object of wacky interaction of affection – especially for the kooky Katz who herself displays some very zany qualities during her journey.  Will they meet?  From your lips to Bill Murray.

(Lionsgate/Saban Films)

A so-so Se7en rip-off featuring Al Pacino (looking a little lethargic sir!) and Karl Urban as cops trying to stay ahead of a serial killer who is using the famed chalkboard game as a taunting calling card.  Some decent surprise and suspense that also sadly give way to seriously stereotypical characters and plot holes galore.  We used to call this type of flick a ‘Sunday Afternoon Movie’ – it can be found at the bottom of the bargain bin for those with free time.


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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