Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Five New Indie Titles

Five flicks brave indie dissection this week in the humble continuation of shedding some light on the lesser-known cinematic outings.  Suspense tales that may or may not be a figment of the imagination, a disturbing look at what happens after an assault, a boy searching for his trusty four-legged companion on an isolated island, a girl fighting bullies, family and even monsters from another realm and high school love rekindled in the center of a wrestling ring make up the films featured in this edition of Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the short opinions on Unsane, Beauty And The DogsIsle Of Dogs, I Kill Giants and Chokeslam below!

(Fingerprint Releasing/Bleecker Street)

While Unsane from famed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has none of his signature style (sleek camera and editing tricks are almost MIA!) or visual savvy (this one was shot stripped down on an iPhone 7 Plus!), what the film does have is a seriously engaging suspense story.  Claire Foy plays an on-the-edge gal who may or may not be experiencing questionable thoughts and events and her harrowing journey makes for one thrilling and ever-questioning ride.  But best in show here is the five-star turn by The Blair Witch Project alum Joshua Leonard as a possible creepy stalking hospital orderly – unsettling work is an understatement.

(Oscilloscope Laboratories)

So utterly effective that it leaves the viewer shaken, Tunisian female director Kaouther Ben Hania’s film Beauty And The Dogs is one seriously uncomfortable but infinitely important experience that feels long overdue.  Focusing on progressively harrowing events that happen to a girl after she tries to report a heinous rape by corrupt police, the film shows in full disturbing detail what women have been saying for years – victimization continues long after the assault ends.  A tale told with white-knuckle boldness (sadly not surprisingly this one is based on a true story) and unflinching terror from a distinctively female perspective, this one is required viewing for all those who claim #MeToo has gone too far – not far enough I say.

(Fox Searchlight)

While there is plenty of Wes Anderson whimsy in this tale of a boy searching for his long lost dog, there’s also some glaring portions of pause that take away some of the fun.  Meaning for every cool cloudy cartoon fight and funny dog digs (Jeff Goldblum’s Duke is a rumor loving hound!), there’s also slew of unneeded extraneous story stuff that falls flat.  What ultimately saves the film is of course the cleverly animated bits that provide vast visual humor and the scruffy dog known as Chief voiced by the pitch perfect Bryan Cranston – that mutt got moxie.

(RLJE Films)

A teen allegory that infuses ominous creatures and looming giants as visual metaphors for hidden adolescent issues, the human side of I Kill Giants feels too familiar.  With typical tropes like quirky kids (in this case outcast extraordinaire Madison Wolfe!), broken homes (Imogen Poots plays the overworked worried big sister!), raging bullies and family back baggage dissected (Zoe Saldana is the caring school psychologist!), the only thing that helps this one rise above the film fray are Wolf’s battles and interactions with imaginary otherworldly beings.  Only exciting whenever anything non-human rears its ruckus head, sometimes make-believe is better.

(MVD Entertainment Group)

While the wrestling themed Chokeslam has a been there, done that premise – small town guy trying to win the heart of his now famous former high school flame – it’s the casting that both elevates and slams this one to the canvas.  On the up side there’s The Girl Next Door alum Chris Marquette as the relatable sad sack suitor (why doesn’t this guy work more?!), Michael Eklund as the town bad boy (a nice comedic twist on his normal dramatic dirtbag character!) and Gwynyth Walsh as Marquette’s over-protective mom.  Down side is wrestler and love interest Amanda Crew, so effective in the recent outing Juggernaut, seems to be walking through this one and has zero chemistry with Marquette to boot.  It’s a shame for sure but having one half of a romantic couple choke the life out of a love story slams any picture potential down for the count.



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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