Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Nine New Indie Titles

And the indie train just keep on trucking with another gaggle of nine new lesser-known outings that make up the smaller cinema scene featured here.  Sex and romance from a female point of view, social media gone psychotic, life after being a zombie, a wordy battle of the sexes, creation turning obsessive, time traveling for justice, crisis in the cockpit, getting some payback and animal cruelty taken to a whole other level all make up the subjects in the crop of films dissected this week.  Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews of Half Magic, Like Me, The Cured, Toss It, Chimera, Curvature, Beast Of Burden, Agenda: Payback and Days Of Power below.

(Momentum Pictures)

While this writing/directing debut of famed actress Heather Graham has its fare share of comedy clichés (see Chris D’Elia’s over the top machismo movie star!), it’s both the trio of headlining actresses and distinctive female perspective that raises Half Magic above the fray.  Representing ladies in various stages in life, leads Graham, Stephanie Beatriz and especially Angela Kinsey wade through dating, disappointments and even sex with a fun female fervor that just feels different.  Chock it up to the unique viewpoint of Graham – a fine filmmaker with stories to tell.

(Kino Lorber)

Almost more a performance piece than a feature film, there’s nevertheless something special within the creepy Like Me.  Be it the flicks in-your-face lessons about the dangers of social media, the turn by pixie Addison Timlin as a dour gal on a path of destruction or even the lush visual savvy of Director Robert Mockler who makes brutal simply look beautiful, Like Me has a can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it feel that lingers over the viewer like a dark shadow.  An outing that dares to be different, Like Me is a film unlike any other.

(IFC Films)

Great initial premise of zombies who are cured via a new experimental drug (though they retain ALL their previous flesh eating deeds!) and are put back into society that eventually goes the way of a zillion undead gore flicks that came before.  But the first half of the film that wades into in dark deed repercussions, facing fears and the idea of one being able to change their nature definitely adds some new life into a tired genre.  An interesting outing that could have been the cure for fans of familiar flesh eating movies – sometimes an interesting story is more than enough.

(Stevedore Productions)

Good news for this female driven flick is that the chemistry between spirited leads Michele Remsen (who also wrote and directed this one!) and Phil Burke is top notch.  Bad news is the film gets bogged down at times and at almost two hours feels like a long haul to the finish line.  What does ultimately highlight the journey though is the David Mamet style, quick quip, so-much-with-so-little dialogue tempo that kicks everything up a notch – Remsen is a wordsmith to watch.

(Praxis Media Ventures)

Another sci-fi thriller that has story potential and looks great, but unfortunately gets bogged down in being too clever.  Meaning between the shaky kinetic camera work and unneeded crisscross story editing style, the film does itself a disservice by trying to be one step ahead of its audience for no reason other than the fact it looks good.  Great work in this genre is never about what is shown, but rather what is not.

(Screen Media Films)

While time travel flicks on a budget can work (see Timecrimes!), making story minutiae too detailed can be a cinematic killer.  Case in point Curvature that focuses too hard on being smart and in doing so never quite puts the audience into the plight of lead gal Lyndsy Fonseca.  (Though she definitely has the charisma to pull it off!)  A voyage with way too much going on, the space-time continuum has never looked so complicated.

(Momentum Pictures)

A kind of poor man’s Locke (and that great flick had no budget to begin with already!) with lead Daniel Radcliffe (who is no Tom Hardy!) under pressure dealing with outside issues while piloting a drug run flight.  Radcliffe doesn’t quite have the chops to pull off the single character camera thing, so there are a few flashbacks (which include Mr. Robot alum Grace Gummer!) and future fiasco’s here too (do dig the bravado of Robert Wisdom!) – neither of which help either.  Being trapped in a plane with no escape, the burden of this flight is sadly one of boredom.

(Level 33 Entertainment)

Taking a page from the Big Bad Wolves school of payback minus the style, Agenda: Payback is a film with little fun.  Meaning having Eric Balfour kidnap Sean Patrick Flanery with the intent of letting former screwed over acquaintances get their bloody due should have been darkly delicious (or at least decently dramatic!), but the tone (including an out of place opening sexual tryst with upbeat music – huh?!) is so wildly off that it’s impossible to keep film focused.  A vengeance picture without a clear agenda, there’s little panache in said payback.

(Realize Productions/Gravitas Ventures)

Infusing dark factors like kidnapping, puppy mills and sadistic backwoods characters into a flick is nothing new, but in Days Of Power all of the above just looks too damn good.  Meaning Director Jason Pagnoni puts sheer style above any substance for a film that ultimately feels like a savvy sizzle reel for the helmer.  Don’t get me wrong, Pagnoni has visual skills no doubt, but in the world of indie outings that dabble deep in darkness such cinematic flair is about as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool – someone get this guy a big budget action flick ASAP!



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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