Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Seven New Indie Titles

With no shortage of end of the year indie fare in sight, it’s been busy as of late getting together both weekly flick dissection and top ten finales done.  But nevertheless I’m braving the bevy of movies lesser known to keep those few hungry film fans in the know – I got you covered.  Romance in the social media age, exposing the wrong side of the law enforcement, hereditary horrors, cartoon stereotypes put on trial, the scary part of sleep, fighting animal instincts and replaying terror all make up the subjects of the seven films covered and dissected via this weeks Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the critical skinny on People You May Know, What Happened In Vegas, Thelma, The Problem With Apu, Slumber, Somebody’s Darling and Inoperable below!

(The Orchard)

While there is a gaggle of engaging characters and off the wall chemistry between them in the hidden gem People You May Know, it’s the clever and original infusion of social media as a romantic tool that ultimately fires the film into five-star status.  This tale of an under-the-radar nice guy (the oozing with charisma Nick Thune!) who is thrust into the online spotlight by an ambitious gal trying a bold work experiment wields social media into its story in such a charming and relatable way that even those adverse to new technologies will quickly convert.  Not that there aren’t wonderfully old school sentimental cinematic staples like finding lost loves (Kaily Smith Westbrook’s former high school flame is captivating!) and the all important journey of finding the one, but People You May Know simply isn’t afraid to enlist a little online aid.

(Journeyman Pictures)

A man sees police in Vegas beating and harassing a man on the street and calls 911 to report the atrocity – then gets beaten and arrested himself.  One might think that shocking tale is the main story behind What Happened In Vegas, but unfortunately for the corrupt members of Las Vegas law enforcement exposed it’s only the beginning.  Assaulted subject Ramsey Denison makes it a personal mission to expose all tawdry Vegas police dealings and what he uncovers in this damning doc is enough to make even a die-hard Cirque du Soleil fan think twice about a casual visit. Wrongful shootings, victim smear campaigns, and a ton of backdoor politics involving big casinos are just a few of the cards laid face up on the tawdry table for all to see.  (Former Sheriff Doug Gillespie and current one Joe Lombardo give me the creeps!)  A city that seemingly lives up to its name, sin is indeed the winner of the day. (p.s. I’ve never gone to Vegas ever and after seeing this doc NEVER will!)

(The Orchard)

Taking coming of age to a whole other level, the Norwegian import Thelma is one wildly wicked flick.  A tense tale via filmmaker Joachim Trier sees lead Eili Harboe going through such collage tropes as drinking, drugs and experimenting with sex after a strict upbringing all with an extra dash of psychokinetic abilities thrown in for some added film flavor.  The result is one well-orchestrated outing that dares to fuse genres for maximum movie effect – Thelma is thrilling.


Love the candid and at times combative nature of this doc by comedian Hari Kondabolu all about his distain for the stereotypical Kwik-E-Mart Simpsons character.  Not only does he chat up other high-profile Indian actors in Hollywood (love the Kal Penn Van Wilder story!), but he also grills various Simpsons writers on the history and inception of the character he has grown to hate.  But the icing on the cake has to be his relentless pursuit of the white actor who voices the Apu, Hank Azaria, in an effort to chat face-to-face to make some change through dialogue.  Does Azaria sit down with the insistent Kondabolu and face the music or does he merely hide and cower behind the Squishee machine like a coward?  Either way The Problem With Apu is thankfully a doc that gives as good as it gets.

(Vertical Entertainment)

While the premise of this scary story – the examination and study of night terrors – does have some eerie elements, one can’t help but feel there’s a familiar film formula always at play.  Meaning for every great narrative idea (the whole element of the parasitic demon known as The Night Hag will have horror fans up for weeks!) there’s also a copied one (insert standard crazy elder expert!), so there are certainly ups and downs abound, but nothing too good or bad to lose cinematic sleep over.

(UFOClub Creative)

So much better aesthetically than it should be, Somebody’s Darling is an interesting looking film that suffers from bad story structure.  There are fantastical elements within including appropriately foggy cinematography, creepy turns by the college teens obviously hiding dark secrets, a killer opening title sequence and even a bold backstory that get so mired in the gamey Swimfan like setting that they almost get lost.  Almost – somebody get the talented Director Sharad Kant Patel a stable script STAT!

(Zoyra Films/Millman Productions)

An example of a ho-hum Groundhog Day genre take (for a stellar one see Happy Death Day!) where lead Danielle Harris finds herself dying again and again trapped inside an ominous hospital. Harris is always solid, but the script here is far from clever and never quite does anything interesting with its repeat gimmick.  (The car bit looks almost like the same scene used over and over – Toxic Avenger time!)  The film does lead to something eventually, but the journey takes so long that even the trusty anesthesiologist has left the building.


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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