Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Seven New Indie Titles

As we head into the area of end of the year Oscar fare, more and more art and indie films will be hitting us throughout the months of November and December – hard and fast.  (Though not always good mind you!)  This week we easing into the soon to be inundated indie scene with seven new flicks that may provide some fun, fright and fights – and that’s just the Jayne Mansfield doc! Comedies about the charisma – and the consequences – of lying, a Stephen King terror tale set in the early 1900’s, a doc on the power of a past Ridley Scott masterwork, a lavish look at the life of the buxom Jayne Mansfield, the adventures of one tough wronged bow & arrow gal, a revenge flick with a meditation message and a look at what really can be considered art all make up the subjects of the seven indie films covered in this week’s Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the critical skinny on The Truth About Lies, 1922, Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise, Mansfield 66/67, The Archer, Acts Of Vengeance and The Square below!

(Blue Fox Entertainment)

Witty, romantic and constantly comical, The Truth About Lies delivers on all film fronts.  Not that it doesn’t carry the sitcom seal of approval story wise filled with farce (lovable lead loafer Fran Kranz plays it just broad enough to keep things funny!), innuendo (lots of laugh-out-loud salacious sass via writer/director Phil Allocco!) and misunderstandings (an ex-girlfriend suddenly becomes a sister – with hilarious results!), but there’s so much humor and heart via the chemistry ridden cast that it’s forgivable.  A familiar rom-com that is elevated by passion and the people involved, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I truly dug this one.


From a sinister story by iconic scare scribe Stephen King (the tone and lyrical language make it obvious to any fan!), 1922 is a classic gothic horror outing set in the world of the working man. Meaning this one feels like an grandiose story told on a everyman’s scale – a huge part of the films’ charm – with farmer Thomas Jane plotting with his son to kill off his opportunistic wife to keep their life and land intact.  Like all good King tales there are consequences to such dark deeds and 1922 lovingly lays out all the woe and torture of the guilty in decadent detail – a moral movie that more than takes its time.  Creepy to the last frightening frame, 1922 proves eerie knows no era.

(Far Beyond Film)

The premise of Jennifer Townsend’s doc tribute to the movie masterpiece Thelma & Louise – hitting up various women who initially wrote her about their opinions on the film some twenty years later – is an intriguing one indeed.  Hearing from passionate and insightful women from all walks of life as to their take on the controversial and game changing women empowerment flick both then (on paper!) and now is revealing and of course topical.  (Especially to a man – it’s like seeing the film through a new set of eyes!)  Townsend even hits up some of the unsavory male characters in the film – Thelma’s slimy husband Christopher McDonald and truck driver creep Marco St. John – to drive the female fight or flight points across in a non-judgmental way.  Missing here though is some desired first-hand thoughts via either Thelma or Louise – Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon respectively – and especially the so-needed omission of ANY insight by Oscar winning scribe Callie Khouri.  Her inspirations, feelings and intentions are key to any deep examination of the film and her absence here is a glaring hole in what could have been an equally groundbreaking five-star doc.


Fluffy, grandiose and wallowing in surface stuff, this boisterous and enjoyable doc on dame Jayne Mansfield would have no doubt been given a thumbs up by the campy on-screen sex symbol if she were alive today.  Filled with tall tales (resident cult director John Waters has a ton of salacious stories!), tabloid fodder (resident dig-up-dirt Hollywood expert A.J. Benza adds his own fact-or-fiction fables!) and even some interpretive glitzy dance numbers, filmmakers Todd Hughes and P. David Ebersole may not present hard facts or first hand accounts, but their with-a-grain-of-salt barrage of shameless steamy stories (love hearing about Mansfield’s relationship to Church of Satan leader Anton LaVey!) nevertheless makes for some enjoyable and wacky film fun.


A kind of paint by numbers thriller that sees a decent girl, who defends her friend from a violent boyfriend, ending up in a secure all female reform camp and looking to bust out.  But aside from the typical tropes – sleazy guards, chatty inmates, a heavy-handed warden – the one thing that saves The Archer from being familiar film fare is the work by the two lead actresses.  As a confident teen that’s an expert at archery and a troubled girl with a big chip on her shoulder, Bailey Noble (so fantastic in the recent Summer of 8!) and Jeanine Mason make a memorable jail-hopping pair and their chemistry together is off the charts.  With a more memorable movie these two definitely could have hit a bull’s-eye – they deserve so much better.

(Lionsgate/Saban Films)

In one gigantic case of utterly wasted written potential, Acts of Vengeance could have easily been a five-star flick.  Penned with the skill of a scribe paying attention to detail, screenwriter Matt Venne cleverly uses of all things Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius personal writings out of the book Meditations as an outline and inspiration for a clever mystery revenge thriller with a cool lead character gimmick.  (Namely the hero boasts a vow of silence until his wife and daughters’ killer has been found!) It’s a setting that if made as a gritty indie outing with unknown actors could have shined – a blend of the intelligence of The Machinist and creativity of Memento rolled into one ass-kicking tale of vengeance.  Instead we get not only a ho-hum turn by a tired looking Antonio Banderas as the lame lead, but also an unneeded and obtrusive voice-over during the silent bits that all but negates the quiet character driven story angle.  Like a savory original idea that’s been picked apart and crapped on by studio suits, Acts of Vengeance is cinema sanitized for your convenience.

(Magnolia Pictures)

In one disappointing showing, this winner of the illustrious Palme d’Or 2017 is much like the world it’s dissecting – just for show.  Meaning a film that’s an examination of what is considered art is merely a series of shocking acts (theft of personal property, odd one-night stands, a man rampaging though a formal dinner party with animal instincts) happening to curious museum curator lead Claes Bang that we frankly don’t care about.  I’m all for pushing the envelope, but merely stringing a series of risqué ideas together without care to a cohesive story or movie message isn’t all that fulfilling – it’s not even a film.



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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