Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Six New Indie Titles

Balancing two films festivals plus the weekly haul of indie flicks recently has proved taxing to say the least, but I’m all about seeking out great films, hailing those that surpass expectations and letting readers who are interested what to watch for.  (And what not to of course!)  So going beyond the sites featured Blu-ray’s and big budget fare, I’ve managed to squeeze in six new indie titles (my small and humble contribution to the amazing site that is WhySoBlu.com!) in between fests to help the avid movie fan get more bang for the movie buck.  Awkward meals, killers with remorse, aging icons, rocky relationship trios, vampires and art and a killer camera all get covered via this weeks Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the critical skinny on Beatriz At Dinner, The Hunter’s Prayer, The Hero, I Love You Both, Manhattan Undying and Camera Obscura below!

(Roadside Attractions)

While this outing has been presented via trailers and such as a biting black comedy, there’s actually some surprising thought and reflection within Beatriz at Dinner.  Not that there aren’t a few well placed zingers (mostly from the pompous arrogance of John Lithgow’s rich shyster!) and harrowing moments (even the staff has a problem with the uninvited guest!) within one seriously uncomfortable dinner party, but lead Salma Hayek’s insightful fish-out-of-water character is so earnest, passionate and heartbreakingly real that it transcends the surface stuff – there’s more to chew on here than food.

(Saban Films/Lionsgate)

Leave it to stylish helmer Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown is still a hidden gem!) to not only make a familiar story and themes utterly engaging, but get a successfully somber and surprisingly substance filled turn out of the normally flat Sam Worthington.  As a hitman with a sudden case of conscience, Worthington provides just the right amount of outer tough guy, inner softy to make the film enjoyable, plus We Are What We Are alum Odeya Rush makes for a meaningful young damsel in distress complete with a pinch of spirit.  With some good action set pieces and decent dramatic thought there’s immense entertainment in this outing and while Mostow has been sort of treading movie water since Breakdown, it’s now obvious with The Hunter’s Prayer the filmmaker can cinematically swim – more please.

(The Orchard)

I’ve been reading a ton of colorful quotes about the power and precision of the Sam Elliott starring The Hero, not all of which lives up to the hype.  The story is utterly familiar (old guy looks back on both past career and family mistakes!), typical (Elliott gets into an unrealistic relationship with the very young Laura Prepon!) and by the numbers (the characters ups and downs can be measured with a cinematic spoon!) and with the exception of ailing daughter Krysten Ritter, most of the turns here are out of dramatic Acting 101.  This one is a sheer display piece for the legend that is Sam Elliott and on that single note the film delivers.  From his low down deep dialogue delivery to his signature smirk and swagger, the film reminds us why Sam is so sensational – an homage to a movie hero.

(Magnolia Pictures)

Again, in marketing this one screams of being about a complicated relationship between three people, two of which are brother and sister.  It’s actually a brother/sister story masked in a love triangle with some very powerful moments.  Not that the comedy played deadpan by all involved (mom Charlene Archibald has a distinctive Melissa McCarthy delivery!) isn’t present and accounted for, but it’s the films more solemn segments that drive the significance of the story of siblings home – family is forever.

(Momentum Pictures)

A decent premise – a dying artist and an alluring vampire team up for their own selfish reasons and sparks fly – matched with some stylish visuals, Manhattan Undying still falls flat.  Meaning there are times when the film feels like it’s spinning its wheels unsure of story direction, lead man Luke Grimes is unrelatable and beyond a killer stare Sarah Roemer’s vicious vamp Vivian isn’t all that captivating.  Much more style than substance, it feels like with Manhattan Undying themes of creatures of the night are indeed ready to lay it down and die.

(Chiller Films)

An engaging first act involving an almost The Dead Zone story quality with a war veteran photographer suffering from PTSD finding that a camera he is using predicts future deaths grabs you right away.  Unfortunately the initially solid script cannot sustain its memorable movie momentum, especially when the film takes a left turn into Final Destination territory where the lead character begins to try to outsmart death.  (How novel!)  A great example of a nifty idea that goes off the rails right away, this one is destined to go into cinematic bargain bin obscurity.


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.

1 Response to “Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Six New Indie Titles”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Surrogates notwithstanding, I’m all for seeing more Mostow films!