Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Six New Indie Titles

Some wild and fancy free flicks out this week as far as indie film outings go – a diverse trip indeed.  Movies about the chaotic world of schizophrenia, a candid doc on a singing superstar, a second horror helping about the dangers of extreme haunts, a comedy about being yourself, a tale of switching genders and a singing ode to the union movement all get covered cinematically via this edition of Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the critical skinny on Elizabeth Blue, Gaga: Five Foot Two, The Houses October Built 2, The Tiger Hunter, Second Nature and Footnotes all below!

(Global Digital Releasing)

While this odd-toned movie egg is a flick about schizophrenia with it’s own genre identity issues, there’s more than enough interesting stuff inside Elizabeth Blue to make it a movie not easy to ignore.  Yes, the film walks the line between a sad sullen relationship outing (recently released from a mental hospital Elizabeth and her man Grant are planning a wedding!) and a sometimes sinister The Sixth Sense chiller (one of her prominent ‘invisible friends’ is a seriously caustic and creepy dude!) a tad on the predictable side, but the fascinating plight of the ailing lead Elizabeth is the driving force of the film and trying to guess what is real and what is not in her medically treated askew world definitely puts the audience into the mindset of someone riddled with mental problems. It’s not for everyone, but both for better or for worse, Elizabeth Blue is cinema that challenges.


Not knowing anything about the enigmatic Lady Gaga except her being a singer, I went into this deeply personal doc with little to no info on the female subject in question and came out of it with some profound insight into the real woman behind the fame.  The typical tropes of being a high-profile diva are present (see Gaga take her team to task on small petty problems!) and accounted for (see Gaga get pampered and massaged!), but there’s also enough behind the scenes and at home hair down moments that reveal a rather lonely gal dealing with serious the issues of celebrity and the absence of a love life.  I do wish filmmaker Chris Moukarbel had provided more insight into the romances in Lady Gaga’s life (she only brings it up near the end of the film!), but with fellow musical collaborators and her own protective father there’s more than enough male food for thought.  A must-see for fans, but still engaging enough for a newbie like myself, this intimate portrait of the Five Foot Four star stands tall.

(RLJ Entertainment)

Upon receiving the notice of the existence of this genre sequel it left a serious cinema question in mind – did the original horror haunt gone awry themed The Houses October Built even warrant a sequel?  Actually I would say no, but the arrival of this somewhat unneeded follow up has some surprisingly savory scenes.  Watching our heroes go on some creative creep trips (a zombie fun run anyone?!) and evil excursions (how about an undead hayride?!) proves to actually be more movie memorable than the first film.  Plus with a serious lean towards more psychological menace as opposed to merely just being a blood and gore galore fest, this seemingly frivolous fear fest proves fun.

(Shout! Factory Films)

What really gnaws at my movie gut is how formulaic, stereotypical and utterly predictable a film The Tiger Hunter is – and the fact that I enjoyed it anyway.  A typical fish out of water story involving an Indian immigrant who comes to America to become an engineer and hijinks ensue, I nevertheless found myself engaged by earnestness of lead man Danny Pudi, amused by the goofy grin of Jon “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder, wooed by the chemistry between lead lovebirds Pudi and the fetching Karen David and inspired by the simplicity of the films uplifting movie message.  (Just be yourself!)  A classic case of a whole lot of cinematic wrongs still making a right, the enjoyable The Tiger Hunter has me dead bang.

(Monument Releasing)

There are some films that can take an odd genre, add musical numbers and still maintain a film where things don’t feel out of place.  (See this year’s The Lure!)  The problem with the French import Footnotes is that while there are a few toe tapping song and dance bits (the one inside the factory has just the right amount of singing sass!), most within the confines of the simple story of a group of hard working lady shoemakers looking to be respected via a strike feel utterly forced.  (The out-of-place numbers involving the greedy CEO are almost vaudevillian!)  And it’s all a damn shame as the non-musical elements of the story are engaging all on their own, complete with a tasty turn by lead gal Pauline Etienne as a spirited young woman trying to find her way in the world.  I understand the impulse to attach a gimmick to stand out amongst the cinematic fray, but sometimes just being a good movie is good enough.

(High Octane Pictures)

Second Nature is a typical high-concept comedy involving a world where gender issues between men and women are flipped on their ear and it’s very paint by numbers silly stuff.   The charismatic chauvinist gent, the ignored idealistic woman and their various sassy friends – insert comedy bits and shake well.   What is a tad odd here is the go for broke and out of nowhere desire the film has to want to be an R-rated 80’s flick in the middle of what feels like a Hallmark Channel outing.  (Pick one man!)  With a few laughs, some lessons learned and a gaggle of very inappropriate innuendoes, passing this one in the bargain bin is what will become second nature.



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.

3 Responses to “Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Six New Indie Titles”

  1. Brian White

    Just curious because of my own predicament in life did Gaga touch upon her hip surgery at all in the doc? I believe she once had the same procedure I had done and still need to do on my other side. Thanks J!

  2. Jason Coleman

    They don’t discuss it but there are bits that deal with her living with various physical ailments and pain she’s in – she does work hard as a dancing performer.

  3. Brian White

    Gotcha. I’m not a dancer, but Jason my hips don’t lie. Six months of grueling physical therapy and my left hip feels worse than it was before surgery. And I have to do it all again on the other side. I need Gaga’s strength and wisdom OR just her money will do.