Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Twelve New And Old Indie Titles

Since the year is winding down yet award hopefuls are hitting now fast and furious, there is no shortage of indie outings to choose from.  So to help alleviate the overabundance of movies past and present I’m taking fans over the next two months on my journey of not only the traditional tried and true weekly releases, but also flicks that have been mentioned to me as ones to see this year.  So the twelve films listed below represent both the new and old (though still from 2018!) as I keep on the search for movies to fill out my end of the year best film list.  From docs on kids who cook, Hollywood harassment, and the merits of communism in Gilligan’s Island to features about father/daughter relationships, bad call center events, killer horse wranglers, dads with dark secrets, killers who know how to party, love across time, hospitals designed for criminals, troubled teen mermaids and puppets that are putrid the following films are all given critical dissection for your convenience.  Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews of Chef Flynn, Hearts Beat Loud, The Guilty, The Reckoning: Hollywood’s Worst Kept Secret, Lasso, The Clovehitch Killer, Monster Party, How Long Will I Love U, Hotel Artemis, Blue My Mind, The Gilligan Manifesto and Possum below.

(Kino Lorber)

A sort of pint-size version of the many recent docs involving food artists, Chef Flynn is all about a ten-year-old boy who gets the culinary bug and sets out to be the best.  Besides the obvious ‘cute kid cooking’ bits, what this doc does decently is get into of the more interesting nooks and crannies like initial influences (seems an MIA dad and over-worked mom forced cooking creativity out of a young and helpful Flynn early on), parental honesty (mom admits she is losing her identity amidst Flynn’s celebrity whirlwind) and even rare dour moments (there is a service of twelve courses that goes vastly awry!) that all help add extra flavor to the fun here.  Proving that art knows no age, Chef Flynn candidly shows it’s never too late – or too early – to follow ones passion in life.

(Gunpowder & Sky)

A humorous decent drama involving a close father and daughter going in different directions – his downward about to lose his record shop and hers upward about to go off to med school.  They both have their own ho-hum individual adventures along the way (a friendly gal landlord for him and an intense girlfriend for her) but it’s their relationship together that makes this one a winner.  As a family duo brought together by a love of song, music and performing, Nick Offerman (wry as ever!) and Kiersey Clemons (wonderfully real!) bring a terrific dynamic to their poignant on-screen relationship and as such it’s their work together that proves to be the titular beating heart of this powerful piece.

(Magnolia Pictures)

The frenetic pace of Phone Booth mixed with the engaging tone of Locke, The Guilty sees a street cop relegated to working the phones at an alarm dispatch that gets more than he bargained for with the arrival of a call from a kidnapped woman.  Unraveling in layers in a single location with theater of the mind fully at play, helmer Gustav Möller definitely does a decent job keeping the tension and surprises hitting fast and furious, plus gets one soulful turn out of lead questionable cop Jakob Cedergren.  Only down side are some predictability and plausibility issues along the way, but nevertheless The Guilty still manages to always keep captivating on the line.

(Vertical Entertainment)

A further doc examination of not only the ground breaking work by the likes of Ronan Farrow and other who helped expose an out of control Harvey Weinstein, but also the whole #MeToo movement from various folks on the front lines.  From earnest chat with Ronan’s sister Dylan to talks with various Harvey victims, there’s a sick pattern of behavior immersed in the powerful lights of Tinseltown that is utterly exposed here warts and all.  And while this one could have done with some salacious confrontations (James Toback seems ripe for a heated exchange!) and less mud slinging (the reporter calling out Gloria Allred here is laughable – when you’ve done as much good as she has then you can speak up!) to be a more favorable doc, The Reckoning is decent enough…for openers.

(Epic Pictures)

A standard middle of the road slice and dice horror outing that sees a group of tourists and performers trapped inside a rodeo where the clowns are demented and the ropes have sharp objects ready to cut bone.  Some fun thrills (how about a very large branding tool – piping hot!), kills (a little rope stretch anyone?!) and quirky characters (some of the gang here are part of an ‘Active Senior Tour’ meaning blood and Geritol flow freely!) to keep things interesting and entertaining, but Lasso is ultimately a paint by numbers ruckus rodeo ride we’ve seen before.

(IFC Midnight)

There are some novel ideas involving family and religion that are brought to the forefront of this tale of a son who suspects that his Leave it to Beaver style dad might be a long sought after serial killer.  But amidst some of the more suspenseful bits (the detective work by the son proves to be some tense and disturbing stuff!) there are also some cheesy situations and characters (Dylan McDermott’s dad Don is a tad over the top!) for a film that never quite makes it past just being interesting.  A premise that could have messed up minds but still shown less, Clovehitch is film that lacks finesse.

(RLJE Films)

A poor man’s The Collector, which sees three thieves head into a mansion to steal some loot (one of which of course has to do so to save family!) only to come face to face with even more deviant human animals inside.  There’s an incredible lack of focus in terms of tone (is this one serious, ironic or just trying too hard to be witty?!) and most of the characters are somewhat lacking (leading man Sam Strike has nothing on Josh Stewart’s skilled stealer!), but there is still enough cool carnage going on within the wacky party walls to keep the homicide horror hounds happy.

(Well Go USA)

A highly original initial premise that sees a man and woman who live in the same apartment (he in 1999 and she in 2018!) suddenly squished together in a topsy-turvy time travel accident.  (The set dec should be up for an Oscar!)  A forced Odd Couple with romantic overtones makes for some magical moments for sure, but with the arrival of nefarious doubles and complicated space-time rules this one gets a tad too bogged down for a romantic comedy.  A film where the lead lovers are more than enough, this sweet story should have kept it simple.

(WME Global/Global Road Entertainment)

Can a film have too many wacky players?  That’s the main question within Hotel Artemis about a hospital for criminals that sees a surge in dangerous patients on a single night.  Loved surly robber Sterling K. Brown (someone get that guy more movies ASAP!) and kick ass gal Sofia Boutella (don’t cross her damn line!), but with the inclusion of the likes of Charlie Day as a whiny thug, Jodie Foster as a distracted doctor and even Jeff Goldblum as a calm kingpin, Hotel Artemis gets a firm case of way too many quirky characters in the kitchen.  (Even Dave Bautista and Zachary Quinto show up in this one!)  Thrilled because of they got all the actors they could, this one needed to stop and ask for story sake if they should.

(Uncork’d Entertainment)

A Swiss import that’s a coming of age story mixed with some literal fish out of water events, Blue My Mind had real potential to shake up the genre.  But it’s firm desire to fixate on the more rebellious and raunchy teen acts of defiance of it’s lead gal rather than mermaid mayhem ones ultimately proves to be it’s downfall – a flick more interested in salacious moments than fantastical ones.  (A real shame as star Luna Wedler has a captivating screen presence!)  Wildling with little of the wonderment, Blue My Mind should have cast its cinematic fish hook with more careful consideration.

(Spectacle Films, Inc.)

While this doc desperately wants to convince the viewer of the connection between Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and story elements on the hit TV show Gilligan’s Island, the outcome merely feels like a nostalgic walk down memory lane.  Not that the filmmakers don’t cover all bases with everything from voting integrity to the justice system within various episodes, but the end result simply feels like a ‘best of’ Gillian vid.  And while there are great bits to hammer home the points (the archival Communist videos are priceless!) and a toe-tapping music selection to die for, the main theme of this one gets lost right alongside the fearless crew of the SS Minnow.

(Dark Sky Films)

An idle short film or slow stage play that over stays its welcome, Possum is one tough and arduous psychological outing to get through.  Stagnate, filled with repetitive scenes and featuring a story that goes nowhere, not even the creepy skull faced Possum puppet can save this one from being a film to forget.  When even icy Mission Impossible baddie Sean Harris cannot keep the audience glued, it’s time to hang up horror helming.



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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