LA Film Festival 2018 – More Father/Son Film Reviews

Movies, movies, movies!  The yearly Los Angeles Film Festival (taking place September 20-28 – go to www.lafilmfestival.com for info!) is well underway and the flicks are unspooling fast and furious.  With only a few more days to check out budding filmmakers indie wares, the Coleman duo are hitting the movies like their lives depended on it – and beyond!  So below are twelve cinematic dissections to keep the film fest train moving, everything from tales of dramatic and horrific doubles to cowboys looking for a place to hang their hat, here via Jason and Michael are…More Father/Son Film Reviews!

Jason Coleman’s Reviews



“We Have Always Lived In The Castle” – A decent thriller about eccentric folks who seek refuge from angry townsfolk within their family mansion that never quite reaches maximum unease.  Not that the work by leading ladies Alexandra Daddario (as the ultimate smiling Stepford dame!) and Taissa Farmiga (she does oddball exceptionally well!) and especially resident eccentric Crispin Glover (who finds his wacko stride playing a hothead with Alzheimer’s!) doesn’t add something to the film’s strange mix, but director Stacie Passon fully keeps her film’s suspense on simmer instead of boil.


US Fiction

“Banana Split” – Loved the originality and candid vibe of this tale of two girls, one a former girlfriend and the other a current one of the same guy, who meet and against all odds become unlikely best friends.  The Three’s Company comedy of errors cornball bits are thankfully kept to a minimum, as what shines bright here are the chemistry heavy relationships all around – especially between gal-pal leads Hannah Marks and Liana Liberato.  Portraying realistic relationships at both their best and worst, Banana Spilt is a sweet treat.

“The Wrong Todd” – Infusing the traditional rom-com with a shot of nitroglycerin, The Wrong Todd is a mishmash of many genres that still completely works.  In telling a tall tale of a man who must better himself and learn what is important in life, this one utilizes sci-fi (how about a little regret fixing time-travel?), comedy (Derek K. Moore’s nutty technician almost steals the show!), drama (lead Jesse Rosen plays a terrific sad sack!) and romance (the ultimate truth behind Rosen’s actions bring a tear to the eye!) to hammer it’s fun-loving points across – wrong, but oh-so right.

“Softness Of Bodies” – There’s a taxing quality to following Softness Of Bodies actress Dasha Nekrasova as her American character steals, lies and scams her way through trying to survive become a poet in modern day Berlin.  (An unlikeable lead is a hard thing to root for!)  Plus with so many issues being thrown to the forefront, it’s hard to pinpoint the films’ central theme.  Like an unpolished and scattered piece of prose, Softness Of Bodies could have used a good once over.



“Same God” – Dealing in themes involving religious freedoms, a doc subject well worth tackling, Same God nevertheless misses the mark with its apathetic approach to the films’ subjects.  Meaning it’s gets the full story from the likes of Dr. Larycia Hawkins (an African-American political science professor at Wheaton College involved in a major religious controversy) and her fellow cohorts, but lets the opposition slide and hide in a fashion that would make Michael Moore and Nick Broomfield shake their ‘full story’ heads.  (Writing ‘refused to be interviewed’ in this day and age is not enough!)  A riveting tale that sadly plays it safe, this is one doc that could have used more movie moxie.



“Headcount” – While there are some basic terror tropes within this horror outing, there is definitely enough originality within the creation and execution of the menacing entity that haunts the film’s unsuspecting youths – a vengeful shape shifting evil doer known as a ‘hisji’ – to make this one to seek out for all genre aficionados.  Best is when the story and film are kept more mysterious and moody with elements left to the imagination, as reveals here prove less effect than simple theater of the mind.  A ho-hum horror outing with a real cool concept, Headcount still counts as a nefarious notable to watch.


Michael Coleman’s Reviews


US Fiction

“Simple Wedding” – If My Big Fat Greek Wedding were infused with the cultural divide of The Big Sick, Simple Wedding would be the end product.  A funny and oh-so satisfying romantic comedy, complete with typical tropes and an expected ending that still never ruins the overall film fun.  For a guy who tends to avoid rom-coms, this is one I’d happily RSVP for.


World Fiction

“Heaven Without People” – Set at a family reunion in Lebanon, this cinematic slap in the face unfolds with a carefully crafted slow burn.  A dinner begins with the tried and true food and arguments and then gets darker from there.  Aside from the rapid fire pace of the subtitles, this harsh portrait of family dysfunction is a slice of heaven.

“Socrates” – A 15-year-old boy finds his mother has died in her sleep and must survive Brazilian slums, an estranged and abusive father, and gay persecution.  And while his story is a familiar one of poverty and hardship, engaging in the story still proves somewhat difficult.  Flat, monotone and hard to take, the only thing that saves this one is the effective choice of backdrop.

“The Cotton Wool War” – Tale of a bratty German teen who upon traveling to meet her cold and distant grandmother in Brazil does all she can to get out of dodge.  But what she finds scavenging for items to steal and sell is that her infamous elder is not all she appears to be.  What could have been an effecting drama about family connection is instead a missed opportunity to explore an important relationship in more layered detail.


LA Muse

“Fire On The Hill” – A group of Black cowboy enthusiasts in South Central become lost when their stable burns down.  This one is at its best when showing first hand the roadblocks in rebuilding, but with things still up in the air by the end the film, the doc simply feels unfinished – here’s hoping the horsemen will ride again.



“Mamacita” – Fulfilling a promise to his grandmother filmmaker Jose Pablo Estrada Torrescano returns from Europe to make a film about his Mamacita, the matriarch of the family.  In doing so not only does Torrescano peel back the family layers, but along the way finds some serious skeletons in the closet.  A well-woven work of entertaining and riveting Cinéma vérité, this one is a must-see down to the post credits ending.


We’re not finished yet film fans!  Stay tuned for even more coverage of the 2018 LA Film Festival as we hit the cinematic home stretch – viva la LA Film Fest!



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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