LA Film Festival 2018 – Final Father/Son Film Reviews

It’s almost time to lower the curtain film fans!  This year’s LA Film Festival is officially over but WhySoBlu.com is still going cinematically strong with this second to last article with eleven indie reviews to round out the 2018 coverage.  From tales of chef’s with a past passion to flicks about rehab and music, the Coleman’s have been hard at work and with the below crop they are close to the movie dissecting finish line – it’s time for Jason and Michael’s…Final Film Reviews.




Jason Coleman’s Reviews



“Ashes In The Snow” – A tough to take tale set in the 40’s amidst Stalin’s dismantling of the Baltic region focuses on an ailing family deported to a Siberian work camp and the horrendous hardships they endure.  Covering very familiar cinematic ground, Ashes In The Snow is about an important period and place, but frankly has nothing new and important to add.  (There’s even a missed opportunity with the interesting and torn soldier played by Mr. Robot alum Martin Wallström!)  The only pinch of light in this dark and depressing outing is the turn by Wildling lead Bel Powley as the optimistic and artistic daughter – Powley shines bright no matter how sad the story.


World Fiction

“Border” – An exercise in being kooky and different for its own sake, the Swedish import Border is a movie mess.  It starts off riveting enough featuring an almost cavewoman looking gal who has an uncanny knack for sniffing out emotions which helps while working her job as a border agent checking people and their luggage.  But the film then proceeds off the deep end infusing elements like a strange daft grinning guy who looks similar to her, creepy baby stuff (this goes way past even Cronenberg territory!) and a long freaky antennae that serves as a phallus.  (Yup!)  Some have hailed this films unique and original material as genius but be warned – weird doesn’t always equal wonderful.


LA Muse

“Funke” – Another doc about perfection in the kitchen, Funke comes alive due to its lead subject’s passion and drive.  Meaning seeing master chef Evan Funke struggling to make a living by doing what he does best – namely being one the few culinary artists who rolls, shapes and hand makes his own pasta the old fashioned way – is easy to appreciate by virtue of the fact that the dedicated man is so damn earnest.  There is a bit of a gloss over previous business endeavors and the folks involved that could have put this one over the top with more detail, but as is Funke perfectly captures the necessity to blend craft with commerce.

“We The Coyotes” – Two newbies from Illinois head out to LA and hit some Southern California snags along the way.  The familiar story certainly feels real, albeit ordinary, but it’s the two heartfelt leads that make this one stand out.  As two young folks with hopes and dreams dashed and fulfilled all at the same time, Morgan Saylor and McCaul Lombardi fortunately both feel like the real deal.



“False Confessions” – An intriguing dissection of the subject of obtainment of false confessions by police, their various nefarious tactics and the folks who suffer and get dragged down by the lies told. It’s definitely engaging not to mention eye-opening to see all of the above, but where this doc misses the whole story mark is in the MIA of those responsible.  Giving no voice, no explanations and no context for their missteps, the quiet of those culpable is deafening – being confronted with the same forceful questioning aptly used with pride by those in power should have been priority one here.


Michael Coleman’s Reviews



“American Dreamer” – Down on his luck, an Uber type driver takes a contract on the side to drive a drug dealer around town.  Starting slowly, the gears shift quickly bringing this taut thriller to seriously tense level.  As far as cast goes Jim Gaffigan is pitch perfect as the driver and Robbie Jones is equally amazing as the menacing drug dealer, but everyone here is memorable.  Finally a dark film dream one wouldn’t mind not waking up from.


LA Muse

“Solace” – Teen orphaned in NY goes to LA under her grandmother’s guardianship.  So begins a realistic presentation of her decline into mental illness – this outings only saving grace.  The film, with blurry and surreal images, becomes boring almost from the start and injects hope too late to redeem this one.



“Unloveable” – A sex addict in rehab discovers both music and a new friend and uses them as recovery aids in this surprisingly enjoyable look at a somber subject.  Charlene deGuzman holds her layered own against the always-solid John Hawkes all under the effective umbrella of helmer Suzi Yoonessi.  Equal parts musical, drama and comedy, Unlovable stays the course and succeeds.

“Jonathan” – Twin brothers, same body inhabiting and videos about events that have happened while one is asleep are just a few of the items that make up this confusing cinematic crapshoot.  Not even normally solid actors Patricia Clarkson and Baby Driver alum Ansel Elgort can save such a befuddling movie mess that even manages to end on a predictable note.  (That’s a film feat!)  Dead Ringers minus any good stuff, Jonathan is junk.



“Wrestling Ghosts” – A family struggles with to raise two young sons in a home where their mother is suffering from effects of her own childhood abuse.  Difficult day-to-day living is juxtaposed with newer therapies for the ailing mom, but with no apparent symptom relief. Sadly the story here sinks into repetition in both elements above and ultimately gets weighed down by any absence of improvement.



“Spell” – When a wife dies, her husband left behind goes to Iceland to grieve and clear his head, only to have it then filled with magic and superstition by suspicious locals.  The result is a movie that does not know what it wants to be or where it’s going – and the audience gets pointlessly lost right alongside it.


Only one more thing left to do – determine the best of fest!  So stay tuned for the final piece of coverage via the LA Film Festival 2018 in the form of Jason and Michael Coleman’s coveted Best Of Fest ‘Wrap Up!’


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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