INDIE FILM REVIEWS

In filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer’s feature-length debut THE FITS, we are presented with a rare type of coming of age story. One that, at just over one hour, gives us a concoction of near silence, sportsmanship, contagious bodily convulsions, and the age old teenage desire to simply fit in. Sound bizarre? Well, I think we can all agree: secondary school can do strange, unpredictable things to the minds of youth. Heck, it might even make them physically lose control of their own bodies under mysterious circumstances. And as unconventional as it may sound, this is exactly how THE FITS chooses to show us adolescence. With a synopsis that suits the stuff of (urban) legends, the basis of this film plays out like a finger pointing witch trial. It’s a film I can’t soon forget and yet can’t really explain why. However, I’m okay with THE FITS leaving me in a “fit” of wavering confusion from beginning to end because it simply owes me no explanation. As a title, THE FITS sorta plays out like a pun, having both psychological and social implications. From the get go we meet Toni, an 11-year-old girl played by the fittingly named Royalty Hightower. A tight-lipped, preteen with eyes quietly observing her peers, Toni takes on a tomboyish role, preferring to hang out with her older brother, Jermaine (played by Da’Sean Minor), and the other boxers. It’s when Toni awkwardly makes it onto The Lionesses, an all girls dance team, that the two gender spheres start to collide. A pinch of pride, jealousy, love and other flavors of youthful drama mix within the overlap. Quietly lingering in the middle of this recipe? Toni. And though there is drama, it's without the over the top flair. Why? Because the drama becomes their movement. As mysterious seizures (or “fits” as they call them) start to take over Toni’s dance teammates, the viewers are left as stumped as the characters. Everyone starts to fall prey ... well, everyone except for Toni.  The film never really tells the secrets of this ailment. Is this a malady of the mind or body? Is there something in the water? Something paranormal or religiously transcendental happening? Or has the symbolic psychological need to fit in and the fear of being left out overcome rational behavior? Life goes on, hysteria sets in, and here we sit, observing and curious, like our protagonist. These questions bring us to the end of this indie marvel, with a poetic conclusion that plays out like an otherworldly tribal ritual. A feeling of religious release, an unspoken explanation, finally overtakes Toni, our navigator through this world. She too gets "the fits" and finds her beat. Her transition is complete. And like that, we are also done. Holmer’s debut barely gives us any adult figures, leaving us to piece together the story through the movements, words and suspicions of these teenage hysterics. Through the eyes of youth, we also live ignorantly and blissfully unaware of anything outside our circle of consequence. Finish reading this and go watch. As a viewer, you are also best to just give into "the fits" without looking back. 

 

When a director gets summonsed to court for filming an illegal activity, you know it must be a good documentary (read NY TImes Interview). This film from Lotfy Nathan is centered around "Reckless dirt bike riders that parade through Baltimore’s streets", but "it's important to remember that not every day is a joy ride. 12 O’Clock Boys is also a portrait of a family. Coco is raising Pug and his siblings without their father, in a community that is dangerous for reasons that have nothing to do with bike accidents. - See more at: http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/12-oclock-boys.php#sthash.rpY2f...

When asked at the QandA after the film premeire "What did you want the audience to leave thinking at the end?" Director Cutter Hodierne replied, "I simply wanted them to leave thinking." Well he succeeded, and since well deserved hype is escalating around this Somali Pirate Vice Films produced feature. Expanding on his SunDance winning 2012 short film on the same subject, Cutter captures the real truths of the complex situation in a manner that will keep you on the edge of your seats. He pulled wonderful performances out of the largely Somali cast, and we at IndieStreet hope that the "Captain Phillips" release will prove to be a help not a hinderance for the exposure of this more honest and stylized representation of the conflicts on the African Coast. Click here to see a teaser for the feature, as well as the entire short film from 2012.

Stanislav Petrov. Few people know of him... Yet hundreds of millions of people are alive because of him. Many independent films aspire to tackle macro-society issues and intimate human relationships within the same story, but it typically results in over-exposition or a muddy story with underdeveloped characters. "The Man Who Saved the World" succeeds in touching the audience with an important societal concern, while also developing the connective tissues to make us feel for a raw, flawed human being. For this, we thank the director, Peter Anthony, and attending producers, Mark Romeo & Christian D. Bruun. With only a few minor areas of over emphasis on story elements (we assume simply to give this well crafted film more widespread impact), this Doc/Drama could not come more highly recommended from Indie Street.

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a beautiful, intelligent, respected, accomplished linguistics professor, but she’s also starting to forget things. Nothing big – a name or where she put something. As an academic with an insatiable desire to learn and teach, plus a bustling family who still look to her for advice and guidance, it’s not surprising that Alice might be a little distracted or overwhelmed from time to time. Read more at Film School Rejects