Indy Filmmakers Will Relate to the Faustian Bargain in ‘The Devil’s Tongue’

The Devil’s Tongue Rating: 8/10 Written & Directed: Julian Gowdy Style: Thriller Time: 78 minutes Review by Mike Szymanski At what price will it take to get your movie made? Anyone who has ever made, or met someone involved in making, an independent movie will know and can relate to the problems of this director that he is facing in this movie. While making his … Continue reading Indy Filmmakers Will Relate to the Faustian Bargain in ‘The Devil’s Tongue’

A ‘Tonic’ That’s Fresh and Stimulating, But Hard to Swallow

Tonic Rating: 7/10 Written & Directed: Derek Presley Style: Crime Drama Time: 103 minutes Review by Mike Szymanski Initially, “Tonic” feels like a movie we’ve seen before: about a loser schlub who is down on his luck, owes a big debt, and faces deadly circumstances. But “Tonic” takes some surprising twists and turns as we find that he isn’t that much of a loser and … Continue reading A ‘Tonic’ That’s Fresh and Stimulating, But Hard to Swallow

‘Summoning Sylvia’ Will Make You Squeal With Delight

Summoning Sylvia Rating: 8/10 Directors: Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse Style: Horror Comedy Time: 75 minutes Rated: R Trailer: https://www.summoningsylvia.com/trailer Review by Mike Szymanski Three friends kidnap their friend for a bachelor party and rent an infamous haunted house. The friends are gay — very gay, and flamboyantly so. The reason they are so over-the-top (and we all know those who are actually that way) is … Continue reading ‘Summoning Sylvia’ Will Make You Squeal With Delight

It’s One Stuck-up ‘Country Club’ You Won’t Mind Visiting

The Country Club Rating: 7/10 Director: Fiona Robert Writers: Fiona and Sophie Robert Style: Comedy Time: 89 minutes Trailer: https://vimeo.com/773459022/82f7860869?share=copy Review by Mike Szymanski You’ve driven past those snooty country clubs with those grand estates, high bushes, elite dress codes, impenetrable cliques and membership fees that mere mortals cannot afford. Maybe you’ve even eaten at the overpriced, over-rated restaurants at the club (there’s even a joke … Continue reading It’s One Stuck-up ‘Country Club’ You Won’t Mind Visiting

Put Your Hands in the Air for ‘One for All: The DJ Chris Villa Story’

One for All: The DJ Chris Villa Story Rating: 9/10 Director: Jeremy A. Lopez Style: Documentary Time: 110 minutes Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkNlfTSmjRc Review by Mike Szymanski You can figure out how most documentaries will end. There may be facts that surprise and motivate you, but you generally know the slant of the doc and how it’s all going to end up. This is a documentary that … Continue reading Put Your Hands in the Air for ‘One for All: The DJ Chris Villa Story’

‘Boonie Bears: Back to Earth’ is Out of This World

Boonie Bears: Back to Earth Rating: 8/10 Director: Huida Lin Writers: Lin Jiang, Qin Wan and Rachel Xu Style: Animation/ Family/ Sci-Fi Time: 97 minutes Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9HdOW8Og3c Review by Mike Szymanski How did I not know about the Boonie Bears? Of course, if you don’t have toddler-to-elementary school-aged children, you may not keep up with children’s shows, but the Boonie Bears are going to be an … Continue reading ‘Boonie Bears: Back to Earth’ is Out of This World

‘Discontinued’ Mixes Teen Angst and The End of The World for a Pleasing Comedy

Discontinued Rating: 9/10 Director: & Writer: Trevor Peckham Style: Sci-fi/Comedy Time: 91 minutes Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUQBAbZ6B1g Review by Mike Szymanski It’s tough to make a teen comedy that’s smart and for an overall audience. Mix in sci-fi elements and a good teen film is practically non-existent (a good one, that is.) “Discontinued” is not necessarily a teen comedy, in fact, it’s for everyone — and perhaps for … Continue reading ‘Discontinued’ Mixes Teen Angst and The End of The World for a Pleasing Comedy

As Far as Wedding Family Movies Go “My Sister’s Wedding” Takes the Cake

An Indie wedding comedy… My Sister’s Wedding Rating: 8/10 Written and directed: Kenneth R. Frank Style: Comedy Time: 82 minutes Trailer: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=mpbAl7uQZ44 Review by Mike Szymanski Like “Four Weddings and a Funeral” or “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” or a multitude of other comedies, the family comes undone during the tying of matrimonial knots — and it’s usually very funny, as well as tragic. “My Sister’s Wedding” is … Continue reading As Far as Wedding Family Movies Go “My Sister’s Wedding” Takes the Cake

Seething, Erotic and Funny: This ‘Wild Fire’ is Something You Cannot Put Out

Wild Fire Rating: 7/10 Director: Jennifer Cooney Writer: Jennifer Cooney Style: Drama Time: 145 minutes Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyfR9O-qaz0 Review by Mike Szymanski This unconventional film is intriguing from the beginning. It starts off with classical-sounding music playing and no one is talking for nearly the first eight minutes as we watch a buxomy woman in a negligee seducing s a cute blonde woman who is in bed … Continue reading Seething, Erotic and Funny: This ‘Wild Fire’ is Something You Cannot Put Out

Diverse and Edgy Musicians Perform, Dance and Reveal on the ‘Indie Rooftop’

Indie Rooftop Rating: 7/10 Director: Jasmine Allen Tillman Writer: Jasmine Allen Tillman Style: Music Documentary Time: About 20 minutes, 7 episodes Review by Mike Szymanski From Baltimore to Nigeria, Manhattan to Virginia, documentary filmmaker Jasmine Allen Tillman found the most diverse and colorful critically-acclaimed indie musicians who are filmed in Chicago. She had them come up to a rooftop studio and play their music and … Continue reading Diverse and Edgy Musicians Perform, Dance and Reveal on the ‘Indie Rooftop’

‘The Green Oak Guardian’ is A Romance You Can Really Love

The Green Oak Guardian Rating: 9/10 Director: Lana Read Writer: Duane Abel Style: Romantic Comedy Time: 92 minutes Trailer: https://vimeo.com/unitedffilms/the-green-oak-guardian-tease Review by Mike Szymanski Every great romance story involves two unlikely lovers who somehow end up falling for each other against all odds. Since Romeo and Juliet, it’s the same plot, whether you’re talking bout “You’ve Got Mail,” “Casablanca,” or my favorite (and widely underrated) romantic … Continue reading ‘The Green Oak Guardian’ is A Romance You Can Really Love

A Fitting Tribute to a Legend in the documentary “Burt Reynolds: The Last Interview”

Burt Reynolds: The Last Interview Rating: 9/10 Director and Writer: Rick Pamplin Style: Documentary Time: 103 minutes Trailer: www.imdb.com/video/vi4087333913 Review by Mike Szymanski The first time I was lucky enough to meet Burt Reynolds and interview him as an entertainment journalist, he sized me up and guessed my age and said, “You probably made out during ‘Smokey and the Bandit.’ “ I blushed and recalled my … Continue reading A Fitting Tribute to a Legend in the documentary “Burt Reynolds: The Last Interview”

A Dark Comedy with Irrepressible Kids is Family Fun in ‘Daddy’s Divas’

Daddy’s Divas Rating: 7/10 Directors: David Tittone Writers: David Torre and David Tittone Style: Comedy Time: 20 minutes Trailer: youtube.com/watch?v=xHo2XOQ2zlA Review by Mike Szymanski This series of short, clever and funny stories about a widower and his three girls are about 20 minutes long each, and they are cute and enjoyable for the entire family. It’s hard to find edgy family comedy like this today. … Continue reading A Dark Comedy with Irrepressible Kids is Family Fun in ‘Daddy’s Divas’

If You Love B Horror Flicks You’ll Get Sucked Into ‘Mind Leech’

Mind Leech Rating: 8/10 Directors: Chris Cheeseman and Paul Krysinski Style: Horror/Comedy Time: 61 minutes Website: https://www.mindleech.com Review by Mike Szymanski If you love kitschy B-horror movies that are almost as funny as they are scary, you will easily get sucked into “Mind Leech.” I am one of those critics who loves to watch the B-horror Roger Corman-ish films over and over again, and I love … Continue reading If You Love B Horror Flicks You’ll Get Sucked Into ‘Mind Leech’

Some Powerful Film Finds at Slamdance 2023

By Mike Szymanski Don’t think of Slam Dance as an also-ran to Sundance! It is established by a wild bunch of filmmakers who wanted to showcase the unfiltered voice of independent artists, Slamdance is an ongoing experiment that has proven, year after year, when it comes to recognizing talent and launching careers, the independent and grassroots film communities can do it themselves. This year, Slamdance happened from … Continue reading Some Powerful Film Finds at Slamdance 2023

Sweet Romantic Connections Weave through ‘The Seasons — Four Love Stories’

The Seasons — Four Love Stories Rating: 8/10 Director and Writer: Paul Schwartz Style: Romance Time: 82 minutes Trailer: https://www.vimeo.com/745909945 Website: https://www.paulschwartz.com/new-page-1 Romantic films are tough sells these days, because they tend to sway toward the schmaltzy, ridiculous and painfully obvious. Not so here. This series of beautiful and simple love stories not only give us hope for the future, but hope for romantic movies. And it’s … Continue reading Sweet Romantic Connections Weave through ‘The Seasons — Four Love Stories’

Take a Big Bite Out of ‘Love Charlie, The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter’

Love Charlie, The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter Rating: 6/10 Director and Writer: Rebecca Halpern Style: Documentary Time: 96 minutes Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2gVkngEg2M You may never have ever heard of Charlie Trotter (I know I didn’t) but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a fascinating documentary subject. He created a great deal of masterful culinary pieces of art that other great chefs rave about, but he … Continue reading Take a Big Bite Out of ‘Love Charlie, The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter’

You Don’t Need to Speak about ‘Alchemy of Spirit’

Alchemy of Spirit Rating: 6 /10 Director: Steve Balderson Writers: Steve Balderson Style: Horror Time: 135 minutes Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHo73DC5gZs Official website: dikenga.com/alchemy-of-the-spirit It’s all underneath, it’s all buried within. Haunting, bubbling and frustrating all at once, this movie has very little dialogue and a lot of visual artistry. A man wakes up to find his wife dead next to him, and what he decides to do after … Continue reading You Don’t Need to Speak about ‘Alchemy of Spirit’

A Bit of Gender Trickery in a Youth Classic Come to Film through the ‘Rickshaw Girl’

Rickshaw Girl Rating: 7/10 Director: Amitabh Reza Chowdhury Writer: Shabari Z. Ahmed Style: Adventure, Family Drama Time: 101 minutes Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2gVkngEg2M Review by Mike Szymanski The vibrant colors in this movie about the slums of Bangladesh make the bleakness of the story so much more palatable. There is beauty, color, vibrance. There are original native costumes in every scene, naturalistic paintings on every wall and beauty … Continue reading A Bit of Gender Trickery in a Youth Classic Come to Film through the ‘Rickshaw Girl’