26 posts categorized "Independent"

June 16, 2017


Return-of-the-secaucus-7In 1980, four years before “The Big Chill” addressed baby boomers crossing over into middle age ennui for mainstream (read Hollywood) audiences, John Sayles created the subject’s wryly indelible mold with an independent ferocity inspired by John Cassavetes’ daring approach to cinematic truth.

Born of lower and middle-class New England families, seven (optimistic but seasoned) friends reunite for a weekend of hanging out, skinny dipping, singing songs, and peeking into the uncertain future staring them in the face. They talk, joke, hook up, and bare their souls to one another in refreshingly honest ways. This film is an exquisite time capsule of New Hampshire culture circa 1980. Dig the Tretorn tennis shoes.


Financed with money he made from writing B-movie scripts for Roger Corman, Sayles’s episodic storytelling breathes with lumpy authenticity. The reunion crew refer to themselves as the “Secaucus 7” (think “the Chicago Seven”) because of an arrest they endured in Secaucus, New Jersey on their way to a protest in Washington D.C. that they were thwarted from attending.


Rated R. 104 mins. (A-) (Four stars — out of five / no halves)

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October 28, 2014


Little FugitiveIt is entirely possible that John Cassavetes would not have become an independent filmmaker were it not for “Little Fugitive.” François Truffaut credited this influential movie with paving the way for the French New Wave.

Made in 1953 by three confident filmmakers, “Little Fugitive” is as much an invaluable filmic document of postwar New York as it is an enchanting incipient work of independent cinema.

Equal parts child character study and social exposé, “Little Fugitive” is about a seven-year-old boy named Joey who “goes on the lam” in Coney Island after his older brother pulls a gun prank that makes Joey believe he accidentally killed another boy.

Little Fugitive (1953) | Film Capsule

The film’s screenwriter Ray Ashley taught in New York City public schools before working as the “education editor” for PM, a '30s-era leftist newspaper where photojournalist Morris Engel also worked before serving as a combat photographer in the Navy from 1941 to 1946. In 1952 Ashley, Engel and Engel’s soon-to-be-wife Ruth Orkin, also a photojournalist, turned their attention to making a movie that could compete with anything being produced in Hollywood. Independent cinema’s roots in socialist ideals were intrinsic to its origin.

Film Appreciation: Little Fugitive

The filmmakers utilized a cast of non-actors and shot the entire movie on a portable hand-held 35mm camera that Morris Engel designed and had built by Charlie Woodruff, a medical engineer. The trade-off was that the smaller camera was not outfitted to record sound. Only after filming did the filmmakers go back and loop in the audio, which the actors had to reproduce in a recording studio. Although the technique was popular at the time with Italian filmmakers, it was unheard of in Hollywood.

American Boy. Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin and Ray Ashley's Little Fugitive |  by Adam Bat | Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second. | Medium

Siblings Joey (Richie Andrusco) and 12-year-old Lennie Norton (Richard Brewster) are a couple of Brooklyn boys living in a small apartment with their single mother. Lennie’s mom (Winifred Cushing) has promised to let Lennie go to Coney Island for his upcoming birthday when she’s called away to care for her sick mother. With Lennie left in charge of babysitting his little brother, the boys take to the streets to play with a toy rifle. Joey begs the older boys to let him fire the gun. Some well-placed ketchup convinces Joey that he has committed murder.

Little Fugitive - Reeling Reviews

In a gleeful display of kid-logic Lennie tells Joey to run away until things “blow over.” Equipped with a few dollars in his pocket, Joey forgets his troubles when he gets to Coney Island and begins to sample everything the festive carnival beach atmosphere has to offer.

Little Fugitive – 60th Anniversary! | Morris Engel Archive

With his belt-holster and toy pistol, Joey rides the carousel, takes his tries in the batting cage, and eats his fill of sodas, cotton candy, and watermelon before discovering his true calling, riding on a pony led by a friendly cowboy. Down to his last dime, Joey discovers a capitalist solution to his dilemma of pressing poverty. He begins collecting deposit bottles to finance his newly discovered lifestyle. Happy crowds mill about. Lovers make out on the beach and make love under the boardwalk in an America lost in a dream of freedom. We are free to imagine the life-lessons that Joey will take away from his escapade as he is reunited with his mom and brother. Like the nature of the film, the theme here is wondrous independence.


Not Rated. 80 mins.

5 Stars

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July 30, 2011


Colesmithey.comThe preteen boys of the '70s who played "war" in their backyards and pored over dirty magazines in their clubhouses are transmogrified into a pair of 21st century twentysomething misfits in writer/director/actor Evan Glodell's wild and woolly contemplation of apocalyptic America.

The characters here possess considerably more aptitude for destruction than their younger predecessors. Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) are a pair of best friends obsessed with building a flamethrower gun and flame-spewing muscle car named Medusa, after the name of their two-man gang "Mother Medusa."

Bellflower' Has Homemade Inventions in Front of and on Camera - The New  York Times

Joel Hodge's saturated cinematography emphasizes the film's lo-fi "Mad Max" intentions. Countless laws were obviously broken to get this rebellious indie film in the can. Woodrow slips into a doomed relationship with an ethically ungrounded blonde, Milly (well played by Jessie Wiseman). The couple's tortured relationship incites its own brand of scorched-earth emotional expression. Blood and fire rain down.

Bellflower | Trailers and reviews | Flicks.com.au

Adventurous, original, and executed with fearless sincerity, "Bellflower" is a thought-provoking commentary on the seething underbelly of an emotionally and intellectually stunted country. Evan Glodell has invented a bold vision of independent cinema that pisses down throat of the "mumblecore" indie movement. Call it "apocalypticore." Here is a movie that sears itself into your eyeballs and brain.

Review: Bellflower - Slant Magazine

Rated R. 105 mins.

4 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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