‘Jasper Jones’ Is The Cream Of 2018’s Independent Movies Crop

Courtesy: Film Movement/Screen Australia

As the last hours of 2018 near, Phil’s Picks has one final year-ender list to present.  This final list is that of the year’s top new independent movies.

For those who might not follow this critic’s ramblings on a daily basis, this critic has a very strong aversion to mainstream Hollywood and its offerings.  That is because the mainstream movie industry tends to offer so little in terms of originality.  Nowadays, Hollywood’s “Big Six” studios feed audiences a steady diet of nothing but prequels, sequels, reboots, biopics and movies based on actual events.  There is just little to no originality from the mainstream.

Thankfully, the independent industry offers audiences something to enjoy for those looking for that escape.  Level 33 Entertainment offered the touching Running For Grace while Cohen Media Group’s biopic of sculptor Rodin offers its own interest.  Mill Creek Entertainment’s Flora proved to be a surprisingly entertaining watch, and so did Film Movement’s Bye Bye Germany, even with its massive plot hole, that this critic considered in hindsight.  Why would a Jewish prisoner-of-war work with a Nazi officer?  it does kind of negate a big part of that story.

Taking the top spot in this critic’s list of 2018’s top new independent movies is the Australian import, Jasper Jones.  This movie was met with mixed reviews, but this critic’s own view is that it is a powerful watch that addresses (in intended fashion or not) issues of racism even down under in the 1960s.

Second place in this year’s list goes to the noted Mill Creek release Flora.  The movie is a surprisingly enjoyable watch as it takes the classic man vs. nature story and gives an unsuspecting twist that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Third place in this year’s list goes to the previously noted Level 33 Entertainment movie Running For Grace.  Released in early November, is set in Hawaii and finds its main protagonist as he falls in love with a young white woman.  It stars some well-known names, too in the form of Matt Dillon and Jim Caviezel alongside Ryan Potter, Juliet Mills, Olivia Ritchie and Nick Boraine.

Also featured in this year’s list are the Japanese imports, The Third Murder and Outrage Coda along with the Afghan import, An Afghan Love Story just to name some more titles.  As always, this final year-ender features 10 best titles and five honorable mention titles for a total count of 15.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Independent Movies.


  1. Jasper Jones
  2. Flora
  3. Running For Grace
  4. Oh Lucy!
  5. I Am Not A Witch
  6. Rodin
  7. In Between
  8. An Afghan Love Story
  9. The Third Murder
  10. Outrage Coda
  11. Bye Bye Germany
  12. Un Traductor
  13. Midaq Alley
  14. Death and the Maiden
  15. La Boyita

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‘Flora’ Is A Surprisingly Enjoyable Indie Thriller Flick

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment/Eggplant Pictures.Eighty-One Entertainemnt

Audiences today are getting harder and harder to scare and entertain.  What with all of the slasher flicks and overly gory horror movies out there, it’s tough to find a horror or even thriller that really stands out among the masses.  However, every now and then a rare proverbial diamond in the rough will come along and challenge that statement, even as rare as it seems to happen today.  That diamond will see the light of day next week with the home release of Flora.  Set to be released August 7 through a partnership between Mill Creek Entertainment, Eighty-One Entertainment and Eggplant Pictures, this 95-minute thriller — filmed in the forests of Quebec, Canada – is perhaps one of the sleeper hits of the year.  That is thanks in part to its story, which will be discussed shortly.  The story’s pacing strengthens its presentation even more, giving viewers even more reason to watch.  The movie’s cinematography puts the final touch to its presentation, rounding out the most important of its elements.  Each element is obviously important in its own right to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make Flora a surprisingly gripping thriller that deserves at least one watch.

Flora, the latest original offering from Mill Creek Entertainment, Eighty-One Entertainment and Eggplant Pictures is one of this year’s most surprisingly entertaining sleeper hits.  That is proven in part through the story’s own take on the classic man versus nature concept.  In this case, instead of facing animals, the story’s young protagonists are forced to face off against an unseen foe in literally nature itself – a foe that in this case cannot be stopped and kills without even having any sentience.  This comes after the group of young college students is sent into the wild to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a colleague.  Once the group realizes what happened to their friend, the story really takes off, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats.  That’s because the group knows that its odds against nature are slim, which causes the greatest amount of tension and thus the rising action.  Not to give away too much, but its ending is bittersweet to say the very least.  While the concept of man v. nature is nothing new to the cinematic universe, the approach taken with that classic plot in this scenario makes the story something fresh and original, and in turn surprisingly interesting and engaging. While the story itself does plenty to make the movie worth viewing, it is only one part of what makes the movie so surprisingly interesting.  Its pacing actually plays into its presentation, too.

One would imagine basing a story in the wilds of Canada and simply having the story’s protagonists trying to escape the lethality of their confines would make for a rather slow moving tale.  Yet that isn’t the case in this story.  Somehow, writer/director Sasha Louis Vukovic manages to keep the action flowing as the group tries to escape the forest and make its way to the safety of the railroad.  From the group trying to keep from the inevitability of breathing in the lethal fungal spores to just trying to stick together and reach their destination, Vukovic managed to balance very well everything throughout the story.  The result is a story that keeps flowing smoothly throughout and viewers hoping the whole group will survive the forest’s dangers.  Considering that the movie’s run time is only an hour and 35 minutes (not counting end credits), that is saying a lot, again considering the story’s very premise.  When this is considered along with the story itself, the two elements couple to given audiences even more reason to give this surprisingly enjoyable thriller a chance.  It is still not the last of the movie’s most important elements.  The cinematography adds its own touch to the movie’s presentation.

The cinematography presented throughout this movie is outstanding, to say the very least.  The wide shots of the group canoeing down the river and watching from a rocky ledge for their path are among the most powerful visual moments in the movie.  The high energy moments in which the group runs through the forest in order to get out before the spores fly do an equally notable job of capturing the group’s drive to get away from mother nature’s “fury.”  Much the same can be said of the story’s calmer moments.  Even as the group tries to relax, the tension remains, thanks to the close ups and the full shots showing the characters’ body language.  Between those shots and so many others, the cinematography used throughout the movie proves to be just as pivotal to the movie’s presentation as its pacing and its story.  When all three elements are joined together, they make the movie in whole a work that proves truly surprising in its ability to keep viewers engaged and entertained.  It’s not the happiest story, but it still is interesting and is certain to keep viewers engaged and entertained.

Flora, the new man v. nature thriller from Mill Creek Entertainment (in partnership with Eighty-One Entertainment and Eggplant Pictures) is one of this year’s most surprising independent cinematic offerings.  That is due in part to a man v. nature story that takes the classic plot element in a new direction.  It’s a plot that makes escape and survival nigh impossible for the young botanists.  The pacing of that story strengthens its presentation even more as it just as surprisingly manages to keep the story moving forward without missing a step.  The cinematography presented in this movie does just as much to keep viewers engaged and entertained as the movie’s story and its related pacing.  That is because the footage overall is just that beautiful.  When it is considered along with the movie’s story and its pacing, all three elements join to make Flora a powerful new independent cinematic offering that any thriller fan will appreciate.  It will be available this coming Tuesday, August 7 in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online now at:



Website: http://www.millcreekent.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/millcreekent




To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.