A Look Back at 10 Fabulous Indie Features from 2013 – By Philip Smolen

Writing for Rogue Cinema has opened up an entirely new world for me over the last four and a half years. I feel so privileged to be able to watch and review movies that are made by people who are intelligent, passionate and fiercely determined to complete their cinematic visions. Indie filmmakers do it all. They scrimp, borrow and support one another in order to complete their projects. They overcome incredible obstacles during filming and conquer unbelievable time constraints. They do this all without the support structure of a major studio production. They are a shining example of the “can do” philosophy of this great country we live in. Indie cinema rocks!

So here’s a look back at 10 of my favorite indie films (in alphabetical order) that I watched and reviewed in 2013. All of them are awesome and ambitious productions. And they are all a ton of fun to watch.

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Bruce Paine’s loving tribute to the incredible estate of New Zealand native Alan Kerr Taylor is a collection of breathtaking and highly stylized videos. Consisting of 14 montages, “Alberton” features incredible performances by Paine and his classical guitar. Paine’s tonality and finger-style playing are amazing to watch and immensely soothing to the soul. My favorite videos are “Seringapatam”, which is rich in Indian sitar tonality, and “Music Box Waltz”, where a song from the Taylor’s vintage music box slowly gives way to Paine’s precise performance of the same piece. This is a wonderful collection of videos that Paine has meticulously put together. “Alberton” deserves to be seen and appreciated by music lovers throughout the world.

For more information on “Alberton”, please visit: http://www.brucepaine.co.nz

2. THE AVIATION COCKTAIL (writer/director – DAVID Higgins)

“The Aviation Cocktail” is gritty and moody thriller set in the 1950s. It’s the story of three men; pilot Jack Fisher (Michael Haskins), his sheriff brother Henry (Beau Kiger) and longtime friend Bob Halloran (Brandon Eaton) whose lives fall apart after they murder a suspected serial killer. Writer/director David Higgins explores the lives of his three protagonists and the private hell that each of them is going through. This is an accomplished and an exciting movie, and features blistering performances by all of the leads. A great slice of 1950s Americana that reveals the rot and decay beneath the polished veneer, “The Aviation Cocktail” is a grand film noir and an awesome debut for filmmaker David Higgins.

For more information on “The Aviation Cocktail”, please visit: http://theaviationcocktail.com/film


Anthony M. Greene’s thriller is a riveting tale of a mid level mob hit man (Rick Kain) who is determined to kill his superior after a recent “job” goes wrong. This is a brooding, muscular movie with great performances and a tantalizing storyline. I have always loved movies where an unprincipled killer suddenly finds his moral compass and attempts to change the course of his life. And Greene has a lot of fun with this idea letting Kain plow through all of the mob’s underlings while his boss (Robert Leembruggen) sweats out the inevitable confrontation. Another fun aspect of the film is that Greene fills it with quality local actors (the movie was made in Washington DC) whose physical presence adds much needed subtext to their characters. “The Henchman’s War” is a very cool mob film and a very polished indie feature.

For more information on “The Henchman’s War”, please visit: http://www.thehenchmanswar.com


This is such a wonderful film. It takes an overused cliché and successfully stands it on its head. “Kid Gloves” is about Freddy (Victor Ptak) a 50-something loser whose father once tried to turn him into a boxer. Now, almost half a century later, he decides that it’s finally time to get back in the ring in order to teach his bully of a boss a valuable lesson. Writer/director Adam Simcox takes this overused cinematic theme and gives it new life by making this venture Freddy’s very last chance to reclaim his life. This film is also full of pitch perfect performances by Victor Ptak, Edmund Den, Julian Shaw and Heather Nimmo. The movie is supplemented by a great musical score and incredible puppetry. “Kid Gloves” is a winning variation on the “Rocky” theme that knocks me out and sends me to cinematic heaven.

For more information on “Kid Gloves”, please visit: http://www.kidglovesmovie.com


This delightful 12 minute short tells the story of an art scam and the lengths that some folks will go through in order to perpetuate it. It’s full of double and triple crosses that are eye opening and amusing to watch. The short also features a saucy performance by Suszie Houlihan as the manager of an art holding company. Even if you don’t care about famous paintings, make it a point to look for “Masterpiece.” It’s a great short about the art of deception.

For more information on “Masterpiece”, please go to: http://www.50lbfilms.com/masterpiece.html


Sort of a demented take on “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1948), Carl Bachman’s uproarious short tells the story of a graphic artist nerd named George (Jonathan Le Billion) who has fallen behind on the album cover design for the death metal band Rebortion. Stoned out of his mind, George is visited by a heavy metal-loving demon named Scott (Frederick “Rick” Lawrence) who aspires to teach George all things metal. Freewheeling and fun, this wacky and goofy short even features a fantastic song and dance number (with Scotty decked out in a tux with tails!). “Miracle on Metal Street” is so good that it even gives new meaning to the term “head banging”! What more could a metal head want?

For more information on “Miracle on Metal Street”, please visit: http://www.miracleonmetalstreet.com


The smile still hasn’t left my face after watching this enchanting and very loopy comedy! Tegan Ashton Cohen stars as Audrey Brodsky, a 30-something woman who quits her job and sets out for Hollywood so she can become an actress. The only problem is that she’s awful at it! Cindy Baer’s cinematic tribute to “going for your dreams” is a wild and wacky comedy that has enough charm for at least four Hollywood productions! This is an effervescent and giddy adventure and is full of pleasing performances including Tegan Ashton Cohen, Matthew Kevin Anderson (as Camera One) and Scotty Dickert as the lovable stoner Spuds. Be sure to check out your local film festivals in 2014 for “Odd Brodsky.” It’s a certifiable winner.

For more information on “Odd Brodsky”, please go to: http://www.oddbrodsky.com


A great indie thriller, Ritchie Mitchell’s “S.I.N. Theory” tells the story of a local college math professor (Jeremy Larter) who believes in a theory called the Social Insurance Number Theory that he feels can lead to an algorithm that can predict the action of every person on the planet (including their deaths). When his experiments are proven correct, Larter is pursued by various shadowy men who want the algorithm for themselves. Mitchell has made a marvelous kinetic thrill ride that starts slowly and ends brilliantly. Part sci-fi, part adventure, “S.I.N. Theory” is all excitement and fun and not to be missed.

For more information on “S.I.N. Theory”, please visit: http://www.sintheorymovie.com


In the not too distant future, salesmen will be able to teleport into your home in order to sell you whatever their evil little hearts desire. But when one nerdy salesman (Joe Atkinson) teleports into the home of a woman (Cindy Maples) who’s having an affair with her husband’s best friend (Rusty James), he gets more than he bargained for as things quickly go from bad to worse. Jon Higgins’s delightful spoof of modern day annoyances is a dazzling and witty sci-fi short that plays up to every homeowner’s worst fear. “The Telemarketer” is a breezy eight minute short that’s very funny and takes its comedic cues from some classic Hollywood comedies.

To watch “The Telemarketer”, please go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7y13Rr70n8


Still my favorite horror/comedy of the past few years, “They Will Outlive Us All” (TWOUA) tells the story of two roommates (Jessi Gotta and Nat Cassidy) who notice a lot of strange things going on in their Brooklyn apartment. Neighbors are disappearing, people are standing around like zombies outside their apartment building and their building manager convulses uncontrollably on his floor. Filmed entirely in Brooklyn, TWOUA is clever and weird and very much like an early David Lynch film. I love how Gotta and Shearer deftly blend the comedy and horror and they also successfully develop a great feeling of decay in the film. TWOUA is a superior apocalyptic comedy/horror movie.

For more information on “They Will Outlive Us All”, please visit: http://www.theywilloutliveusall.com