Despite the title clearly aping that of Affleck’s thriller about a missing child, Gone Doggy Gone is not simply a parody of the aforementioned work. Instead, it examines LA dog culture through a loving, yet critical, lens while simultaneously weaving a tale of flawed individuals unknowingly searching for healing. It’s not always a perfect journey, and people who have never wholeheartedly loved a pet may find the characters pitiable rather than relatable, but it’s a satisfyingly heartwarming ride where the doggy star manages to steal her scenes, yet still function beautifully as a plot device. LA couple Elliott and Abby Harmon appear to have everything they could want: matching cars; a cute house perfect for hosting parties; and high powered jobs. Their only real quirk is their obsessive care of their Yorkie Laila who is pampered like a human infant and boasts more stylish clothing than a celebrity baby. Jill, the Harmon’s dog walker/baby sitter, seems just as nutty for the tiny canine, happily referring to Laila as her BFF and using the tiny dog as a substitute for her lack of fulfilling human relationships. When the beloved canine disappears while in Jill’s care, the Harmons fly into a frenzy to get their “baby” back, regardless of the toll it may take on their ties to each other and everyone around them.

Last night at King King in Hollywood, CA, the Kickstarter-funded short film The Bigfoot Hunters held its premiere to a raucous crowd.  The evening was a great success; well attended by a mix of cast, crew, friends, and Kickstarter backers and coupled with a red carpet entryway and the eclectic rock/country sounds of The LA Hootenanny, the energy of the premiere had the crowd amped even before the film began.  As if icing on the cake, the film itself was the climax of the evening, receiving cheers and laughs from an enthusiastic audience.

Pink Zone takes the popular “Young Adults in a Dystopian Future” genre and does it on a shoestring budget. It’s certainly not The Hunger Games, but it’s a good reminder of how a filmmaker can turn a little into a lot, with just a bit of creativity.

Indestructible, from Darby Pop Publishing, explores the notion of superheroes as celebrities. It’s an idea that plenty of other comics (and other media) have touched on before, but perhaps none quite so in-depth as this one. In the world of superheroes, those who use their powers for fame and fortune, instead of altruistically helping the helpless, are generally portrayed as self-absorbed and egotistical, or perhaps as having “lost their way” after a prior career of successful civil service. But, Indestructible shows us a world where altruism and self-promotion aren’t mutually exclusive, and the people making money from their abilities can still be the good guys.

Meet the Patels is a funny and insightful film about the search for true love, but it’s not a romantic comedy. Rather, it’s a film about family and cultural traditions. It’s also a documentary, which makes the characters and situations that much more engaging, knowing that it’s a real story, about real people, not just a warped Hollywood depiction of clichés and stereotypes.

Man from Reno is a complex crime thriller, full of twists, surprises, mistaken identities, and more. At times, it’s a little too complex, making it difficult to keep track of exactly what’s going on from one twist to the next, but, nonetheless, it’s an intense and engaging film that most mystery/thriller fans will enjoy.

If you still haven’t seen Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, find a theater near you that’s still playing it and run there. If you’re like me and running isn’t your thing, you can always check it out when it releases on DVD/Blu-ray today.

The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam is a surreal, colorful, and somewhat fantastical short film. The official description hails it as a “desert Steampunk fantasy,” but I wouldn’t really call it Steampunk. Still, it’s very visually striking and mesmerizing to watch all the way through.  

Odd Brodsky is a film for anyone who has ever wistfully dreamed of Hollywood greatness. At its screening at Dances With Films on Saturday night, writer/director Cindy Baer admitted that the movie comes at least somewhat from her own experiences—but that this wasn’t entirely intentional. They’re the experiences of a person trying to pursue a career in Hollywood against greater odds, and, for anyone who has done so, those experiences tend to be universal.

What is God? Does he exist as an actual entity or merely as a concept in religious doctrine? And, if God does exist, then why do bad things happen to good people? These are just a few of the questions raised by Frank vs. God, which premiered at Dances With Films on Friday night.

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