Friday, January 20, 2017
Director John Lee Hancock gives us another look at Americana with The Founder just as he did with the football in The Blind Side and Disney with Saving Mr. Banks. This is the birth of the fast food concept and big business of corporate restaurant franchising. If you have ever eaten at McDonald’s, like American dream stories, or if you are interested in business, you should see The Founder. This biographical drama tells the origin story of the fast food chain McDonald’s through the point of view of Ray Kroc and does not disappoint.
In 1954, Ray Kroc was a frustrated milkshake mixer salesman from a Chicago suburb when he received a serendipitous order from the McDonald brothers. Immediately intrigued, Kroc, hopped in his car and took Route 66 to San Bernardino, California, to experience a new burger joint called McDonald’s. Frustrated by burger drive-ins lack of efficiency, cold food, incorrect orders, broken and stolen plates, Brothers Richard “Dick” and Maurice “Mac” McDonald had figured out how to standardize restaurant food production in the most efficient ways possible creating a new walk up to go business model for delicious, fast food hamburgers with disposable packaging. Blown away by the “speedee” concept, Kroc convinces the brothers to let him franchise the restaurant.
Screenwriter Robert Siegel delivered an incredible script which honors the McDonald brothers and the legacy of Kroc. He tells the American dream story with all its blessings and curses using one of the biggest symbols of America –the golden arches. Everyone in the cast shines with spot on performances. Michael Keaton, who plays Ray Kroc, takes you on a range of emotions from rooting for him as the underdog to respecting and hating him. Nick Offerman who plays Richard “Dick” McDonald perfectly portrays the inventor and engineer showing his gifts and limitations. Laura Dern plays Kroc’s first wife. You feel her loneliness and sadness as a 1950s housewife every second she is on screen.
The path to creating one of the biggest corporations in the world was dirty, bumpy, and not pretty. Feelings are hurt. Hearts are broken. Fortunes are made. You feel for both the McDonald Brothers and Ray Kroc in the film. They all chased the American Dream with a series of businesses. As the McDonald brothers say in the film, “McDonalds is an overnight success thirty years in the making.” They all had financial disappointments but kept going. For better and for worse, the brothers took a conservative approach and Kroc went whole hog, but all three change our world.
Today, it is probably difficult to find an American who has never eaten at a McDonald’s. We know it by many names like the Golden Arches and Mickey-Ds. McDonald’s has sold over 100 billion hamburgers. It has become part of the American landscape and a symbol of America on the world landscape. It is estimated that over 68 million people eat McDonald’s everyday. And thanks to Harry Sonneborn and Ray Kroc, McDonald’s Corporation is the one of the largest landowners in the world. Most of its revenue stream comes from it property.
There are many great takeaways from this film:
1. If it is not in writing, it does not exist. Contacts. Contracts. Contacts. My Mother has been desperately trying to get me to understand this critical concept my entire life.
2. Dreamers and innovators usually can only take a concept or business so far. At some point, their big vision becomes narrow and they cannot take it to the next level.
3. There is no overnight success. We tend to only hear about success and what works. But for every success, there are countless failures where hard lessons are learned to later create the right conditions for “success” to happen.
4. You have to know what business you are in, because business is brutal.
5. Good customer service always wins.
6. “Persistence and Determination” keep trying again and again.
7. Don’t give up on your dreams. Think big picture and dream bigger.
(Review by Erin Nicole Parisi
Thursday, January 19, 2017
There have been many films with characters who battle dis associative identity disorders ( schizophrenia, multiple personalities) from All About Eve to Sybil to A Beautiful Mind. DID's affect perhaps just 1% of the population but the 6 character(s) portrayed by a singular James McAvoy are wonders to behold in their diversity and expression. We meet six of the 23 who reside in his one body.
M. Knight Shyamalan has had a couple of thriller hits on his hands, with jaw dropping twists, followed by several less well received films that generally disappointed the critics. This latest offering is somewhat anticipated as film lovers eagerly anticipate whether he has returned with a quality offering, worthy of the ticket price
Going in knowing as little as possible about the storyline and characters as possible is the way to go here. McAvoy's onion peeling performance is by far the star attraction here. He plays Kevin Wendell Crumb, who is being seen in therapy by Dr. Karen Fletcher ( Betty Buckley), who has long documented the various personalities over the years and views Kevin as someone who can demonstrate real altered states of a physiological nature within Kevin and she suspects something foul is afoot where Kevin lives.
Turns out he has kidnapped three young women following a birthday party, and is keeping them prisoner. One by one, each of several characters within him make themselves known to the girls and an ominous warning is made about the "one to come" who has an evil, destructive purpose.
Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) plays Casey Cook, the more cerebral of the three girls, is a social outsider. The other two girls want to use brawn over beauty and brains to escape but they are simply annoying and cumbersome baggage to Casey. They have led perfect and privileged lives and Kevin has taken notice. Casey, it seems, has a backstory, told in flashback, in that her father, who taught her to hunt, has died. She is being raised by an uncle. Casey, it turns out, is not a stranger to trauma and its after effects. As a result, she chooses to use mind over brawn in attempts to outwit Kevin and attempt to secure their freedom.
Don't waste time waiting for any twists or reveals in this film. The joy is in watching McAvoy bring 9 year old Hedwig, artistic and engaging Barry, germophobe Dennis, controlling Miss Patricia and lesser others to life. Each one unique in voice, demeanor, dress, body language, facial expression and tics. With his face alone, he can morph from one to another in seconds, like they are poured onto him, one after another, and he is delightful to watch
The setting, somewhere underground with pipes and rooms and storage is suffocating, stifling and claustrophobic, a house of potential horrors where the personalities reside in shared spaces. The pace is controlled and deliberate.
There is the requisite MKS cameo and moments of playful interaction as the horror of what Kevin will become and why is revealed in bits and pieces. Two characters are trying to take over wounded boy Kevin, and the others keep trying to warn the Doc and keep "the beast" at bay. This new guy should be visiting sometime soon and he doesn't really want to play very nice.
Split is fascinating purely as a Psyc study. McAvoy only filmed one character per day and took the role when Joaquin Phoenix no longer could consider it. The film is fluid and riveting, confident in its unfolding and leaves some raised eyebrows in end. The script has so few holes as to not be annoying or distracting and it appears that M. Knight, writer and director, is back, which will please his most loyal fans.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)
Title: The Founder
Runtime: 1hr & 55min
The Subliminal Messing Worked and I Definitely Didn’t go to McDonald's Afterwards.
From the awards season chatter to my obesity filled childhood, there was a lot to look forward to with this movie. The McDonald's story done like The Social Network style, count me in! I got that, kind of, but this movie is more dividing on a moral stand point and what the actual message is. Let’s get reel and break this down.
The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers' fast food eatery, McDonald's, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world.
Director John Lee Hancock does create a story that was naturally intriguing from the start given the history behind this company. The American dream is in full force and really does question what is moral when it comes to the business world and surviving in it. The authenticity of the 50’s and 60’s aesthetically was well done and he really puts you back in that time. Hancock always creates solid looking biopics. This is also a negative.
Hancock also has this tendency to create glossy, “Hollywood” looking movies (which actually worked in Saving Mr. Banks) and with this story of betrayal and some unlikable people I wish there was a bit more emotional punch and depth to the story. Speaking of unlikable people, Keaton plays Ray Kroc and we are supposed to follow him. He has very questionable business ethics and morals throughout and provides a negative message towards the end. Just note, there was a bit of character arc and development but it was a little too late. Kroc isn’t the only terrible person. Besides the actual McDonald's brothers, everyone is unlikable and extremely scummy. The weird thing is you really can’t fault the movie itself because it’s based on real people and personalities; but you sit there with a confused look on your face as to why this movie was made and what was ultimately the point. Other characters also are one-dimensional, under-developed, and don’t have much to do i.e. Laura Dern’s character.
Despite the character himself, Michael Keaton is wonderful and really sells the likability at the beginning and venomous distaste for him at the end. He had a slight charm that made him interesting to watch. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch, may have been a bit gullible as the McDonald brothers, but had a balanced back and forth with one being against Kroc and greed and the other pushing to make his brother’s dream come true.
Honestly, everyone else was ok at best given their character and screen time. The chemistry between Laura Dern and Keaton was non-existent …but when you see the movie maybe that was the point?
The colors pop, the style from the clothes and cars have that flair and accuracy, and it’s pleasant to look at.
The actual camera angles, movements, and overall visual creativity are a bit flat.
Running at two hours, I was fascinated by the absurdity that Kroc got away with and kept my interest throughout.
The awful actions of the characters and mean-spirited nature can turn off some people and feel like a chore to get through.
Believe it or not, with all my cons, I would still recommend this and even say it’s a solid movie. I wish it would have reached the emotional level and punch of a The Social Network and The Wolf of Wall Street given the story and how it shows the bad side of human behavior, greed, and competition within the business world. Michael Keaton is definitely the selling point for anyone to see this movie…because you know…Michael is a boss.
Review by Chase Lee
Not everything is what you think it is in “Split” a dark psychological horror thriller from Universal Pictures that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Anyone who’s anyone knows how M Night Shyamalan movies go, because there’s always a twist at the end that you never see coming. This is no different as M Night Shyamalan’s 14th film to date, with this current film he wrote, directed, produced, and as always starred in. The original choice for the leading role was going to be Joaquin Phoenix but that fell through thankfully they chose James McAvoy for the lead in this cliffhanger.
James McAvoy’s (X-Men: Apocalypse, Filth) portrayal of Kevin a man with D.I.D. (dissociative identity disorder) is a compelling tour de force, playing many different characters all in one man. Along side him the stunning Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Morgan) plays Casey Cook one of his captives, also in this mind bender is the great Betty Buckley (Carrie, The Happening) is no stranger to horror or Mr. Shyamalan’s movies and brings a baseline to the film as she plays Dr. Karen Fletcher, Kevin’s psychologist trying to help him. If you feel jaded by other M Night Shyamalan films get ready because you won’t be with this one, he’s back and better than ever. The twists and turns never stop even with comedic relief at times but mostly it’s just nervous laughter because you’re just that creeped out by the whole premise. With the budget only being $10 million this movie is considered low budget, but with the claustrophobic feel it wasn’t necessary to have a big budget anyway. What really sells this movie is James McAvoy performance his character screams at you through the screen with the mere twitch of his brow he switches personalities and you begin to learn who’s who. As Casey and the others fight for their lives to escape you have a morbid need to root for Kevin just to see what happens next but also pity him too.
The build-up to the climax is ever marching on making you beg for more. If this is what M Night Shyamalan has in store for the future I definitely can’t wait for his next film. Overall this movie is very well made and very well executed, even with the controversy of the stigmatized depiction of people with mental health issues still this movie earns a place on the shelf of horror cult classics and definitely worth the ticket.
(Review by Samantha Leggio)
After a plethora of dead on arrival duds like 2010’s “The Last Airbender” and the abysmal “After Earth” in 2013, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has orchestrated a finely nuance tale with “Split.”
“Split” is not a great movie per se, nut it improves on garbage like the aforementioned films as well as the mess that was “The Happening” in 2008. I am not sure how he screwed it up, but making wind the antagonist of the story just did not gel in the end.
“Split” follows James McAvoy’s Dennis, a person with 23 distinct personalities who kidnaps a trio of friends on an ordinary day. The twist in this one is The Beast, a 24th distinct personality.
Dennis also spends time with his therapist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who knows of the distinct and differing personalities. In one of his rare moves as a director, he brings back a person he previously worked with. Here, it is
Betty Buckley, who worked with Shyamalan on “The Happening.”
Of the trio of girls, the one who stands out is Anya Tyler-Joy’s Casey Cooke, an outsider who does not really fit into the mix. The other girls are worried about their own welfare and never truly question each other about their circumstances at hand.
Like I said earlier, this one has a major pretzel twist I cannot really mention because it in it all likelihood would curtail the reader from even spending their hard earned money on this tale.
It also deals with a variety of issues, such as abuse and self-worth.
I would recommend this for suspense fans, but not necessarily a full price admission.
(Review by Ricky Miller)
This feature debut from British TV director Adam Smith tells the story of a clan of thieves living in trailers in rural England. Written by Alastair Siddons, the film could have used subtitles to decipher the harsh accents and maybe footnotes to explain the slang. The plot is slight, and somewhat predictable. It's the strength of the cast and their sincerity of their performances that keep it afloat because it's hard to find any empathy for the group of aimless nefarious trouble makers.
The Cutlers and crew live in trailers or "shells" on spot of land like gypsies. They supplement their income by crime and spend their days playing pranks on the cops. Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) is the illiterate getaway driver. He's married to Kelly (Lyndsey Marshall) and has a young son and daughter. It's occurring to Chad that his errant lifestyle may not really be in the best interest of his kids who are enrolled in the local school. The leader of the clan, Colby Cutler (Brendon Gleeson) is a religious spouting anarchist who encourages his grandson to disrespect the authorities and the world may be flat. Chad had been arrested a few times, but never charged with anything due to lack of evidence. Chad makes plans to move his family out of their roaming existence and into a real home so the children can become educated. Colby sets a reluctant Chad on a job breaking into a big wigs home, which they crash a car into the house, then set it afire. They are chased again and become national news for their escapades. Chad's dreams of breaking away become more difficult with a price on his head.
The relationship between Chad and Colby is complicated as this is the only life they have ever known. Colby begins to feel Chad's resistance and coupled with the manhunt disrupting their lives. There's some car chases and people flying off the handle at any provocation. The only real emotions come at the end when Chad is able to express his love for his family, maybe finally realizing that his wish for a stable home is just an elusive dream.
(Review by reesa)
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Cowboys, rain, and politics. What a way to start the year. We are so lucky here in the DFW area to have so many outlets offering us chances for passes. We only ask that you make sure that you are actually going to attend the screening. Read all the fine print, like where and when. Also be cognizant that these screenings are usually set up for press and VIP's so sometimes the seats will all be reserved. Try not to whine, and don't sit in the reserved. Just remember these are FREE screenings. The studio reps need your opinions on the films afterwards. Lets try to show the studios that DFW has the best movie audience in the country.
OK...there are some folks who just discover these movies scheduled this week and wonder how to get passes. First you have to join our Yahoo Group and we will send you emails when we find out where to enter contests or redeem pass codes or go pick them up from local businesses. If you are too late, you are welcome to ask a group member for help. But don't abuse it. These folks did the work to get the passes, so you should do the same.
Also, Dallas Movie Screenings has a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/dallasmoviescreenings/), and many outlets post their screenings there too. Members must live the DFW area. If you don't have something on your FB page indicating you are from around here you will be rejected. We are also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/DalScreenings). We also do movie reviews so come check us out.
January 15 = January 21
Tues - Jan 17
The Founder - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Split - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark
Wed - Jan 18
A Dog's Purpose - 7:00 pm - UA Fossil Creek
Split - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17
XXX The Return of Xander Cage - AMC Valley View
Thur - Jan 19
The Space Between Us - 6:30 pm - Cinemark West
Fri - Jan 20
Transamerica - 8:30 pm - Texas Theater