The Dallas Movie Screening Group

This is the homepage of the Dallas Movie Screening Group. To join our mailing list you must sign up at our group page on Yahoo. You will then be connected to receive notices on how to find passes to the local screenings in the DFW area. It's up to you to pickup or sign up for passes. You can also barter, trade or just giveaway passes you don't want, need or share with other members of the group. Please read the instructions on the Yahoo page very carefully before posting. This group is closely moderated so that your mail box is not full of spam or other unnecessary mail. We appreciate everyone's consideration and cooperation.

You can use this homepage for posting comments, reviews, and other things that cannot be posted to the group. Of course spam is not allowed. Thanks!

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

USA Film Festival: Caring for the Recently Deceased

“Caring for the Recently Deceased” is a sort of dark humor story about an old woman and her dead husband. The husband comes back to life and the aftermath is where the humor kicks in. I thoroughly enjoyed this concept that was brand new to me from Britain. The stereotype of how husbands sometimes don’t do anything and the wives do everything was used in a surprising way in this film. The scenes when the undead husband is then a man slave serve as a comic picture of an owner with her dog. The makeup that was done to the actor of the husband as he aged was without false work. The little dark potholes in the story such as one of the leads dying by strangling by her undead husband served to tick all different tastes. The elderly resident community idea of the females controlling the males was so wanted and satisfying. This little film had a brilliant location and the feel of tasty British comedy that reminded me of “Hot Fuzz”. The lead actress looked like the tired and ready for a change woman she was portraying. Being next to the filmmakers made me appreciate this A of a project even more.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Little Boy

Little Boy tells the story of a young child who has his partner, his father, taken to War. He then meets different people who build relationships with him and starts growing his strong faith. This story is about believing in what people think to be impossible or hard to get to. The lead is a short for his age boy who gives adorable presence to the character. His father always asks the question “Do you believe we can do this?” in the imaginary worlds that they both play into. The boy has a very close relationship with his father which I believe every son desires. I do have to point out the scene where the little boy is bullied and then thrown in a dumpster while his father is shown ambushed in the Philippines. The parallel shots of those events were a striking move from the filmmakers. The little boy is taken away with this magician character he meets at a show. The magician urges him to “Ignore the world, focus on doing the impossible” which is another lasting line from this small film. The two major lines mentioned serve to put the steak on the plate of the theme if you will. There is a Japanese man who lives in the World War II era town with the boy who ends up being a mentor to him. The inherent ignorant racism towards anybody of Japanese dissent illuminates more of the kindness shown by this mentor. The boy learns a critical life lesson of giving everybody a chance no matter a preconceived notion. Also, the pastor of the town, played by the known Tom Wilkinson, tells this boy that faith will make people move things for you. He means that faith causes action for the good. The scene where that is said is so warming that I believe it is one of the best of the film. The little boy character learns to not be ashamed of believing in what is for the good. This film took 5 years to make and the set/location where they filmed was inviting to the audience’s eye. The small houses and the dock reaching out to the sea provided the perfect little town concept for a family story like this. When families or anybody watches this one has to remember the line of “Measure yourself from you to the sky”. This piece definitely produced some tears but it lifted me up. The film wasn’t too childish but it was maybe a little too lighthearted for the storyline. I would bring my family to this if I had one (meaning children).
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Age of Adaline

The romantic fantasy film tries to add a little science to the mix explaining how the 27 year old Adaline Bowman ends up staying young for several decades. The film directed by Lee Toland Krieger and written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz wants us to believe she has managed to survive all these years like the Highlander. It's a good thing that the star, Blake Lively is very beautiful because she is in practically every scene in the movie.

Adaline (Lively) was born in 1908. A car accident involving snow, hypothermia and a well placed bolt of lighting causes the revitalized Ms. Bowman from further ageing. The narrator explains all the pseudo science gobbley gook to justify her immortal status. Adaline manages to continuing living a normal life, getting married, having a child until one day she can't explain why she looks so good in her 40's. Soon the FBI is carting her off so that some nefarious researchers can study her. She manages to escape, thus beginning her never ending change of identities, jobs, and locations.

We meet Adaline in San Francisco where she is going by the name of Jennifer. She works at the SF Archival library, lives in Chinatown and has a dog named Reese. It's time once again, she changes every 10 years, getting fake licenses, passports and birth certificate. She adds her new name to her bank account too. At a fancy New Year's Eve party she cute meets the handsome Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman). He saw her earlier and has been dying to meet her, managing to bring her flowers in the form of books with flower names. So clever, so it gets her interest. But Adaline knows the danger of falling in love and having to break someone's heart when she has to leave again. She keeps herself distant to his overtures.

Adaline's daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) is now old enough to be her mom's grandmother. She encourages her mother to take a chance at love and stop leading such a lonely life when Adaline says she's tired of running. So Ellis gets a chance with Jennifer to become two beautiful people in a schmaltzy romance. Ellis asks Jennifer/Adaline to visit his parents who are having their 40th wedding anniversary. When she meets the dad William Jones (Harrison Ford) he is gob-smacked to see the love of his life from the 1960's in front of his eyes. Adaline covers by saying she's her mother who passed away 6 years ago. Suddenly there's really awkward moments, and Adaline wants to take off.

Without giving anything away, it all rights itself in the end, and the journey there is fun to discover. The film is nicely photographed like a post card from San Francisco. Lively plays Adaline with old school poise and charm and her wardrobe is to die for. Huisman is just the right amount of eye candy. Kathy Baker is great as Ellis's mom who is feeling a little jealous of hearing her husband waxing poetic on his lost romance with Adaline. When the truth comes out, one wonders if dating your dad's ex-girlfriend is even considered.
(Review by reesa)

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The Clouds of Sils Maria

This 2014 French/English film written and directed by Olivier Assayas was selected for the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. It won the Louis Delluc Prize for Best Film and Kristen Stewart became the first American actress to win the César Award. The film is sort of an abstract discussion regarding ageing, culture, and acting with the roles of a play and real life seem intertwined.

Juliette Binoche plays Maria Enders, a middle aged popular actress who is on her way to Zurich with her assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart). Maria is supposed to accept an award on behalf of playwright Wilhelm Melchior. As a young actress Maria was cast in the play and film versions of Maloja Snake by Wilhelm about a tempestuous relationship between and older woman and a young girl that made her career sky rocket. But before she arrives she hears that Wilhelm has just passed away and everyone considers cancelling the ceremony, but despite her sadness she carries on. Director Klaus Diesterweg (Lars Eidinger) proposes that Maria perform in a revival of the play as the older woman Helena. Maria was totally invested in the younger woman part of Segrid and doesn't think she can do it. Klaus wants to cast Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz) an up and coming American actress who has a tabloid reputation for getting in trouble. Valentine thinks that Jo-Ann is potentially brilliant and tries to get Maria to see her in a new light.

Wilhelm's widow Rosa (Angela Winkler) offers their home in Sils Maria so that Maria can rehearse the play. The beautiful cottage in the Swiss Alps is a perfect backdrop for the long wordy scenes while Valentine runs lines with Maria. At times it seems they are just playing their own relationship until Valentine reads the stage directions. They spend time hiking and talking and talking. There are overlaps of reality and art. Valentine defends Jo-Ann's talent despite her online burn outs. It's an often muddled yet fascinating examination and endless intellectualism on acting, ageing and acceptance. Maria fights hard as Valentine tries to get her to realized that Helena's role in the play is the humanity of the story while Maria clings to her youthful portrayal of Segrid.

The clouds in the name of the story are actually known as the Maloja Snake. It's a weather wonder of rolling clouds that form over the mountain pass from Italy to Switzerland that flow over the lake and lands unfurling like a snake. That's the way the film feels to the viewers. A glimpse of the obsessive self examination of actors and their lives. Interesting, well played, beautifully photographed but probably not for everyone.
(Review by reesa)

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The Water Diviner

In Russell Crowe's directorial debut, in which he also stars, tells the story of an Australian farmer who travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to locate his three missing sons. It was based on the book by Andrew Anastasios and Dr. Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios, with the screenplay written by Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight. It's a gorgeously photographed quiet film that speaks of a father's love and faith. But not a whole lot of water divining.

Except mainly at the beginning of the movie when Joshua Conner shows his knack for digging wells in the dry farmland of his ranch in Australia. It's 1919, five years since the end of WWI, and his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie) has not been able to cope with the loss of her children. When she commits suicide, Conner promises to bring her sons back to be buried with their mother.

When he arrives in Turkey, a young hustler (Dylan Georgiades) steals his suitcase to bring him to a hotel in Istanbul run by his widowed mother Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko). Her husband may have been killed in the war, but she keeps hope that he's still alive. There's the issue of her having to marry her husband's uncle who owns the hotel once she's officially gone into mourning. Conner meets up with the British consul who refuses him permission to travel to Gallipoli. Ayshe suggests bribing a fisherman to bring him there by boat. When he gets there, the ANZAC's are there and assigned to identify and bury the victims of the war. Turkish officer Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdoğan) is assisting the ANZAC captain Lt.Col Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney) with the major battle locations. He persuades Hughes to help out Conner, because basically he's the only person who came to look for their loved ones.

Flashbacks are used to show the closeness of the brother's that was encouraged by their parents to watch over each other. Arthur (Ryan Corr) is the oldest, tries to save his brothers Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O'Toole), but they refused to run when he's injured during a battle. He watches both of the die while he lays between them. Conner discovers that Arthur may have been taken to a prison camp. When he tries to get help from the British consul, they take his passport and tell him he's going home on the next boat. On top of that the country is still going through political unrest as other countries try to divide Turkey for control. The Greeks have been attacking in the countryside, causing his journey even more problems.

The horrific effects of the war which was done brilliantly in the Mel Gibson movie Galliopli, is covered well here. Conner has to fight with Turkish nationals, the British and the Greeks while searching for his son. It's a meandering process, wading through the subdued budding romance of Ayshe and Conner when she sees his future by reading his coffee grounds. Before that she hated foreigners who ruined her country. And apparently Conner's divining skills is good at finding his sons. Nice to look at if you are not snoozing through it.
(Review by reesa)

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DIFF2015: Love and Mercy

What an emotionally jolting film. “Love and Mercy” tells the story of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys leader, in two stages of his life. We are taken through the effects of his psychiatric disorder and his musical genius. His character is one who had experienced a lot of traumatic relationships with people including his father and also his doctor in a later part of his life. There is also a delicate love story intertwined in this piece. Close to the beginning of the film there is a scene depicting Wilson’s mental instability. He tells a care saleswoman he’s just met that his wife had left him while she is kind of thrown off by it. I really saw the image of Wilson’s emotional deterioration in that scene. When the woman finds a card stating Wilson’s feelings in the car, my thoughts were confirmed. That scene brilliantly starts the revealing of the harmful life Wilson was living. He also experienced uncontrollable voices and sounds in his head. To serve the disrupting chaos of what it was like there are multiple scenes which blare the sounds off in the theater. We are really made to learn about how this psychiatric disorder obstructed some happiness from Wilson’s life. Paul Giamatti plays the cruel and himself insane doctor who is Wilson’s caretaker. What was incredibly uncomfortable was a scene when Giamatti screams at Cusack, the actor playing older Brian Wilson, for being impatient about eating a burger. This was even when Wilson’s love interest, played by Elizabeth Banks, insists on him eating it because he’s so hungry. We are just put into that frightening dysfunctionality of the domestic home in that scene. There was also a time when you see Cusack’s character at the piano sweaty and tired being forced to repetitively play a song from his doctor. I can’t imagine how mentally piercing that would have been to Mr. Wilson. He is portrayed as being trapped in a sick situation with this horrible person. There are also some focuses on the great parts of Wilson’s life too. His hearing for sounds that derive from his mass producing mind comes into the talented musicians he works with. The recapturing of the out of the norm feats that Wilson brings is absolutely spot on. His father did not appreciate his music or him for that matter consistently beating him as a child. We are still though with this film taken to a superb mind that came with a lot of baggage but brought love with it too.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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DIFF2015: Manglehorn

This was the first type of film like this I saw. It was sort of dark but not in a horror type of way. Manglehorn is a man played by Al Pacino who owns a key shop and lives an unfulfilling life. He has this obsession over a woman he had previously known and cannot shake it off. He also is a frequent visitor of the bank and likes the cashier played by Holly Hunter. He has a son who became estranged from him and is a successful business man in a high rise. The story looks at this sort of tormented mind of Manglehorn and how he is trying to break free from his loneliness. His obsession with the woman is brought to us at a level just below insanity. The compulsive thinking of Manglehorn about this past love is solidly put on screen. I think this script did a good job of taking that mindset of a person that may not be as uncommon as one thinks. There is a moment where Manglehorn wants to be with the specific cashier even though there is an open one already. I really thought that that early revealing of interest to Hunter’s character was a smart move. Both characters are around the same dating age and Hunter is a pretty woman so it was a realistic potential relationship. Manglehorn also has an old student in his life who is an ex-drug addict and is annoying to him. There’s a scene where Manglehorn just asks him to shut up while he just keeps on talking and talking. That was a time when the lead’s unsatisfied feeling of living is stated. It was perfectly shot at a slot machine in a dimly lit bar which provided the backdrop for Manglehorn’s conscience. He also has a violent fit of rage triggered by a bowl breaking during the first time the audience sees his house. He is in such a rut in his mind. Pacino actively turns on a melancholy attitude for this role and it fits in just like a key. During a scene when Pacino and Hunter’s characters date for the first time Hunter says that she has a love of people. She says one of the best lines of the film that goes something like “When I see the water out of the faucet, I am happy.” Unfortunately because of Manglehorn’s attitude the woman feels upset and leaves straight up from the table. When I saw that I just thought about the missed opportunity for companionship that the lead blew off. This is a well written story that is gloomy and dispirited. During the whole film one hopes for clear skies to enter Manglehorn’s life.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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