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.

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Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Friday, November 15, 2019

Charlie's Angels






When it was announced, a new film adaptation of “Charlie’s Angels” wasn’t a particularly welcome addition to the year’s cinematic releases. The original movie adaptation, directed by McG, was a lot of fun but any attempts at establishing a franchise died after the sequel. The franchise was left alone until a new TV show was attempted in 2011 which didn’t do so well and promptly disappeared into obscurity. To be perfectly honest, as much as I thought this new version was a bad idea, a viewing of the trailer for writer/director Elizabeth Bank’s take on the material changed my mind. This one looked like it too would be fun, a piece of escapist cinema in line with McG’s early 2000 movies. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. Banks has a lot to work with here including a fine cast and a good budget but the movie never completely comes together.



In this version, the Townsend Agency has been expanded into a global operation by a forward thinking Bosley (Patrick Stewart), enlisting multiple Angels and Bosleys in operations scattered throughout the world to keep up with their workload. Banks, who also stars as one of the many Bosleys, uses a series of badly photoshopped images to insert Stewart amongst the cast of the original TV show and the 2000s movies, showing how the agency has evolved over the years.



Angels Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Jane (Ella Balinska) are tasked with accompanying a Bosley (Djimon Hounsou) to meet with a whistleblower, Elena (Naomi Scott). Elena has created a handheld gadget for her boss, Brok (Sam Claflin), that can power an entire office building and much more, but the kinks haven’t been worked out yet. One of Elena’s co-workers ended up in the hospital following a power surge from the gadget. But, despite her warnings, the company still wants to launch the product. As Elena begins to give her insider information to Bosley, they are attacked by an assassin (Jonathan Tucker). Banks’ Bosley comes to their aid, acting as the Angels handler following the attack. Now, Sabina and Jane have to keep Elena safe while trying to recover her creation and figure out how someone knew about their meeting.



This is not the fun, over-the-top action movie implied by the trailers. By this point in her career, Banks may have a handle on directing comedic and dramatic sequences, but she doesn’t yet have a handle on action sequences. Those presented here are dull, lifeless, and by-the-numbers. They get the job done, but they aren’t all that interesting to watch. Not exactly a positive note for an action movie. At least Banks has the good sense to make her action sequences visually stable. These scenes might lack the expected punchiness, but they are handled in a coherent manner, avoiding the choppy, chaotic mess a lot of modern action movies fall victim to.



The cast works well in their roles. There’s a nice rapport created between the three leads. Kristen Stewart especially shines here as the film’s slickly cool comic relief, though her characters’ spunk doesn’t help to liven up the picture. The jokes, more often than not, fall as flat as the action set pieces. Balinska’s Jane is ice to Sabina’s fire. There’s something of a friendly, non-competitive rivalry going on between the two throughout the movie. Like in the other iterations, these Angels are smart and smooth - fast and ingenious, fully capable of handling themselves in any situation.



Banks’ script tries too hard to confuse the viewer on the true identity of her film’s villain. If things seem too obviously laid out, it’s because they are. By the time all is revealed, you probably won’t care anymore if you ever did at all. Elaborate sequences are used to advance the story in small or non-existent increments. I often found myself wondering what the point of some scenes were after they were over. If this sparks a sequel or two, I suspect neither, hopefully the follow-ups will be better. “Charlie’s Angels” isn’t an outright terrible movie - it’s just bland.
(Review by Bret Oswald)






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Ford v Ferrari









(Review by Chase Lee)





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Better Days





Taking final exams in China seems to be a terrifying experience. Over 10 million young people endlessly study to pass the National College Entrance Exam or gaokao that will ultimately set your future as to the university you will be able to attend, and secure your career. On top of that stress young people are subjected to bullying by their peers. Director Derek Tsang’s film was recently pulled from distribution by the Chinese government with no explanation. The government relented in October and the film has been declared one of the best films of the year earning over $80 million dollars.

High school senior Chen Nian (Zhou Dongyu) is a loner whose only friend commits suicide by jumping from the balcony at school. While other students stare and take pictures, Nian covers her up with her jacket. Soon Nian becomes the object of bullying from other students. A group of mean girls ask her to join their study group as Nian is rated high in her class. When she refuses, she becomes their target. Nian's mother travels around trying to earn money. In fact many parents are usually absent from their children's lives as they are usually working somewhere else, or too busy to pay attention to what's going on. Students terrorize each other creating a situation where teachers and police have no good way to handle it. Nian tries to help Xiao Bei (Jackson Yee, singer and dancer from a wildly successful boy band in China TFboys), a drop out and low rent hood, who is getting badly beaten. To thank her he offers to protect her for payment. But she asks how can he protect her when he can't even protect himself. Nian does need protection as she had reported the mean girls earlier and got them suspended. The mean girls are set on revenge.

Despite Nian's passive nature, she is strongly aimed at passing her tests. It's the only way she can escape her life and save her mother who is being targeted for selling face masks that causes rashes. Bei also has been on his own since he's been 13 selling stolen phone parts to make a living. Bei follows behind Nian while she goes to school. But one day he is picked up for rape and spends the night at the police station. Unprotected Nian is brutally bullied. Her hair is cut off, her clothes torn from her body. Nian keeps Bei from going out to pay them back.

There is a sweet love story from these two unlikely teens. They watch out for each other and hope for better days when Nian is able to go to college in Bejing. They know its a long shot for them to go together, but they enjoy the dream. That is until one of the mean girls ends up dead. The police detective who has been handling Nian's bullying complaints think there is something going on between the two. He asks why she didn't report the bullying from before and realizing there wasn't much he could have done to have helped her.

The movie begins and ends with the seriousness of bullying in schools. It's an issue that seems to be wildly out of control in Chinese society. The message stresses how the government is taking steps to launch a policy to address bullying in primary and middle schools. Then there is the societal pressures of the national tests that students must take to succeed in their world that cause many children to commit suicide. The tests are so important that the mean girls may have been suspended from school, but they were still allowed to take the tests.
(Review by reesa)





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The Report







(Review by Chase Lee)




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Charlie's Angels







(Review by Chase Lee)





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The Report






Writer/director Scott Z. Burns returns to cinemas with the political thriller “The Report.” It’s a stronger film than his previous effort – the recently released “The Laundromat” (although Burns only wrote the screenplay for that one, Steven Soderbergh was the director). While “The Report” is, as a whole, stronger, it’s still not a wholly satisfying movie.



As the film opens, Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) is meeting with a lawyer, Cyrus Clifford (Corey Stoll). Jones has obviously done something that has had negative legal ramifications, leading to this meeting. The mood is grim as Jones begins to tell Clifford his story. It is revealed that Jones came to Washington D.C. as an idealistic young man, someone who wanted to make his contribution to the world by working in the background. He wound up employed by the Senate, a staffer working under Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), who tasked him with investigating the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program that was created following 9/11.



The film bounces around in time as Jones works to uncover the facts about the CIA’s program. Burns gives the past a seedy, sickly yellowish tint, filming these segments that dig into the CIA’s secrets with a hand-held, home movie look. These choices highlight the grimy nature of the subject matter – the CIA’s inhumane treatment of their prisoners. Much of the footage is uncomfortable to watch, featuring government employees torturing their prisoners in hopes of finding answers although the techniques had already been proven ineffective well before these events took place in the early 2000s. Conversely, the “present-day” segments, meaning the scenes that focus on Jones as he and his team work on the report, have a more polished, cleaned up appearance. The framing is stable and images take on a more clinical, sterile look, mirroring the windowless office in which Jones and his teamwork.



Adam Driver plays the part well, showcasing a man who grows continually obsessed with his work as he uncovers more of the story. Unfortunately, Burns’ script doesn’t allow viewers any insight into Jones’ personal life. To us, he’s just a man obsessed with work. It’s stated that he lost a relationship while working on the project yet the partner is never shown. The other actors don’t fare as well. More often than not, the acting is poor as the cast overacts their parts. Burns might be a good writer but he doesn’t seem to have a handle on directing his performers yet.



One of the problems with this film is that it is covering so much detail that it feels like it is glossing over almost everything, condensing a 500-page summary of a nearly 7000-page report into a two-hour movie. We don’t need all the grim details but this probably would have worked better as a miniseries. Two hours barely gives Burns enough time to convey what’s happening over this 10 plus year period, let alone establishing any of the characters. Still, there’s enough here to hold the audiences’ attention. Burns keeps the story compelling enough to maintain his grip on the viewer. It just never totally clicks into place. This one is being distributed by Amazon. Soon, it will be on Prime for streaming. I suggest waiting to watch it then.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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Ford v Ferrari





Director: James Mangold Studio: 20th Century Fox



Ford v Ferrari kicks into the high gear!

Auto racing films can be tricky task when film directors needed much commitment on crafting racing films that takes people out for a drive out in the open field to practice and to testify every track and ability to get though tougher times and reaching their goal to the finish line. As much as the brand recognition of two rivalry automotive companies, Ford and Ferrari, will probably get their racing fans’ butts into the theater seats, it isn’t just about racing but it’s all about love and friendship when it comes to racing ambition to save and improve the company. James Mangold, known for helming 2017’s Logan, calls the front seat of the car as the director of the film.

Ford v Ferrari is focused almost exclusively on the exploits of automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), enlisted by the Ford Motor Company to build and drive a car in order to beat Ferrari in the ultimate enduring race of the seasons. Though, the biggest problem for both characters is the ambition of winning is just got wacky and they both realized what their main singular goal is and how that can define them.

Matt Damon not only plays the as the protagonist but also a supportive character to Christian Bale’s Ken Miles character as Damon’s character really put the pace and effort on showing and demonstrating the Miles character on how the race car turns out as the test driver in hopes of winning of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France with countless of incremental improvement over the race car. Their chemistry between Damon and Bale really set the boundaries on putting their team to craft and develop a prestigious Ford GT40, a new racing car that will have a higher chance of beating Ferrari out in the racing competition.

On the other side of the film, actor Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) is present as Vice-President of Ford Motor Company who sides with Damon and Tracy Letts who portrayed as Henry Ford II, the CEO of Ford, in this film. There are other characters that are involved in the film: Remo Girone as Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Italian automobile racing team Scuderia Ferrari, Ray McKinnon as Phil Remington, actress Caitriona Balfe as Mile’s wife, and Noah Jupe as Mile’s son. The film also includes Josh Lucas as one of Ford executives with a secretive source of antagonism that will outpour the duo’s victory of winning and beating Ferrari out.

The duo’s chances of winning and beating Ferrari becomes the main climax of the film as Shelby and Miles took much time and commitment on building the best, most fastest car ever, with Miles doing more test drives into place with lots of changes and improvements over the car with Josh Lucas’s Beebe character threaten to discourage Miles put his glory, self-ambition, and self-aggrandize out of place. Perhaps, it is the most difficult task to test the ability with humorous laughs, shocking twists, and lack of redundant feels that can easily make the audience tinkle their legs and feet. Though, the story is a bit too drawn out for the purposes of historical accuracy between this film and real life racing shows in France being televised in America. Director James Mangold is just having fun filming the racing scenes and be curious on the racing histories and on the cast and crew during the racing games.

Over the top, Ford v Ferrari is a great movie, it has all the car parts anyone would ever need to make this movie as great as any auto racing films, It’s an well-oiled machine for both families and race car fans out there that will rock your seats front and back. The direction and script-writings are just as charming and with Bale and Damon putting their character developments as supportive duos into action. Just to let the readers that this movie is really long within two and the half hours from vehicle manufacturing to auto-racing extravaganza. You will love this to see who crosses the finish line first.



GRADE: A-
(Review by Henry Pham)


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