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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton




TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON
*** (out of ****)

As far back as he can remember, Laird Hamilton always wanted to be a surfer. For him, there was something spiritual that drew him to the water – something elemental. Perhaps it was the cleansing effect of the water, or perhaps it wasn’t as complicated as that. Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, director Rory Kennedy’s surprisingly comprehensive documentary, takes us from the pro surfer’s introduction to the sport at a young age to where he is now, resting amid fame and notoriety as a giant in the sport he loves. Some opening audio clips, broken and strung together at lightning speed, present a litany of descriptions of the man. Sticking out among a lot of positivity: “incorrigible.”

Kennedy, wisely, does not approach her subject with empty hagiography. This is not a PowerPoint slideshow of Hamilton’s career to this point, nor is it a study in the man’s greatness that shies away from his ego. We get a sense of Hamilton’s entire personality, which has, fortunately, been directed toward a positive energy until now. He reminisces a lot to Kennedy’s camera here, and the conversation is surprisingly engaging. Hamilton makes for a willing witness to his own life, and that’s really the best way to put it: He’s been a witness as much as anyone.

Much of his success, for instance, is either by accident or by a natural disposition toward the sport of surfing, in which he never intended to go professional. A mentor from his childhood noticed something in him and offered to give him lessons one day. That would be the kernel of a motivation that got him in the water, and his eventual career would be spotted with attempts to ride the really tough waves – the ones that no one else would dare to attempt. One such attempt goes horribly wrong when the skin on a fellow surfer’s legs is chafed right off during the wane of one, particularly strong wave.

In other words, Hamilton’s ambition could easily have been confused for obsession. His reaction to failure regularly ended up actualizing itself in his behavior, which alienated him from his first wife and, after one such failure, threatened the stability of his second marriage almost to the point of divorce. The man fully accepts this about himself, and most importantly, so does the film. One does get the feeling with Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton that Kennedy is honey-glazing the surf culture in which her subject grew up. Where it counts, though, the film understands that subject.
(Review by Joel Copling)



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The Florida Project




Reel Time with Joel and Chase
A Wonderful View from a Child’s Eyes and the Harsh Reality Through an Adults. Also, It Just Happens to Have One of the Best Child Performances. Period.

Title: The Florida Project
Rating: R for Language Throughout, Disturbing Behavior, Sexual References and Some Drug Material
Run Time: Ihr & 55min

Joel’s Review
**** (out of ****)


It would be going the easy route for The Florida Project to wallow in the despair that exists at the edges of the frame, but co-writer/director Sean Baker is smarter than that. This is a film about childhood that happens to have a backdrop of deepest poverty. The residents of the “purple place,” as it is known to the children, have made the hotel (which is actually called the Magic Castle and rests roughly a hundred meters from a certain entertainment complex in Orlando) a kind of settlement. It’s a den for the underprivileged, but this is all our young heroine knows in life. The “purple place” might as well be her entire world. What does it matter that this is no place for her to grow up?

Bobby (Willem Dafoe), the manager, is a kind man with a specific set of rules that he enforces with a firm grip on the shoulder while escorting you off the premises, if necessary. The rate per night becomes weekly rent for those who take up residence in his rooms, and he isn’t afraid to “evict” those whom he does not trust to pay their share. His bond with customers is almost always strictly businesslike, but he has developed, perhaps unbeknownst even to him, a fatherly affection for the children of his customers: His ejection in one, particularly tense scene of a potential sex offender preying on the children is as much a decision for the safety of his residence as it is a movement to protect the kids.

The story, such as it is, follows the adventures had by Moonee (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince) and her friends Scooty (Christopher Rivera), Dicky (Aiden Malik), and, after a game of spitting on her mother’s car, Jancey (Valeria Cotto), who resides in a neighboring hotel. One of the other three eventually moves out, leaving the other two to accompany Moonee through a tour of poverty in the miniaturized bubble of the hotel itself. Moonee’s mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) loses her job as an exotic dancer and enters a life of hustling for the cash that can keep a roof over her head. Eventually, she must bed men to make the cash.

In an astonishing coup, Baker and co-screenwriter Chris Bergoch manage to find the joy in this setting. Perhaps the reason is tied to the film’s perspective, which is that of young Moonee. Everything receives the gloss of a childlike innocence, yet the gravity of these kids’ situation, confronted directly by a climax that also confronts the end of such innocence, is never ignored or evaded. Prince, in her film debut, is a magnificent presence in the kind of turn that should be undone by precociousness but is instead remarkably natural, and Vinaite finds the grey morality in a mother that toes the line between negligence and unconditional love.

Baker, as in his previous film (2015’s endlessly sympathetic and similarly joyous-when-it-could-be-despairing Tangerine), casts familiar faces, like Dafoe (marvelously cast against-type as a man in control of unpredictable elements), Caleb Landry Jones (who appears in a pair of scenes as Bobby’s son), and Macon Blair (as a man from whom Halley steals, then sells, some valuables out of desperation), against the likes of newcomers and, in at least two cases, adult film performers to create a stylized facsimile of reality. The tone is still primarily naturalistic, especially the performances, but Baker’s camera, with the aid of cinematographer Alexis Zabe, takes on a voyeuristic quality. The Florida Project, as a result, moves with the unpredictability of real life.


Chase’s Review




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The Snowman




Reel Time with Joel and Chase
The Snow Melted as Soon as the Movie Began.

Title: The Snowman
Rating: R for Grisly Images, Violence, Some Language, Sexuality and Brief Nudity
Run Time: Ihr & 59min

Joel’s Review
½* (out of ****)


The Snowman is a hollow mystery – pointless and cruel. It begins with the pieces of the central puzzle, and though it ends with the completion of that puzzle, there is a sense of anticlimax. It is as if director Tomas Alfredson and screenwriters Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini, and Søren Sveistrup (adapting the novel by Jo Nesbø) want to convey a sense that the film’s puzzle is less important than what the film is attempting to say about its characters. That, though, can only work if the film seems to be saying anything about its characters.

Here, the characters, including the protagonist, are pawns in the game of a serial killer who seems to be targeting women of whom he disapproves. The method is uselessly brutal: He injects them with a sedative, then removes their head while they are alive (the better to capture the look of fatal surprise on their faces, one guesses). He also builds a snowman somewhere near the site, attacking only when the precipitation is falling in deep winter. He then builds another snowman, this time without its head, onsite, and you can guess what replaces the fake head (He also reverses this action for the missing heads of the victims).

The case falls into the laps of Inspectors Katrine Brett (Rebecca Ferguson), a recent hire onto the investigative team in wintry Oslo, Norway, who answers the call of a missing-persons report that will eventually spiral into this case, and Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), whose unfortunate pun of a name is said just enough to be absurd but not quite enough to be amusing. Katrine is also cultivating a case involving a city official (played by J.K. Simmons) preparing the city for the upcoming World Cup. She suspects him of something-or-other that is definitely illegal. Whatever it is involves the objectification of young women, though the screenplay doesn’t focus enough on it to clarify anything (a common problem, believe you me).

Harry is simply happy to receive the distraction from his hellish home life, which includes the estrangement of the son (played by Michael Yates) whom his wife (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg) had in a previous relationship with a man whose identity, much to the inconsequential importance of the narrative, is never known. She’s now dating a hormone specialist (played by Jonas Karlsson). Anyway, the case consists of red herring after red herring, from the rambling uselessness of the stuff with the city official to a handful of flashback sequences involving the first investigator (played by Val Kilmer, whose recent health troubles have rendered the actor unable to speak, resulting in an awkward and obvious dubbing of another actor’s voice in the place of his own while he mouths dialogue) to look into the gruesome crimes.

Most of this plot means nothing when the identity of the killer, which is blatantly obvious based on his unassuming nature and the way Alfredson and cinematographer Dion Beebe (unable to breathe much life into the setting beyond a few attractive establishing shots) constantly frame his profile to be the definition of sinister, is revealed. The motivation is a mostly generic kind of madness, and Thelma Schoonmaker’s jigsaw editing and the imprecise performances, all of which are by actors who seem to be half-awake, don’t help matters. The Snowman is barely watchable – a disaster from the ground up.
(Review by Joel Copling)


Chase’s Review







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The Florida Project




The Florida Project is an astounding film that captures the life of little Moonee as she runs around her motel home with her other little friends. The story goes through a summer for the young girl and captures her experiences of having fun. There is also a spotlight on the struggles for her mother, Halley, as she tries to navigate raising her child in low-income circumstances. Halley, although having never-ending love for her child, is a wild one who doesn’t really have a fantastic character or ethics.

Bobby, the manager of The Magic Castle, which is the motel home of the family, is a hard-working man who has an abundance of patience for his residents and especially Moonee. Willem Dafoe gives a performance as Bobby that is comprehensively impeccable and truly impactful. This, by far, is the best performance that I have ever seen from the actor. He truly communicates the patience, compassion, stress, and resilience that Bobby deals with every day in the story.

I am completely thankful for this film in how it examined the lives of people who struggle to make it and do not have the most resources. The centering attention on people who work the low-wage jobs and live in circumstances like these is completely essential to cinema. I say this because it represents real life for so many Americans. Moonee is just a young girl who has a lot of rambunctious energy and she also has to understand her mother’s struggles with life.

Her character lights up the story and is ubiquitous throughout the entire film. She’s out there sharing sloppy ice cream with her friends, climbing up hills, and going into abandoned areas. Her character reminds us all of the children who we once were. Brooklynn Prince gives Moonee an astonishing soul that is enviable in her performance.

There is a scene when Halley takes Moonee through the back way to a buffet at a good hotel and they both have a blast. I sat there thinking about the different social reality that Halley has in comparison to the other families who were actually staying in the hotel. The differentiation between Halley’s constrained financial life and the family vacations of these other individuals was profound. That is something that this film did very well in its illumination of the way people live just on the outside of Disney World. This is an all-around wonderful movie that is sure going to entertain and stimulate some thought.
(Review by Wyatt Head)




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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trafficked







This intense and extremely gripping film tells the story of three girls who get abducted and thrown into the horrifying world of sex slavery. The film didn’t hold back any realism from what it was depicting as its subject. Sara, an 18 year old that has just aged out of foster care, is taken to what she thinks will be a new job. Instead, she is betrayed by a woman she trusted and is taken to a sex house in Texas to be a slave of human trafficking. Amba, an Indian young woman about to go to MIT, is out at a party and is then kidnapped to be put in the trade. Mali, a Nigerian young woman who was separated from her family, has gone all over the world for her body to be used.

This was a phenomenal masterpiece that portrayed the real horrors that the women who are trapped in this world have to experience every day. There was no pull back in the depiction of the rape of these women and the violence that they are subjected to. There were multiple scenes where the men who ran the house punched, beat, and chocked them on screen to further communicate the criminal gravity of the acts. Just to think that these girls were going into the next phase of their lives and that they had great plans for themselves was unsettling to think about. The idea of the ease of being kidnapped and just falling into this system was extremely frightening to recognize.

There is a beginning scene of the film where men are pushing women along in a line. We, as an audience, get to comprehend the disregard for the women that exists in this world and these men’s minds. This film did a great job in having the audience realize the severity of this organized criminal activity. There’s another scene where a girl runs away because she can’t bear to realize what is going on and gets shot in the back. This was a chilling portrayal that forced the audience to realize that this actually does exist.

With the story of the girls being in the Texas sex house, there was also a wonderful story about the friendship that Sara, Amba, and Mali make. They are each other’s source of strength and hope. They experience this sadistic violation of human rights together with the only light being there in each of them. This project is a highly impactful story that makes a thorough footprint and that convinces the public to take immense action.
(Review by Wyatt Head)




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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Oct 15 - Oct 21


Don't you love this time of year? The temps are doable, the Texas State Fair is running, there are more movies screening and Halloween is right around the corner.

Just a reminder folks, that some of these movies this week may be screenings for the Dallas Film Society and/or the USA Film Festival. That means us poor line people will be competing for seats in the front sections. Please do not grouse, or put the reps in an awkward position. This is the price we pay for free movies.

Also, when there are signs on the seats that say "Reserved for studio reps" Please don't sit in them. Nor should you sit in any seat that says reserved for VIP's, press, or handicapped. And stop hovering by the press seats. The reps will just tell you to go find a seat.

October 15 - October 21

Oct 16 - Mon

Human Flow - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
The Florida Project - 7:30 pm - Magnolia
Breathe - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas

Oct 17 - Tue

Only the Brave - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Goodbye Christopher Robin - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas

Oct 18 - Wed

Thank You For Your Service - 7:00 pm - AMC Mesquite
The Snowman - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas
Geostorm - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Oct 20 - Fri

Chocolat - 7:00 pm - Dallas Farmers Market
Mommie Dearest - 8:45 pm - Texas Theater





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Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Foreigner






Reel Time with Joel and Chase

If you are Foreign to Jackie Chan as an Actor, this isn’t a Bad One to Start With.

Title: The Foreigner
Rating: R for Violence, Language and Some Sexual Material
Run Time: Ihr & 54min

Joel’s Review
*** (out of ****)


The Foreigner is an action-thriller about a man desperate for answers and driven to use his particular set of skills to find them. The title, by the by, is suggestive in two ways. One of those is more obvious: The plot of the film regards the actions of the Irish Republican Army, and our protagonist is Chinese. So, indeed, he is literally a “foreigner,” at least by birth (The man mentions early on that he is a naturalized British citizen). The other meaning is sort of a joke and sort of insidious to the men who cross his path: He is the unknown variable in their midst.

In other words, this is a reliably efficient action-thriller, and casting Jackie Chan in the part of the protagonist doesn’t hurt at all. He plays Quan, the deceptively unassuming owner of a Chinese restaurant in London, whose daughter Fan (Katie Leung) is among the dozen killed in a brutal terrorist attack just as she’s shopping for a dress to the school dance. She was the only family left for Quan, who lost the rest of it years ago. Needless to say, the man launches his own investigation.

It was the work of the “Authentic IRA,” possibly a rogue cell in the official IRA and a thorn in the side of Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan, really digging into his natural Irish accent), a former member who denounced its violence in the past and who is now the Deputy Minister of Northern Ireland. Political infighting has left the possibility of peace in question (The film is certainly of its time, given the subject and the themes related to globalism), but that is the least interesting part of David Marconi’s screenplay (based on the novel The Chinaman by Stephen Leather), which is at its best when designing comeuppances on the part of Quan, whose determination matches only his meticulousness.

Chan’s performance is key here, and it’s quite good, convincing in the wake of sudden tragedy and as an aging man pushed to the limits of his physicality. Merely the task of carrying heavy gym bags, filled with chemicals to create explosives, up the stairs of a hotel causes panting, sweating, and the brief need to sit and catch his breath. He manages to keep up with his attackers in the sequences of hand-to-hand combat (breathlessly staged and executed by director Martin Campbell), but it’s not without a staggered leap between staircases or a slower response in the beats between blows. This is not Chan as a comically invincible hero, clearly, but a man as vulnerable – both physically and emotionally – as anyone else.

The actor’s presence is remarkably potent in such a role, even as the story shifts in favor of some wheel-spinning regarding Hennessy’s place in all of this, which involves the usual behind-closed-doors backstabbing and discreet motives. It’s a bit predictable, not only because Brosnan’s performance isn’t exactly hiding much about the character’s nature, but also because we’ve seen this sort of thing before. The wrench in the works, in many ways, is the presence of Chan. He’s the grounding element in The Foreigner, sleek pulp whose tension outweighs formula.


Chase’s Review





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