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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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Oak Cliff Film Festival - Daniel Isn't Real

A man enters a diner and starts shooting at everyone inside. A small boy, Luke (Griffin Robert Faulkner), flees his parent’s New York City apartment to get away from their constant bickering. The two unconnected events become a turning point in Luke’s life when he happens upon the crime scene, now taped off and in the process of being investigated by police, the shooter’s bullet-ridden body hanging out the diner’s open door. As he observes this disturbing tableau, Luke meets a new friend, Daniel (Nathan Chandler Reid). His friendship with his new friend, who only Luke can see, leads to trouble resulting in his mother (Mary Stuart Masterson) forcing him to lock his troublesome imaginary friend up in her mother’s old dollhouse.

Years later, Luke (Miles Robbins) moves out of his mother’s home and across the city into a college dorm. Her mental health, stable while she was caring for her son, takes a sharp decline following his move causing Luke to worry that he may someday inherit her schizophrenia symptoms. Luke’s psychologist (Chukwudi Iwuji) suggests facing his childhood demons head-on and encourages him to release his imaginary friend from his holding cell, the dollhouse. Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) is fully grown now too and his demented streak has only gotten worse.

Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer and based on a novel, “In This Way I Was Saved,” by Brian DeLeeuw, who co-wrote the screenplay with Mortimer, “Daniel Isn’t Real” is a horror film that plays with the audience’s expectations. Daniel attempts to enforce his personality on Luke. At first, helping him out by introducing him to a pair of potential romantic interests – Cassie (Sasha Lane) and Sophie (Hannah Marks) – before delving once again into his darker personality traits. Is Daniel a symptom of an emerging mental illness or is he something else?

Robbins and Schwarzenegger play off each other nicely. Schwarzenegger plays a Tyler Durden-esque character (complete with the character’s stylishly loud outfits) to Robbins meeker Narrator-like one. Not that “Fight Club” is a film that is completely comparable to this one but the dynamic between Daniel and Luke has a similar feel to the one between Tyler Durden and the Narrator. Schwarzenegger’s Daniel domineers over the screen as Robbins’s Luke attempts to remove his imaginary friend from his life once and for all.

By this movie’s finale, things may not go in the direction you expect. Mortimer puts the film together well – finely acted, well shot, and compellingly told. “Daniel Isn’t Real” isn’t a perfect movie but the right audience will have a lot of fun with it. Hopefully, they won’t end up surrounded by people whose cell phones continually go off during the film like I did, making me wonder if I’d have a slightly higher opinion of this without the many distractions.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Movies Scheduled for the Week of June 16 - June 22

Happy Father's Day!!! Major love and hugs to all the dad's or dad substitutes out there.

Sorry for not posting the schedule last week. Had some "issues" Thanks to Aly for posting it to Facebook.

Y'all know we have a Facebook group, we are on Twitter, and YouTube. We also have a website where our movie reviews are posted from our writers who diligently cover the screenings, film festivals and screeners. Check out some of their work.

Reminder: Before adding all your friends to our Facebook group, please make sure they live in the DFW area. Because if their profile says they live elsewhere they will be declined. Thanks.

Also if you are having problems with those websites where you redeem those passes, please write to them and not to our Yahoo Group. We just provide the information we get to share with y'all. There is nothing we can do to make it work.

June 16 - June 22

Tue - June 18

Annebelle Comes Home - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Toy Story 4 - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas and AMC Grapevine

Thu - June 20

Stuber - 7:00 pm - Angelika

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Oak Cliff Film Festival - Ham on Rye

Tyler Taormina’s “Ham on Rye” is like a dystopian take on Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused.” Taormina’s film focuses on a group of teens preparing for an event. The exact nature of this event is never made entirely clear until it finally occurs mid-way through the movie. The film has a kaleidoscopic feel due to the way Taormina weaves in and out of social groups, capturing these awkward teen’s interactions within their cliques and among their peers. There’s no clear-cut narrative or lead character in this film, at least not one that is instantly recognizable.

“Ham on Rye,” written and directed by Taormina with Eric Berger co-writing the script, seems like an extension of Taormina’s earlier short, “Wild Flies.” The short, also absent of a clear narrative as the camera weaves through multiple groups of people in a pizza parlor, has a similar feel to the one created here. Taormina’s goal seems to be leaving his viewers with an impression of his characters like they are sitting in a crowded area people watching instead of allowing them to grow connected to any one character.

Opening with shots, constantly switching to new subjects, of boys and girls putting on dress clothes, the first guess would be they are preparing for a school dance. Possibly prom? Whatever it is, there’s a sense of excitement – the kids seem eager and their parents (at least the ones we see) seem rapturous. The teens take various routes to their destination. Some of them choose to walk, others to ride with older siblings, while a handful are abandoned, left on the side of the road as the rest of their peers move forward.

Taormina’s film is a metaphor for coming-of-age. The first half is optimistic with the bright and cheerful photography suggesting a promising future, though there is a slight undercurrent of malaise present in a couple of the characters. It’s enigmatic while hinting that some answers will come. There is a lot left for the audience to decipher themselves, something that can more often than not begin to produce irritation. The second half changes gears following the teen’s party. Taormina suggests through his character’s moods and behavior what happens to those who stick around in a small town after high school. It’s depressing and, in a way, insulting in its implications that those who stay behind are losers or lost in some way, though he does attempt to give one character a hopeful future in the film’s concluding moments.

“Ham on Rye” is at first intriguing before becoming frustrating. The second act drags out longer than it should. Although this movie is brief, 85 minutes, it might have been stronger with a shorter length. This film’s point is made long before it’s final shot.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Oak Cliff Film Festival - Satanic Panic

It's Sam’s (Hayley Griffith) first day as a pizza delivery girl. As the new employee, she’s given the worst customers to deliver to – those who don’t tip. Hearing her boss call out a new delivery for a party happening in a ritzy part of town outside the restaurant’s delivery area, she quickly volunteers in hopes of receiving a large tip. Her boss has demanded a five-dollar deposit for her to use the delivery bags, leaving her desperate for tips to use as gas money. Sam arrives at the large house only to have the man who accepts the order silently close the door in her face without leaving her a tip. Discovering that her scooter won’t start, the already enraged Sam finds her way into the mansion to demand a tip, never a smart idea but an especially poor one this time. The party-goers are a group of Satanists who have just found out that their sacrificial virgin isn’t one and quickly find out that Sam is.

Danica (Rebecca Romijn) – sleek, stylish, commanding – is the leader of this cult, which seems to include everyone living in the immediate area. After unsuccessfully attempting to hold Sam until they are ready to perform the ritual, she and her cohorts do everything in their power to find her.

“Satanic Panic,” directed by Chelsea Stardust and written by popular horror author Grady Hendrix, is a cheeky horror-comedy. The film, produced by Fangoria, attempts to take a tone similar to something Sam Raimi (“Drag Me to Hell”) would make, combining humor with over-the-top horror elements. The snappy dialogue, mostly from the cult’s ex-virgin Judi (Ruby Modine) and Danica’s right-hand Gypsy (Arden Myrin), creates a lot of the movie’s humorous moments.

Fangoria’s preference for practical effects over computer wizardry gives the movie an edge. Stardust allows all hell to break loose in her movie – cast members are attacked by inanimate objects, organs are turned into monsters, etc. There’s plenty of gunk flying around the screen. As a whole, the effects used look great, even if they occasionally don’t look completely believable. This mostly applies to the monster make-up which leans toward goofiness.

Although “Satanic Panic” has a lot of the ingredients horror fans seek out, it still came across as lacking. The humor often didn’t work and the sense of “fun” (fun is only in quotation marks because some people will surely scoff at the idea of a horror movie being fun) the filmmakers were going for didn’t totally come through. Stardust’s movie is entertaining enough, it just never rises up into something stellar. It’s likely to become a cult hit with some horror fans and is worth seeking out later in the year when it’s released (September 6) in theaters.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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Oak Cliff Film Festival - Veslemøy's Song / The Grand Bizarre

The first of Sunday’s screenings at the Oak Cliff Film Festival was a double-header of sorts, two short films. One a brief short that didn’t end up fitting into its original block of shorts and the other a longer short that isn’t long enough to be considered a feature.

This block opened with “Veslemøy's Song” directed by Sofia Bohdanowicz. In the short, a young woman, Audrey (Deragh Campbell), discovers that her grandfather’s violin teacher, Kathleen Parlow (somewhat famous during her lifetime but since faded into obscurity), had an orchestral piece dedicated to her. Audrey’s quest to hear the piece takes her to the New York Public Library where an appointment has to be made to listen to the rare recording. Apparently, Bohdanowicz’s film combines documentary with fictional drama, something I didn’t pick up on while watching it. There really wasn’t anything special about this short, told mostly through voiceover supplied by Campbell. It’s not a particularly interesting story and nothing much happens before it abruptly ends.

The second selection, “The Grand Bizarre,” is more experimental in nature. Directed by Jodie Mack, “The Grand Bizarre” doesn’t attempt to tell a story. Instead, Mack creates a mood, established via a series of photographs featuring multiple pieces of fabric. Her film has a visual style reminiscent of the stop-motion some musicians used for their music videos in the 1980s, think Peter Gabriel’s video for “Sledgehammer” or Nu Shooz’s video for “Point of No Return,” or animator Norman McLaren used in shorts like “Neighbours” and “Dots.” The imagery is driven by a soundtrack that also veers towards the experimental. The lack of a traditional narrative may sound daunting but if you allow yourself to go with the flow and get absorbed in the mood she’s creating you might like what you see. I’d be lying if I said I completely enjoyed Mack’s film, it does feel like it goes on a little too long. There were several moments I found myself wondering how much longer it would last.

Neither short is something I’d recommend to casual viewers but if you’re curious I’d check out “The Grand Bizarre” over “Veslemøy’s Song.” While both lack a good narrative, Mack’s film feels more purposeful than Bohdanowicz’s.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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*** (out of ****)

5B is expertly, if deliberately, balanced between the personal and the political. The first half of Paul Haggis and Dan Krauss’s documentary archives the lives and, in some cases, deaths of the earliest survivors and victims in the AIDS crisis, and upon a clearly delineated shift in tone and pacing, the second half examines the wrongful perceptions of the disease and the political response to it, at least in the United States. There is something a bit clinical in the film’s approach, which must inevitably include some surprises at the end of a couple of the stories it tells. Perhaps framing those developments as surprises is a bit of a cheat.

Perhaps, though, the impulse is a different one. After all, this is a documentary that seeks to break down the misconceptions of the fatal syndrome that swept through vulnerable parts of the world most intensely in the late 1970s and the first half of the 1980s, until a type of protease inhibitor made contracting AIDS, following a diagnosis of HIV, thankfully less likely. The documentary is constantly a kick in the stomach by the realities of this disease. Many of the interview subjects, for instance, must be the doctors and nurses who attempted to treat the disease in patients with that fateful prognosis.

The reason, of course, is its own, somber reality check: Most of the interview subjects who would be in a position to talk about the effects of the disease have long since succumbed to it. Only half of Haggis and Krauss’s intentions lie with an account of those effects, however. The main subjects were once healthcare workers on the eponymous ward, dedicated to AIDS patients after an excruciating period of misinformation and paranoia about the disease, of the San Francisco General Hospital. The ward closed in 2003, twenty years after being established by a few handfuls of rebellious doctors.

The need for the ward rose from the prevailing and incorrect belief that mere touch, then the swapping of mucus or other fluids, spread the disease that would kill tens of thousands of people by the time it was addressed by those in a Presidential administration. It would be several years before the realization of its being a bloodborne illness occurred, and by then, an old prejudice had already set in. Doctors and nurses in what would become ward 5B had a radical solution: Physical touch was sympathetically nurturing to these wounded and weathered souls.

The outrage came from that old prejudice: It was believed that the illness, which first and most seriously affected gay men, sprung up out of the ether of, what was considered to be, a delinquent lifestyle. Bathhouses were seen as massive orgies and grounds-zero for the epidemic (and news reports, specifically calibrated to underline this fear, are eye-opening to that effect). Medical professionals sent away those suffering the disease to die in agony and solitude. A nurse, infected with the disease after an accidental needle prick, was then ushered into anonymity when it was believed that mere exposure to the disease was synonymous with sexual deviancy.

One of the great coups of this achievement, by the way, is the revelation of who that nurse, labeled “Jane Doe” in the wake of the incident, really is and the perspective of the person who went through that initial fright of contracting an incurable disease. Facts and the names of people come and go quickly, which may be why this review hasn’t mentioned any. Haggis and Krauss are more interested in the broad story of the ward’s opening and, through a brief examination of President Ronald Reagan’s weak response, political impact. 5B could do to go deeper, but as a document and act of political activism, it’s quite affecting.
(Review by Joel Copling)

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The Last Black Man in San Francisco

(Review by Chase Lee)

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