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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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Gloria Bell

Sebastián Lelio won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2018 for his film A Fantastic Woman. His newest project which he wrote and directed had it's world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. It's almost a scene by scene remake in English of his 2013 film Gloria in which Paulina García won the best actress prize at the Berlin Film Festival.

Julianne Moore plays the fifty something free spirit Gloria Bell. She's been divorced for a dozen years and works for an insurance company. At night she frequents a dance club for the disco dancing mid-life crowd. When we first see Gloria she is sitting alone at the bar. She is not someone that particularly stands out. Even when she approaches someone who she had met in the past, he can barely remember her. We follow Gloria in the everyday minutiae of her life. From her singing alone with the radio in the car of 70's dance music, to smoke breaks with a co-worker while complaining about the job. She visits her children, her son (Michael Cera), a new dad who has been left with the baby as his wife had taken off to find herself, and her daughter (Alanna Ubach), who teaches Yoga and has fallen for a Norwegian surfer. As much as she offers to help them, they insist on living their own lives. She also gets along with her ex-husband (Brad Garrett) and his wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn). They share friends with Rita Wilson and Chris Mulkey. It's not a bad life, just very routine and unadventurous.

One night at the dance club she hooks up with Arnold (John Turturro). He's been divorced for about a year but is still very much involved with his ex-wife and two grown daughters who call him at every opportunity to help them out. Despite the early signs of this, Gloria and Arnold get along. Gloria revels in that exciting feelings of new love. They date, meet her friends and her kids, but he keeps getting phone calls and disappearing on her. They even try having a Las Vegas weekend which ends up with Gloria doing a morning walk of shame.

Julianne Moore is probably one of top actresses in the industry today. She can anything from playing the quirky villain in the last Kingsman film to this quiet sensitive performance of Gloria who lives for everyone else but herself. There is no CGI, car chases, shootouts or ghosts. This is a nice quiet performance of a woman finding her self and independence. There can be good stories of older women and hopefully we will see more. It's a slow start, but it's the kind of story that stays with you.
(Review by reesa)

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Viewers are thrown into the deep end of the pool from the get-go with writer / director Bruno Gascon’s film “Carga.” Gascon’s movie, suitably bleak and dreary, focuses on a human-trafficking network and a few of the people caught within it (both victims and perpetrators).

The key players are introduced within the opening scene – truck driver António (Vítor Norte), network leader Viktor (Dmitry Bogomolov), and victim Viktoriya (Michalina Olszanska, who also plays Viktor’s sister, and right-hand woman, Alanna). António stops on the side of a highway so Viktor and his men can unload the passengers, illegal immigrants hidden among the contents of António’s trailer with the assumption of safe passage into Portugal, into a large van. One of the passengers loaded into the van is Viktoriya, whose dialogue-less initial scenes require actress Olszanska to establish a connection with the audience solely via facial expressions. It is clear that António is uncomfortable with the situation, though it’s not clear how long this discomfort has been around. Was he once ok with what he was participating in? Or has he, in some way, been forced into being an unwilling accomplice? Sensing his discomfort, Viktor later calls António, threatening to harm his wife and granddaughter if he quits.

There isn’t much given in the way of backstory for any of these characters and none have any sort of character growth within the film. Viktoriya is the helpless victim with a strong survival instinct, Viktor is the evil boss, and António is the hapless old man caught in a spider’s web. One of the points director Gascon seems to be trying to make with “Carga” is that anyone could find themselves, a title card at the end of the film proclaims “it could be you,” in this situation. Michalina Olszanska, whose dual characters are on opposite ends of this trafficking network, visibly serves to represent that idea to the audience. Her performance is one of the film’s strengths, she so fully disappears into her roles that I didn’t realize the same actress was playing both women until the movie was over. “Carga” constantly shifts its focus between multiple characters, another way in which Gascon drives home the idea of “it could be you.” You don’t necessarily have to be the victim to be involved in this crime.

Viktoriya finds herself locked in a cold, run-down building along with the other women kidnapped by the traffickers. All of the men that were in the truck are shot dead in the courtyard, an act which Viktor makes sure happens in plain sight of the women. When they come to take away a young girl, who Viktoriya has been comforting, Viktoria is the only one to put up a fight for her. After the men have gone, she reprimands the other women for not putting up any sort of fight.

Technically, the film is well made. It’s well shot, one of the few things I liked about it. “Carga” takes on a blue hue with its photography, embellishing the hopelessness of Viktoriya’s situation while also further establishing the depressing mood of the movie. At times, the subtitles disappear into bright backgrounds, making them initially unnoticeable then, once their presence is noted, very difficult to read. This is something that really should have been noticed by the filmmakers before its release.

As previously stated, the actors do a great job at portraying their characters. Yet, their performances don’t help to sell the movie. Despite grasping her dire predicament, it was hard to empathize with Viktoriya. Gascon’s attempts at connecting the viewers with the traffickers also felt odd. António is the most engaging of the characters but the lack of information leaves you wondering whether or not you should care about the man.

“Carga” plods along aloofly to its conclusion, which goes in an expected direction once certain events start unfolding. Maybe a stronger final act would have helped the movie out, but I felt done with it far before it got to that point. “Carga” is a harsh and brutal film, though maybe not as hard to watch as you’d think considering the subject matter.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

Now available on DVD and VOD

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The Hummingbird Project

Writer / director Kim Nguyen takes on the world of high-frequency trading with his newest film, “The Hummingbird Project.” Nguyen’s movie follows two traders, Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (Alexander Skarsgård), who decide to quit their jobs at a high-profile firm in order to build a run of fiber optic cable – which must be placed in a perfectly straight line – between the stock exchange in Kansas City and New York City.

Vincent and Anton, who happen to be cousins, bring in an investor, Bryan Taylor (Frank Schorpion), to finance the project and a driller, Mark Vega (Michael Mando), to help with the construction. As the group sets out to work on the project, with hopes of beating Vincent and Anton’s former boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek) with a faster connection (only 16 milliseconds instead of 17), it becomes obvious that they are in over their heads. A whirlwind of sub-contracts, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), property sales (they only ask each owner for a thin strip ten feet underneath their property), and equipment rentals (among other things) ensues. All of which costs ridiculous sums of money. Sums that quickly escalate with the arrival of each new problem.

Eisenberg plays yet another variant of his typical role – the smooth-talking arrogant hustler. He’s done it before but he plays the part well. Pairing the character with the neurotic Anton gives “The Hummingbird Project” its edge. Skarsgård, playing against his usual type, completely disappears into the role of the anxiety riddled, middle-aged Anton. It’s a transformation that requires the actor to walk hunched over with a funky gait and appear with a balding pate while also embodying the personality of someone who is extremely intelligent yet easily riled up. Eisenberg and Skarsgård have excellent chemistry, giving the cousins a believable dynamic.

Ex-boss Torres quickly catches on to what her former employees are up to (despite their NDAs) after sending someone to spy on them. Quickly, she hatches a plan to be the first to a faster connection, finding ways to undermine Vincent and Anton’s work. She pays particular attention to messing with the easily manipulated Anton. Hayek plays the part well. She coolly and venomously delivers her lines, making Eva a great (and oddly likeable) villain.

For the most part, the movie is finely paced. Nguyen sprinkles moments of humor throughout to help keep the movie light, in spite of the heavier topics it touches on (stomach cancer). There are some moments where things start to drag but they don’t last too long. The score from Yves Gourmeur, one of the more engaging scores from recent memory, creates the right mood for the film and helps to build the suspense and drive the story along.

While “The Hummingbird Project” focuses on some dense (and, at times, dark) material, it’s a fun, breezy thriller. After finishing the movie, it’s a little hard to believe that this isn’t based on a true story.
(Review by Bret Oswald)



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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Mar 17-Mar 26

Looks like those Dumbo passes are going to be hard to obtain. I'm sorry but my phone is on the fritz and I don't have access to my computer all day long to jump on the notices fast enough for us to grab them. So I'm asking y'all to keep an eye out and if you see an opportunity please post it to the list or our Facebook page. After all this group was created to share screening notices. Thank you!

Please don't go begging for passes, btw. There are lots of websites out there that will slowly trickle their notices. Be patient!

Mar 17 - Mar 26

Tue - Mar 19
Shazam - 7:00 pm - Angelika
The Hummingbird Project - 7:00 pm - Angelika
Us - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - Mar 20
The Mustang - 7:30 pm - Angelika
Us - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Thu - Mar 21
The Best of Enemies - 7:00 - AMC Northpark

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Devil's Path

On a hiking trail, a popular cruising site for gay men, Noah (Stephen Twardokus) sits waiting, eyeing the men who walk by. He listens to a Walkman, one of the few indications – minus the absence of cell phones – that this film, “Devil’s Path,” is taking place at some point during the 1990s. A passerby, Patrick (JD Scalzo), catches his eye. In his haste to catch up, Noah bumps into two other hikers (Jon Gale and Michael Hampton), who seem more than a little upset by the disturbance.

After Noah initiates a conversation with Patrick, the two men continue down the trail, eventually coming upon a roped off area. A nearby sign, slapped with a campaign sticker proclaiming “Perot for President ’92,” warns of missing hikers, Brandon and Michael. As the two men begin to walk into the roped off section, a park ranger (Steve Callahan) stops them, calling their attention to the sign and warning them of, what is assumed to be, bear attacks. When the ranger is called away on his walkie-talkie, Noah and Patrick decide to ignore his warning and continue on anyway.

Patrick, who’s only looking for a hookup, eventually grows tired of Noah’s continual talk of love and decides it’s best the two part ways. Not wanting to be left alone on the trail in this part of the woods, Noah asks Patrick to wait while he goes to the bathroom. But Noah’s pee break takes too long. Going in search of Noah, Patrick sees a man, one of the two men that Noah previously bumped into, walking by with his hands covered in blood. He finds Noah laying on the side of the trail, a bloodied rock nearby. When the two hear the man returning with his partner, Noah and Patrick flee into the woods in search of an alternate way back. “Devil’s Path,” co-written by lead actor Twardokus and the film’s director Matthew Montgomery, follows the two men as they attempt to flee from their attackers.

As with most thrillers, “Devil’s Path” relies on some coincidental circumstances to drive the story; specifics can’t be gotten into for obvious reasons. Moments and events leave you wondering what the chances are that things would have played out exactly in that way or something would have been in exactly that spot. The script calls for the characters to do things that aren’t believable. Patrick does something at one point that really makes no sense, especially considering the character is an EMT. Twardokus and Montgomery attempt to explain it away, but the explanation is unbelievable. It didn’t seem likely that Patrick would have stuck around Noah that long before losing interest or have even allowed Noah to follow him off in the first place. Also, if this trail is in a national park why are the only people on it single men looking for a hookup? Shouldn’t there be some other hiking groups on at least the main path?

The characters aren’t likeable and, for the most part, the acting isn’t entirely convincing. Although Twardokus and Scalzo each do a good job of showing his character’s weakness – Noah has anxiety attacks and Patrick has asthma – neither actor sells his part. Twardokus is the weaker of the two. Noah is too timid at the start of the movie for his actions at the end to work.

Cinematographer Stephen Tringali doesn’t create a daunting or foreboding atmosphere out of the heavily wooded region the cast gets lost in (Ceiri Torjussen’s score attempts to provide one but is only slightly more successful). Colors are kept focused on those found in nature, mainly greens and browns. The supporting cast is clothed in neutral colors, mostly beige, while Noah and Patrick both wear red. A color which causes them to stand out against the foliage and make the viewer question why neither suggests removing their outer layer to better camouflage themselves from their pursuers. The color makes sense for the two characters thematically but it doesn’t make sense once they are on the run.

It isn’t hard to figure out that more might be going on than meets the eye in “Devil’s Path.” The camera frequently shoots close-ups of the actor’s reactions, implying that we are not dealing with particularly honest people. Astute viewers will probably be able to tell which direction the film is going even if the final destination isn’t exactly what was expected. Those who go with the flow and don’t attempt to figure things out might find the experience more enjoyable.

Released on DVD & VOD on March 5.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Captain Marvel

Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck Studio: Disney

Review: Captain Marvel

Marvel Cinematic Universe releases their first film featuring a female-lead character that will surpass the box-office revenue from several superhero films. MCU all started with 2008’s Iron Man and continues the timeline, telling stories of each of the Marvel characters before 2012’s the Avengers which later became an important setting. Like I said earlier, I’m a devotee to comic-book films but I can’t say all comic-books films are good like the mediocre “Iron Man 2” or “The Incredible Hulk.”

In “Captain Marvel,” Carol Danvers, a fighter pilot and a soon-to-be member of an elite Kree military unit called StarForce, becomes Captain Marvel after Earth encounters the biggest conflict between two alien planets.

As the story flows in the 1990s setting, “Captain Marvel” reaches a perfect height of bringing the action sequences and lovely performance of Brie Larson, who appeared in 2015’s Room for which she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and Kong: Skull Island, towards American audiences. Not only Larson, but I love how the filmmakers also use the Blockbuster Video setting as it seems to be more like flourishing back in time as one of company’s best franchise before the bankruptcy. It gives a similar taste and emotion as if Toys “R” Us are still around in the 1990s.

Back then, Blockbuster Video as well as Toys “R” Us were popular and still around until both companies went bankrupted. The only things people don’t have in 1990s are smart phones, iPads, and streaming services such as Netflix. These three don’t exist in their lively hoods when aging through 1980s and 1990s. Blockbuster and Toys “R” Us really delve deeply and heavily on childhoods.

I described the action sequences, the setting, and the character development of Larson as female “Captain America” as the entire course throughout the film serves as a familiarity of 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” I also admired on the direction from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck as they take full commitment and dedication on helming this anticipating film with awesome stunts compared from seeing the trailer as well as the music from Pinar Toprak.

The main actor providing a supportive advices to is Jude Law who played as Yon-Rogg, Danvers’s mentor. The performance from Jude Law came out similarly like The Ancient One from 2016’s “Doctor Strange,” portrayed by Tilda Swinton. They both mentored the training protagonists but often made [somewhat] indirect threats toward their respective trainers. By the way, “Captain Marvel” is Jude Law’s first Marvel film while Robert Downey Jr., who played as 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes” in which Law co-starred with him, appeared as Iron Man starting in 2008.

Aside from Law, the supporting cast of Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Lee Pace who plays as Ronan the Accuser. What is more surprising as that I met Gemma Chan at the press screening of “Crazy Rich Asians,” co-starring with Constance Wu and Henry Goldings, and really enjoyed chatting with her and her performance to both “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Captain Marvel.”

Also returning are Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in MCU, and Clark Gregg in which both are digitally-aged by the usage of CGI due to the 1990s setting. Recalling Gregg’s words from 2008’s Iron Man that the film “isn’t his first rodeo.” Gregg always pops and goes whatever the film served him. Although, the main question about Jackson’s Nick Fury role is ecstatic as the setting takes place before he loses an eye. And let’s not forget about the cameo appearance from the late Stan Lee as a heartwarming tribute.

The chemistry between Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson becomes and proves to be a greater reminiscent of Marty and Doc from “Back to the Future,” Marlin and Dory from “Finding Nemo,” and Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler from “Jurassic Park.”

As for everything, I can’t give out too much spoilers away but I will say this, “Captain Marvel” is a good movie for full-price of admission and maybe the easier, wise choice for a Spring Break movie outing. It’s not like a topsy-turvy environment or some kind of a crash-and-burn technique being orchestrated by filmmakers, it’s just a story that lives up the expectations for both teenagers and young adults.

Keep this in mind that Captain Marvel will return sooner in the forthcoming “Avengers: End Game” which is less than a month away (My answer is “End Game” will be in late April 2019 to be exact). Running time: 125 minutes

(Review by Henry Pham)

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