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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Saturday, April 3, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong

Director: Adam Wingard

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

Godzilla vs. Kong unites in one, big epic feature!


This film looks very stirring and exhilarating to see as this is a whimsical way to start 2021 with a bang. Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth film in Legendary Pictures’ “MonsterVerse” and the fourth Godzilla film produced in Hollywood. Regardless of the excitement, the film remains questionable whether it will be a success and will it survive from the ashes of COVID to prevent this from being a flop. Director Adam Wingard takes the stage as director, with actors Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, and Brian Tyree Henry carrying the film entirely.

Gozilla vs. Kong centers on two of the greatest fighting icons, the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong, as Kong clashes with Godzilla with humanity being caught during the humans’ mission to retrieve the energy source into this world called the “Hollow Earth.” As the two monsters meet, they need to embrace each other to ensure their survival.

Alexander Skarsgård stars as Nathan Lind, a geologist and chief cartographer who works closely with Kong, while actress Millie Bobby Brown appears as Madison Russell, supporting Skarsgård onscreen. Actors Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry also come into the scene as anthropological linguist Dr. Ilene Andrews and Bernie Hayes, a technician and a theorist aiding Madison.

With the direction coming from Adam Wingard, known for directing Death Note in 2017, the story and his direction really seem fitting to see these two iconic titans of the east and west whom they face off against each other at some point, having previously done so in 1962's King Kong vs. Godzilla, directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects being provided by Eiji Tsuburaya. And now, this year, the world has a brand new reimagining tale of such a brutal rivalry, complete with better, yet improvable special effects and a huge, realistic destruction galore to that affair. Speaking of special effects, Wingard and his team have done an amazing job of keeping the tedious hard work being splattered all around on the two monsters and the action sequences.

Aside from the story and Wingard’s direction itself, in addition to this, the film also touches on the mythology of these real (but animatronic) monsters (known as "Kaiju" in Japanese), with particular focus being placed on Kong and his origins. Godzilla, on the other hand, also shares some screen time under the presences of the director and the producers in order to keep the film for its title. Wingard nails the focal character development of the two like the previous Godzilla films dated back in 1950s to recent years and the King Kong films as he and his team took major influences of these films and have the commitment to watch every film from both franchises and media properties in order to capture the right consistency and pop culture accuracies for this film.

While Godzilla vs. Kong is filled with enthusiasm, the only downsides there are in the film are weakened main “human” characters being given in the film as well as using humans as leads as opposed to what the title says. These characters looked like they saw nothing and couldn’t do much more to help the monsters out, but the actors Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, and Brian Tyree Henry sounded like are trying their best and hardest to make this film easier to enjoy and to follow when it comes to storytelling and acting in [giant] monster movies.

Also featured in the film are Shun Oguri as Dr. Ren Serizawa, Eiza González as Maya Simmons, Julian Dennison as Madison’s friend Josh Valentine, Kyle Chandler as Madison’s father Dr. Mark Russell, and Demián Bichir as Maya’s father and Apex Cybernetics CEO Walter Simmons.

As far as giant monster movies go, Godzilla vs. Kong is ok, but does a serviceable job for this lovely two-hour entertainment the director and the cast brought. Filled with frequent action-packed sequences and great usage of special effects, it's a mind-blowing game and numbingly simplistic but I couldn’t care less. At this point of time, I’m not entirely sure whether there'll be more films in this so-called "MonsterVerse" but I do see the potential the franchise is trying to keep up as long as the demand is there.

GRADE: C+

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Friday, March 26, 2021

Stay Out of the Attic



“Stay Out of the Attic,” also known as “Stay Out of the F**king Attic” according to IMDb (I’m not sure if this is meant to be stylized or if the stars are included to prevent profanity from being in the title), is not only badly titled but a bad movie, in general. Directed by Jerren Lauder, who co-wrote the script alongside Jason Scott Goldberg and Jesse Federman, “Stay Out of the Attic” starts out promisingly enough but ultimately offers little reason to stay the course of the movie.

The story centers around three ex-cons who now work as movers. Their latest job focuses on moving a man, Vern Mueller (Michael Flynn), out of his rather large home. The job turns out to be much bigger than the boss/owner Schillinger (Ryan Francis) expects. When voicing his concerns on completing the job done in a single day, Mueller offers a handsome bonus prompting Schillinger and his co-workers, Imani (Morgan Alexandria) and Carlos (Bryce Fernelius), to agree to pulling an all-nighter to complete the job. Mueller offers a single instruction to the movers – stay out of the attic and the basement.

There’s plenty of cheap jump scares thrown in throughout the film’s first half, an abrasive, jarring remainder that yes, we are watching a horror movie. They don’t help to set the atmosphere, and they definitely don’t offer much in the way of terrifying imagery. Unless, of course, you find the sight of fingers frightening.

The trio eventually come to discover that Mueller is a Nazi doctor. Following this discovery, Schillinger, Imani, and Carlos are locked into the house by Mueller. It’s a rather dumb plot development, especially considering the protagonists don’t do much to try to escape. These morons don’t even try to break out the windows. You might have more fun with this one if you’re able to overlook this idiocy.

As it turns out (and as I’ve already hinted), there’s nothing threatening in the attic – but the basement is another story. I guess the filmmakers didn’t want to have their movie confused for a remake of 1973’s “Don’t Look in the Basement” or an adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book “Stay Out of the Basement.” Mueller’s laboratory is housed in the basement, complete with a surveillance system he uses to track the movements of the people working above him. In addition, the lab is home to his human experiment, which he unleashes on the movers after they discover his true identity.

To be honest, Lauder’s movie does have a good set-up. It’s just not a fully realized movie, and this isn’t just due to its small budget. The presented themes of the film aren’t fully explored, and the movie isn’t even fun on a basic, exploitative level.

Gore-hungry horror fans may find some things to like with this movie. There are some body-horror elements and the film’s final moments are fairly graphic. Still, that might not be enough to persuade many to sit through this movie’s scant 80-minute runtime. “Stay Out of the Attic” isn’t particularly thrilling or terrifying, and it certainly isn’t a “fun” horror movie. On a more positive note, it does manage to avoid being a complete and total bore. Still, I’d say avoid this one unless you’re desperate for something to watch.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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Nobody

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Studio: Universal Pictures

Nobody is a fool to see Bob Odenkirk back in action!


Nobody is such a strong word for its title to avoid confusion with another film, Nobody’s Fool, directed by Tyler Perry, but if anyone who is a fan of Bob Odenkirk could get a good taste in this action, crime-thriller flick. This film looks very interesting to see with Odenkirk taking his steps into something hotter and catchy this year. Nobody is directed by Ilya Naishuller and stars Bob Odenkirk in his main role, along with Connie Nielsen, RZA, Aleksei Serebryakov, and Christopher Lloyd in their supportive roles.

Nobody focuses on Hutch Mansell, who, after the thieves ran into his home, declines to defend himself or his family to prevent any serious complications. When his family begins to drift away from him, it ignites his resentment about being an unsubstantial father and husband, thus awakening his suppressed skills and illuminating his dark secrets.

In the film, Bob Odenkirk (AMC’s Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul) portrays Hutch Mansell, a father to his son Blake and a husband to Becca Mansell, who refuses to save his family from burglars invading their home. Gage Munroe (Hotel Transylvania: The Series) and Connie Nelson (2017’s Wonder Woman, Gladiator) appeared in the film as Hutch’s son and wife Blake and Becca, supporting the protagonist.

Director Ilya Naishuller, who have taken his directing duty from 2015’s Hardcore Henry, takes the filming stage to guide Bob Odenkirk and the cast on how any action film is heavily done in certain levels. This includes guiding actors and the cinematographers to shoot some cooler stunts, comedic character performances, and heavy-visualized action sequences, compared to John Wick series and other thriller films people have watched, thanks to Naishuller’s partner and screenwriter Derek Kolstad who utilized his script-making duties from John Wick films and sets out on his big, breakout writing duty for his new television miniseries, Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which will be shown on Disney+.

While the film is nice and easy to follow when it comes to storytelling, the director gave weak characterizations for Hutch’s family characters as the wife, son, and daughter sounded too weak and helpless, waiting for the man to do the job. Thus, giving them the damsel-in-distress character build-up as if someone is waiting for Superman to be rescued without even thinking about them strongly to how each character gives its personal trait. This is something the filmmakers have missed when all comes down to character developments.

Also appearing in the film are RZA (Kill Bill: Volume 1) as Hutch’s half-brother, Aleksei Serebryakov as Russian mafia lord Yulian Kuznetsov with a Robert-De-Niro persona-type, Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) as Hutch’s father, Michael Ironside as Eddie Williams and Colin Salmon (Resident Evil) as The Barber. And lastly, better not forget about Paisley Cadorath who also comes to the stage as Sammy Mansell, Hutch's daughter.

Nobody is a classical, thrilling 92-minute feature film, crossing between John Wick and Taken films. It’s funny, exciting, emotional, and epic in that order. Odenkirk really nailed the role as I really enjoyed every scenery Odenkirk has ever taken freshly based on his acting professionalism under the director’s blessing. I feel like this film may deserve at least one Oscar nomination and maybe at least one sequel if they ever come up with something cool and radical for the next chapter. Surely this film gives its good 90s (or early 2000s) vibes and it’s really off to a good start for 2021 for any action film being released in theaters. I like this film, but I can’t give a higher rating on this chilly so-called “crime” film.

GRADE: B

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Director: Zack Snyder

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is at the Avengers: Endgame level of DC Comics!


Fans, celebrities, and audiences have been waiting for this cut for a long time after that dreadful 2017 version was released, directed by Joss Whedon, which flopped the box office and critics’ reviews entirely. As a result, the future of the films and production lineups based on the DC Comics is in jeopardy, leading to the media speculation for Warner Bros. to focus on the superheroes’ solo, independent films before joining altogether in one film like Marvel’s The Avengers. In addition, the news from fans, the studio, and the filmmakers also led Zach Synder himself to produce and release his own version of the film, under the name, “The Snyder Cut.” The film is directed by Synder himself and features the ensemble cast of Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher in their superhero role-playing game of the team.

Like the previous 2017 theatrical release of the film, Zack Snyder's Justice League follows the Justice League, consisting of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and the Flash, as their mission is to save the world from the catastrophic, intergalactic threat of Darkseid, Steppenwolf, and their army of Parademons who are invading Earth.

Actors Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting), Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher return to this restored version as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg respectively. The ensemble cast have done an outstanding job of keeping in character as Synder would want. It seems pretty heavy to redo the entire scenes and film additional shots that haven’t been seen on the original version, thus making the Joss Whedom’s version very unpleasant to watch due to his unsuccessful attempts of making a greater story. This Synder cut is absolutely more-detailed as this version focuses on not only the heroes’ journey of saving the world, but also focusing on their times and memories with their families, which give the film much more structural tone and depth for the film and also providing some stronger character developments of the film.

Zack Synder, who left production of the 2017 version of the film following the death of his daughter Autumn, comes to the rescue after hearing the critics’ reviews on Joss Whedon’s directorial version. Synder’ direction really saves all the trouble of directing and providing guidance towards his fellow actors and the rest of the cast and crew. Reworking on this film is extremely difficult when it comes to story arcs being easy to follow and the cast knowing what to do in the sceney, but by the looks of it, the actors enjoy working with Synder as well as having good social relationships with him, better than Joss Whedon’s. Speaking of that, if you hear about Whedon, he was accused of his abusive behavior towards Justice League actors according to the news.

The special effects, the character development, and the music composition from Junkie XL are pretty ambiguous and tediously straight-forward, trailing with Avengers: Endgame for that distant flavor and texture being used and shown in the film. And the ending isn’t so bad either, leaving the rhetorical question from critics and audiences whether a sequel to his cut will likely happen in the future, but it appears as though Synder will likely say yes in that glorious manner. While the major improvements work, the time length of the film gives me a nervousness and a lot of anxiety to see, treating this like a four-hour episode or a movie miniseries released at the same time as opposed to separately on a weekly basis on television. Another issue is that some small parts of the story really threw me off, especially on that bloaty climax right there which kind of got lost in the center for that strategical backstory on the villains.

Also appearing in the film are the returning stars of Willem Dafoe (Finding Nemo, 2002’s Spider-Man), Amber Heard (Aquaman), Jeremy Irons (The Lion King), Amy Adams (Enchanted), Diane Lane (Unfaithful), Connie Nielsen (Gladiator), and J. K. Simmons (Whiplash, Raini’s Spider-Man trilogy), reprising their roles as Vulko, Mera, Alfred Pennyworth, Lois Lane, Martha Kent, Hippolyta, and James Gordon. In addition, Ciarán Hinds also returns onscreen as Steppenwolf, the main antagonist of the film, while actor Joe Morton reprises his role as Silas Stone, Cyborg’s father.

Some newer cast are present in the film whom they didn’t get to appear in the original version, Ryan Zheng is introduced as Ryan Choi while Kiersey Clemons portrays Iris West in the film. And lastly, Ray Porter portrays Darkseid, one of the main villains who threaten Earth.

Regardless of what is told and what is done, Zack Snyder's Justice League is a good four-hour movie event on HBO Max. It’s a massive improvement over it’s 2017 version. Synder really knows what to do and understands the nuts-and-bolts of how a great film is being made. My compliments to Synder himself as well as the six main actors and the rest of the crew who made this occasion possible by bringing this restoration back on its feet. One last thing, due to its time length, I highly recommend splitting two hours of your time watching this today or tomorrow and pick it up where you left off the next day after that. I kinda say, this is a must and this is far, the most anticipated film to watch for the studio and on HBO Max.

GRADE: B-

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Chaos Walking

Director: Doug Liman

Studio: Lionsgate

Chaos Walking is a film with a Hunger Games hype!


Science fiction and dystopian films being mixed all together aren’t my real thing, but Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley are such admirable actors in everyone’s eyes and minds. The film gives me a similar vibe compared to The Hunger Games series or Maze Runner since the film is also heavily based on the sci-fi trilogy Chaos Walking, adapting its first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go written by Patrick Ness who also serves as a screenwriter for the film. As mentioned, the film stars Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland in their main-leading roles while actors Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, and David Oyelowo appear in their supportive roles.

Chaos Walking follows a young man named Todd Hewitt who lives in a dystopian world where there are no women and all living creatures can hear each other's thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds that are widely known as this so-called "Noise." When a young female crash lands onto the planet, he must help her escape danger.

To those who are not familiar with Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, Holland portrays Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the MCU’s Spider-Man films while Ridley portrays Rey in the new Star Wars trilogy. Holland also voices Ian Lightfoot in Disney-Pixar film Onward, which was released in March 2020 just before COVID hits the earth, while Ridley appears in 2018’s Ophelia as the titular-leading character. Here in the film, Holland made his onscreen appearance as Todd Hewitt, a man living in a dystopian, distant world while Ridley steals the show as Viola Eade, a young woman who crash lands onto his world.

Doug Liman, who previously directed The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow, takes the mantle as sole director. He has been in the movie business since the mid-1990s when he first directed 1996’s Swingers, featuring Jon Faverau, the founding father of Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the performances of Holland and Ridley, the story borrows several key elements from the Hunger Games series, taking much more complexity of the characters and the forest setting compared to that said film. It pretty seems as if Liman wants to crank things up a notch in regards to his camera-shooting professionalism like he did for Bourne Identity films while taking influences on other science fiction films that involves people living in a dangerous society.

This whole building-story-arcs thing comes together alright as the plot flows by but it's just not well done enough to engender a higher score. Daisy Ridley puts in another mannequin-like performance, and she is carried away like by Holland for most of the film. Despite the chemistry between Ridley and Holland being enjoyable to watch, the CGI and special effects given to those two characters with more range simply made the characters underdeveloped and the film increasingly uninteresting.

Also appearing are Mads Mikkelsen who portrays David Prentiss while actors Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, and David Oyelowo portrayed as Ben Moore, Hildy Black, David Prentiss Jr., and Aaron respectively.

Sorry to say this but, Chaos Walking is a disappointing 109-minute flick. It doesn't have any surprising moments and exciting thrills, but Holland and Ridley are what makes this film pleasant to watch. I like Tom Holland as he did everything he could for Daisy Riley onscreen together, which is very chivalry, but I didn’t like the film entirely as I actually felt like I’m watching a plagiarized version of The Hunger Games or Maze Runner. The director and the writers have thrown too many eggs in one basket due to much CGI and special effects being that have taken more attention and input than the characters’ development. I hate to say this, but I rather skip this unless you can take proper precautions on this film.

GRADE: F

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Nomadland

Director: Chloé Zhao

Studio: Searchlight Pictures

Nomadland is a bestie of the year!


People may ask, “Who says any non-Americans can’t make American films?” The answer is Hollywood, but before director Chloé Zhao takes on her big, breakout directing role for MCU’s upcoming Eternals film, she brings the real definition of what motion pictures are all about in our cultural ways of seeing something at a movie theater and that is making Nomadland. A film doesn’t have to start or end with Hollywood. Films are as good from anywhere coming from visionary filmmakers all around the globe. This film is based on a book written by American journalist Jessica Bruder and features Frances McDormand in her main-leading role with David Stratharin in his supportive role given by Zhao.

Nomadland takes place in 2011 and centers on a woman named Fern who, following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad while looking for seasonal jobs around the winter.

Frances McDormand takes on her leading role as Fern, a lady who has been traveling in her van to find work throughout the winter season while actor David Stratharin appears as Dave. The film also features the real-life nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern's mentors, fictionalizing themselves onscreen to guide Fern in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.

This film serves as Zhao’s third feature film to direct after her previous experiences with Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider. She is set to direct her venturing Marvel blockbuster film Eternals, featuring Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden, which will be released in Fall 2021. For this film, she takes her job of making films based on one’s stories extremely well. She and her camera crew really know how to take some good filming shots on the characters, the setting, and the real nomad scenes to see how people can study about the modern lifestyle and the differences on how anyone can live their life to the fullest. Not to mention that the script-writing, the editing, and the cinematography are anonymous and ambiguous, ful-filling how anyone can see how conflicts and issues are resolved when it comes to overcoming challenges they faced in the film.

Speaking of that, the casting of real world people is a bold, but fantastic move by the film makers. It adds much realism to the fictional story that just can't be manufactured and theoretically lets anybody, including myself, get some of these fascinating glimpses into a world that is way above different than my (and your’s) own world. The main point of the story is that you can’t judge a movie by its name. It is pretty much like a movie that has a very documentary-like flavor at certain times.

Nomadland is a nice magnificent two-hour flick. Zhao and McDormand really nailed their parts together to bring all the ingredients down together. Seems like an Oscar-worthy for Zhao and McDormand. This is a very quiet movie and is deeply a must for all ages. It is a very slow paced film due to its setting and the atmosphere the director has given us, but I didn't find this overwhelmingly hindered by the experience in any way though, I was never bored when I was watching this. Needless to say, you should go watch this, you’ll be fascinated by the wilds of nature and drama anyone has ever experienced in their entire life. It’s an easy flick to regret if you missed out on this!

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)









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The Father

Director: Florian Zeller

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

The Father tops it all for Anthony Hopkins!


Anthony Hopkins is easily one of the greatest actor of all times, from his honorable portrayal in The Silence of the Lambs to becoming Thor’s father Odin in MCU’s Thor series to his latest nominated role in The Father as he slowly slides into the horror of this father as he loses his mind witnessed primarily through his caregiving daughter portrayed by the brilliant Olivia Colman. This film serves as directorial debut for Florian Zeller, who has turned his written play Le Père (The Father) into a nice, grand entry to the motion picture industries.

The Father follows the story of an aging man who refuses all the assistance his daughter has given as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind, and even the fabric of his reality.

Anthony Hopkins portrays Anthony, the main protagonist of the film, who suffered Alzheimer's disease who moves into his daughter’s house while Olivia Colman portrays his caring daughter Anne. The film also includes the rest, but a much smaller cast consisting of Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, and Olivia Williams.

Zeller’s direction takes on the high-note when it comes to coming-of-age drama films, he and the crew filmed on every stage and action as the way he wanted from his play on stage. Zeller provides some conveying messages about the living with Alzhemier’s disease and dementia, which these two are the whole, main point of what is going on in the film and what are the problems in the story that the cast and crew take note in this particular situation. The story has somewhat a sticky situation scenario but when it all comes down, Zeller perfectly captures the real-deal family crisis between a normal family member and a family member with a disease/disability.

The chemistry between Hopkins and Colman brings the significant amount of family dynamics between Hopkins and Colman just as the director really need, giving the sternly father-and-daughter relationship as part of the film’s climax, even with the opera music is being placed in the background to give the film a much deeper tone for a fatherly emotion living in a England-home lifestyle. One thing noticeable is that playing a father and a daughter seems hard for both Hopkins and Colman, but they knew what to do as their onscreen relationship really gave a lot of perception for critics and audiences who need to put themselves in Hopkins’ shoes.

I can’t tell you more from this but The Father is an amazing film, being carried by Zeller, Hopkins and Colman. This movie is highly well-told coming from Hopkins' perspective, as he ages his memory fades and things get more complicated than it seems. This movie is emotionally powerful, beautiful, and depressing to watch. It makes me think about the films featuring any old man and his daughter's relationship. While the point of this movie is to bore or confuse us, I got a little lost in the film as I felt like it needed a little more explanation of what was really going on truthfully. Nevertheless, the performances and the story are fantastic. Anthony Hopkins is amazing, very worthy for his Oscar nomination.

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)









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