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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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Oct 14 - Oct 20

We just had lots of movies last week, and now there is only one movie. The big one for October. Hope everyone got their passes. If there are more movies that we failed to notice, please share with others.

Oct 14 - Oct 20

Tue Oct 16

Halloween - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Bad Times at the El Royale

(Review by Chase Lee)

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First Man

Reel Time with Joel and Chase

Out-of-this-World Astounding, an Intimate Look into One of America’s Iconic Figures.

Title: First Man

Rating: PG-13 for Some Thematic Content Involving Peril, and Brief Strong Language

Run Time: 2hr & 21min

Joel’s Review

**** (out of ****)

Humanity’s greatest collective achievement was, perhaps, to put man on the moon. Maybe the manned mission to Mars, currently scheduled for the decade after next, will surpass it, but the innovative forward-thinking it took to take that one small step that was also a giant leap is perhaps the current paragon of human intellect. In First Man, the burden of this significance is placed upon one man in particular: Neil Armstrong, who also happened to attain status as the first man to walk on the moon. Director Damien Chazelle’s film examines what this meant to Armstrong – as an astronaut, as a father, and as a man.

And, well, it’s complicated, to say the least. As an astronaut, the prospect of going to the moon means years of preparation, of simulations, of practice flights gone awry, and of hours upon hours of study. There is an intimacy in the way Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer (adapting James R. Hansen’s book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong) immerse us in the mundane details of the process to get an aircraft into space without breaking apart, killing the pilots, and potentially grounding the whole process. “We fail down here, so we don’t fail up there,” is how Armstrong puts it at one point.

The opening scene, a dizzying simulation (abstractly edited by Chazelle regular Tom Cross) meant only to disorientate viewers and to put them on edge, certainly illustrates Armstrong’s point. It is 1961, and the flight that will put Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll), and Mike Collins (Lukas Haas) on the moon is still eight years away. The major narrative thread of the film follows Armstrong into space for the first time on Gemini 8 with Dave Scott (Christopher Abbott), his involvement in various missions to include the doomed Apollo 1 mission (in which three pilots, played in the film by Jason Clarke, Shea Whigham, and Cory Michael Smith, died in a test-launch fire), and, finally, the moon landing itself in July 1969.

Chazelle, with the accompanying help of Cross and cinematographer Linus Sandgren, approaches the flight sequences as intentionally disorienting and removed from the usual sense of awe we feel when dealing with space in movies. That is confined specifically to Armstrong’s running, leaping, and jumping tour of the moon’s surface, captured with reverence, humor, and a keen sense of the loneliness of the moment. Smartly, the filmmakers provide the recreation of the landing against the backdrop of archival audio, meaning that the famous proclamation Armstrong made upon descending from the ladder of the craft is made by Armstrong himself in voiceover.

As a father, we get a brief glimpse of his early years with wife Janet (Claire Foy), in which the pair endure the death of a daughter to cancer and celebrate the birth of two sons who, later, will worry that their father won’t return from his mission. These sequences are often gutting, especially because Foy’s performance is strong enough to elevate the usual “worried partner” material that accompanies movies of this sort. The worry goes far beyond Janet herself, and the outcome of this marriage, with its foundation in reality, is far bleaker than people might have known, given the legend of the story.

That, ultimately, is the point of Chazelle’s film: to strip away the mythic legacy of the journey and, in the process, locate the man at the center of it. That brings us to the film’s examination of Armstrong as a man, which is often during quiet sequences of reflection. Gosling’s performance is exceptional because the actor, skilled at conveying a lot without needing to express it, understands that Armstrong was a man of stoicism, patience, and, to a fault, solitude. Consider the moment Armstrong learns of the Apollo 1 crash or the moments before the capsule doors open onto the lunar landscape.

First Man is filled with lovely, intimate moments like this, and it is also filled with the sound and fury of the astronautical process. In other words, it deftly covers the range of feelings one has when witnessing a truly great movie, and Chazelle makes the whole thing look too easy. Tense and tender, grand and intimate, the film is an ode to technological advancement, scientific progress, and the intelligence of a people who looked up at the stars, wondered what was out there, and had the fortitude to find out. It is also the story of one man who finds himself at the center of it all and says, when he is told he will command a crew to do so, a simple “Ok” that contains multitudes.
(Review by Joel Copling)

Chase’s Review

(Review by Chase Lee)

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The Oath with Ike Barinholtz Interview

(Review by Chase Lee)

Interview with Ike Barinholtz at the ZaZa Hotel, Dallas TX

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Bad Times at the El Royale

The best way to approach this neo-noir mystery thriller film written and directed by Drew Goddard is not to know anything about it. Because the best part of this movie is to let it surprise you. The set dressing and concept is major enjoyment of the film. The motel itself is its own character. It's kitschy and embodies the slick modern chic of 1969. It's stylish, atmospheric with a soul music heavy soundtrack. The idea was the El Royale is set on the border of California and Nevada. Half the hotel is in one state and the other with a line down the middle. You can choose which state you would like to spend the night.

The characters include Seymour "Laramie" Sullivan (Jon Hamm), a vacuum cleaner salesman who wants the bridal suite a perk he explains can be charged to his expense account. He's brash and loud, so the fact that he is not what he seems is telegraphed right from the start. There is the priest Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), lounge singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson) a hippie chick with a prickly attitude and her sister Rose (Cailee Spaeny) who never officially checked in. They are welcomed by the motel clerk Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman), a young concierge who explains the differences you have to understand while choosing the state of your room. They all look full of secrets and mystery.

The story relies on some flashbacks to fill in the character development that helps figure out what is going on with these people. There's a Tarantino element to the proceeding like in the Hateful Eight. Several divergent characters supposedly just happens to check in on this particular evening. Everyone seems OK, but as the story progresses there is Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth) like Channing Tatum surprise appearance in the Hateful Eight to add more violence to the proceedings.

It's always a charm to have Jeff Bridges in a film as he adds a humanity to the story. Cynthia Erivo's voice needs a whole movie of her own. John Hamm is loud and obnoxious for a salesman...but is he really selling vacuums? Dakota Johnson is efficient as the sister to the really sinister Cailee Spaeny who pretty much steals the last part of the movie. As for Hemsworth, the whole shirtless Adonis strut is nice and distracting.

It's a wild ride at the El Royale.
(Review by reesa)

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First Man

There has been many films that explored the U.S. space program, most notably The Right Stuff. This new film puts the story in a more personal perspective in the hands of La La Land director Damien Chazelle and written by Josh Singer, it is based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. Armstrong had famously made the "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" as the first man on the moon. It's hard to imagine there are conspiracy groups who are convinced the moon landing was a faked. Hopefully they will have a new appreciation for the skill and sacrifice that these American heroes so rightfully deserve.

The movie opens with Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) as a test pilot of X15's in the early 1960's. The action puts you right in the pilot seat with Armstrong, hearing the vibrations, roar of engines, and the sound of his breathing as he takes the plane to edge of space. He gets a glimpse of the darkness beyond before losing control of the craft bouncing off the atmosphere as he fights to get back to earth. Neil risks his life everyday, but at home he tries to have a normal life with his wife Janet (Claire Foy), his son and his 3 year old daughter who is fighting cancer. Her passing weighs heavily on Neil. He applies for a new program at NASA. The training of the future astronauts tests their endurance to withstand what they may experience in space. Meanwhile, Janet has another child and makes friends with the wives of the other astronauts who all live in the same neighborhood.

The space program is spurred by the support of President Kennedy and the race with the Russian program. But the loss of human life also takes a toll. The first Apollo team is met with tragedy. The politics of the world is changing. People think all the money spent on the space program should be put somewhere more helpful to the populace. The night before the moon mission Janet has to force Neil to say goodbye to his sons since there is always a chance they will not see him again. The journey to the moon is detailed to the most visceral experience ever displayed in a movie. There is a point of view perspective that brings one to feel the claustrophobic space capsules. The dials of the controls, the whines and shaking as they hurtle into space powered by burning fuel beneath them. The wonder as they look out the small windows to see earth from space, a small blue marble floating in the void. They are so well trained for the mission but it doesn't take away from the actual excitement of being the first human to plant their foot print on the moon.

Ryan Gosling gives a stand out performance as he internalizes the angst of losing his daughter and the loss of his friends in the program. He gives Neil a stand up attitude to getting his job done fearlessly. It's people like him who can think quickly and without panic that opened the door to space exploration. First Man right now is one of the best of the year.
(Review by reesa)

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Goosebumps 2: Haunted House

The children's horror book series of Goosebumps by R. L. Stine is back after the first film in 2015. That story had the characters of Stine's books come to life. This version has Halloween characters come to life to terrorize a small town while everyone is out tricks and treating. Directed by Ari Sandel and written by Rob Lieber from a story by Lieber and Darren Lemke brings some zany fun to what could be scary, but it won't freak out the young ones. Considering that going out on Halloween night and people decorating their houses seems to be a thing of the good old days as some places are opting for safe and boring homogenized Harvest Festival celebrations.

Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris) are best friends who started a business called the Junk Brothers so they can find treasures like American Pickers. They get a call to go to a run down abandoned house where they find a box with a locked book inside. Suddenly they find a ventriloquist puppet in the box with a note saying his name is Slappy. The boys decide to take him with them. Outside they meet the school bullies who steal the book and try to steal Slappy too. But Slappy causes the boy's pants to drop. And as they try to escape on their bikes, Slappy causes the bulliesg to have an accident. Sonny is working on a science project about the famous inventor Tesla that once had a electronic tower in their town. He works on his presentation in from of Sam and Slappy, but his model shorts out. After Sonny reads the magic words on the back of the card Slappy comes to life. That's when serious things start to happen. Slappy will do anything for his "family". That includes Sonny's sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) who was betrayed by a possible boyfriend. Sonny gets revenge on those that do his family wrong. Their mom Kathy (Wendi McLendon-Covey) thinks the puppet is a pip and discards the kids warning that Slappy is dangerous.

Slappy gets upset when the kids try and get rid of him. He goes to the Halloween store and brings everything to life. The kids examine the book to find that the book was not finished. They contact the R.L. Stine Appreciation Society but can only leave a message for Mr. Shivers. Shivers is really R.L. Stine (Jack Black) packs his typewriter and heads out. Meanwhile the displays on neighbor Mr. Chu's house (Ken Jeong) which includes a giant balloon spider, mummies and other weird things. Mr. Chu helps the kids escape from the mayhem and to disguise themselves to get to the Tesla power tower to stop Slappy's attempt to destroy the town. Slappy also possessed their mom to become a puppet mom.

It's a crazy wild ride. The relationship of the teen daughter and middle school boys is believable as bickering but loving siblings. Even the bullies who are jerks are sympathetic. And Slappy despite his terrible retributions really only wanted to have a family. It's great to have a Halloween movie that doesn't involve fear and blood. Something for the whole family.
(Review by reesa)

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