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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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Uncle Frank



Director: Alan Ball

Studio: Amazon Studios

Review: Uncle Frank


Uncle Frank is not just a drama film, but it’s also a road-trip movie that strolls down into memory lane. The film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival just before the virus hits the earth. Director Alan Ball, known for writing a screenplay for 1999’s American Beauty that later granted him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as well as creating huge-hit television sitcoms Six Feet Under and True Blood, takes the lead as the director of this film, featuring the main stars of Paul Bethany, Sophie Lillis and Peter Macdissi.

Uncle Frank focuses on Frank Bledsoe and his 18-year-old niece Beth whom they take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina for the family patriarch's funeral, they are unexpectedly joined by Frank's lover Wally. After hearing the news about the death of his father, Frank is forced to reluctantly return home for the funeral to finally face a long-buried trauma that he has spent his entire adult life running away from.

Paul Bethany, the fame in Marvel Cinematic Universe films, portrays the titular character Uncle Frank, the literature professor living in New York while actress Sophie Lillis appears as his niece Beth. Actor Peter Macdissi comes in as Frank’s longtime partner Walid "Wally" Nadeem, an arrangement that he has kept secret for years to avoid revealing the truth to his entire family.

Bethany really gives a truly memorable performance and it is really emotional, the film focuses on how living this secret life has affected him and how even though he is intelligent, it doesn't change the fact that he is scared about living his life. He is very charismatic and charming and just leads the screen very well here. Same words go for Sophie Lillis and Peter Macdissi who serve as his past memories that deeply affected him.

The cast of actors portraying Frank’s family also appear in the film: Steve Zahn as Frank’s brother Mike Bledsoe, Judy Greer as Kitty Bledsoe, Mike’s wife and Frank’s sister-in-law, Margo Martindale and Stephen Root as Frank’s mother and as Frank’s father with the latter disapproving Frank's relationship with another person in the same gender, and Lois Smith as Frank’s aunt. The cast of the actors did an amazing job and gave them something to add on the film’s structure components.

Ball’s direction really tones the voices based on how well his story of this film is well-put together, even when some writings coming from him have some good dialogue, it has a lot of drama and emotion and actually produces some pretty funny moments which helped the flow of the film, but as mentioned there are some forced moments that pretty much comes by weaker writing, that disrupts the flow of the film at times. Ball really makes the film so unique to watch as this deals with many important subjects and themes, it is a film about acceptance and understanding people which is very well done. Ball and his team really know how humans can be dark and depressing at anytimes when it comes to learning and accepting one’s way, which is why humans live in a cold, cruel world today.

Overall, Uncle Frank is a very good, interesting movie to see. I really enjoyed the film as much as anyone else could, it tells some important messages that makes people understand a little better and makes the acting and the story pace so worthy to see both at home and in theaters. This film is worth a watch for anyone, whether you’re a fan or not, this is a film anybody is interested in when it comes to good, moral stories being told by someone.

GRADE: B

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Sound of Metal



Director: Darius Marder

Studio: Amazon Studios

The Sound of Metal delivers a loud, flawless performance


My viewing pleasures have a soft spot on music films and drama films, but sometimes they can be both at the same time like Whiplash, La La Land, and the upcoming Pixar’s animated film, Soul, the latter of which will be the most exciting film to see despite not being given a theatrical release due to the virus still spreading around the world. The Sound of Metal is a drama film that features a character with a disability called hearing loss. It had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival before making its way to theaters for the general public. The film is directed and co-written by Darius Marder, in his directorial debut of a feature film, and publicly features the consisting cast of Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, and Paul Raci.

The Sound of Metal centers on a drummer named Ruben Stone who suffers a hearing loss after four years of sobriety following his drug addict. Because of that, he is forced to meet a counselor named Joe who leads a deaf community for people with hearing losses and severe deafness.

Riz Ahmed portrays Ruben, the drummer with a hearing loss disability in the film. Ahmed is one of those actors people cannot take their eyes off. He basically and simply plays any character he likes. He's always intense and, most importantly, he always makes people care about the characters he's portraying, but deep down he looks like he’s enjoying himself. His acting credits also includes HBO’s The Night Of, for which he has earned a few Emmy nominations, Star Wars’ Rogue One, and Jason Bourne, with the latter two being released in 2016.

Actress Olivia Cooke (2014’s Ouija, A&E’s Bates Motel, Vanity Fair, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One) appears as Ruben’s girlfriend and his manager named Lou who supports and tries to help him overcome his situation of deafness at any cost while Paul Raci, with a Dennis Hopper impression, stands in as Counselor Joe who leads a deaf community for people with hearing losses.

As a feature film director, Marius really puts all the camera angles towards Ahmed’s character in order to give the character some stronger characteral developments compared to the main characters from the first two films mentioned above. Marius not only makes the story seem promising to digest, but also makes the film as enjoyable and filled with concerns about people with disabilities and real-life situations just to make the film more appealing to audiences, predominately the audiences with impaired hearings. Not only Marius' direction, but the usages of sound effects add a nice touching effect on several characters with hearing losses. Aside from being a director of this, he is also an editor, writer, and director of Loot, a documentary film dated back in 2008.

Also appearing in the film are Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead, Marvel’s upcoming Eternals) and Mathieu Amalric (James Bond’s Quantum of Solace, Steven Spielberg's Munich, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).

In conclusion, Sound of Metal is a great movie, more like an Oscar-worthy type of thing despite all the language being used in the film. I really enjoy every aspect of every scene given to the characters in the film, mainly the cinematic focus on Ahmed’s character. I think this film will stand on my top ten lists for 2020, but I’m not too sure. I have to wait till I have reached New Year’s Day. This film is definitely a “must” and it clocks in around two hours. The cast and crew did an outstanding job of delivering a flawless performance, especially that ending right there which is extremely effective, but there’s no surprises at all. Another excellent performance coming from Riz Ahmed himself. A few more films like this and he will finally have earned his Oscar.

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Friday, November 13, 2020

The Nest



Director: Sean Durkin

Studio: IFC Films/Elevation Pictures

Review: The Nest


For starters, the title of the film brings a good definition of a “bird leaving their nest” symbol, giving me time to think about how anyone moving to another city or country would change and impact their entire life when it comes to learning about “out with the old, in with the new” meaning. It’s a similar structure like seeing their own grown children go off to college or seeing a man move to another city or state for a new career role. This film is directed and produced by the second-timer Sean Durkin who recently helmed Martha Marcy May Marlene starring Elizabeth Olsen. The Nest stars Jude Law (Warner Bros.’ Sherlock Holmes, Marvel’s Captain Marvel) and Carrie Coon (HBO's The Leftovers, FX’s Fargo) in their leading roles while Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche, and Adeel Akhtar (Murdered by My Father) have been casted as supportive actors in the film.

The Nest centers on a man named Rory O’Hara whose plans on moving his family to England for his new job role over there, though the biggest problem for his family is that they have concerns on how to accumulate themselves with the England lifestyle as their uncertainty upon relocation from America to England has lead them to the intense isolation of their new home that affects them differently and entirely.

Here in the film, Jude Law plays as Rory O’Hara, an English entrepreneur while Carrie Coon portrays his wife and a farmer named Allison. Child actors Charlie Shotwell (Captain Fantastic) and Oona Roche both appeared as Benjamin and Samantha, Rory’s children.

Taking up his directing tips and tricks up his sleeves, Durkin captures the enduring family scenes that makes an impactful film that brings the entirely unsettling story that can be easily centered and resolved on a dysfunctional family with the most difficult choices and emotions that affects their behavior with huge amounts of struggles and dealing with darker times as they are forced to live a new life from going to that “same-old, same-old” nature, giving a feel of an empty-nest syndrome, which is something that carries the film and the characters’ structure dynamics. Durkin and the crew have worked the cast simultaneously on handing things properly on how to adapt a new and different life and perspective from place to place.

Aside from the direction and the pace of the story, the music sounds very flattering on that England setting, compared to the American settings in the film at the very start. Even when the actor Jude Law has done a smartful job on keeping in character as both a father and a husband, which deals with real-life situations on how any father or husband would do anything for their family, even when it means getting jobs just to get paid handsomely. Jude Law and Carrie Coon really know the basics of being a husband and wife to each other.

Though, my huge disappointments are the lack of laughs and comedy being missing in the background as well as children using bad language as an rewarding opportunity for that R-Rating film. My viewing pleasures don’t find it very pleasing and enhancing. Though, the plot is very manageable to follow.

Also appearing in the film are Adeel Akhtar as Steve, Rory’s co-worker while Michael Culkin as Arthur Davis, Rory’s boss and supervisor. And for that short onscreen appearance, actress Anne Reid (BBC’s The Mother, Wallace and Gromit’s A Close Shave!) appears as Rory's mother.

With that being said, The Nest is a really good movie, if not better. The director and the crew really outdone it. Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, and Oona Roche did a great job of keeping the pace of the story and their characters in the palm of their hands. I say this film is great for any families out there who have been struggling a lot of times, but deep down, there’s hope to come if you choose this. I really like this film, but I can’t go higher than that regardless.

GRADE: B+

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Friday, November 6, 2020

Let Him Go



Director: Thomas Bezucha

Studio: Focus Features

Let Him Go is the rightful choice to have!


At first, Let Him Go is heavily believed to be a Western, modern film, but it’s actually a crime thriller and sorta like a coming-of-age movie for grownups and adults who expect such greater things after reviewing the trailer and the poster itself. Thomas Bezucha takes the role as the director and producer of this feature film based on the novel written by Larry Watson. Academy Award winners Diane Lane and Kevin Costner have been given a large role as the main pair of protagonists in the film whilst Kayli Carter and Lesley Mansville received a supportive character role.

In the film, upon the death of their son, a retired sheriff named George and his wife Margaret fight to rescue their widowed daughter in-law and young grandson from a dangerous, dysfunctional family through the streets in North Dakota.

Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, whom they both worked together in Man of Steel, appear throughout the film as George and Margaret living in the countryside in Montana with Kayli Carter portraying Lorna, their son’s now-widowed wife after her husband’s death. Will Brittain steps into the scene as Donnie Weboy, Lorna’s abusive husband with Jeffrey Donovan portraying as Bill, one of Donnie’s family relatives. And lastly, the legendary English actress Lesley Mansville arrives as the mother of Donnie.

Also appearing is Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga, X-Men: Days of the Future Past, Disney’s Descendants) as Peter, the Indian horseman George and Margaret meet.

Bezucha gives all the fuzzes, the energy, and the fuses when he and the crew build a large scenery in the countryside to treat the film like a modern, Western film taking place in the 1950s and 1960s for that film’s ordinary textures to fit the Drama and Western genre. He even brought some Michael Giacchino’s scoring pieces to give the film some proper boost to follow the guidelines on crafty thriller production line and to match the personas for both Costner and Lane’s characters together along with Carter’s motherly character.

One of the main focus of the film is the chemistry between Kevin Costner and Diane Lane’s characters, which is also part of the film’s structural dynamics when it comes to acting out as a family couple, a similar output and tasty amusements like the filmmakers did from Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, the first film of what is called DC Extended universe, co-starring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams.

Though what can be scary is the number of violences that appear almost at the end that shocks and shrieks right out of my ears and can flip both myself and the adult audiences out of the edge of their seats. Another thing is the director and crew went extremely overboard on the much-violent, not-so bright, unglamorous Weboy family characters.

In conclusion, Let Him Go is a great movie. It is a must see when it opens in theaters and on digital. Not only the director plays the cards well but Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are what makes the film very interesting to see. I would give best bets on the entire cast and crew who made it all possible. Just to let the viewers know that the film clocks around roughly 114 minutes for that feature time length, so if you’re planning on seeing a two-hour presentation, I say watch this. You’ll be fascinated by the fantasies of “countryside vs. city” life.

GRADE: B-

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Touch!



Director: Aleksandra Szczepanowska

Studio: Jungle Cat Productions

Review: TOUCH!


Movies can be filled with life-threatening issues people have everyday or sometimes just for a living. TOUCH is a dramatic Korean-storytelling tale crafted by a first-time feature film director Aleksandra Szczepanowska and is going to be showcased at The Lone Star Film Festival in Fort Worth, TX in November 2020. A little backstory for the director is that Szczepanowska is a writer/director/producer/actor born in New York. Prior to TOUCH, she has written and directed several short films including Let it Ring and Naked Soles. Aside from being a filmmaker, Szczepanowska also steps in as an actress for the main role with Chinese actors Jun Yang, Beckham, and Jiangwei Yuan.

In Szczepanowska’s feature directorial debut, Fei Fei, a Caucasian, Western woman is living an affluent, cosseted existence as the wife of hard-charging, business executive Zhang Hua and mother to young son Mo Mo. Though she feels deeply alienated from the country she loves, her friends, and husband, her issues and mysterious circumstances have caused her life to be threatened by her own privileged, fragile existence and her family.

Director Aleksandra Szczepanowska portrays as Fei Fei while Jun Yang plays as her husband Zhang who is concerned about his wife. Jiangwei Yuan appears as an blind Chinese man named Bai Yu whom Fei Fei later encountered. Backham also comes into the scene as Mo Mo, Fei Fei’s young son.

The film is entirely shot somewhere in Asia, though the location for any Asian cities where the crew have shot the film is unknown. Szczepanowska, despite being a director and actress altogether at the same time, had much commitment on filming and editing the scenes throughout the film, bringing this delight and taste to that so-so old-school, new-school bilingual film compared to that critical-acclaimed film The Farewell with Awkwafina and Best Picture Oscar-winning film Parasite. Not to mention that this film is in English and Mandarin Chinese. Other than the scenes and editing themselves, the music and the camera shots and angles look pretty much similar to any films that were produced or made in Asian countries, giving a strong delicacy for the film’s texture and balance for both Asian and American audiences and critics.

The majority of the actors are all new to my viewing pleasures which means that my passion for films begins to grow simultaneously inside and outside of America. They both look like they’re having a hard time with Szczepanowska’s character, but they seem like they are getting along well. And to add a couple of bonus points, Szczepanowska also gives a good headliner for a female character, which is nice to study her own character developments and for that motherly focus on herself and to Backham’s character rather than focusing on the husband character entirely.

TOUCH is a nice, soft 95-minute production and is worth the watch. It gives me the chills and thrills. Of course, I realized that some people can be picky about movies, but as I recently pointed out that there are plenty of options to choose from. I say TOUCH is a so-called “real steal!”

GRADE: B+

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Darkness in Tenement 45

Director: Nicole Groton

Studio: Wood Entertainment

Journey through the Darkness in Tenement 45


Surely, movies can be dark and depressing to watch, but life is also dark and depressing to see depending on who you are or the way you tell a story to your kids for a bedtime story. Darkness in Tenement 45 is written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Nicole Groton, though she did direct The Melting Family which was a documentary film about her experiences with her divorced families. The film features the main stars of Nicole Tompkins, David Labiosa, Melissa Macedo, Keyon Bowman, Anthony Marciona, and Casey Kramer who take on a supportive role throughout the film.

The film mainly focuses on sixteen-year-old named Joanna who has been living with her overbearing Aunt Martha in a low-income NYC tenement building ever since a violent outburst left her fighting with a scarful feel of darkness. With no food left and Martha's controversial role as leader expanding, Joanna realizes that she must face both her darkness and her aunt in order to save the tenants.

Nicole Tompkins plays the signature role as the main girl Joanna who’s desperate in seeking something outside of her tenement, though she was heavily discouraged by her aunt Martha, the leader of the family group and is portrayed by Casey Kramer.

Groton weaves a fascinating tableau that tells a dark, imaginable story by taking her own experiences with family divorces and separation into a nice, soft plot-twisting idea that even children should come and watch regardless of the genre and the ratings. Groton also throws a plethora of horrifying, gruesome special effects to give the cast onscreen a more proper feel if this is another Jordan Peele’s adventure or maybe just another Beetlejuice film with a side of Casper the ghost.

By the looks of the film itself entirely, Darkness in Tenement 45 is shot in one building because the filmmakers, including the cast, wanted to find a decent location to shoot the entire film in without having to ask people who own any certain buildings or homes or apartments. The film did deliver some stay-at-home order references due to the characters being told by the director to stay put just to give the film and scenes some proper thrilling experience personas that bring the uncertainty to both families and children.

Out of all the scary, horror films I watch, Darkness in Tenement 45 is just a safer choice unlike several of those films I watched that I haven't enjoyed most. Needless to say, this film is a must see. Though the sad part is Darkness in Tenement 45 going to release in the early November just after Halloween. I wish I could see this in theaters, but times have changed. Watching this good movie at home is like substituting an outdoor activity for an indoor activity when the weather becomes rainy. I think it's ok, not that bad but I can’t go higher than when it comes to liking it more than anybody else.

GRADE: C

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Ouija Warehouse

Director: Israel Luna

Studio: La Luna Entertainment

Review: Ouija Warehouse


As Halloween is just around the corner, they are a plethora of scary, horrifying films to be offered in theaters or at home via digital streaming service. This film is made locally and was heavily consist of several of my colleagues who have worked on this project called Ouija Warehouse directed by Israel Luna during the pandemic. The film features the cast of Kristin Keith, Joseph Herrera, Abby Joy, Suha Kim, Swisyzanna, Justin Armstrong, Chaselyn Wade, and Angel Rose Keeley.

Ouija Warehouse centers on the group of friends who discovered the spiritual game board at the warehouse where they are gathered for the birthday party. However, one of the two party-goes accidentally set the spirit free by playing it, forcing them to solve the case of this spirit that died in the warehouse just a year before the events of the film.

Actors Joseph Herrera and Suha Kim played key roles as Noah and Kay who are responsible for releasing a deadly spirit after they found the spirit game board in the room and started playing with it. Kristin Keith came along in the scene as Elaine who is busy setting up a party in the warehouse. Also appearing are Swisyzanna, Justin Armstrong (who also serves as an executive producer), and Chaselyn Wade. And finally, Angel Rose Keeley comes in as Isabella, the spirit that rises into the room.

Due to the pandemic, the film was shot entirely in one location with less than seven days to work on those scenes, editing, and acting out in the film. The crew have spent so much time finding a decent storyline down the road as well as focusing on the character developments for Joseph Herrera, Kristin Keith, Chaselyn Wade, and Suha Kim in which they represent an old-school survival challenge compared to the A Quiet Place and other scary films that have something to do with survival. The crew even throw in some special effects for that horror-graphic flavor for the film, but in turn, the plot seems manageable for audiences to look directly into. Though, the downside is not adding little more special/visual effects to keep it classy.

Ouija Warehouse has just enough satisfying twists and turns to keep one’s interest come in handy. My main challenge is picking a scary film to watch can be tough, but for my advice, see the trailer first and voice your thoughts honestly. My last theater experience is The Hunt, which was released earlier this year before the pandemic begins.

With the colors and the flavors present, Ouija Warehouse is a pretty good 86-minute (almost 90) indie-feature film. I feel like this film is safe lubricant for teens and maybe older kids. The film gives me lots of laughs and shocks along the way throughout the film. The director, the cast, and the crew did an amazing job of keeping the paces behind their backs. And that’s all I’m going to say, I can’t give out too much. I rather watch this again when it comes out on digital. Lastly, just to let the readers know that most of my colleagues have worked on and appeared in this film.

GRADE: A-

(Review by Henry Pham)









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