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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Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Friday, April 26, 2019

Avengers: Endgame






Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo Studio: Disney

Avengers: Endgame ends with a final bang!

At last, after 10 years of Marvel’s unforgettable adventures, Avengers: Endgame marks the closing chapter of the book. Endgame is Marvelous Wrap to conclude the MCU’s Phase Three (though, there is a speculation that Spider-Man: Far From Home serves as the last). The Russo brothers, the directors, provide a continuation that picks up where Infinity War left off. To avoid any troubles, I can’t give out any spoilers away as Marvel Studios and Disney forbid the fans, critics, and moviegoers to post or mention any spoilers to people, especially on social media as the moments will be ruin as this is a no-peeking challenge sort of thing.

Just to let the viewers know, the film is three hours long, so I highly recommend you make a trip to the bathroom before the film starts as well as not eating or drinking for the entire time while watching Endgame. It’s a warning (and a pro-tip) if you don’t want to miss the good stuff for you own amusement.

First off, it’s incredible to see Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man and all the others popping up on one ginormous crossover where they teamed up with the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Really puts all the hardworking effort and equal time frame on the characters for the film’s structure from going back to the start all the way to the end, but despite this film being the end of Phase Three, I’m looking forward to look ahead at Phase Four of the MCU with Spider-Man: Far From Home and other solo/new sequels coming up.

Five years after the events of Infinity War, the remaining superheroes and half of all life are the only ones left in the universe and tried desperately (at best) to move on with their lives. They, along with Stark and Nebula, must team up for one last fight, reverse the irreversible using the time-heist methods to travel back in time, and restore life on Earth.

The Russo brothers and the ensemble cast from MCU and the films before Endgame had made their return to the big screen for one final chapter of the Avengers. They both splatter the sense of humor into the multiple narratives, but the whole fabric really stands out steadily just as the tone and the CGI really sparkles through for both Infinity War and Endgame.

While I admired the performances from Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and all the others, what I found very touching is family-and-friendly relationship that never dies down on a number of levels, starting from one of the heroes’ family to a repairing friendship between a trust-building Iron Man and idea-making Captain America (just like you saw on the movie trailer and TV spots). Interestingly, the supporting actors from MCU appear as handy-dandy helpers to guide through the protagonists over the course of the film.

I really enjoyed how the pop culture on time-traveling films, including Back to The Future, is being used for the characters’ dynamics (as well as adding comedy more likely) to the film. Really gives me a warm-fuzzy feel that a person is missing his/her wonderful childhood back in the day as well as simply going back to watch the older MCU films from before. I also believe that the music score from Alan Sivestri, the CGI, and the visual effects become a strong finish for the characters and villains to appear equally. It really adds up to the conclusion of how the superheroes assemble in one big happy family/team to defeat Thanos (portrayed by Josh Brolin). Not to mention the funny dialogue and humorous amounts of die-hard action sequences that tickles the audiences on the edge of their seats.

Out of everything else I see, Avengers Endgame is great film with emotional plot twist. I will put this as one of the best Marvel films I ever watched. However, I cannot say anything more when it involves watching a superhero film with exciting things that will blow your mind. You’ll have to see it for yourself if you want to find out more. Since this is an anticipating film, I will guess that Endgame has a higher chance of being the king of the box office worldwide [-ly], but we’ll see how Endgame turn out to be. With that being said, Endgame manages to tie the entire MCU up with a beautiful, emotional, hopeful conclusion.

For one last tribute, this is Stan Lee's final cameo in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)




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Stockholm








(Review by Chase Lee)





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Avengers: Endgame





This one is it.

For all those who have delved into the cinematic universe of everything Marvel related, this is the appropriate conclusion to everything Marvel infused since director Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man” in 2008.

I can’t really touch into anything too specific, since there are people in the world who will hunt me down and take me out if I give away any of the slightest tidbit or nugget. Safe to say, one will not be disappointed in the very least. That is why I was not surprised to see all of those who perished in “Infinity War” a couple of years back, since I knew they were not gone for good.

What is also cool was seeing Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel save both Tony Stark and Nebula from their time floating endlessly in space. That is how she is introduced and brought into the Marvel fold. Her part is slated for seven more appearances in her contract.

She is a powerful hero, one that knows how to fight and stand her ground in battle.

I did like this movie, but was more impressed by both the stand alone sagas involving “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in 2014 “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016. Both of those titles were helmed by the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe.

The duo knows how to facilitate action sequences that are appealing and intriguing. The camera contemplates the greatness of eye appealing eye candy.

When it comes down to it, the entire Marvel cinematic universe stands on its own two feet. Gone are the days of directors like David Lean (“Lawrence of Arabia,“ (1962) “Bridge on the River Kwai” (1952) or even an auteur like Stanley Kubrick (“2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)” and “A Clockwork Orange” (1971).

What is also cool to see is the last official scene of Stan Lee in a Marvel-related film. His part is just that of a passenger shouting with glee and excitement in a convertible.

The “Avengers” theme comes back into play with the Alan Silvestri score. Although not as dynamic as those of John Williams and his “Star Wars” score, they are very recognizable.

So readers know, “Avengers: Endgame” is not the end of the Marvel cinematic universe. It is actually the finale of phase three, of which there are numerous chapters.

The actual official end to phase three occurs with “Spider-Man: Far From Home” which his theatres in early June of this year. Further Marvel titles occur with the upcoming entries “Dark Phoenix” as well as “New Mutants,” which has been sitting on the shelf since the middle of last year. It has been finished, but both moviegoers and the studio are waiting for the appropriate time to release it.

“Avengers: Endgame” clocks in at three hours of length. Also, be warned there is no Easter egg for the end credits sequence. Nada, Zip zero. So readers know, the official time is three hours, one minute.


Grade: B+

(Review by Ricky Miller)





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Thursday, April 25, 2019

DallasIFF2019: International Falls







For a movie labeled as a comedy, “International Falls” is surprisingly unfunny. Although its two lead characters are comedians, the lackluster Tim (Rob Huebel) and wannabe Dee (Rachael Harris), their featured stand-up routines do little to elicit laughs from the audience. It’s best to think of the film as a drama, a character study more than anything. Adapted from a play, “International Falls,” directed by Amber McGinnis, follows the duo’s brief affair. Their relationship, originally a one-night stand in Thomas Ward’s stage version (Ward also wrote the movie’s script), is expanded into a weekend fling for the film.

Dee works in a small hotel in International Falls, Minnesota. Bored with her current work and life, she dreams of someday changing careers and becoming a stand-up comic, held back by her demands as a wife and mother. She surprisingly finds herself drawn to the grouchy comic Tim, checking into the hotel as their weekly featured guest. After preparing and eating dinner with her family, Dee returns to the hotel for Tim’s set. After his set, she pretends to be drunk and flirts her way into his room. Their initial, unsatisfactory, intimate encounter ends with Dee beginning to drive home before deciding to turn around and stay the night.

What begins as an awkward meeting ends up with the two forming a natural bond. Dee declares her desire to become a stand-up comedian, eagerly eating up any advice Tim is willing to give her, while further divulging her dissatisfaction with her current life between her dead-end job and faltering relationship with her husband, Gary (Matthew Glave). Meanwhile, Tim reveals his true feelings about his career choice, blaming the constant travel and his lack of talent making him miserable and ultimately destroying his marriage due to a previous affair while on the road, and informing Dee that his next show will be his last. As their affair continues, it becomes apparent that through different circumstances they have come to be in similar psychological situations, allowing their bond to grow on an emotional level over a physical one.

Harris and Huebel have a natural ease that causes their relationship to feel believable. Their unhappiness is apparent through their portrayal of their characters, with each seeming to find a similar hint of hope in their connection with the other person. While the performances are good, “International Falls” ends up feeling like just another indie movie. The cinematography features a loose, shaky look frequently found in low-budget films of this nature. And, for the most part, the script follows the expected story arc – an event toward the end will probably surprise most viewers.

Dee and Tim’s relationship may be believable but it isn’t enough to make this movie an entirely engaging or entertaining one. Tim’s few stand-up routines are, understandably, unfunny. They wind up coming across as filler, attempting to elongate an already short movie with material whose message could have just as easily been conveyed in a shorter scene. Although it’s not an altogether terrible movie, “International Falls” begins to feel about as unwanted as one of Tim’s stand-up routines.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

DallasIFF2019 - Freaks




Seven-year-old Chloe (Lexy Kolker) lives alone with her father (a scruffy man known only as Dad, played by Emile Hirsch). The house they live in (a dilapidated, chaotic mess with newspapers taped over the windows) makes the father-daughter duo appear to be living in a post-apocalyptic scenario. Dad seems on edge and paranoid, reprimanding Chloe for wanting to go outside. He warns her of the bad people out there who want to kill them, reminds her to let him know if she ever cries tears of blood, and rehearses a backstory for her if she’s ever asked any questions.

The opening segment of “Freaks” is packed with things that don’t quite make sense. When Dad falls asleep the reality around him seems to alter, his body unleashing a wave that causes the room to appear suddenly brighter. Chloe sleeps in the house’s dark, creepy attic in which Dad has set-up a hidden, lockable closet, which Chloe is supposed to hide herself in if they are ever in danger. Chloe’s closet isn’t the safe, secure place her dad intended. Inside, she often sees a screaming ghost (Amanda Crew), whose presence sends her fleeing from the closet while covering her ears and crying out for it to go away. Though this ghost isn’t the only thing to appear to her in there.

Outside the house is a pleasant looking street, suggesting that a bright, cheery world lurks just out of Chloe’s reach. From a window, Chloe observes a mysterious ice cream truck driver, Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern), selling treats to children on the street. While no one else seems to pay attention to their house, he seems aware of Chloe’s gaze. Even taking into account Mr. Snowcone, this view of the outside world doesn’t mesh with the world Dad is painting for his daughter. Why doesn’t he want her to go outside? “Freaks” slowly fleshes out its story as its na├»ve star begins to discover the truth of the world around her.

Kolker, making her acting debut, plays her part well. Her portrayal of Chloe is convincing, showing the young girl’s growth away from innocence throughout the movie. Though her performance does become grating at times. Writing / directing duo Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein manage to do a lot with a limited budget. They create a mostly realistic, believable world for their characters. Lipovsky and Stein take the time to ground their film’s reality before fully revealing its supernatural aspects, allowing the film’s final act to feel like a natural extension of what’s come before.

“Freaks” is the sort of film that works better the less first-time viewers know about it. In a way, the movie feels similar to Jeff Nichols recent sci-fi mystery “Midnight Special.” Except, “Freaks” isn’t as frustratingly dense or infuriatingly opaque as Nichols’s movie. Lipovsky and Stein keep the audience in the dark as much as they can without pushing them away, walking the fine line between captivation and lost interest.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Saturday, April 20, 2019

DallasIFF2019 - Shoot the Moon Right Between the Eyes





Elderly con-artists Jerry (David Kendrick) and Carl (Sonny Carl Davis) have worked their way across Texas, tricking multiple women out of their money. The two have begun working on their supposed final job when Jerry falls in love with the target, the waitress Maureen (Morgana Shaw). Unknown to the two, their previous target’s ex-boyfriend, Les (Frank Mosley), is a private investigator, hired to track down Jerry (who apparently does the wooing while Carl - whose existence is unknown to Les and his ex – sits on the sidelines) and her stolen money. The alcoholic Les slowly closes in on the two men as they work on the unsuspecting Maureen.

“Shoot the Moon Right Between the Eyes” is an odd piece of cinema – a low budget country / folk musical western based on a short story by James Joyce (“Two Gallants”), featuring the music of John Prine, and starring mostly older actors. While first time writer / director Graham Carter has an intriguing concept for his feature debut, it’s one that never works.

The cinematography, shot in the now almost entirely unused Academy ratio (think television screens before everything went to widescreen HDTV), looks cheap – a forgivable distraction given the film’s extremely low budget. Carter opens the film by listing four directors. Only one name – Edgar G. Ulmer – stuck in my brain due to being somewhat familiar with a few of his movies. Ulmer’s mention is suitable since he spent his career making mostly low budget affairs.

Carter builds his cast with actors who have long resumes but aren’t instantly recognizable faces, bit time players getting a chance at bigger roles in a smaller production. Unfortunately, Carter isn’t able to get good performances from his cast. Davis and Kendrick’s performances often come across as forced, with Davis becoming particularly goofy in some of his scenes. Frank Mosley doesn’t even win you over with his portrayal of the bumbling P.I., who fortuitously manages to stumble his way across the con-artists trail.

Shaw and Kendrick romantic relationship, arguably the central focus of the movie, doesn’t have any spark. Earlier in the movie, before Jerry starts courting her, Maureen catches Jerry and Carl spying on her, the inept pair barely hiding behind a truck parked outside her house. She already suspected these guys were up to no good, why does she still agree for a date? It’s a relationship you know won’t end well and, in all honesty, don’t in the least bit care about.

This all leads to the film’s cringe-worthy musical numbers. None of the cast members can carry a tune, yowling their way through the arrangements of Prine’s music. While most of the numbers feature the performers just standing there, one lamely makes a failed attempt at more interesting choreography.

As bad as the musical sequences are, a couple scenes do show some promise for Carter. In these scenes, Carter opts to film the actor or actress standing in a darkened space, lit so that their face and front side are easily visible but leaving the background dark while also stylishly lighting them from behind, creating a sparkling outline against the inky blackness. These are brief moments of appeal in a feature that slogs through its run time.

Besides the aforementioned positives, nothing in “Shoot the Moon Right Between the Eyes” cohesively comes together. Running only a scant 75 minutes (according to the festival schedule), it’s a movie that is more of a punishing chore to sit through than anything.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Peterloo





Mike Leigh's new feature tackles the tragedy in 1819 when a crowd of some 60,000 people from Manchester and surrounding towns gathered in St Peter’s Fields to demand Parliamentary reform and an extension of voting rights. The release of the film marks the 200th anniversary of what has become known as the Peterloo Massacre. The peaceful gathering to listen to an activist speaker turned deadly when the militia charged the crowd in an attempt to arrest the organizers.

The story begins with a young soldier, Joseph, who has returned from the Battle of Waterloo suffering from PTSD and still wearing his uniform. He comes from a poor family in Manchester. His parents Joshua and Nellie. Joshua, son Robert, daughter Mary, and daughter-in-law Esther live together and toil in the local cotton mill seven days of the week. In the depressed economy the traumatized Joseph cannot find work. The men attend meetings where local agitators discuss radical campaigns for equal civil and political rights. The magistrates sends spies to these meeting to gather evidence to arrest the leaders and speakers. Obviously everyone having equal rights will put a crimp in the status quo. Some of the magistrates are of the notion that there should be a separation of have's and have not's.

It's a very wordy script and with the heavy accents it's sometimes difficult to understand some of the dialogue. The story doesn't focus on a major protagonist but gives insight on divergent groups. From Joseph's family on how his mother bakes hand pies and sells them for a penny each at the local market, to magistrates giving outrageous prison sentences to the poor for small infractions. There are the local merchants discussing the needed reforms, they gather at the local newspaper that is printing and supporting the reforms. There are scenes with the dandy Prince Regent who is more concerned with his personal comforts than the concerns of his subjects. He's easily manipulated to see the coming gathering to hear the famous radical Henry 'Orator' Hunt speak. There is also some conflict with some of the organizers who are put off with Hunt's demand that he would be the only one to speak. Attendants are encouraged not to bring any weapons less the powers that be see it as a hostile intent. Ultimately it doesn't matter to those pulling the strings.

The film is clocks at 2 hours and 34 mins. The small details of their lives, the costumes, the set decorations, is very immersive. It maybe more difficult to follow the characters, but the issues of what these people are experiencing are very universal and can be related to what we are going through today. The incident was christened Peterloo by the reporters covering the event. Shocked and shaken, 15 people were killed and 700 wounded when the mounted cavalry charged the crowd wielding sabers. The massacre played a significant role in the passage through Parliament of the Great Reform Act 13 years later.
(Review by reesa)




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