Dallas Movie Screening

Dallas Movie Screenings started out as a mailing list on Yahoo Groups to facilitate finding free screening passes in the DFW area. When Yahoo Groups shut down, we are now posting screenings on our Facebook page at http://www..facebook.com/groups/dallasmoviescreenings
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Friday, September 17, 2021

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie



Director: Jonathan Butterell

Studio:Amazon Studios

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a dazzling musical journey the audience will never forget!


There are times that people love and want to pursue their careers, some don’t, but it doesn't mean you have to choose which one fits your style. Sometimes, there’s plenty of options to choose from. There’s always a career for you and your little heart desires. This biographical-musical drama flick is based on the Broadway musical written by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, the latter of whom also wrote the lyrics to this musical and contributed the film as a screenwriter. Having been directed by Jonathan Butterell, the film features main leading actor Max Harwood, alongside Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel, and Richard E. Grant in their supporting roles.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie follows a teenager named Jamie New whose secret career ambition is to become a fierce and proud drag queen. His best friend Pritti and his loving mother shower him with endless support, while local drag legend Miss Loco Chanelle mentors him. But the main problem is that Jamie also has to contend with some unsupportive people, including his estranged father, who wanted to ruin his dreams. With such rousing and colourful musical numbers being displayed, Jamie and his community inspire one another on how to overcome prejudice, understand the power of acceptance, and learn how to step out of the darkness.

This film serves as Jonathan Butterell’s directorial debut. A little known fact is he’s an English choreographer and stage director with his professional working-history in the West End, on Broadway, and Off-Broadway mainstreams. His onstage directing experiences from time to time lead him to direct Everybody's Talking About Jamie under the writers and the producers’ supervision. He certainly knows working a motion picture can be difficult and classy, but his onstage directorial leadership would help him achieve his own way of making musical movies.

Actor Max Harwood portrays his main role as Jamie New, a sixteen-year-old teenager who wants to be a sensational drag queen, while actress Lauren Patel joins the spotlight as Jaime’s best friend Pritti Pasha. This is Max Harwood’s acting debut in a Hollywood feature film. Harwood simply gives it all on best acting skills when it comes to portraying a drag queen character. Harwood knows This chemistry between Harwood and Patel (as Jamie and Pritti) has furtherly backed up the cultural, central theme that anyone can be completely different to each other but still have strong and supportive relationships like real friendships would purposely define.

The performances from English actors Sarah Lancashire (Coronation Street) and Richard E. Grant (Logan, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) are very wonderful and heartwarming. Lancanshire portrays her role as Jamie’s supportive mother while Grant steals the spotlight as Jamie’s mentor Miss Loco Chanelle. They both displayed real courage and real-deal family support towards the main character as they always do what they really love to do: accepting, helping, and loving someone. That’s the main task Lancashire and Grant are willing to do under Butterell’s direction and for the sake of the film’s plot.

This musical is highly comparable to Lin-Maneul Miranda’s In the Heights. The choreography and the music are incredibly beautiful, thanks to Butterell’s screen captive direction. The actors in the film are so talented, bringing the life, the color, and the raw energy that are highly unmistakable for the film’s depth and tone. The film’s storyline looks very modern, and gloriously bright, when explaining current issues about social acceptances and messages regarding LGBQT. And the story is well-written and relevant: it is mainly about loving and being who you are, no matter what. Similar to what Mister Rogers would always say, “I like you just the way you are.” This deep-telling message really resonates with our society nowadays, especially present days.

Also appearing in the film are Ralph Ineson (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter films) as Jamie’s estranged and unsupportive father, Samuel Bottomley (CBBC’s Rocket's Island) as one of Jamie’s school bullies, Sharon Hogan (HBO’s Divorce) as instructor and uninspired career advisor Miss Hedge, Shobna Gulati (Loose Women) as Margaret's close friend Ray, and Adeel Akhtar as the school principal Iman Masood.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a great two-hour musical movie, if not better. The direction, the cast, the choreography, and the musical numbers have really excelled in every direction and in every scenery. I’m not kidding, this musical film is deeply a must for all. I would give the director, Max Harwood, and Lauren Patel two thumb-ups on their respective roles and duties. This may be one of the greatest musicals anyone ever seen in one’s own viewing pleasures, maybe Oscar worthy to add to that subject. If you’re planning on selecting any film, this film is a ticket worth your time and money just like In the Heights film. If you have the chance, you should go and watch this film, like right now. Period!

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)



Audio from the interview of Everybody's Talking about Jamie by Henry Pham

August 16th, 2021 which is a Monday at Adolphus Hotel in Downtown Dallas at 300pm. The director is Jonathan Butterell plus two actors Max Harwood and Lauren Patel.

Part 1

Part 2






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Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Alpinist



Director: Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen

Studio:Roadside Attractions/Universal Pictures

Review: The Alpinist


The Alpinist, is just a fun, documentary flick despite having a PG-13 rating on their hands. No Earth-shattering dynamics, just a good time watching a story about a man who wants to fulfil their dream based on what their heart desires. It is a similar experience teaching people to go and do great things regardless of who they are, they still have a bright dream and future as they overcome their fears and problems to inspire many people. Having been directed by Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen, the film will also include some interviews from Marc-André’s family and friends, explaining about their relationships with him, his climbing routes, and his perseverance and struggles.

The Alpinist follows the story of a young, free-spirited 23-year-old climber Marc-André Leclerc who makes his way to some of the boldest solo ascents in history. Because of this, he draws scant attention. Though the problem for the shy climber right there is that he doesn’t have a phone or a car for his climbing solo outings. With no technologies, ropes, or any necessaries on hand for his climbing goal, Leclerc's approach becomes the essence of his solo adventure.

The main directors in the film are Peter Mortimer and Nick Rose. Mortimer and his filming crew filmed and shot some scenes for Marc-André’s climbing journeys somewhere in Canada, even with or without Marc-André’s approval. Mortimer’s experience of filming Marc-André’s high climbing seems to be difficult as the process of filming someone climbing is considered a risky and dangerous move for one’s safety and extracts many concerns for future mountain climbers and eskimos. Of course, this is a documentary movie, but it’s also filled with nervousing-intense images for anyone who wants to conquer that goal. Filming all over the mountains and heights may be a steadiest pace and chore task, but Mortimer and his documentary crew want to make this film a simple good documentary under Marc-André’s wishes himself.

The Alpinist is a good 90-minute documentary. It really sets the stage on how any average documentary films about how a person can fulfill their ultimate goal and how one has touched other people's lives. A goal is centrally what the main characters or real-life people should aim for. That is what the audience and movie-reviewing members pay to see, read, and listen. You should give this a go. The director and the crew out done it. It is kind of a nudge and a wink-of-the-eye to the audience since, if all goes well. Who knows, maybe this might be your last meal before you go out hiking and climbing. And if you think about it, take those words “anything is possible” for your own take on films and your future.

GRADE: B

(Review by Henry Pham)









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The Card Counter



Director: Paul Schrader

Studio:Focus Features

The Card Counter is an easy win-win.


Gambling and poker films are extremely hardcore, especially for sports fans out there who loves watching sports on national television and playing games at home or elsewhere. Director and writer Paul Schrader sits in front of a poker table as director while his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer of the film. The film features the camera-focusing quartets of Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, and Willem Dafoe.

The Card Counter focuses on William Tell, a military-serviceman-turned-gambler who was haunted by his dark past and sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy Major John Gordo from their past. As he wanted to focus on playing cards, his existence that lies on the casino trail is shattered to pieces when he is approached by Cirk, a young, vulnerable detective who seeks assistance to execute his plan for revenge on a military colonel.

Golden Globe nominated-actor Oscar Isaac (Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis) calls the front poker booth as main character William Tell, a former military interrogator who is now a professional gambler, while Tiffany Haddish (The Carmichael Show) steals the spotlight as La Linda. As an actor in this poker film, Isaac keeps his eyes open as William Tell for any luck and chances that come and go, especially when he turns his head towards something he encounters, like his dark past and his onscreen glorifying chemistry with Haddish’s La Linda that puts his test of love and redemption while setting his poker skills aside. This is what makes the movie interesting to see thanks to Isaac and Haddish as they both know what to do when acting in crime films and drama films, even adding some comedy in the background.

Paul Schrader is the sole director of the film. He’s been in the movie business since he frequently works closely with Martin Scorsese as a fellow writer and producer. His Scorsese-collaborated films include Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Bringing Out the Dead. He also directed his own, such as Blue Collar, Affliction (also featured Willem Dafoe), and First Reformed, the latter of which got him nominated for Best Original Screenplay Oscar, his first Oscar nomination in his career.

As director, while Schrader pays much attention to Oscar Isaac winning poker in the poker series, he keeps the cast going from shooting fun-filled casino scenes and games to supplementing darker, brutal images in the prison center displayed in the film with a side of disturbing contents flowing through space. Schrader captures on how any film or scene that can be as horrifyingly-violent or visual-graphically brutal as if he treats this film not only as a crime-drama film, but also as a gangster-mystery movie to define its own Martin Scorsese glory. It’s a skill he, as an aspiring filmmaker, majorly took heavily influence on while directing and producing films on-and-off.

Actor Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One) tags along with Isacc and Haddish as Cirk, a mysterious young man who oversees Tell’s poker-playing talents while actor Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Finding Nemo) plays his small, but major role as Major John Gordo, a corrupted military leader and a hidden antagonist in the film despite having some small screen time from beginning to end.

I hate to admit it, I’m not a huge fan of Paul Schrader nor Martin Scorsese when it comes to loving movies and studying about them, but The Card Counter is good, maybe not the best, just an interesting movie in that matter, clocking in at 113 minutes. It’s an enjoyable piece for adults only, possibly for poker players and poker fans out there. My main advice is, someday, when you play your cards right, you will definitely get a good kick out of this film. The director and the four main cast did a terrific job, though I really wish Dafoe would get more camera-playing focus just to have more information about his character. Nevertheless, this is a film you should watch, but I highly recommend that you need to proceed with caution when selecting this flick.

GRADE: B

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Small Engine Repair



“Small Engine Repair” is the type of movie that works best when the viewer goes in completely blind. I almost managed to pull this off and really wish I had (the movie’s trailer kind of spoils things). Writer/director/star John Pollono’s film, based on his stage play, is about the relationship between three childhood friends – Frank (Pollono), Swaino (Jon Bernthal), and Packie (Shea Whigham) – now adults who have further bonded over the raising of Frank’s daughter Crystal (Ciara Bravo).

The film begins with Frank getting out of prison and going to pick up his young daughter (Nina Peterson) from his pals. It’s obviously been some time since Crystal has seen her father because she is reluctant to leave the caring arms of Swaino when her father arrives. But, this isn’t a movie about a father attempting to win back his daughter’s affections. This opening serves to start building the characters’ history and spell out Frank’s troubled past.

Jumping forward, Crystal is now a senior in high school (played throughout the rest of the movie by Bravo) living with her father. Her mother, Karen (Jordana Spiro), is still in the picture, but the relationship seems strained. While Karen takes Crystal Christmas shopping, Frank and his friends go to a bar. At the bar, Swaino and Packie get into a fight which leads to Frank joining in and losing control. This event leads Frank to decide to cut Swaino and Packie from his life. The majority of the movie takes place three months after the bar fight when Frank mysteriously decides to call Swaino and Packie together for a hang-out at his shop.

Upon viewing “Small Engine Repair,” viewers will not be surprised to learn that the film is based on a play. The story essentially boils down to three scenes – the opening scene, the scene at the bar, and the scene in Frank’s shop – and most of the film’s action is dialogue heavy. Past events are shown, but they are shown with voiceover as one of the men tells his memories to the others.

For most of the runtime, the movie feels directionless. It’s more of a character study than anything; there’s no apparent plot. The actors are completely natural and at ease in their roles. For the most part, their relationships feel well established, although Swaino and Packie’s relationship is a little vague (probably purposefully so). It felt like there was more to be explored between those two. The world these characters inhabit feels “lived in” and not part of a production, enhanced by the cold and grim photography from Matt Mitchell.

I can imagine this is the type of movie that many audience members will find boring but there is a purpose for each scene and it all builds to a final act that’s shocking but within character. Here things take a turn to a harsher reality for all the characters. It may seem aimless for far too long but, for those viewers willing to stick around, there is a payoff following the buildup.
(Review by Bret Oswald)







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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Cinderella



Director: Kay Cannon

Studio:Amazon Studios/Sony Pictures

Cinderella is a colorful-faithful musical event for children and adults of all ages.


Just letting the audiences know that it is not a Disney film. In fact, this film serves as the first live-action adaptation from the story written by Charles Perrault since the release of the 2015 remake of Cinderella, released by Disney. This remake, however, takes a refreshing, modern take on the story when Sony Pictures decided to do a musical of this piece. With producer Kay Cannon taking her directing chair to helm this new live-action adaptation, this film introduces singer Camila Cabello in her acting debut, alongside Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, Nicholas Galitzine, Billy Porter, and Pierce Brosnan in their supporting roles.

Cinderella focuses on a young girl and dress designer named Ella who’s been living an abusive life with her cruel stepmother and her stepsisters after the death of her father. She dreams that one day she wants to be a well-known fashion designer while encountering Prince Robert, the son of King Rowan, who falls in love with her. Pitch Perfect writer and producer Kay Cannon is the director of the film, marking this her second directorial effort after Blockers, featuring the stars of Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, and John Cena who both played as the trio of parents to their respective daughters, portrayed by Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, and Geraldine Viswanathan. She also wrote and produced some episodes from two television sitcoms, 30 Rock (featuring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin) and New Girl (starring Zooey Deschanel).

Singer Camila Cabello makes her acting debut in the film, portraying her main role as Ella (also known as Cinderella), a young girl who dreams of becoming a fashion designer, while Nicholas Galitzine (High Strung) rises above as Prince Robert, the son of King Rowan, who meets and falls in love with Ella. The duo soon become important key roles in the film and its climax. These two always keep their acting and their chemistry together when it comes to musical, romantic films. Even though they keep their heads slipping, they always put their fairy-tale acting skills to the test for character development.

Actress and singer Idina Menzel (Disney’s Frozen, Glee) hoses down as Ella’s cruel stepmother who puts Ella to work and refuses to let her attend the ball, hosted by King Rowan and Prince Robert. As an actress and singer altogether, Menzel never ceases to amaze me (and her fans) when she is up for the challenge of appearing in musical films, even putting her hardwork and her acting pace into her levels of doneness. It seems though, Menzel made her own singing and acting just too easy as her early resume of singing and acting got her the gig in FOX’s Glee and the famous Disney animated film Frozen, for which she provided the speaking and singing voice of Elsa.

Actors Minnie Driver (Gus Van Sant's Good Will Hunting, Disney’s Tarzan) and Pierce Brosnan (James Bond films) are very noteworthy on their royal parts as Queen Beatrice and King Rowan, the latter of which still believes that following the king’s laws and regulations is the the right thing to do to continue the royal legacy and, certainly, he wants what’s best for his carefree son, Robert.

Also appearing in the film are actors James Acaster, also-producer James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden), Romesh Ranganathan, Maddie Baillio (NBC’s Hairspray Live!), and Charlotte Spencer. Acaster, Corden, and Ranganathan voiced the trio of mouses (later portrayed as Ella’s three footmen) who served as Ella’s supportive friends while actresses Maddie Baillio and Charlotte Spencer stood in on Idina Menzel’s bright-or-dark shadow as Ella’s evil (later reformed) stepsisters. And last but not least, actor Billy Porter magically appears as Fab G, Ella’s Fairy Godparent, as well as providing the narration of the film.

Cinderella is a fun-filled, remarkable live-action adaptation, clocking to almost two hours, but that is all there is to it. Kay Cannon, Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel, and Nicholas Galitzine really fit the bill all together in their parts and so does the rest of the actors and crews. This musical is a must. I know it’s not a Disney film as you’re expecting but this is something we can take pride and appreciation to enjoy when it comes to seeing musical films based on fairy-tale stories we look up into. It’s a task that we should do instead of going back to only Disney musical films for the time being. So, kudos to the director, the producers, and Camila Cabello who have made this all possible.

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings



Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Studio:Disney

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is an intriguing blowout for Marvel fans.


This project has been in development for almost twenty years with no clear announcements being made whether or not the film will be green-lighted. That is, until sometime in the late 2010s when Destin Daniel Cretton and screenwriter Dave Callaham were hired to direct and write this film, the production was officially being announced. Having been directed by Cretton himself, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings marks the first MCU film to feature an all Asian cast, consisting with Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Leung.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings takes place after Avengers: Endgame and follows the story of a martial artist Shang-Chi who is summoned to join what-is-called “The Ten Rings'' organization. While doing so, however, Shang-Chi, while being the master of martial arts, is forced to confront his past he left behind after being drafted to the Ten Rings organization.

The main director and author of this film is Destin Daniel Cretton. He has been known for making films that feature Brie Larson in the house, which builds up her acting career on several future films, including MCU’s Captain Marvel, released back in 2019. He recently directed Just Mercy, featuring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. As director, Cretton follows other MCU directors’ footsteps to film and capture the enduring focal attention on Liu’s character, mimicking the basics of how Jon Faverau did on Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. The action sequences are very spontaneous, which made the film’s climaxes really smooth to follow. The filming crew really took a lot of dedication, effort, and hard work to craft such a beautiful artistry on not only the action sequences, but also the emotional-moving characters, the settings, and the heartfelt storytelling, which all of them became anonymous from head to toe.

Simu Liu (CBC’s Kim’s Convenience) portrays his titular role as Shang-Chi, a martial artist who joins the Ten Rings organization while Awkwafina (The Farewell) joins Liu as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy. Liu is very solid when he takes his action star role precisely well and so does Awkwafina. Their friendship just keeps on growing and never ends. Both of them knew what to do and knew what was going on for the film’s structural components.

Featuring in the film are supporting actors Meng'er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Leung. They portrayed Xialing, Jiang Li, Razor Fist, Jiang Num, and Wenwu/The Mandarin, Shang-Chi’s father and the Ten Rings leader. Just letting the viewers know this is Michelle Yeoh's second MCU film after previously appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Aleta Ogord. And lastly, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings serves as actress Fala Chen’s first acting debut in a Hollywood film.

Let’s not forget, a small number of MCU actors return to this film to reprise their roles from their previous MCU films. Tim Roth appears as Emil Blonsky/Abomination from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Benedict Wong as Mystic Arts master Wong from Doctor Strange and Avengers: Infinity War, and Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery from Iron Man 3.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a great Marvel flick, maybe not a fast-paced event to say the least with all the visuals and the CGI in the way, but it still captures its endurance and intriguing moments from start to finish. Like the previously-released MCU film Black Widow, one can actually discover in the past to see what is right and what is wrong. The director, Liu, Awkwafina, and the cast did an astounding job on picking up the pace. This 132-minute film is worth the wait and is highly a must. So go ahead and watch this in theaters, at my behest.

GRADE: A-

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Monday, August 30, 2021

The Night House



Director David Bruckner’s “The Night House” can’t decide what type of horror movie it wants to be. On one hand, it explores its main character’s grief over her husband’s recent suicide, using the ghost angle to reflect on how his actions have affected her. On the other, it falls into the typical traps of modern horror movies, relying on cheap thrills and loud noises to jar the audience as Beth’s psyche weakens. It’s as if Bruckner is trying to straddle the line between art-house and mainstream. He fails at both.

Bruckner opens the movie with Beth’s (Rebecca Hall) return from Owen’s (Evan Jonigkeit) funeral. Hall portrays the character with precision, painting the portrait of a woman who’s haunted by her husband’s actions. She’s teetering on the edge and ready to fall off (easily the best element of this film). When the hauntings begin, the audience is left to wonder how much of what Beth is experiencing is within her own head.

As she starts to purge Owen’s possessions from the house, Beth begins to uncover secrets that make her question what she knew about him and their relationship. Her friend Claire (Sarah Goldberg) warns her to stop digging for answers but, of course, Beth doesn’t listen. This leads to some disturbing revelations.

Writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski introduce ideas then drop them just as quickly. The story seems like it will go in one direction then willy-nilly goes in another. Even the hauntings are inconsistent. They start with the typical loud noises, electronics turning themselves on, and shadowy figures you can’t quite make out before evolving into other terrains. Collins and Piotrowski include elements that ultimately don’t go anywhere, frustrating the viewer.

At its core, “The Night House” is a slow-paced haunted house movie. Although cheap thrills are inserted early on to try to liven up the proceedings, this will probably be a hard sell for most audiences looking for a thrill. To put it bluntly, I frequently wished this one would hurry up and end while watching it. The most frightening part of my film experience was the odd noises coming from the back of the empty theater (I was the only one in attendance at the showing I went to).

There are some interesting concepts and visuals scattered throughout the film so it’s not a total waste of time. Still, this is one that I think could have been handled much better.
(Review by Bret Oswald)







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