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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Thursday, May 7, 2020

How to Build a Girl

At the start of director Coky Giedroyc’s “How to Build a Girl,” the film’s protagonist, sixteen-year-old Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein), is an example of the typical bookish introvert – an overachieving student who dreams of someday becoming a writer. She hands in papers that are much longer than assigned, stares longingly into the “cool kids” room at school, and even has a wall of her bedroom covered in photographs of her favorite idols (both real and fictional) who frequently converse with her. She lives in a cramped house in Wolverhampton with her parents (Paddy Considine and Sarah Solemani) and four brothers, sharing a partitioned room with her oldest brother, Krissi (Laurie Kynaston). Most of this will soon change.


Johanna wins the opportunity to read her poetry on live TV, an event that does not end well. After the disastrous experience, Krissi encourages her to put her poetry aside and enter another writing contest that will award its winner the role of journalist for a weekly independent rock newspaper. While Krissi is a supportive brother (he and Johanna are shown to have a strong brother/sister relationship), he seems to be leading Johanna astray because she’s no rock fan. Instead of letting Johanna listen to one of his rock records, Krissi stands by as Johanna sends in a review for a recording of the Broadway show “Annie.” What!? Why does either of them think this a good idea?


Yet, luck is in her favor. Initially called in for the job as a joke, Johanna manages to talk her way into covering a concert, quickly reinventing herself as Dolly Wilde and falling head-over-heels for the rock scene. Johanna just as quickly conforms to her co-worker’s point-of-view, transforming into a mean-spirited critic widely loved by readers and just as equally reviled by the artists.


“How to Build a Girl,” based on the book by Caitlin Moran, is about a young woman’s journey of self-discovery. In this case, that path takes a torturous turn, shifting an initially likable character into a vicious, self-absorbed bully. Feldstein, sporting a borderline-passable British accent, makes Johanna believable, effectively showing the character’s evolution as she changes from wallflower to It Girl of the moment. In some ways, Johanna (and her journey) is like Lindsay Lohan’s Cady from “Mean Girls,” just without the snappy comebacks and throwdowns. Johanna may finally have the popularity she’s always desired but it has come with a steep price tag.


The audience gets the idea that Dolly is a personality to be reckoned with; the movie and Giedroyc’s direction – not so much. Giedroyc tries to keep the movie’s tone light. Johanna’s interactions with her idols on her bedroom wall are goofy, attempting to give the film a quirky edge that’s almost over-the-edge. While these sequences are meant to help show Johanna’s overactive imagination, they don’t always play in the film’s favor. The film’s tone maintains this light approach even when the material moves into darker directions.


“How to Build a Girl” follows familiar character arcs and features safe direction. It’s an entertaining enough watch, holding the viewer’s attention until its story is tied up with a bow (however unsatisfying some of the resolutions may be). Ultimately, the audience is left with the sensation that this movie doesn’t rise up to its full potential.

(Review by Bret Oswald)


(Review by Chase Lee)

How to Build a Girl

(Review by Chase Lee)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Wretched

*½ (out of ****)

The Wretched is another of those movies in which some supernatural threat lurks in the shadows of a seemingly comfortable suburbia. That is, it would lurk in the shadows, if not for the insistence of its writers/directors, the Pierce Brothers (Brett and Drew), to show off some pretty neat makeup effects work in constricting close-up. The demon in this case is credited as “the Wretch,” and he, she, or it is played by Madelynn Stuenkel, for whom this role is a first-ever credit. A spot of research finds that Stuenkel was trained in stage combat as a theatre performer specializing in movement, which makes perfect sense: The Wretch contorts his, her, or its body into some seemingly impossible positions. It’s just a shame that a being such as this one, with so much promise, is wasted on the movie around it.

This is to say that there isn’t much to the movie around the Wretch, whose origins are rushed through in a quick montage of phrases on an online encyclopedia, as searched by the protagonist of this story. Ben (John-Paul Howard) has just moved in with his dad (played by Jamison Jones) for a summer away from his mother. Mom and dad are divorced, and Ben spends the first few days in sullen silence, watching from afar as Liam, who manages a nearby boating pier, connects romantically with fellow manager Sara (Azie Tesfai). Meanwhile, Ben himself flirts with co-worker Mallory (Piper Curda) and takes notice of neighbor lady Abbie (Zarah Mahler), her husband Ty (Kevin Bigley), and their two kids, all of whom begin to act strangely.

Eventually, the two kids disappear. Ben is convinced that Abbie is at fault, until a darker force reveals itself – to Ben, through suggestion and, to us, through the Pierces’ shallow implementation of scare tactics. The being, which follows rules as intriguing as they are random, passes in the background of shots, emerges from chest cavities in others, and, otherwise, possesses characters at the drop of a hat (whose performers often simply glare unblinkingly at Ben, which isn’t as creepy as it should be). The humans, mostly Ben, are idiots when it comes to dealing with these dark forces, investigating strange noises from shadowy areas and otherwise ignoring entirely the suspicious things happening in front of their faces.

Howard is wooden as a lead, seeming untested and not confident in the material given to him, and nothing is worth discussion with the other performances. The plot has the basic and expected structure of a supernatural horror film: a prologue that introduces the central threat, the opening act that introduces the chief protagonist, an extended middle act comprised of that central threat being a horror movie villain, and a rushed action climax, which here is polished but still aggressively loud, in which the dark force either is or isn’t vanquished. The Wretched introduces only two variations on this: a twist within that climax, which suggests the film’s perspective was an act of trickery, and an ambiguous final shot, which hints at more danger on the horizon. We have no reason to care by this point, though.
(Review by Joel Copling)

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Bad Boys for Life

“Bad Boys For Life” (2020)
-- This title finally came out in theaters earlier this year, sans Michael Bay, who was off doing other things, more specifically “6 Underground” with Ryan Reynolds for Netflix.

So readers know, I saw this in the theater earlier this year before the stay at home mandate went into effect, changing our lives and the daily routine of stay at home or else went into effect nationwide.

This tale finds two of veteran Miami cops Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowery (Will Smith), one of who just wants to retire. Smith’s Lowery is still up for all the action, something his nimble body is still used to. Marcus, on the other hand feels he has done enough for the people of the city and wishes to end his stint as a cop in blue.

Of course sewn into the plot are the other members of the Miami police force. This includes Vanessa Hudgens (“Sucker Punch,” the “High School Musical” franchise), and Alexander Ludwig (TV”s “Vikings,” “Lone Survivor”).

Gone are the fast paced quick cuts Bay used to employ. Instead, the audience is treated to the action from directors Adi El Arbi and Bilall Fallah who do a competent job of shooting their antics for the big screen.

The duo spent their careers on a variety of projects, including music videos and short films. Fallah directed 2018’s “Gangsta” He also helmed the independently made “Black” in 2015…

In the end game of things, this one turned out to be the best of the trilogy. Part 2 was too lengthy for its own good. It ran for 2 hrs., 27 min. That length to me is just ridiculous, since Bay and the filmmakers should have none better.

Also woven into this tale are the duo’s disclaimer they don’t want the other new cops singing the “Bad Boys” theme song. They explain it took them years to master it, and don’t appreciate them mangling their precious song.

The plot essentially revolves around a mother-son Kate del Castillo and Jacob Scipio tag, a tag team wreaking havoc all across the golden streets of Miami. The catch is that one of her sons is actual Lowery’s offspring.

Also involved Joe Pantoliano: as Captain Howard. He’s been in all of these tales, since the original in 1995.

He’s a welcome return, since his appearance always put a smile on my face. He’s just a fun actor to watch. I liked him in “The Fugitive,” (1993), “Bound” (1996), “Memento” (2000) and “Midnight Run: (1988). Lest we not forget his part in the Wachowski sibligs “The Matrix” in 1999.

So with all my reservations covering this trilogy, “Bad Boys For Life” actually turned out to be a tolerable piece of popcorn entertainment.

Grade: B-

(Review by Ricky Miller)

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The Wretched

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Bad Education

“Bad Education” -- This HBO movie stars Hugh Jackman, Alisson Janey and Ray Romano. Also important to the tale is supporter Kathrine Narducci as student Sharon Katz, who does an expose piece on Janey’s Pam Gluckin, who was embezzling money for her own self gain.

Upon further investigation, it was Jackman’s school higher-up, Frank Tasso who was the one doing the embezzling. This movie does a credible job of showing what happens to people when they are given positions of power.

As far as roles go, this is one of the better parts Jackman has on his resume, even going back to duds and misfires like “Deception,(2008), “Pan” (2015) and the letdown that was the Gary Hart biopic “The Front Runner” in 2011.

He is just a fun enjoyable actor to watch.

He was great as the computer hacker in the crazy as all get out “Swordfish,’(2001), “Kate and Leopold,” (2001). One of his starring roles of merit was his lead turn in Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige” (2006). He was aces as illusionist Robert Angier, who gets in a competitive streak with rival Christian Bale, who just wants to end up on top.

“Bad Education” for all intents and purposes is just an enjoyable tale that proves true life is sometimes stranger than fiction. When the story opens, the high school was touted as the fourth best in the state.

By the end of this witty and well constructed tale, the Roselyn High was at the pinnacle of their prestige, with the top ranking in the state of New York.

Directing chores for “Bad education” were handled by Cory Finely who helmed the little seen “Thoroughbreds” with Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. It was the last movie done by the late Anton Yelchin.

“Bad Education” is a must see for anyone who just wants o see an enjoyable and engaging flick all around. It is worth both the time and energy, since it just a solid piece of entertainment.

Grade: B+
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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