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!

To join the Dallas Movie Screening Yahoo Group:
dallasmoviescreenings-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Reesa's Reviews can also be found at:
http://www.moviegeekfeed.com

Logo art by Steve Cruz http://www.mfagallery.com

Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Monte Carlo



For Texas waitress Grace saving all her tips means a long awaited dream trip to Paris after graduation. She's going with her older best friend Emma whom Grace's mom thinks may be too wild so her new step sister Meg will be reluctantly going with them.

As Meg says it's “the sisterhood of the traveling to France”. Kate Cassidy plays Emma a one time model who didn't graduate who works with Grace (Selena Gomez) at a diner. She's in love with her boyfriend Owen (Glee's Cory Monteith) who is reluctant to commit in their relationship. Leighton Meester pays Meg who just lost her mom 2 years ago, and her dad (Brett Cullen) just married Grace's mom (Andie MacDowell). Sending Meg along will hopefully temper any potential problems that Emma may get them into. Grace's dream of trip is quickly put to the test when the hotel room is dingy and small. The bus tour turns out to be a speed tour and they end up missing the bus at the Eiffel Tower. Frustrated they seek shelter from the rain in a nice hotel where they run into Cordella Winthrop Scott, a snooty spoiled heiress who is skipping out on a special charity event in Monte Carlo. She's the spitting image of Grace and the hotel workers mistake her as Cordella. The girls end up in her room when enticed by a lobster dinner. Soon taking a chance on eating a fancy dinner becomes more complicated when the car to take Cordella to Monte Carlo shows up. Egged on my Emma, they jump on the private plane and are soon wearing Cordella's clothes and jewels partying with the rich and famous. There's lots of pretty clothes and pretty men who are enchanted with young women. Theo (Pierre Boulanger) is surprised to find himself attracted to Cordella whose reputation preceded her. Australian Riley (Luke Bracey) catches Meg's eye in Paris, and runs off with him in Monte Carlo learning how to live and love again. Emma meanwhile meets up with a prince, but finds their stuck up ways don't match up with her home town boyfriend Owen who has come to Paris to look for her. Eventually Grace will have to come to grips of her impersonation when she has to auction off Cordella's expensive necklace at the charity ball.

Selena Gomez with her cupie doll face is breaking away from the Disney fold by taking a more adult role. Gossip Girl Leighton Meester especially shines practically stealing the movie. Directed by Tom Bezucha, it was produced by Nicole Kidman, Denise Di Novi and Alison Greenspan with a story by Tom Bezucha, April Blair and Maria Maggenti. The film was shot in Paris, Monaco, and Budapest like a picture postcard pretty. Selena Gomez and her band The Scene even have one of their songs featured on the soundtrack. The young women and their respective boy toys are attractive and the set ups for the misadventures are most of the time predictable and cute. This one is for the girls and their moms for a summer movie afternoon.
(Review by reesa)

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Larry Crowne



Larry Crowne may have spent 20 years in the Navy, but he's adapted over the years to his job at a super retailer called “Hmart” where he's earned employee of the month at least nine times. Dressed in the uniform of the helpful courteous worker in a red polo shirt and khakis, Larry is happy always doing the best he can. That is why it comes as a shock when corporate policy demands that people are to be promoted but only if they have a college degree. Larry has reached his potential limit at Hmart so he's being down sized.

Like anyone else who's lost their job, there's a period of mourning before you start looking again. Larry (Tom Hanks) is finding that opportunities are scarce in these hard times and has to start liquidating his assets. He buys a scooter to cut down on gas from his garage sale neighbor Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer). He then applies to East Valley Community College where the Dean recommends Speech 217 the art of informal remarks so he can communicate with ease and confidence. His teacher Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts) is burnt out on her job and is unhappily married to a blog writer Dean (Bryan Cranston) who spends his days looking at porn. She makes slushy cocktails to numb the pain. Larry's economics professor Dr. Matsutani is a hoot played with a mad chuckle by George Takei. He also starts a friendship with Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who invites him to join the scooter club and does a redo of his wardrobe. Talia tells him that wearing a polo shirt tucked in says “cop”. One of the scooter friends does his hair and they feng shui his house. Talia gives him his scooter nickname as Lance Corolla. His new attitude and acceptance by his fellow students enliven his life. He may not have gone to college but he's gained a lot of knowledge and experience that helps him tackle his class work load and deal with the new direction his life is taking.

Directed by Tom Hank and written with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) the story is simplistic and charming about someone re-inventing himself and finding love. There's a nice collection of characters in his classroom, at his new job as a line cook, and in his scooter club. We really don't get to know anyone but they all have good intentions and get along with Larry as the binder. Julia Roberts slender and all angles with the remarkable smile tries hard to be the frustrated wife who had enough of her husband. One night after a few too much to drink, she comes on the Larry, who already attracted to her finds it hard to resist. They don't get very far, but the day after she's asking for him to keep it a secret so she doesn't lose her job. The double wattage star power in this little film help sell the premise. It's unfortunate that when one loses their jobs, the future isn't all the rosey. Larry survived nicely, but then his alter ego wrote it that way.
(Review by reesa)




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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tranformers Dark Side of the Moon




In 1961 earth space scientists track an interstellar object crashing on the dark side of the moon. President Kennedy tells them to check it out before the Russians, except that it's going to take five years for them to be ready to go to space. The first moon landers fake a communications break and Apollo 11 has 21 minutes to investigate the ruined space wreck.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is now out of college and has a new girlfriend. He's even been awarded a medal by the President for saving the world a couple of times, but he's not allowed to talk about it. Carly Spenser (Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) his new love interest is basically supporting him financially and thinks his stories about the Autobots are exaggerated. Sam is frustrated by not being able to pull his weight with his girlfriend and his inability to find a job. It's bad enough that Bumblebee, his car and best autobot friend is out saving the world is working but not him. Even his parents (Kevin Dunn and the hilarious Julie White) who are visiting him in their over sized tour bus are giving him a hard time. He really wants to do something meaningful but the only thing that's offered is a mail room position working for Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich) . Meanwhile Carly is working for rich slick race car driver Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey) and Sam is feeling competitive and threatened.

Talking heads are pushing to get rid of the Autobots but fans know this is just misdirections because the Decepitcons are usually up to no good. The buried spaceship on the moon is a NASA cover up that peeves Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) when he finds out. The Autobots old leader Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) is hidden inside along with some pillars that held advanced space technology that could have won the war for the Autobots if it had not crashed. Back at Sam's work, Wang (Ken Jeong) is passing him information on the conspiracy on the moon. Sam realizes something may be amiss and brings in Agent Simmons (John Tuturro) to help convince the skeptical new Director of Intelligence (Frances McDormand). Also back is Lt. Colonel Lennox (Josh Duhamel and Epps (Tyrese Gibson). Look for Alan Tudyk in a scene stealing role of Dutch, Simmons accented assistant.

The last Transformers movie was a big huge mess, so this follow up needed to step up the game a few notches to make up for it. Michael Bay returned to focusing more on the human elements of the story and crisis of loyalty for the Autobots. The FX this time around filmed with 3D cameras is easier on the eyes and not as headache inducing. It was nice to see who was fighting who for once and being able to care even for the machines in battle. There are some amazing action sequences that is like an E-ticket ride that's worth the price of the movie with popcorn. This time Chicago is the battleground and the carnage there is pretty intense. Of course there's lots of cheesy Michael Bay shots of patriotic fervor that seems to be his staple but it's getting to the point where one expects some Coke jingle to accompany it. LaBeouf is showing a little better range of emotion instead of being the clueless wiseacre. Not sure if changing the girlfriend worked, the chemistry didn't seem enough for Sam to risk his life to save her. Conclusion: it will rake in the big bucks this summer.
(Review by reesa)



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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Movies Scheduled for the Week of 6/26 - 7/2

Yes, tomorrow it's going to be a crazy at Northpark with Transformers so everyone try and keep it together and behave yourselves.

Which brings us to the big fat rant:GOFOBO misuse. A code was leaked and shared causing major problems with people not being able to redeem their winning passes. The website offering said passes were put in an uncomfortable quandary and understandably peeved. When you take a code that you didn't personally win and take someone else's pass, you are a thief. Plain simple and cause for being banned from this group. The bigger this issue becomes the harder it is for us to enjoy the privilege. Eventually tighter rules will become enforced and what was once enjoyable will become a major pain you know where. Hopefully everyone in this group understands how this system works because we only tell it to you at least once a month. There's always that chance if you stole the code your scan bar may have been voided, or they will match your names to a list of people who were the legitimate winners. How do you think it will feel standing in line all that time and getting rejected when you try and turn in those stolen passes? Something to ponder, eh?

Next problem: From now on please don't use this group to try and win passes for yourself by soliciting entries. Sorry that post was let through and confused everyone. Any other posts like that will be deleted.

June 26 - July 2, 2011

Sun
6/26

7:30 pm

Pretty in Pink
Central 214

Mon
6/27

7:30 pm
Transformers: Dark of The Moon
AMC Northpark

Tue
6/28

7:30 pm
LARRY CROWNE
Angelika Dallas

Wed
6/29

6:00 pm
Zookeeper
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

7:30 pm
A Better Life
Angelika Dallas

7:30 pm
Friends with Benefits
Studio Movie Grill Plano

10:00 pm
Horror Remix: Beast
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

Thu
6/30

7:30 pm
Horrible Bosses
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

8:00 pm
What Happens in Vegas
Nylo Hotel Plano

9:00 pm
Sea Biscuit
4th and Main Sundance Square Fort Worth

9:00 pm
The Goonies
UT Arlington

10:00 pm
Horror Remix: Beast
Studio Movie Grill Arlington

Fri
7/1

8:30 pm
Finding Nemo
Fairmont Hotel Dallas pool area

Sat
7/2

8:30 pm
Megamind
Villages at Fairview

8:45 pm
E.T.
Half-Price Books Parking Lot




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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cars 2




John Lasseter directed the first Cars in 2006 and he's back at the helm again for the first time in Cars 2. The greatly anticipated Pixar/Disney summer blockbuster in Disney Digital 3D branches out from their small town of Radiator Springs to head to race in the World Grand Prix. In this world totally occupied by cars and other modes of transportation the heroes head to Japan, Italy and England. Along the way the lovable tow truck, Matar gets involved in some espionage and intrique.

Lighting McQueen (Owen Wilson) is invited to compete in the World Grand Prix to determine the fastest car in the world. His pit team comes along and he invites his friend Matar (Larry the Cable Guy) who is all kinds of goofy and embarrasses his friend by not keeping a low profile. This peeves McQueen a bit and feeling badly Matard decides to go back home so that his friend can concentrate on the race. On the way out of town he's nabbed by British spy Finn MacMissile (Michael Caine) and his assistant Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). They believe that Matar is their American contact (Bruce Campbell) because the real agent stuck his tracker on him in the restroom. A series of misunderstanding has Matar in the middle of trying to find out if the new environmentally friendly auto fuel, Allinol seem to be making the race cars blow up. Solar powered SUV, Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Lizard) created the tourney in order to test his formula. There's also a conspiracy going on about “lemons” who are trying to discredit the fuel and go back to gas. Matar, despite his hill billy ways manages to impress the agents with his straight forward way of thinking. Instead of heading home he's off to Paris where he gets some high tech outfitting.

Lots of famous voices like the Italian Formula One car Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro), McQueen's girlfriend Sally (Bonnie Hunt), the mysterious Professor Z of the Lemons (Thomas Kretschmann), Franco Nero, Tony Shalhoub, Vanessa Redgrave, and John Ratzenberger among many others.

The animation is Pixar so it's of course excellent. The screen play by Ben Queen and Lasseter doesn't have the freshness as the first movie. There is just something rehashed and too busy. The flashy lights the stereotypical interpretation of what kind of cars live in other parts of the world seem overplayed. There are some car chases, auto races and there is some violence with guns and explosions. Not sure what kind of message that gives to kids. On the responsible side, there's a lesson about McQueen appreciating his friend just he way he is, oil leaks and all. The location shots look just like the cities, but you don't the sense that cars actually live there. Not like in Radiator Springs where the drive in dinner at least has gas pumps for food. Kids will love it no matter what, but parents may get a little drowsy with the overkill of stimulation.
(Review by reesa)



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Bad Teacher




Junior high school teacher Elizabeth Halsey has been skating through her classes with the least amount of effort because now after a year she is leaving to get married. Elizabeth is a sociopath in knock out hot attire and 4 inch heels. She cares nothing for nurturing the kids and is totally unrepentant. She comes home to find her fiancé and his mother have double teamed her to tell her the wedding is off when Elizabeth managed to spend $16,000 of his money in a month. On top of that she forgot it was his birthday. A few months later she is forced to return to the school.

Carmen Diaz plays Elizabeth who can pull the rug over everyone's eyes when she pours on the charm. This is a woman who knows how to use her looks to get what she wants. The principal (John Michael Higgins) collects dolphins figurines and talks from index cards is impressed by Elizabeth's sound bytes. Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch) is her “hall mate”, as the teacher across from hers is the ultimate educator. She is always winning the prize for the most students who pass the state tests. She's annoyingly peppy to the point where her more savvy students are bemused and confused. On the first day back from the summer, Elizabeth, obviously hungover accepts the condolences of her fellow teachers for her broken engagement. For her class, she puts on a movie every day so she can sleep at her desk. Elizabeth is only concerned with getting enough money to get a boob job and finding a rich man to take care of her. Enter the nebbish Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) a new substitute teacher that catches her eye. He's handsome, nice and his mother is heiress to a watch company fortune. Her radar is firmly fixed to make herself available to him. Only problem is Amy gets along with him really well. They are as Scott sings “simpatico”. The school gym teacher Russe1l Gettis (Jason Segel) is making overtures to Elizabeth with some amusing comments while she shoots him down. He tells her right away that he's going to wear her down.

The comedy directed by Jake Kasdan with a screenplay Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky is full of foul language and raunchy subtext. Definitely an “R” rated, leave the kids at home. There seems to be a trend as in Bridesmaid and the Hangover films to say all those things that you can't say on TV or for some people in real life. There are some amusing moments when Elizabeth is wreaking havoc in her single minded attempt at making enough money to pay for her implants. Or when she's paying back pranks on Amy who is bound and determined to get her fired. It's hard to find something appealing about Elizabeth because she is truly a bad teacher without a thought about anyone else. All the other characters are overly ditsy and broadly drawn. The only one with any semblance of reality is the gym teacher. For an afternoon of just mindless comedy and if you like that potty mouth dialogue, then it's for you.
(Review by reesa)



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Buck






The documentary of Buck Brannaman has the tagline “There's no wisdom worth having that isn't hard won” which aptly describes the story of the unique and legendary horse trainer. Buck's story inspired first time documentary filmmaker Cindy Meehl to travel from North Carolina, Washington, Wyoming, California, Montana and Texas filming the man who was the consultant on Redford's The Horse Whisperer.

When Meehl started the project she thought it would be a film about training horses, but quickly realized it was really about horses training people. Buck's method is to teach the horses that they don't have defend themselves from humans. The cruel system of inflicting pain to train an animal is being replaced by Buck's calm and humane lessons. Riding a horse should be an extension of yourself, and the horse must have complete trust. Watching Buck train a horse is close to miraculousness. In the four day seminars that he holds at ranches across the country Buck teaches humans how to interact with their horses. While the horses learn to trust their riders, the riders in turn learn sometimes hard truths about themselves. Bucks way of training is influenced by the childhood abuse he endured by his father after his mother passed away. He and his brother toured the country as fancy ropers who were taught by their exacting father. Their horrific upbringing was discovered by their school coach who informed the local sheriff. The boys were removed and taken in by a couple who raised 25 foster children. To this day his foster mother remains close and influential to Buck. Channeling the hard lessons learned from his father, Buck reasoned that to “break” a horse required patience and understanding rather than brute force. Demonstrations show his skills in getting a horse to follow commands easily and teaching the owner to learn from what the horse is telling them. One rider who trains show horses admitted that what she thought was the correct way of doing things was wrong and painful for the animal. Buck says “Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will.”

Buck was the role model for Nicholas Evans book and was hired as an consultant for Robert Redfords' The Horse Whisperer. Redford at first was dubious when the cowboy dressed Buck first came to his office in Hollywood but shortly after he with struck by Bucks straight forward realness that rings true.
Buck is a loving husband and devoted father to his daughter Reata who travels with him at times and competes with him at roping events. When his daughter is not with him, he travels with just his horse Rebel. Sometimes visited by his wife. The sponsoring ranches welcome him with open arms. He's trained at least 10,000 colts from Olympic riders to just beginners treating everyone the same. In a world dominated by comic book hero's this is one hero that's real and home grown.
(Review by reesa)



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Conan O'Brien Can't Stop




Last year when Conan O'Brien was unceremoniously bumped from the Tonight Show when Jay Leno failed in his 10 pm slot, he was given severance cash and and had to agree not to apprear on TV or Internet web shows for 6 months. For the Harvard educated comedian the offspring of a lawyer and a doctor it was a hard hand to play. His team decided to take it on the road aptly named “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour to 32 cities across the country.

Television director Rodman Flender follows Team Coco as they conceptualize the road show. O'Brien is sharp, witty and hyperactive. The vanity project is filled with comedy bits, music, and layered with a sharp bitterness that lingers throughout the film. The fast selling online ticket sales puts on the pressure to brainstorm material. The snappy improvisations are fast and clever during marathon writing sessions, band rehearsal and auditioning back up singers who will be called the Coquettes. He changes the words to the Willie Nelson song “On The Road Again” to “I Want My Show Again”. Most of what is shown of his routines are the musical portions with Conan on guitar and singing. He's a fairly competent musician but what he lacks in vocal skills he makes up in confidence. For one number, “Polk Street Annie” he dresses in a skin tight paisley leather outfit like Eddie Murphy in Raw while dancing around with his singers. Various star pals show up in different cities to help out like Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, Jon Steward, and Eddy Vedder. Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock hangs out back stage to endure verbal barbs by Conan.

Conan is also short tempered in a way that still takes the sting out of his comments. He is relentless with his assistant Sona Movsesian who he fires for bringing him fish cooked in butter in stead of without. She dryly responds by promising to take care of it and that getting fired is a common occurrence. She coaches him on putting on his show makeup like a nagging friend, he acquiesces with good nature until later on the tour he's bickering with her about it. The film is peppered with little moments with Conan's manic energy. One wonders if he ever slows down. After the shows he does meet and greets with his fans, and families of his singers. He smiles, and chats with everyone with a playful banter, then when they leave he complains about having to talk to people he doesn't know.

His Late Night with Conan show was uneven, silly and sometimes down right brilliant. That's to be expected in a show that you have to maintain day in and day out for the past 22 years. You would think that he would be happy to just kick back and enjoy the huge payout. But as most artists, if don't use your talents you lose it. The documentary makes one wish they had gone to one of the shows. The tour ended just as he was set to begin is new show now airing on TBS.
(Review by reesa)



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Monday, June 20, 2011

Buck Brannaman will be coming to Dallas



“Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will.” So says Buck Brannaman, a true American cowboy and sage on horseback who travels the country for nine grueling months a year helping horses with people problems.
 
BUCK, a richly textured and visually stunning film, follows Brannaman from his abusive childhood to his phenomenally successful approach to horses. A real-life “horse-whisperer”, he eschews the violence of his upbringing and teaches people to communicate with their horses through leadership and sensitivity, not punishment. Buck possesses near magical abilities as he dramatically transforms horses – and people – with his understanding, compassion and respect. In this film, the animal-human relationship becomes a metaphor for facing the daily challenges of life. A truly American story about an unsung hero, BUCK is about an ordinary man who has made an extraordinary life despite tremendous odds.

Buck Brannaman will be surprising guests Friday night as he will make guest appearances at Angelika Film Centers Dallas and Plano. After the 5pm screening and 7:30pm screening he will be hosting a Q&A.

5:00 pm

Angelika Film Center (Plano)

The Shops @ Legacy
7205 Bishop Rd. Suite E6
Plano, TX 75024


Plano, TX 75024

7:30 pm

Angelika Film Center (Dallas)

Mockingbird Station
5321 East Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, TX 75206



Tickets: Tickets can be bought online or at the theater.

http://www.angelikafilmcenter.com/





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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Movies Scheduled for the Week of 6/19 - 6/25

Happy Father's Day to all you wonderful dad's and the dad substitutes!

Must admit there wasn't as many posts that had to be deleted this week, and we are grateful. But as usual when the calendar is posted, everyone starts to chime in with their requests like they just heard about it. Y'all can access the calendar on the group pages so you can plan your screening week, and enter the contests to get your passes so you don't have to ask.

Another word on GOFOBO. Please folks, if you win a code from one of the movie sites, you can't give that code out to anyone else. You name is submitted to the studio reps so they have a record on who is coming to the screenings. There are people still sharing codes and it's not cool. You will only make it more difficult for us to obtain passes. If you won with a code and released your passes it probably won't be available to anyone else.

June 19 - 25, 2011

Sun
6/19

8:30 pm
Breakfast Club
Central 214

Mon
6/20

Tue
6/21

7:30 pm
Cars 2
Cinemark West Plano

Wed
6/22

7:30 pm
Bad Teacher
AMC Northpark

7:30 pm
Friends With Benefits
Angelika Dallas

Thu
6/23

7:30 pm
Cars 2
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

8:00 pm
This is It Michael Jackson
Nylo Hotel Plano

9:00 pm
The Bucket List
4th and Main Sundance Square Fort Worth

Fri
6/24

9:00 am
RV
Aviary Park

7:00 pm
Shrek
The Shops at Park Lane

8:30 pm
Fame
Fairmont Hotel Dallas pool area

Sat
6/25

8:30 pm
Manhattan
Main Street Garden




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Friday, June 17, 2011

Dragon Tattoo Parody

From Thank You For Watching

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH_lyn8MlOs



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The Trip Prize Giveaway

At the Angelika Dallas:


THE TRIP



THE TRIP brings director Michael Winterbottom and the hilarious Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, A COCK AND BULL STORY) back together in a side-splitting road comedy. The film follows the pair on a hysterical odyssey that has won over audiences at the Toronto and Tribeca Film Festivals, and has critics rolling in the aisles. When Steve Coogan is asked by The Observer to tour the country's finest restaurants, he envisions it as the perfect getaway with his beautiful girlfriend. But, when she backs out on him, he has no one to accompany him but his best friend and source of eternal aggravation, Rob Brydon. As the brilliant comic duo, freestyling with flair, drive each other mad with constant competition and showdowns of competing impressions (including dueling Michael Caines, Sean Connerys and Al Pacinos), the ultimate odd couple realize in the end a rich amount about not only good food, but the nature of fame, relationships and their own lives.



Come show us your best Michael Caine impression prior to the 7:15 p.m. show tonight for a chance to win a Visa Gift Card!



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The Green Lantern



The planet Oa is the home of the Green Lantern Corp. A collection of intergalactic warriors whose job is to keep the universe safe. The immortal guardians created the power ring that is sustained by the ring's wearer's imagination and strength of will. The greater the will power the more effective the ring. The weakness of the ring is fear in it's wearer as it makes them susceptible to the yellow power of Parallax, once a guardian that fell to the power of fear while trying to control it. Parallax has escaped it's prison and seeks to destroy the universe. Abin Sur had once captured Parallax takes a team to capture him again, but they are over come. He manages to escape and crash lands on earth. He releases the power of the ring and tells it to find a candidate.

Hal Jordon is a hot shot test pilot for the US Air Force working with his Carol (Blake Lively) sometime girlfriend, pilot and vice-president of Ferris Aircraft. His father was a test pilot too but died during on an exercise that Hal as a child had witnessed. Fearless and reckless he loses a plane when he loses concentration thinking of his dad. Later, he's encompassed by a green bubble that takes him to the crashed spaceship where Abin Sur's (Temuera Morrison) last words was to inform Hal that he's been chosen. While playing with the ring Hal ends up charging it and gets rocketed through a wormhole to the planet Oa where he's introduced to his new fate. Unfortunately the guardians believe that humans are too young for such a responsibility and Hal is still full of fear and doubt.

The government takes the body and ship to a secret location and brings in Hector Hammond (Peter Sarasgaard) as a xenobiologist to do an autopsy. Senator Robert Hammond (Tim Robbins) the smarmy man in charge who doesn't think highly of his son Hector and Hector knows it. Abin Sur's body affirms his life long belief in extra-terrestrials. But an accidental contact with Parallax's energies hiding in the Abin Sur's body causes some changes in his head making him look like the kid in Mask, and he now has the ability to read minds and he has the power of telekenisis. With Hector reeking havoc with his new abilities, Hal comes back to earth after being told the Corp will not help, that he alone has to save the universe.

The director of Casino Royale, Martin Campbell knows his way around action scenes. There were 4 screenwriters involved Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg. There are some amusing moments, and Reynolds does fill out the green uniform really well. He has really nice chemistry with Blake Lively who was trying to give her character more substance, but really had no where to go. Peter Sarasgaard really eats up the screen as the deformed demented Dr. Hammond.

Hal is trained on the planet Oa by characters that could have lived in the Star Wars movies, Tomar Re (Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan). The dialogue was simple for the young families that will attend this film. It would have been nice to have maybe an hour more to develop the characters so that you actually care what happens to them. Angelia Bassett as Dr. Amanda Waller has very little to do, and Mark Strong as Thaal Sinestro just recites platitudes on the way of the Green Lantern Corp. The first part of the movie is filled with exposition that is a bit cheesy with the whole green power of will keeping the universe together and that is represented by yellow. Yet with all this talent and cast the film is just OK. Nice, entertaining, ultimately forgettable.
(Review by reesa)



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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins



Florence and Richard Atwater's first published the children's book in 1938 about a poor house painter who comes in possession of a penguin that has 10 baby penguins. Director Mark Waters film version with a story by Sean Anders, John Morris, and Jared Stern has 6 birds living in a fancy high rise apartment with a driven businessman.

Mr. Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) works for Franklin, Reeder and Yates who buys buildings around Manhattan that are torn down for more high rises. His slick delivery and confidence is very profitable for his company that he believes he should be made a partner. But before he can do that, they want him to buy the land mark Tavern on the Green from the owner Mrs. Van Gundy (Angela Landsbury) who is really not interested.

Popper's father was an adventurer and pretty much an absentee father. He nicknamed his son Tippytoe on their CB radio, the only way that he was able to talk to him while away. Thirty years later when his dad passes away somewhere in Antarctica he bequeaths everything to the National Geographic society. To his son, he has a special gift that arrives in a crate at Popper's fancy penthouse. It's a refrigerated box with a frozen penguin inside. Once removed the penguin thaws and although Popper is amused he's late for work. He puts the bird in a bathtub full of ice. Not too long later he gets 5 more boxes for a ½ dozen birds. He tries to hide them because his building doesn't allow pets, He calls various agencies around town, but they pass it off to other places. Popper is in a quandary until his kids who live with their mom discover what he's hiding. Popper loves his kids, but being divorced makes it difficult to keep up with his teenage daughter and young son who don't see him often because of his work. His ex-wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) has started dating again is a bit amazed at Popper who has embraced the birds in his own way. He's even given them names: Captain, Bitey, Lovey, Nimrod, Loudy, and Stinky. Soon he's obsessed with keeping the birds happy, especially when they start laying eggs. He forgets that he's supposed to be negotiating the sale of the Tavern on the Green. Meanwhile the zoo keeper Nat (Clark Gregg) wants to take the penguins to trade to other zoo's.

Popper's Penguins is a fun and delightful family film. Carrey is not as annoying as he's been in past films with the excessive mugging and rubber limbs. Ophelia Lovibond's Pippi Popper's personal assistant is amusing in her P alliterations. Plus who doesn't love penguins? Popper learns to appreciate his father when he discovers that he had sent him a rare species of penguin that is affectionate and bonds quickly. At one point they even manage to follow Popper to the Guggenhein Museum. Popper becomes completely obsessed with the birds and the new found attention of his children by turning his apartment into a winter wonderland. Real Gentoo penguins were used, but obviously none were harmed in animating them to dance and react in unison. This is one matinée that parents won't mind taking their kids.
(Review by reesa)



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The Art of Getting By




We live alone we die alone everything else is an illusion. These are the heavy thoughts that occupy George Zinavoy while attending Morgan's Prep School in Manhattan. He hasn't done any homework since the beginning of the school term. He tells his teachers that he didn't do it because he's depressed. He uses his text book as sketch pads filling each page with intense and talented doodles. He gets sent to the principal who does says all the trite things a educator does to try and reach out to a student. But George just shrugs it off as he can't find anything that important to give a care.

Freddie Highmore as a child appeared for the first time in Never Never Land, then Willie and the Chocolate Factory, and August Rush. Now he's all grown up with the same face that has yet to catch up with his teen age body. His George is a sensitive artistic and highly intelligent soul who sees existence as meaningless. He keeps telling people that he's depressed, but no adult around him seem to take him seriously because he's an articulate young man who knows how to play around their structured guidelines for dealing with students. It's not that he's lazy, just unmotivated with no goals like most teenagers can't think beyond themselves. That is until he saves his classmate Sally (Emma Roberts) from getting caught smoking on school grounds and gets punished by being put on academic probation. She seeks him out later to thanks him and they start a friendship. He tells her he's a teflon slacker, that there's four rules on skipping school. Cutting school is fun, do it rarely so that you can savor the experience, be culturally stimulated and noodles. Sally drags him to her house to meet her free spirited single mom Charlotte (Elizabeth Reaser). She takes him to a dance club where he experiences the first pangs of jealousy when Sally dances with an ex-boyfriend. The principal (Blair Underwood) has him work career day in charge of a Morgan School alumni Dustin (Michael Angarano) who talks about his life as an artist and becomes a mentor/advisor to George with his relationship with Sally even as he's checking her out. His parents Rita Wilson and Sam Robards have issues of their own that George must also confront. The teachers Alicia Silverstone, Jarlath Conroy and the principal finally demand that in order to graduate George must complete every homework assignment since the beginning of the term. His art teacher just wants him to paint something that he honestly feels something about.

Directed and written by Thumbsucker's Gaven Wiesen the film was called Homework when it played at 2011 Sundance. The nihilistic teen angst has been played better in Submarine, but The Art of Getting By does have a charm from the pleasant performances of Hightower and Roberts. It may seem slow at times for viewers used to more action and melodrama. His budding first time romance with Sally is sweet in it's awkwardness. At least you won't feel bad when you leave the theater.
(Review by reesa)



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The Trip



Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play exaggerated versions of themselves as they undertake a restaurant tour of northern England. It was first broadcast on BBC as a sitcom series in 6 episodes. The total number of minutes for the series was 180, and the film version is cut down to 107 minutes. It was directed by Michael Winterbottom who did A Mighty Heart.

Steve Coogan had just accepted an assignment by The Observer newspaper to do a restaurant tour. He was planning to bring his girlfriend Misha who is a foodie, but she decided to go back to America. He asks his comedian friend Rob to leave his wife for a week. Rob is known for his bit called “Man In The Box” where he throws his voice to sound like someone inside a box. Their “Trip” is filmed with a reality TV sensibility as they drive through the beautiful British countryside of rolling hills and small villages. They check into bed and breakfast sort of inns flirting with the young women. Coogan also indulges in a few one night stands along the way, while Rob waxes romantically about missing his wife's pleasures. The dinners are like 5-star eatery's with the tiny portions that are immaculately prepared. Scallops seems to be a favorite dish that is ordered time and again. Coogan never seems to actually write any comments on the quality of their meals. Instead their dinner conversations turn mostly to try to out do each others impressions of Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Woody Allen, Hugh Grant and Al Pacino in Heat. They do this every time they eat, which could have gotten old quickly, but it's probably the funniest part of the movie. They are both self-depreciative and highly competitive at the same time. The chemistry works well between them with Coogan being the more egotistical of the two. His career has basically stalled but he builds up these movie and TV offers to be more than what they are to his friend. What he thought was his big Hollywood break in Tropic Thunder turned out for his character to be blown up in the first 10 minutes of the movie. The conversations are highly improvised as they are stuck together for a week as they wrestle quips and singing ABBA tunes to keep themselves amused.

Coogan was hilarious in Hamlet 2 a few years ago, but Brydon's is practically unknown in the States. They also played variations of themselves in Winterbottom's 2005 Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, which was about Coogan's embarrassing tabloid life. The Trip would have probably worked better in it's TV version like a weekly travelogue restaurant review. The countryside is amazing, the food divine, and the company delightful. As a movie, you just may want to fast forward to the impersonations.
(Review by reesa)




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Monday, June 13, 2011

Movies Scheduled for the Week of 6/12 - 6/18

Big thanks to Cheryl and Gary for adding some free oldies but goodies to the calendar. Some nice classic films that you can enjoy with the family this summer. Especially if you don't want to fight the crowds for those big blockbusters. We all know that Green Lantern is going to be a manic mess, so please take a breath. There's contests pending, so no free for all mooching, OK?

Hey...someone was offering some hard to get passes and you are wondering why they didn't respond to you since your jumped on it right away. Well, duh...you sent your reply to the group. The moderators see it and go tough noogies kiddos...DELETE. Yep, your email was trashed, dissolved, turned to ash, thrown into the fiery pit. We keep telling you, you refuse to listen. That's the way it rolls around here.

Also, this new GOFOBO seems to take off the screening the day of, so if you are releasing passes that day, then you are not doing anyone any favors. Try and release them before the screening day. Just check to see it's still listed since you are on the website anyways.

June 12 - 18, 2011

Sun
6/12

8:30 pm
Sixteen Candles
Central 214

Mon
6/13

Tue
6/14

7:30 pm
The Art of Getting By
AMC Northpark

Wed
6/15

7:30 pm
Beautiful Boy
Angelika Dallas

7:30 pm
Friends With Benefits
Studio Movie Grill Arlington

7:30 pm
Green Lantern
Cinemark West Plano

7:30 pm
Attack the Block
Movie Tavern, Denton

Thu
6/16

7:00 pm
Harold and Maude
Belmont Hotel

8:00 pm
Notting Hill
Nylo Hotel Plano

9:00 pm
Despicable Me
4th and Main Sundance Square Fort Worth

9:00 pm
O Brother Where art Thou?
Nasher Sculpture Center Dallas

Fri
6/17

7:00 pm
E.T.
The Shops at Park Lane

8:30 pm
Annie
Fairmont Hotel Dallas pool area

Sat
6/18

8:30 pm
The Dark Knight
Main Street Garden

8:45 pm
Harry Potter 7, Part 1
Half-price Books Parking Lot

8:45 pm
Moulin Rouge
Strauss Center Winspear- Downtown

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Super 8




It's the late 70's in small town Lillian, Ohio, Joe Lamb is sitting outside his house while inside is the wake for his mother who died at an accident in the town chemical plant. His dad is a police deputy who leaves at one point when one guest's sympathy call is unwanted and is taken away in handcuffs. Four months later, Joe is getting out of school for summer vacation and his best friend Charles has added new script to his zombie movie and is anxious to get filmed. Best of all he's asked Joe's dream girl Alice Dainard to play the wife and she not only agreed but will drive them to their location shoot.

The kids slip out at midnight with Alice (Elle Fanning) illegally at the wheel in her dad's car. The film crew is being directed by Charles (Riley Griffiths) who wants to enter his super 8 zombie movie in the Cleveland Film festival. At the abandoned train station is braces-wearing cameraman and pyro obsessed Carey (Ryan Lee), awkward actors Preston (Zach Mills) and Martin (Gabriel Basso). Joe (Joel Courtney) is in charge makeup and special effects. Alice impresses everyone with her acting skills. As they are filming a speeding train offers a chance for as Charles says “production values”. Except something happens that changes the lives of the kids and the town. Soon there are Army trucks invading the town.

As an homage to the Spielberg who also produced the film, it has all the usual elements with the awe struck faces looking out in wonderment and an old school storyline construction. There's nothing to bog down the plot. Each piece reveals itself in it's own time while we enjoy getting to know the characters. The kids act like real kids and not the wiseacre precocious miniature adults on Nickelodeon or Disney. Details like messy houses that look like families actually live there, distracted adults, and suburban middle American homes. Small towns where everyone pretty much knows everyone else. There's also a heart felt story about the kids and dads who have to find a common ground. The only complaint is the actual alien looks like most movies extraterrestrials and it didn't quite satisfy. Other than that, the performances were excellent. Kyle Chandler and Ron Eldard as the opposing dads bring it all home in the third act. Elle Fanning makes you forget that she's the sister of Dakota has a great screen presence. Riley steals the movie as Charles the budding director. Anyone who has picked up a camera to film will relate to his enthusiasm.

JJ Abram's kept the story of this film under wraps while filming so details hopefully will not be revealed as reviews are made available. Because it's best not to know anything about the movie before seeing it to keep intact the sense of surprise. Lets just say there's a train wreck that may possibly be the best since The Fugitive. In a season of prequels and sequels, this one stands out as being the Inception of last year. The one where you have to see and recommend to others. Don't forget to stay for the credits when Charles movie “The Case” is played.
(Review by reesa)




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The Beginners




Thumbsucker's director Mike Mills opens his sophomore film The Beginners with Ewan McGregor packing up his father's belongings after he had passed away. Anyone who has had to go through someone else's belongings after they have left this world can relate to his discombobulated state of mind. He also has to take his dad's dog a Jack Russell terrier named Arthur home with him. McGregor's Oliver shows the dog around the apartment.

Oliver is a graphic artist who is designing an album cover for a musical group, but his concept is called The Sads, a series of unhappy people. This reflects his over encompassing mood as he thinks about his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) a retired museum director who after his wife of 44 years passes away decides to come out of the closet. Oliver looks back on his dad's life since announcing he wanted to live openly as a gay man. His father at 75 years old embraces his new lifestyle by being an activist, having a younger lover (Goran Visnjic), and basically liberating himself as someone he had always meant to be. He reports to Oliver everything he discovers in his new life. The most he's ever communicated with his son. Four years later he is diagnosed with cancer. We watch Oliver and his dad grow close during those last years as his father tries to use his remaining time living his life to the fullest. He even thanks the oncologist after he delivers the bad news. Hal is determined to live with no regrets as his new rainbow community of friends gather around during his last days.

Oliver always had a strange feeling about his parents seeing love but no passion. His elegant mother new of her husband's preferences, but married him anyway thinking he would change. His parents love each other in their way, but it doesn't make a good example for their son. It has influenced his ability to maintain a long lasting relationship. His co-workers worry a bit when they see his album design and force him out to a costume party where he ironically dresses like Freud giving party goers analysis time on the couch. He spots a pretty young woman there dressed as a man who has laryngitis and they hit it off spending the night together by just sleeping. Anna (Melanie Laurant) introduces herself the next morning. She's an actress living in a nice hotel while looking for work. Their energy and personalities are magnetic and they quickly blossom together without really knowing that much about each other. Since both are commitment-phobic Oliver's invitation to have her move into his house makes her back off and tell him she's going back to NY.

Mike Mill based this story on his real life story of his dad who came out at the age of 75. The film could have been maudlin as it deals with the death of Hal. It would have gone too cute when the dog's thoughts are communicated by subtitles. The movie focus is on the strong performances. Christopher Plummer is still a fascinating film presence embodying Hal with an exuberance and joy of discovering life with a child like wonder. McGregor internalizes Oliver with all the past issues, fears and the heartbreak of losing his father. It reminds us that we, everyday are embarking on something new and different and not to run from the experience. It's a heady and heartfelt film that makes you feel good when leaving the theater.
(Review by reesa)



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Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer




Megan McDonald's Judy Moody book series comes to life in the first, and probably not last entry in the Wimpy Kid type of tween orientated movie adaptations. Judy (Jordanna Beatty) is a strong willed third-grader who has a shock or red hair with a little question mark curl on the top of her head. She sets up some elaborate dare games to earn thrill points, but her friends families have scheduled exotic vacation plans. Their summer adventures would rack up way more points than Judy can ever hope to achieve just staying at home.

Before school is let out their teacher Mr. Todd (Jaleel White) gives his students a challenge of finding out what he will being doing during the summer with only the word “cold” as the clue. One of her friends is going to circus camp and her other friend is going to Borneo. Practically doubling their thrill points just on locations alone. On top of that her parents (Kristoffer Ryan Winters and Janet Varney) are taking a trip without her. Her mom's sister Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) is going to stay with Judy and her annoying little brother Stink (Parris Mosteller). Opal is a bit of a free spirited artist and jumps into Judy's Summer Dare contests by making trashcan lid sombreros. Opal basically turns everything into an art studio making a mess of the house. Stink is obsessed with finding Bigfoot so Opal makes a huge papier-mache Bigfoot statue in the front yard. Meanwhile Judy is running around trying to over come staying home for the summer tries to out dare everyone determined to have the best summer ever.

This frantic film is directed by John Schultz with a screenplay by Kathy Waugh. Like other films of it's ilk, Ramona and Bezus, and the Wimpy Kid, the children are precocious and independent. But unlike the other films this one doesn't have much of a plot woven into the various adventures. There's plenty of colorful sets, busy little pieces of action and somewhere in there is the search for Bigfoot and Mr. Todd. How it all gets tied up at the end sort of makes sense. Jordanna gives it all she's got, and Graham holds back the usual manic performance by almost being a decent entertaining creative caregiver. If you dig hard enough there some basic lessons in the story regarding responsibility, competition and forgiveness so it's not totally a bummer summer.
(Review by reesa)



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Submarine




Oliver Tate is a 15 year old Welsh student who in the midst of self discovery as he imagines himself the hero of his own new wave film. Laying on his bedroom floor in his overcoat that he never seems to take off, he wonders how people would react to his death – the whole country would mourn – and then his glorious resurrection. First he has a couple things he would like to accomplish by his next birthday, to lose his virginity and to rekindle his parents relationship which is being threatened by the return of his mom's old boyfriend who has moved in next door.

Taken from the novel by Joe Dunthorne, director/writer Richard Ayoade indie feature debuts is quirky with shades of Wes Anderson. Filmed in a washed out pallet, Swansea seems constantly cold, wet and and perpetually overcast. Oliver (Craig Roberts) has set his romantic sights on Jordanna (Yasmin Paige) who has a reputation for having kissed most of her male classmates. To get her attention he plays a mean prank the class chubby girl even though deep inside it's not something he would have done. At first Jordanna uses Oliver's attentions to make her ex-boyfriend jealous. She has Oliver take pictures of them together and pretend kissing, then leaving fake diary messages around the school to prove that he's not gay. After Oliver gets beat up, Jordanna really kisses him, he gives her a recycled bracelet and they are now considered going steady. Next step is fulfilling the need to have sex.

Meanwhile his parents Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor are monosyllabic and polite to each other and to Oliver. He can tell when his parents have had relations by the position of the light dimmer in their room. It's been several months since it's changed. His father used to be a marine biologist with a TV show now he sits at home in his bathrobe. His dad tries to feel supportive of Oliver having a girlfriend by offering a playlist including a seletion of songs for when they breakup. His mom is just glad that he's not gay after all. His mother's old boyfriend is now a new age guru who shills his books and videos in a ad covered van. Oliver later finds that his mom maybe cheating with the slick cheesy Graham (Paddy Considine). And it's up to him to stop it.

Broken into chapters that include a prologue and an epilogue, Submarine is a fresh, charming, and off the wall indie that may not translate well for mainstream American audiences. Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor are great as the emotionally repressed parents. Their idea of parenting is to have serious talks with their son which just creeps him out instead. Craig Roberts embodies Oliver's awkward nebbishness wrapped in the ever present toggled overcoat. The voice overs and courting scenes with Jordanna may be over long and worn out, but the humor will keep you paying attention from beginning to end.
(Review by reesa)




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13 Assassins







The samurai era is losing it's influence in feudal Japan while the country is at peace. But the growing power of Lord Naritsugu the sadist younger brother of the Shogun threatens the Shogunate. To draw attention to Naritsugu's unpardonable acts of lust and violence, Zusho Mamiya and Akashi Clan House elder performs harakiri on March 5, 1844. The Shogun's Council of Elders meets with Sir Doi who tells him the Shogun to settle the matter with his half brother quietly.

Shogun samurai Shinzaemom Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) living in the countryside is asked by Sir Doi (Mikijiro Hira) to find a solution. By law Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki) is a son of a Shogun and allowed a privilege of nobility. The Shogun had just made him his political advisor. Sir Doi fiercely believes that the country will be plunged into total chaos and ruin. Shimada has always sought a noble death that a peaceful Japan could not afford him. He takes on the mission to find a way to stop Naritsugu. Even though his samurai fear and dislike their Lord's sadistic behavior, they are bound by duty to serve him and protect him at all costs. Shimada's small team must hope that Naritsugu's 200 warriors have gotten soft on peace and no longer skilled with the sword. The 12 samurai embark on a training program that utilizes everything at hand, with no rules, and to serve their master. Hanbei, Naritsugu head samurai and Shimada's old sparring partner tries to dissuade their eventual confrontation.

The 12 warriors plan to ambush Naritsugu's caravan on their way to Edo. If he makes it to his clan's territory they can't touch him there. They encounter a few ronin samurai paid by Hanbei to slow them down on their way the village where they propose to make their trap. But they are easily defeated. In the surrounding forest they meet a mountain man who becomes the 13 member of their team.

Cult director Takashi Miike of Ichi the Killer and Audition offers some very visually disturbing gratuitous violence. Based on a true story the film is a remake of Elichi Kudo's 1963 black and white feature. From the opening scenes of seppuku, to the deformed victim and wanton murders of families by Naritsugu's evil, and to the last 45 minutes of the film devoted to the battle between the 13 against 200. There's arrows, swords, explosions and flaming cattle. The 13 Assassins is like a graphically intense Magnificent Seven. You honor each of the warriors before they meet their noble ends.
(Review by reesa)



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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Movies Scheduled for the Week of 6/5 - 6/11

Thanks to y'all for your restraint bartering passes last week. So if you don't mind, lets keep it going. Sign up for those newsletters, theaters, radio stations. Go to pass pickups. Enter contests. Most likely you will not have to mooch from anyone for what you need.

Now for the rant, because what's a Sunday without a rant? Please do not enter a contest using different email addresses. When you win more than one and you end up not being able to use it you are taking the pass from someone who may have really wanted to attend. Plus, those websites are on this list keeping an eye on who is bartering passes to screenings that they are not going to use. Misuse of this system will result in your entries being banned by those movie partners. You have been warned! Just saying.

June 5 - 11, 2011

Sun
6/5

Mon
6/6

Tue
6/7

7:00 pm
Courageous
Cinemark West Plano

7:00 pm
LARRY CROWNE
Cinemark Legacy Plano

7:30 pm
Super 8
Cinemark 17

Wed
6/8

7:00 pm
LARRY CROWNE
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

7:30 pm
Beautiful Boy
Angelika Film Center Dallas

7:30 pm
Friends With Benefits
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

7:30 pm
Beginners
Angelika Plano

Thu
6/9

7:30 pm
Chinatown
Magnolia

Fri
6/10

Sat
6/11







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Friday, June 3, 2011

X-Men:First Class




Ripped from the last X-Men movie, it's a replay of the 1944 Poland concentration camp where the young Erik Lehnsherr demonstrates a unique ability by bending an iron fence. What we didn't see then is that it brings him to the attention of a Nazi scientist in the camp, who viscously attempts to bring out Erik's power which only demonstrates itself when he is angry. Meanwhile a young Charles Xavier finds a young girl in his kitchen stealing food. He surprises her by reading her mind, and she shape shifts to her normal blue scaled self. Raven and Charles agree to be the best of friends.

Later in 1962 a grown up Erik is searching for the scientist who is now going by the name of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon who is a delight as a badguy), the leader of the Hellfire Club, a secret society bent on taking over the world. Shaw as it turns out is also a mutant who can absorb kinetic energy and turn it back against someone. He has surrounded himself with mutants Emma Frost (January Jones) a telepath who can change her body into diamond form, Azazel (Jason Flemyng) a demon who can transport, and Riptide who can create whirlwinds with his hands. CIA agent Dr. Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) realizes that an expert on mutants will be needed. She seeks out Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) who is celebrating his promotion to professor. Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) is a bit miffed at Charles' attraction to Moira. The government officials are initially skeptical of the existence of mutants until Charles and Raven prove their point. They are assigned to a CIA Man in Black (Oliver Platt) head of Division X. There they meet Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) who is ashamed of his mutant self and is seeking a cure. He also creates Cerebro the machine that enhances Charles' telepathic powers so they can recruit others in their mission to stop Sebastian Shaw. They bring in Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz) a stripper with firefly wings, Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones) who they call Banshee for his hypersonic screaming and flight, Darwin (Edi Gathegi) who has the power of reactive evolution and Alex Summers (Lucas Till) who they call Havok for his ability to discharge blasts of energy. They work with Charles and Raven who is now calling herself Mystique to handle their special powers. Sebastian finds out about the mutant training and decides to recruit them for his Hellfire club. When the mutants team up to fight Sebastian, they discover Erik who to this point had thought himself alone with his powers. He joins up with Charles and a great friendship is born.

The fifth installment of Marvel Comics X-Men series is directed by Matthew Vaughn director of Kick-Ass. Former X-Men director Bryan Singer wrote the story with the screenplay by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn. A vast improvement over X-Men Last Stand, the origins story is more about the characters and less FX driven. There are some nods to later movies and characters...look for a amusing cameo with Hugh Jackman. You will to suspend belief that handsome Fassbender will turn into Ian McKellen, and McAvoy will lose his hair. For those not familiar with the comic series, it informs the viewers of why the characters are at such cross hairs later on. As for the rest of the story the main plot shows Shaw and the Hellfire Club are responsible for the Cuban missile crisis. Star Trek rebooted the franchise by casting new actors in familiar roles and it worked. While this is not as strong or exciting redo as Star Trek this version of X-Men works as well as an enjoyable summer blockbuster. Definitely worth the popcorn.
(Review by reesa)



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Midnight in Paris




Gil Pender is a Hollywood movie screenwriter who is visiting Paris with his fiancé Inez and her parents who are there on business. He's enraptured with the magic of the city and it's historic influence on writers and artists. He impulsively wants to give up his successful life in California and indulge in a dream of living as a writer in Paris.

Woody Allen has found a replacement for his stuttering, whiny persona by casting dour faced Owen Wilson as his alter ego. Wilson looks like the Malibu version of Allen's NYC denizen with docker pants, tweedy jackets and ties. Rachel McAdams plays his gorgeous wife-to-be who is befuddled by Gil's attraction to Paris, much less enjoying romantic walks in the rain with him. She drags him along with her friend Paul Bates (Michael Sheen) an abrasive know it all who even argues with a Paris tour guide on Rodin's romantic relationships. Gil is caught in a rut with his first novel that has to do with nostalgia and he can't see to find his groove. It doesn't help that he is being distracted by outings with materialistic Inez and her interior designer mother looking at 18,000 Euro chairs to decorate their future home. One night while out for another competitive night with Paul and his girlfriend, Inez wants to continue the evening dancing. Gil bows out tired of Paul and decides to walk back to the hotel. Lost and slightly drunk, he sits a staircase enjoying the ambiance when an 20ish style taxi stops and the people inside beckon him to join them. Enticed by the free for all attitude and period fashion, they take him to a party where he meets Zelda (Alison Pill) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston). There begins a series of adventures into Gil's ideal period of time. What he considers the “Golden Age” where writers and artists hung out and influenced each other to the peak of creativity. He meets Hemingway (Corey Stoll) who is obsessed with guns and fist fighting, Salvador Dali (Adrian Brody) seeing rhinoceroses in everything, Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) who reads his novel giving him literary advice, and Adriana (Marion Cotillard) Picasso's girlfriend who Gil says takes Art Groupie to a whole other level.

The streets of Paris are romantically photographed and the first few minutes of the film are dedicated to a visual tour around the city. Allen doesn't indulge in any twinkly lights or other scifi gimmicks to signal the entry to another time except when clock strikes midnight. The famous characters that encounter Gil accept and take him at face value when he says he's a writer letting him enter their world. Wilson is perfect as the slightly spacey Gil who fits into his favorite time period like a glove. It's fun watching Gil giving Luis Buñuel (Adrien de Van as) a story suggestion for his next movie, or trying to calm a frantic Zelda with a Valium. Allen, who at 76 is still producing, writing and directing is an inspiration despite his tabloid personal life. He wanted to show Paris through his eyes, and it debuted at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in May. It's a lovely song to a beautiful city even in the rain.
(Review by reesa)



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