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, September 29, 2011

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil



Tucker and Dale are good old boys who are traveling in their funky pickup truck to their “vacation home” in the secluded wooded mountains. Along the way they encounter a SUV filled with college kids on break. The kids just figured out someone forgot the beer. They stop by a little gas station where they are creeped out by the hillbillies. Dale is smitten by one particular blond. With Tucker's encouragement attempts to make conversation with the young lady is met with fear. Their over active imaginations get the best of them as they envisioned these stereotypes from all the worst of the horror movies.

Dale (Tyler Labine) is shy, sweet and kinda pudgy with bad teeth who may be a secret genius. Tucker (Alan Tudyk) is more confident who Dale considers a lady charmer. They arrive at their run down shack that looks like it used to belong to a shaman with bones hanging around. Despite it's funky appearance they consider it a fixer upper and are quite happy. The first night the kids regale each other with scary stories. One being about the hillbilly in the woods who seeks revenge. With the mood set the rowdy drunk kids decide to go swimming. The pretty blond Allison (Katrina Bowden) does a dive and knocks herself out. Dale and Tucker who are in their boat fishing fetch her from the water. As they try and summon her friends by shouting “we've got your friend” the kids misunderstand afraid that Allison is being kidnapped. Allison wakes the next morning to Dale serving her pancakes to her confusion. A student psychology major she analyzes Dale's insecurities so when she realizes she is safe she makes friends with the odd duo. She even helps Dale dig a latrine. The college kids spy her doing this when they come to get her and immediately conclude that they are making her dig her own grave. This starts out a series of totally outrageous misadventures that befall everyone in a big bloody demise.

This feature debut from director Eli Craig, who is the son of Sally Field, wrote the script with Morgan Jurgenson. Production started in 2009 and after successful screenings on the festival circuit it is finally being release in theaters and VOD. It has a lot of elements of the typical frat boys and nubile coeds getting creatively eliminated but the genre bending storyline is unexpected and laugh out loud funny. Labine and Tudyk are hysterically baffled by the turn of the events that they start to believe the kids are acting out a suicide pact with each other. Tucker and Dale is probably one of the best horror comedies since Shaun of the Dead.
(Review by reesa)



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Machine Gun Preacher



Fresh out of prison, Sam Childers returns to his trailer park home where his wife, child and mother greet him. They don't have any smokes or beer and his wife has a real job now and no longer a stripper. The tightly wound Sam blows up when he discovers this new lifestyle is because his wife found God. He takes off for a night of boozing, drugs and violence. Waking to the reality that he may have actually killed someone, Sam asks his wife for help. Their church provides a born again attitude in Sam and now he's on a righteous path.

Gerard Butler plays the teeth gnashing Sam. His conversion as a born again turns him into a considerate, hard working husband to wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) and father to Paige (Ryan Campos/Madeline Carroll). A guest speaker at their church tells of the blight in the Sudan that is displacing it's populace. Sam who now owns a construction company decides to go there to help rebuild. Once there he wants to visit the countryside of the north where most of the fighting is taking place. He befriends the local freedom fighter Deng (Souleymane Sy Savane) who takes him north where he encounters the horrific effects of the war done to the people and the misplaced children whose villages have been burned and their families murdered. He also witnesses the physiological damage to the young boys who are forced to kill their parents and take up guns as rebels.

Sam returns home to Pennsylvania determined to do something to help. He decides to build a church and a orphanage in the northern war zone. When the LRA attacks he also takes up arms to defend the kids. Soon he's known as the white preacher whose reputation puts a price on his head. He also builds a church for those displaced at home. Soon he's the one preaching. Flying back and forth from the states and Africa takes it's toll on his family and his finances. Asking for help from local businesses that can not relate to events happening beyond their world. Sam's frustrations increase until he begins to lose his faith. After the overdose of his friend Donnie (Michael Shannon), Sam sells off his construction business and leaves his family to start a one man war on the LRA.

Director Marc Forster of Finding Neverland and the Kite Runner works from a script by Jason Keller which rushes through the events that shaped Sam Childers and focuses mostly on what one man had accomplished. The title of the film has a grindhouse movie flavor but it's nothing like you would expect. Sam's story begins in 2003 but outside of the daughter aging from a child to a teenager, there's no sense of time frame. The beginning of the movie is like a Cliff Note version of his life: prison guy, angry guy, maybe murdering guy, repentant guy, saved guy, working guy. One day he tells his wife he wants to go to Africa for a few weeks, and she says yes, you should do that. Done.

The filmmakers contrasted the difference between the two realities of Lynn shopping in a supermarket full of food, and Sam living in the camp with many hungry children. Sam shows pictures of the injured children to raise money from a car dealer who invites him to a party at his lush house with tons of excess. The violence perpetrated on the upon the region is graphically detailed. There were some families that brought young children to the screening which was probably ill advised. Hopefully they would be able to discuss with them and perhaps encourage them that they too could make a difference. Although the film plays like a propaganda film to raise funds for Childer's charity, one cannot deny the fact that awareness needs to be focused on these atrocities.
(Review by reesa)




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50/50



How many times have you wondered if that ache or lump under the skin is cancer. We consciously stay away from foods or conditions just because it may be carcinogenic It's the one big disease that everyone fears and it's so random in who it attacks. It is especially heinous when it attacks young people. Written by Will Reiser about his own cancer diagnosis in his early 20's and director Jonathan Levine this film offers up a touching and humorous account of what it's like when told one has a 50 percent chance of survival.

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) notices some pain while running. His doctor discovers he's got a rare spinal cancer that doesn't offer much hope, but sets him up for chemo therapy. Adam works at Seattle's public radio station with his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) who is a crass and awkward wing man who doesn't like Adam's girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard). That's because even though she's beautiful she's kinda shallow. Dealing with someone's illness becomes about her instead. Adam's co-workers respond with the typical awkwardness. His parents, especially his mother (Angelica Huston) wants to smother and protect. To deal with all these conflicting emotions that seem to be coming from everyone else but him he sees student psychologist Katherine (Anna Kendrick). Adam is her second patient and her earnest and sympathetic approach is often uncomfortable. Kyle on the other hand as his best friend couldn't be more opposite in personalities. Adam is more introspective and reserved, Kyle is a foul mouthed womanizer. Yet he has a great supportive bromance with Adam all the while seeing the opportunity to use the cancer card as a way to pick up girls.

Gordon-Levitt gives a great nuanced performance of someone who is facing something really devastating with grace and compassion without getting over sentimental and maudlin. Anna Kendrick's Katherine shows a quieter, inexperienced and more thoughtful version of her character of Up In The Air. She's more bungling, and can't seem to master that tender doctor/patient assurances. Angelica Houston as the smothering mom reminds everyone that she's sorely missing on the big screen. While the subject of cancer doesn't seem like it should be treated so lightly, 50/50 gives us an view that just surviving day by day is a chance to enjoy and endure. Adam's friendships with other's getting chemo, Phillip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer as Alan and and Mitch puts a face on the disease and gives him strength. Bryce Dallas Howard has the harder part as the girlfriend who can't handle having a sick boyfriend much less the after affects of his chemo treatments.

A movie about cancer is probably not a big draw but will hopefully not be missed as it is an amusing film which does all the right things by displaying the right balance with spot on performances. There is only one slight complaint with the timeline. You don't get a sense of how many months, weeks, days these events take place. The ending will also not disappoint or have anyone needing a box of tissue. After all Will Reiser has been in remission for years and with this being a comedy a tragic ending would be out of place. It also shows that people who are afflicted with such a dire disease don't lose their sense of humor, there's no daily emotional outburst and we are all living the best we can.
(Review by reesa)



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What's Your Number?




A magazine article states that on average most women sleep with 10.5 men before they find the right one. Ally decides to make a list of her past intimacies and her number turns out to 19, almost double the average. Determined not to sleep with another guy, she plans to make number 20 the last one and the one she will marry.

Anna Faris plays the slightly ditzy and charming Ally who just got fired from her marketing job. Her boss (Joel McHale) who has a weird peccadillo of smelling his fingers which is creepily explained later in the movie turns out to be number 19 after her sister's engagement party. Disgusted with herself she tries to find a loophole by thinking it doesn't count if she re-dates an old boyfriend since she already had sex with him. Her neighbor across the hall offers his help because he comes from a family of cops and knows how to search for people. Colin (Chris Evans) is a bit of a horn dog with a different woman in his apartment each night. He agrees to help Ally in exchange for letting him hide out in her apartment until the overnight guest leaves. They are able to track down several past lovers all with varying results. Like her sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) tells her, there's a reason they are “ex” boyfriends. Her high school prom date is probably the most promising as Jake (Dave Annable) is besides handsome and rich is what her mother (Blythe Danner) considers the best prospect for her. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which guy is going to turn out to be the right one.

Based on the novel 20 Times A Lady by Karyn Bosnak with the screenplay by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden, it's directed by Mark Mylod better known for helming TV's Entourage and Shameless. Which is probably why there's a certain TV sitcom timing to the pacing of the film. It's filled with flashbacks of her past encounters which validates that Ally is pretty much clueless. The opening sequence of her sneaking off to preen before her bedmate wakes up smacks of Bridesmaids. There's also plenty of nudity with Ally running around in skimpy underwear, Colin just holding a towel on his crotch, skinny dipping in Boston Harbor and a groan inducing shot of McHale's backside bending over. These scenes seem to be put in there because they needed to keep your attention.

Anna Faris a competent comic actress gets to mug and pratfall while portraying a quirky young woman who has trouble picking men. Why she can't see the obvious is supposed to keep our interest until the light clicks on. Look for cameos by Zachary Quinto as the veggie cyclist and Andy Samberg as the pimple faced puppeteer. Her other boyfriends include Anthony Mackie, Martin Freeman, and Chris Pratt. Ed Begley, Jr shows up for the wedding as the free thinking father. The cast is very competent, attractive and their earnestness makes one really want to like this movie. There are some amusing moments but in the long run it's an afternoon diversion that's totally makes you forget your number.
(Review by reesa)




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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Movies Scheduled for the Week of 9/25 - 10/1

Multiple screenings of the same movies makes it easier for everyone to get in, so hopefully you will not be turned away this week. It's the last week of September and soon the Oscar race movies will be trotted out for our pleasure and amusement. All you newbies make sure you are signed up for all the newsletters, websites, and GOFOBO to make it easier to obtain those passes. The link section of the group pages has all the addresses you need to sign up. So do that first before you start begging from someone who made the effort themselves.

Remember not to try and get passes for those movies that you will not be able to attend. It's unfair to those who really want to go. Need we say it again folks...say it with me...please respond to the person and not the to the whole group when negotiating for passes.

September 25 - October 1, 2011

Sun
9/25

Mon
9/26

7:00 pm
Real Steel
AMC Northpark

7:30 pm
50/50
AMC Northpark

7:30 pm
Machine Gun Preacher
Angelika Dallas

Tue
9/27

7:00 pm
Real Steel
Rave Motion Pictures Ridgmar 13

7:00 pm
How to Make it In America
AMC Northpark

7:30 pm
West Side Story
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

7:30 pm
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Inwood Theater

7:30 pm
50/50
tba - Dallas

7:30 pm
The Double
Angelika Dallas

Wed
9/28

7:00 pm
50/50
tba - Dallas

7:00 pm
Real Steel
AMC Northpark

7:30 pm
Machine Gun Preacher
Angelika Dallas

Thu
9/29

7:00 pm
What's Your Number
AMC Grapevine

7:30 pm
Machine Gun Preacher
tba - Dallas

10:00 pm
Dream House
AMC Northpark

Fri
9/30

Sat
10/1




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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moneyball



National baseball team franchises are run like everything else in this world by the bottom line. The popular team has the big money behind it to offer the best players the largest inflated salaries. Scouts who are responsible for finding new talent are outbid by teams with better offers. The General Manager barters and trades players like commodities. When the GM for the Oakland A's suggests a new way of rebuilding his team, it ruffles the feathers of the ways things have been done over the past century of baseball. It also eventually changed the way the owners and managers do business.

Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) was a promising ball player that was headed to a full ride at Stanford when scouts came calling offering him a career if he signed with them now instead of going to college. He choose the “show” a move that he may have regretted after his baseball career started to wane. He became a scout for the Oakland A's working his way up to the position of General Manager. After the A's budget was reduced during a losing year he brings on a special assistant that he stole from the Cleveland Indians. In his first job after graduating from Yale Peter Brand (pseudonym for Paul DePodesta played by Jonah Hill) is now he's on the way to the bay area in California as the assistant general manager of the A's. He uses his computer analytical skills to assess the upcoming ball players and the present team on how they play the game. From studying how to pitch, hit and run, to which farm team players show the most promise even though their quirks keep them from being recruited by anyone else. Despite disagreements by long time scouts and the team manager Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) the system seems to work and the A's go from losing everything to having the most wins in a row in baseball history.

Directed by Bennett Miller who replaced Steven Soderbergh when the script called for interviews with real life players. Soderbergh had replaced David Frankel due to scheduling with Contagion. The script was rewritten by Aaron Sorkin then by Steven Zallian. Money Ball offers up one of the best movies about behind the scenes of baseball that even non fans can appreciate. Pitt who fought tooth and nail to bring the book by Michael Lewis to the big screen gives a fine nuance performance. Like Robert Redford he's is blessed with boyish good looks that cannot be defeated while trying to look “normal”. His Billy is confident, hyper GM who believes that not being friends with the players will keep him from feeling bad when he has to send them back down or trade them. Aspects of his job are relayed in the his training of Peter who is given the task of telling a player he's not playing that day and on his way to another team. Smart, funny, informative and entertaining would not be the first thought regarding a movie about baseball, but this one hits it straight out of the park.


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Killer Elite



In 1980 Mexico a group of former special force agents are running a hit on a motorcade. Danny and his mentor Hunter have done so many of these kinds of jobs that they are casually eating iguana tacos before the job. One of the shooters after delivering the fatal shot, notices there's a child in the car. The pause causes him to get shot himself. Danny realizes that he's had enough and wants to quit. Based on a true story from the 1991 novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes is directed by Gary McKendry who also did the screenplay with Matt Sherring.

A year after Mexico, Danny (Jason Statham) is living in a trailer in the Australian countryside and dating a woman from a neighboring farm. One day he gets picture of his former mentor Hunter (Robert De Niro) who has been kidnapped by an oil sheik in a ploy to get Danny who is known to be the best in the business. Two days later he's on a plane to Saudi Arabia. The sheik wants to avenge the deaths of his 3 older sons who were killed by the British Special Forces. Hunter was set up for the job by a broker (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who fronts a travel agency for clients who want to contract out black operations and they get a percentage. Danny assembles his old team of Davies (Dominic Purcell) and Meier (Aden Young) . Davies had once tried to get into the SAS but they kicked him out. He uses his personal knowledge to ask around which gets the attention of their former leader Spike (Clive Owen). He takes the information to “The Feather Men”(because their touch is light) a group of businessmen who are ex-SAS and now manipulate key people around the world for their own agenda. Despite Spike's concerns that three former Special Agents are being targeted the committee considers it the price for their long terms goals which is the control of the oil. Spike, like a mad dog without a leash decides to take care of it on his own. Thus begins a cat and mouse game as Danny and company while seeking out their targets, they become targets themselves . Along the way they unearth the reason for hits and how they are all connected.

The book was supposed to be based on actual events but there's been some controversy that the book was fictional masked as historical. In any event it was a good excuse to bring three very masculine actors together to duke it out. Statham actually does a decent job having something to do other than his typical fisticuffs. He's got a love interest in Anne (Yvonne Strahovski) who doesn't understand what he's hiding back on the ranch. She really has nothing to do besides be hostage bait and to make Danny look more human. There's also the weasly younger son (Firass Dirani) of the sheik who you know you can't trust. And it probably was, but for sake of Statham and Owen it's worth the 2 hours. Di Nero has minimal screen time but he makes it up in the end. The cheesy dialogue includes things like “Killing is easy, living is the hard part”. But it goes with the period feeling of the 80's without cell phones or computers tracking everyone's move. There's lots of excitement, some very cool fight scenes and a fairly satisfying ending, but somewhere along the way you may think this has been done before and better.
(Review by reesa)



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Dolphin's Tale



There are several sea creatures that are always popular on TV and in movies like penguins, seals, whales and especially dolphins. The intelligent species makes humans sympathetic to their antics and blights. This particular tale is based on a true story of a dolphin who was caught in a crab net at 3 months old had to have her tale amputated to save her life. The Scholastic non fiction picture book entitled Winter's Tale was published in 2007. Even today Winter the dolphin is a popular feature at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and a live feed on a web camera lets people visit in real time online.

This dramatized version lets us see the dolphin through the eyes of Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) a middle school student who has some issues due to an absentee father and his closest cousin who just joined the army is being sent to war. His mom, Lorraine (Ashley Judd) is a nurse and like every working single mom has to juggle the job and teacher conferences. One day Sawyer finds a dolphin on the beach of Clearwater, FL dangled in nets and in distress. While someone calls for help, he tries to comfort the frightened creature by imitating it's whistles. The marine rescue team shows up and the vet's daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehisdorff) invites him to check up on the dolphin later.

The aquarium has seen it's better days. The funding from government sources have been cut short and the board of directors are contemplating selling it to a multi-millionaire (think Virgin Airlines Richard Branson) who wants to build a hotel on the site. In the meantime they remain open giving school tours and rehabilitating wounded sea life. Winter's injuries are quite severe as she lost both tail flukes and the caudal peduncle had been severed. The aquarium vet Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.) has to amputate her tail. As the dolphin recovers she must be kept afloat with human handlers 24/7 so she won't drown. Obviously stressed, Sawyer seems to be the only one that is able to calm her. Soon he is skipping school to hang about the aquarium to help the dolphin and become friends with the vet's daughter Hazel. As Winter learns to swim again, the muscles and angle she must contort her body to do so is detrimental to her health. Sawyer meets the prosthetic doctor at the VA hospital where his cousin is recuperating from his war injury. Dr. McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) is challenged to create something which after many starts and stops is able to get the dolphin swimming again.

Director Charles Martin Smith is known mostly from his acting roles worked from the a script by Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi. The film also features Kris Kristoffrson as Reed Haskett the grandfather of the clan. Frances Sternhagen as the head of the aquarium board. In reality Dr. McCarthy is a composite of 2 men who worked for 4 years creating more that 50 tails for the growing dolphin free of charge. Their development of a special gel to help fit the prosthetic on the tail has helped human amputee patients. Winter has also motivated many other people with disabilities who are coming to terms with their injuries. Dolphin Tale is an inspirational film that doesn't hit you over the head in proselytizing or cuteness. The two young leads are believable and amazingly not annoying. The central theme of overcoming the hardships that life serves you actually makes one applaud and leave the theater actually feeling good about oneself.
(Review by reesa)




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Abduction




Team Jacob fans rejoice, there's a movie out that features wolf pack boy Taylor Lautner in his own starring feature. Under the direction of action movie master John Singleton with a script by Shawn Christensen, and surrounded by name actors, Taylor is able to boost his teen appeal beyond the Twilight series. Playing Nathan Price a high school student who suddenly finds out this his life has been a lie, he is on the run with his girlfriend Karen from enemies unknown.

Nathan is a reckless, athletic, and otherwise typically awkward teen who loves to party like the best of them. He lives with his folks Kevin and Mara (Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello) in a Pittsburgh suburb. He also sees a psychologist Dr. Bennett (Sigourney Weaver) for insomnia and these disturbing reoccurring dreams. His dad puts him through some strenuous fight training, especially after he's caught waking on the lawn after a party. Kevin keeps stressing that no matter what, Nathan must use his brain and instinct to overcome all unexpected situations. Oh, and he's grounded for 2 weeks.

A school assignment pits him with the lovely Karen (Lily Collins who will be seen next in Snow White). They have been neighbors for years and Nathan has a secret crush on her. The school work is to do a report on missing children. They find a site that ages a child to what they would look like years later. Nathan finds a kid that looks like him and when aged is a dead ringer. Confused, he finds the same shirt in their storage. Lily poses why there are no pictures of Nathan before he was 3 years old. The hit on the website rings alarms on some government computers and some others unknown agency that are also listening in. Soon Nathan's house gets some unexpected visitors and his dad telling him to run. Trained agents are after him and he doesn't know who to trust except for Karen. There's Frank Burton (Alfred Molina) the CIA agent who is purring to help him come in and there's Viktor Kozlow (Michael Nyqvist from the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) as the Euro evil assassin. Victor assembled a small army of leather jacketed henchmen who seem to take out the CIA agent without too much problem.

At 19 years old, Taylor has some kids TV programs and the Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl on his resume. The Twilight series has catapulted him to to the limelight that this action role that will be sure to bring out the target audience that will enjoy the Jason Borne the teen years escapades. It shows off Taylors' years of training that earned him gold medals as a youngster. His idol status will hopefully not get in the way of long film career, but before that happens, he needs to find another projects that doesn't depend on wires and special effects. Like his co-stars Kristen Steward and Robert Pattinson, he will have to make some better and more interesting choices for his next project.

Singleton hasn't directed a film in six years, the last one being Four Brothers in 2005. The action shots are well executed and exciting. The pacing moves along nicely with only a few patches along the way. One really wants to like this movie, and it does what it's supposed to do. The young people are as likable and pretty as they can be just wish they were better at it.
(Review by reesa)



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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Movies Scheduled for the Week of 9/18 - 9/24

It's nice to see the Texas Theater on our list of places for screenings. It's a nice venue, historic and fun going to the "cliff" as in Oak Cliff for movies. Check out the other great movies they have scheduled at http://thetexastheatre.com/

Word of note to folks trading for movies. Please don't ask to trade for movies that still have contests pending. Go enter the contest yourself. Don't enter if you do not intend on going to see it. Granted the unforeseeable often happen, and thank you for sharing with others. But don't enter just for the sake of entering. That makes no sense.

If you have questions on a screening, write to the moderators first
before sending it to the group, because if it's not list appropriate
then it will be deleted.


September 18 - 24, 2011

Sun
9/18

Mon
9/19

7:00 pm
Dolphin Tale
Cinemark West Plano

Tue
9/20

7:30 pm
Money Ball
AMC Northpark

7:30 pm
Killer Elite
Texas Theater

7:30 pm
Footloose
tba - Dallas

Wed
9/21

7:00 pm
Dolphin Tale
Cinemark West Plano

7:00 pm
Real Steel
Hulen Movie Tavern

Thu
9/22

7:30 pm
Money Ball
Cinemark West Plano

Fri
9/23

8:30 pm
Megamind
Main Street Downtown Rowlett

Sat
9/24



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Friday, September 16, 2011

Reviews by Wyatt Head

Mr. Popper's Penguins- This film had the best use of comedy because it was cute, it had Jim Carrey and above all it wasn't R rated.



(this one is from the performance that the Mungle Show was giving passes to if your interested) Brian Stokes Mitchell- He began with a little mishap in his voice and I thought that this was going to be throughout the whole show but I was mistaken because this man belted out across the rainbows and ended with a smash hit!



Moneyball- Moneyball is certainly not a bad use of money. This film displayed creativeness in its dialogue, comedy, and emotional linkage with the audience. What I loved about this film the most was its connection between the two leads Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Brad and Jonah portrayed a pair that was truly buddy-buddy, not just on camera. The audience could see the core of the film’s heartfelt story between these two men. Moneyball by far, with its amazing message, brought out the ball, tossed it in the air, and smacked it passed the fence in a way which the ball will never stop rolling. The momentum of this film in memory will never end.


I Don’t Know How She Does It- This film is cute, funny, and smart in its way of releasing that picture of a stereotypical mother to an audience. “Don’t Know How…..” should be on every mother’s checklist.


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Drive



Ryan Gosling is having one terrific year with Crazy Stupid Love, Drive and up coming Ides of March. In Drive he plays a character only known as Driver, a stunt man who moonlights as a wheelman for small time crime. He gives the criminals a list of conditions that must be met that include not carrying a weapon, he is only driving and they have five minutes before he will drive away. Director Nicolas Winding Refn who did the love it or hate it Valhalla Rising and the amazing Bronson harks back to the 70's movie making style with an atmospheric, terse, uber-violent homage. Based on a book by James Sallis the screenplay was written by Hossein Amini who also did Wings of the Dove and The Four Feathers.

The Chevy Impala is the most popular car in California so it's almost anonymous. It's the best car to use for certain jobs. After telling the 2 masked men his conditions as a getaway driver, he sets his watch then leans back to listen to the basketball game on the radio. Shots are fired, and the culprits run back to the car just in time before he takes off. The driver knows his stuff and runs a cat and mouse with the police until he eventually pulls into a parking garage with exiting basketball game fans, gets out of the car, pulls his cap down then walking away with the masked guys still in the car. During the day he's an unassuming and somewhat tormented young man who works as a mechanic with his friend Shannon (Bryan Cranston) and as a Hollywood stunt driver. Shannon wants to use Driver for stock car races but he needs a financial backer which he gets in gangster Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) who is looking for a legitimate enterprise. When Driver refuses to shake his hand because they are dirty, Bernie says “so are mine”.

Driver is attracted to his new neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her small son after he helps her out with her broken car. He takes them for a joy ride in the LA river basin creating a family moment and becoming a father figure for her son. Carey's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is soon released from jail and although he's thankful for the 2nd chance with his wife, he's also suspicious of the relationship he senses not only between Driver and Irene but with his son too. He gets Driver involved with a pawn store robbery to pay off some protection money he owes from prison. In the classic heist goes wrong mode it ends up connected to Bernie and his sadistic partner Nino (Ron Perlman) a Jewish man who wants to be an Italian gangster. The story goes into overdrive as various gangsters go after some missing money putting Driver and Irene in the middle. There's a great scene in an elevator that pretty much defines the movie.

It's been reported that Gosling was driving Refn home listening to the radio when REO Speedwagon's “Can't Fight This Feeling” caused him to sing along and tear up. It gave him the inspiration for the story of a guy who drives around listening the music because it's the only way he can feel something. Very little information is given about Driver, only that he showed up at Shannon's garage five years earlier. Gosling plays driver with stoic stillness. His pale eyes reveal little so when we see him with Irene and her child Gosling without dialogue can convey his need for human connection. Actually none of the characters are totally fleshed out. It's like we as human beings are ships in the night and we only know the surface, beyond that are the expectations that we project. Driver drives as it's the only place in the world he has full control while chaos reigns outside.

Refn won Best Director at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival receiving a 15 minute standing ovation from the crowd. Refn claims influences from 1968's Bullitt and there seems to be a strong touch of Walter Hill's 1978 movie Driver with Ryan O'Neal. This film style is Euro film noir, with edgy visually cool action sequences enhanced by a pulse pounding techno sound score by Johnny Jewel. The film is dedicated to Alejandro Jodorowsky.
(Review by reesa)



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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Straw Dogs




Straw Dogs are a Chinese ceremonial objects which are dressed up, put on the altar then tossed away when it's over. Which is how David, a Hollywood screenwriter describes the redneck denizens that live in the small town of Blackwater, MS. He and his actress wife Kate are returning to her family home after her dad passed away. The old stone farmhouse is in need of repair after a hurricane. They plan to use the FEMA money to fix the house while David works on his next script about Stalingrad. Her celebrity status doesn't cause much of stir because the locals remember her as a popular cheerleader who used to date Charlie the town alpha male who doesn't consider her marital status a deterrent for him to try to pick up where they left off.

James Marsden and Kate Bosworth play David and Kate the attractive young couple who drive their '67 Jaguar XKE into town,try to buy lunch with a debit card (they take cash only) and spotty cell service. James wanting to make a good impression on the town's people tries to be friendly despite the snide comments layered in southern hospitality. He's shocked by the violent behavior of the town's football coach (James Woods) whose loud abrasive manner is considered an annoying eccentricity. David hires Charlie (Alexander Karsgard of True Blood) and his friends to do repairs on the barn roof. Although their presumptuous rude ways disturb his writing, he's determined to try and be polite not only for the sake of his wife but because he's also a pacifist. Kate tells David the workmen are ogling her during her jogs, and he suggests she wear a bra. It ticks her off so much that she teases the guys with a strip tease from the window which seems out of character and merely a device to set up what happens because it it. Kate would like David to become more aggressive especially when they find the family cat hanging in their closet. Instead David allows the guys to take him hunting which they set up so that Charlie can go back and to confront Kate. There's also the subplot with the local pedophile Jeremy (Dominic Purcell) who raises the ire of the coach who's 15 year old daughter keeps enticing him. The coach is so out of hand even the local sheriff, the only resident of color it seems, can't quell his over the top insanity. Considering the stereotypical attitudes of the local rednecks it's a wonder he survived so long.

Forty years ago Sam Peckinpah's controversial film joined a list of other titles that year like Clockwork Orange, The French Connection and Dirty Harry which displayed an alarming increase of violence. The rape scene was particularly disturbing because of it's blatant debasement of women. Yet it's still considered one of his best movies outside of the Wild Bunch. But ask today's audience and no one is aware of this or other classic movies made in this era. The changes from the original and the remake are the location from England to America's deep south, David from mathematician to screenwriter, the wife Amy went from just a wife to Kate an actress, but the other characters are pretty much the same. It's been slicked down, cleaned up and recycled for today's audiences who are just coming for the shock value of the violence in the last act. It just lacks the depth of the relationship so emotionally resonate in the original movie. The one thing it does retain is the central theme of a person's ability to rise to the occasion when threatened. So one should rise to Netflix and rent the 1971 version.
(Review by reesa)





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I don't Know How She Does It



Kate Reddy is a busy working mom trying to balance her demanding job with that of her family. That includes mashing up a store bought dessert in a pie plate to make it look like home made for her daughter's bake sale at school. She and her single mom friend Allison, have to compete with the stay at home wonder women who have all the time in the world to dote on their kids and their personal trainers. Allison Pearson's guilty pleasure 2002 novel which was centered in London was changed to Boston where Kate Reddy's diary entries were changed to interview snippets with various characters.

Kate (Sarah Jessica Parker) lives in what looks like the Beacon Hill area of Boston. Nice brownstones that in reality are multi million dollar town homes. It's like her character from Sex in the City got married, moved to New England to raise a family. She's the same quirky character only now she talks hedge funds and wears more conservative clothes. Her devoted husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) puts up with her constant travel picking up the slack. Kate says that if a choice came down to kicking out her husband or the nanny, she would keep the nanny played by Gossip Girl's Jessica Szohr because good help is hard to find. Her boss Clark (Kelsey Grammer) offers her a chance to work with Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan) who had read a proposal she had drawn up and he wants to develop it. This means that Kate will have to spend long stretches in New York. It's hard for today's men to keep their wives from pursuing their own careers so Richard gives his blessings. The pressures of her absence weighs on Kate. Even after all these years in the business world there's still an inequality in place between the battle of the sexes. As her mother in law Marla Reddy (Jane Curtin) tells her, men were expected to go to work and women took care of the homefront. Simple and less complicated. Kate is feeling guilty for loving her job and being good at it even though it takes her away from her family.

Rehashing the Supermom syndrome for the umpteenth time could have fallen into the Lifetime TV movie of the week trap. Director Douglas McGrath (Emma and Infamous) and adapted to the screen by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) serves up a strong, contemporary clever script that works well in small doses. It's pretty formulaic with a bit of monogamous romance, that even Jack's confession of attraction to Kate can't falter. The supporting cast have the more interesting roles like Seth Myers as the office tool, Chris Bunce. The best is Olivia Munn as Kate's Jr. analyst and work robot Momo who steals her scenes. Christina Hendricks desperately needs her own staring movie is wasted as Kate's best friend Allison who mostly fills in the little sound bytes on what is to be a woman in today's working world. All women will be able to easily relate to Kate's statistic that 64% of women of small children do not sleep through the night. She creates mental lists of the things that need to be done. As we all know that it's a never ending list that never gets done. So if this film is on your list and you missed it, there's always Redbox.
(Review by reesa)






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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Movies Scheduled for the Week of 9/11 - 9/17

There's a lot of screenings for which we don't have theater locations. So if any of y'all know please let us know so we can fill in the calendar.

The way GOFOBO seems to be working with this new format, it seems to gobble up those that you release back to the stream. So it may not be advantageous for anyone else hoping to pick them up.

Remember you should all sign up with the various theaters, newsletters, radio stations and websites if you want to movie passes and not have to beg others for theirs. And if you can't make a screening please don't enter the contests to get them as a trading hostage for a different screenings.

September 11 - 17, 2011

Sun
9/11

Mon
9/12

7:30 pm
I Don't Know How She Does It.
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

7:30 pm
Money Ball
tba-Arlington

7:30 pm
All She Can
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

Tue
9/13

7:30 pm
Straw Dogs
Angelika Film Center Dallas

Wed
9/14

7:30 pm
Money Ball
AMC Northpark

Thu
9/15

7:30 pm
Drive
tba - Dallas

7:30 pm
I Don't Know How She Does It
tba - Dallas

7:30 pm
50/50
tba - Dallas

8:00 pm
Abduction
tba-Plano

Fri
9/16

12:00 am
FAMILY GUY Season Premiere

8:30 pm
Toy Story 3
Main Street Downtown Rowlett

Sat
9/17

7:30 pm
Waiting for Guffman
Strauss Center Winspear- Downtown Dallas


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Friday, September 9, 2011

ABDUCTED IN DALLAS!!

SEE LIONSGATE’S ABDUCTION ALONG WITH THE LIVE STREAM OF THE HOLLYWOOD PREMIERE IN YOUR TOWN



ABDUCTION IN THEATER EXCLUSIVE VIP FAN PREMIERES TO BE HOSTED IN 20 CITIES ON SEPTEMBER 15th



August 24th, 2011- Lionsgate and local theater partners will be offering Exclusive VIP Fan Premieres for the upcoming action-thriller ABDUCTION, starring Taylor Lautner. On September 15th at 6pm PST / 9pm EST, ABDUCTION will screen at VIP Fan Events in 20 cities across the United States where event attendees will be treated to a live stream of the Hollywood red carpet premiere on a big screen near them, followed by a sneak preview screening of the film before it hits theaters on September 23rd.



19 of the 20 cities have already been selected, but the final host city will be determined by Facebook fans. If there isn't a VIP Fan Event already scheduled nearby, fans will be able to demand one in their city by voting on the ABDUCTION VIP Fan Premiere tab on the Facebook page. The final city will be chosen at random and announced on September 6th – cities are entered into the drawing once for each vote they receive, so the most enthusiastic city demanding their own screening has the best chance of winning.



Tickets for the VIP Fan Premieres will go on sale Monday, September 12th at 10am PST / 1 pm EST through the VIP Fan Premiere Facebook page. The cost for the event is $30, and includes a ticket to the streaming of the premiere from Hollywood followed by a screening of ABDUCTION before it comes out in theaters, plus a VIP Fan Pack including a Limited Edition VIP Locker Poster, Limited Edition VIP Lanyard, an ABDUCTION t-shirt and an ABDUCTION iPhone skin.



The 19 announced cities are:

Atlanta, GA

Boston, MA

Chicago, IL

Dallas, TX

Denver, CO

Detroit, MI

Houston, TX

Las Vegas, NV

Miami, FL

New York, NY

Orlando, FL

Philadelphia, PA

Phoenix, AZ

Pittsburg, PA

Sacramento, CA

San Diego, CA

San Francisco, CA

Seattle, WA

Washington DC, VA



About the film

Taylor Lautner stars as a young man unwittingly thrust into a deadly world of covert espionage in Lionsgate's action-thriller, ABDUCTION, directed by John Singleton.


For as long as he can remember, Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner) has had the uneasy feeling that he's living someone else's life. When he stumbles upon an image of himself as a little boy on a missing persons website, all of Nathan's darkest fears come true: he realizes his parents are not his own and his life is a lie, carefully fabricated to hide something more mysterious and dangerous than he could have ever imagined.

Just as he begins to piece together his true identity, Nathan is targeted by a team of trained killers, forcing him on the run with the only person he can trust, his neighbor, Karen (Lily Collins). Every second counts as Nathan and Karen race to evade an army of assassins and federal operatives. But as his opponents close in, Nathan realizes that the only way he'll survive – and solve the mystery of his elusive biological father – is to stop running and take matters into his own hands.


ABDUCTION stars Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, Denzel Whitaker, Michael Nyqvist and Sigourney Weaver. The film is directed by John Singleton and written by Shawn Christensen. Lionsgate presents, a Gotham Group / Vertigo Entertainment / Quick Six Entertainment production, a Lionsgate Production, in association with Mango Farms.



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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Warrior




September is neither summer blockbuster nor fall/winter Oscar potential time for movie releases. Therefore Warrior will hopefully have a well deserved chance of dominating the theater screens as the sleeper hit of the year. A well tuned story of estranged brothers who are Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters that will battle for a world title. A taut well acted emotionally riveting story that exceeds the Rocky-esque genre to a whole other level.

Thomas Hardy had found mainstream attention through Inception and will soon be seen as a villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. He plays Tommy Reardon who comes back to his childhood home in Pittsburgh after 14 years to ask his father to be his trainer. His dad Paddy (Nick Nolte) had trained him since the age of five to be an Olympic class wrestler. Paddy's alcoholism tore the family apart to the point where Tommy moved away with his mother and his older brother Brenden (Joel Edgerton) refuses to speak with his dad except through mail or the phone. Tommy has no desire to make amends with his dad and rebuffs Paddy's 1000 day sobriety. Tommy's stint in the Marines is the only thing that he considers family. On the other side of Tommy's sullen loner wolf is Brenden, the happy family man with his high school sweetheart Tess (Jennifer Morrison) and their two young girls. He used to fight for the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and now works as a high school physics teacher. They have hit on hard times and it looks like their dream home is facing foreclosure. To raise some money Brendon does a “smoker” a parking lot fight, which causes him to lose his teaching job. The only way out is to train for Sparta a winner takes all fight with a $5 million purse. It's a championship that will bring together the best of the MMA fighters for the ultimate showdown. Unbeknown to each other that they are training for the same fight.

The trailer for this movie doesn't do it justice. The whole gist of the story seems like a rehash of everything you may have seen before only using better actors. Yes, it can be predictable, but don't be fooled. The pacing, the storyline, the unique camera angles by cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi give you the perspective of being up close and personal to the lives of these three damaged people. One feels like a voyeur peering over the shoulder or looking through the wires of the caged arena. The use of the TV commentators narrate the action in the typical hype camouflaging the turmoil happening behind the battles. The musical soundtrack by Mark Ishman emphasizes the powerfully emotional climatic scenes but without the distracting radio playable theme song. Paddy's audio book of Moby Dick frames the metaphor for the characters' unbridled natures by fighting the way the world is set up, thinking they can subdue the chaos.

Director Gavin O'Conner retold the story of the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team's gold medal win in Miracle. He's also explored the complicated family of New York City cops in the gritty Pride and Glory. O'Conner wrote the screenplay with Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorfman using the combination of one of the fastest growing sports and a extremely dysfunctional family dynamic on the verge of imploding. The performances by all the actors involved are amazing, but most particularly Nick Nolte whose own troubles with abuse make the repentant Paddy Conlon so raw and real that it should be awarded with a supporting actor nod. Then there's the actual bouts. The Warrior will do for MMA fighting what Raging Bull and Rocky did for boxing.
(Review by reesa)



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Bellflower



There are times when one is feeling out of touch with today's youth culture when a well touted film loved by the festival crowds completely makes no sense and frustrates this particular viewer. The trailer advertises Road Warrior flame throwers and fast cars then ends up being something else entirely which is more confusing. Director/writer/actor Evan Glodell using a one of a kind camera from vintage camera parts creating a Hipstamatic image that is fascinating to watch even with the purposely distracting dirty lens.

Two friends with the fantasy about living in a post apocalyptic world where they want to be as Lord Humongous and spend their time modifying cars and building flame throwers. They explode propane tanks, torch scarecrows and ride around in their muscle car a ’72 Buick Skylark called Medusa. Evan Glodell plays Woodrow the whiny, annoying part of the duo and Tyler Dawson plays Aiden his annoying crazy friend. The guys don't have any visible means of support. They seem to go through life without any responsibility or purpose than their own amusement. At an outdoor bar Woodrow enters a a contest to eat bugs and is beat by Milly (Jessie Wiseman). After telling her about his flame throwers he asks her out. On their first date he ends up taking her from California to Texas eating at a dirty creepy diner. Milly is a bit of wild child and is enormously impressed with the whiskey dispenser in the car which means a drunken party road trip. This polluted mindset causes Milly to urge Woodrow to trade his car for “Sea Biscut” a Mad Max style motorcycle so they return in time for the birthday party for Courtney (Rebekah Brandes), a friend of Milly. She lives on Bellflower Ave.

The story gets more complicated after Woodrow confesses to Milly that he loves her which spurs infidelities and betrayals. There's a horrific accident and the whole movie goes into a meltdown. Did something really happen or was it a dream? It's amazing living in that world between childhood and adult. That place where one discovers that they have to accept the results of their actions and learn to separate imagination and reality. You won't really find the answer here.

The story is broken up in chapters as we follow the progression and decline of the friendships. While the ads on the posters talk about flame throwers and apocalypse it doesn't really explode with anything as much fun as that. It's more a disintegration of relationships with a couple of aimless young men who only indulge in their immature fantasies. Living a comic book dream.
(Review by reesa)




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Contagion



An airborne virus starts with a woman returning from a business trip overseas and it spreads like wildfire around the world. Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns created a dry and realistic look at what would happen to our civilization if a deadly disease ran amok in today's society. From the Center from Disease Control in Atlanta to the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland the best minds in the world gather detailed data and research how to grow the constantly mutating strain of virus so that a vaccine can be developed. The clock is ticking because once someone starts showing symptoms patients only have a few days to live.

Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the first victim who returns back to Minneapolis after visiting Hong Kong on business. She manages to infect everyone who comes in contact with her from Hong Kong from the restaurant, to the airports where it begins to multiply. At first they believe she's contracted encephalitis until they do an autopsy which is probably the only truly creepy scene in the movie. The results and the reports of other cases appearing around the globe prompts the CDC head Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburn) into action. He sends out Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) into the field to study the current victims. She finds that Beth's son also succumbed to the virus but her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) has proved to be immune. Researcher Dr. Ian Sussman (Elliott Gould) has some success duplicating the virus, and CDC's Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) tests some vaccines on monkeys. World Health Organization sends out Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) to Hong Kong to look for the source but finds more than she expected. Jude Law is a blogger Alan Krumwiede who fuels the conspiracy theorists to distrust the drug companies and the government who are using the population as guinea pigs. While Homeland Security played by Bryan Cranston think that it's a terrorist plot. City leaders wonder who will pay for the emergency triages set up in sporting arenas. The world maybe ending, but it's business as usual and everyone has their own agenda.

The film follows the progression of the epidemic from day 2 to day 135 while the death toll grows unimaginably. There's the expected panic in the streets for food and vaccine as humanity fights and hides waiting for a cure. Soderbergh manages to capture the linear events as they occur filling us with snippets of statistics and science. Famous faces show up as various characters who are like the red shirted Star Trek crew members who end up as virus fodder. The plague concept has been treated better in other apocalyptic movies and this lacks the melodrama that connects the audience with a sense of urgency. The naturally immune father Mitch is the only storyline allowed some brief moments while trying to keep his teenage daughter safe. Probably the main idea was to show the whole picture of what happens if the something like the swine flu went mutant but it loses a true impact by having too many stories. Also the all star cast like in every catastrophe movie never have enough time on the screen. By the time they show you what happened on Day 1, you will never eat in a foreign country and probably be washing your hands more often and trying not to touch your face.
(Review by reesa)



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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Movies Scheduled for the Week of 9/4 - 9/10

Yes, it's September. Temperatures finally dropped from the triple digit and the unrelenting heat. Usually September is the wasteland of good films and there's just a few on the calendar that are fortunately being repeated during the month so we should all get a chance to enjoy them. Thanks to everyone for following the rules about putting the designator on the subject line. Just wish folks can get the whole reply to the person and not to the list concept. Do you not wonder why you didn't get a response? Do you check to see where you sent it?

Have a great long weekend and keep safe.

September 4 - 10, 2011

Sun
9/4

Mon
9/5

Tue
9/6

7:30 pm
Warrior
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

7:30 pm
Contagion
Cinemark West Plano

Wed
9/7

6:30 pm
The Way
AMC Northpark

7:30 pm
The Way
tba - Dallas

7:30 pm
Warrior
Studio Movie Grill Arlington

7:30 pm
Drive
Studio Movie Grill Dallas

Thu
9/8

7:00 pm
The Mighty Macs
Cinemark West Plano

7:00 pm
Warrior
Angelika Dallas

7:30 pm
Money Ball
AMC Northpark

7:30 pm
Creature
Angelika Dallas

Fri
9/9

8:30 pm
Tangled
Main Street Downtown Rowlett

Sat
9/10

10:30 am
Dolphin Tale
tba - Dallas



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Friday, September 2, 2011

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy





Friends since high school a group of 30 somethings gather each week at Eric's family summer house in the Hampton's. Living in the big city with their professional jobs they live for the weekends when they throw theme parties like the White Trash Bash where everyone wears mullets and other bad taste 80's costumes. The cops try to shut the parties down, but they are basically ignored and the live music, bean dip and chips served in a toilet serving dish, and for some reason a cow are involved in the night of hedonistic bliss. The next day Eric's dad informs him that the house is going up for sale. Eric thinks they should have one last big blow out for Labor Day. This one just for their small circle of friends in a good old fashioned orgy.

Eric (Jason Sudeikis) sells the idea to his sidekick McCrudden (Tyler Labine) a stoner type of dude who has been known to drop trou and jump in the pool at any given moment. The others include the workaholic Adam, the overly analytical psychologist Alison (Lake Bell), Sue (Michelle Borth) who still has an unresolved crush on Eric, shy repressed Laura (Lindsay Sloane), Doug the law student/wanna be musician and his girlfriend Willow (Angela Sarafyan) all come to agree through the course of story. Glenn (Will Forte) and his wife Kate (Lucy Punch) just had a baby and got married that summer so they were not invited even though they took offense. Eric tries to chum up the real estate agent Kelly (Leslie Bibb) so that she will delay the sale of the house until after the party and of course finds some chemistry between them.

Writer directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck created a Big Chill for the 21rst century basically dumbed down for this new generation of raunchy immature movie goers. Not to say it's not funny. It is at times refreshing and hilarious. It's great seeing Don Johnson show up as Eric's dad who romances young women by teaching them to golf. Each of the characters have their moments to shine and you actually get to know their little quirks. Even when they are resolving some long seated issues with each others before engaging in the bacchanal it's still amusing waiting for them to engage in the inevitable free for all. Eric and McCrudden also visit a local secret group sex club for “research” that has the only actual nudity in movie. The main stars don't show much but a butt. It's curious that the women are all well toned and attractive while the men are sort of out of condition, but they are still considered ok and doable. But this is a male fantasy story, so just accept it for that and an afternoon of mindless entertainment.
(Review by reesa)



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Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Debt




In 1966 three Mossad agents meet up in East Berlin to capture a Nazi war criminal who performed horrific experiments in the camps. The film moves back and forth in time as it explores what happened to those agents after their mission. Directed by John Madden and written by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan it is a remake of an Israeli movie of the same name. At times an intense edge of your seat thriller with surprising twists but it is also hard to keep track of which older actor is playing which character from the past.

Rachel (Helen Mirren) is the subject of her daughter's book about the events that occurred in East Berlin that had made them heroes in Israel. Her daughter tells the celebratory audience that her mother did not contribute to the story and that it came from interviews with her father Stefan (Tom Wilkinson) who was also a participant at the time. The books tells of the meeting in East Berlin when 25 year old Rachel (Jessica Chastain) on her first operational assignment pretends to be the wife of David (Sam Worthington). Stefan (Marton Csokas) is the leader running the operations from a dismal flat where they practice Krav Maga the Mossad fighting style with each other, impressed with Rachel's proficiency. Each of the three agents have a history of family tragedy in the Holocaust involving their families. It is this debt to their loved ones that made them volunteer for this mission. However living in such close quarters with only each other for company causes a sexual triangle to grow. David the quiet one is very attracted to Rachel, but he's too professional to let that get in the way. Where as Stefan has no problem taking advantage of Rachel who is hurt and confused by David's refusal of her advances. David accompanies Rachel to a gynecologist Doktor Bernhardt (Jesper Christensen) for infertility problems to secretly take pictures of the doctor. When they get confirmation that it is indeed the Nazi Dieter Vogel they get the mission “go”. They make plans to kidnap him and get him across the border to stand trial in Israel. Even the best laid plans can go amiss and they are forced to keep the doctor captive until further orders. Trapped in the house with the cagey and unrepentant doctor playing games with their minds sets up a series of events that haunt them for the rest of their lives.

There seems to be some issue with time. Rachel was supposed to be 25 at the time of the mission so if 30 years had passed it would make her 55 for the future Rachel. Mirren looks great for her age, but she's clearly older. Another disconnect was having different actors playing the older and younger characters was confusing as CiarĂ¡n Hinds plays Sam Worthington's David 30 years older even though he's taller and has darker hair. Helen and Jessica sports a scar on Rachel's cheek so it's easier to accept as Rachel. Wilkinson and Csokas are acceptable as the older and younger Stefan. Helen Mirren has proved to be an action star in RED, and in The Debt she shows off her hand to hand combat skills. The scene in the last act is worth the price of popcorn even if the guy she's fighting with would have been 95 years old. The tight acting by all involved and the intriguing story keeps your attention throughout even if flipping from past to present doesn't always have a smooth transition.
(Review by reesa)



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7 Days in Utopia




Luke Chisholm is returning back to Waco after having a major melt down at a recent amateur golf tourney. He's angry, frustrated and distracted by a guy putting up a golf flag in a cow pasture when he almost hits a bull in the road before crashing into a fence. The owner of the property rides up on his horse and offers him first aid and a place to stay while his car is repaired.

Luke's dad has taught him golf since he was a youngster with a domineering determination, an ambitious attitude and “no one remembers the losers” philosophy. Having lost concentration by the presence of a tough competitor on the green, Luke makes a series of mistakes, exacerbated by his caddy dad's berating who then walked away in a huff. Luke snaps his putter in half and tosses it into a pond that's all caught on TV cameras and broadcast to the world. Including the residents of Utopia, TX (Population 375 because twins were just born) where he is stranded after his accident. Fortunately for Luke, Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall) takes him under his wing. The guy owns the quaint picturesque Whispering Inn and he just happens to have a golf course there. Johnny was once a pro, had some problems, came to Utopia and stayed with a friend who later passed from cancer. He remains close with his friends wife Lily (Melissa Leo) who runs the local cafe and her daughter Sarah (True Blood's Deborah Ann Woll) future horse whisperer. Sarah is immediately smitten by Luke much to the chagrin of cowboy Jake (Brian Geraghty). Johnny feels Luke's pain and offers to help him find his game in the 7 days it takes to get his car fixed. Johnny is like the Mr. Miyagi of golf. He tutors Luke to find his conviction through SFT. Seeing, Feeling and Truth. Instead of “wax on wax off” Luke is given exercises in writing about his golf process, fly fishing, pitching horseshoes, painting, cowboy poker and flying a plane. Along the way he chastely romances Sarah, engages in machismo male posturing and bonding with the locals, confronts his fears and issues he has with dad and ultimately himself.

Based on a book by David L. Cook who also co-wrote the screenplay with Rob Levine, Sandra Thrift and the director Matthew Dean Russell. Russell a veteran visual effects hand does fairly well with his first feature film but has a feeling of indie all over it. The film relies heavily on Duvall filling the screen with his sage and homespun aphorisms to the bitter Luke who quickly submits to his teachings. These two actors were last seen together in Get Low. There's a heavy...and by heavy as in 2x4 across the head...Christian conversion theme going on, including a song with the lyrics “born again” as Luke finally “gets it”. The final golf tournament using real life Golf Channel commentators and golf pros Rickie Fowler and KJ Choi builds the only real tension in the film even though viewers will pretty much know what will happen. Still the filmmakers decided to put a WTF ending by offering a website to find out the result.
(Review by reesa)




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5 Days of War



“The first casualty of war is truth.” Hiram Johnson US Senate 1918

In 2008 a swift and devastating 5 day war broke out between Russian the Georgia Republic. Based on true events, director Renny Harlin centers the story of a renegade American journalist, his cameraman and a beautiful Georgia native who are embroiled in the escalating war.

Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend) who just lost a colleague in Iraq soon goes to Georgia on the advice of a Dutch journalist “Dutchman” (Val Kilmer) along with his cameraman Sebastian Ganz (Richard Coyle). On the way to meet the Dutchman, they stop by a village restaurant with a wedding party celebration. Suddenly jets fly overhead bombing the village. Anders helps the American sister of the bride,Tatia (Emmanuelle Chirqui), then tries to help the wounded in the aftermath getting the serious ones to the only hospital in the area. The global networks are covering the Olympics and the news bytes recorded on scene are not going to be used. Only the Russian side is being reported. The Georgia side is completely ignored. Tatia wants to go back to her relatives, so Anders decide to travel back to Georgia with her. The Russian soldiers give them an escort close to the Georgian border, then travel by car the rest of the way looking for Taia's family.

Andy Garcia plays the Georgian President who argues with the Bush presidential aide Chris Bailot when help from the US is not forthcoming. The events leading up to the war are briefly told mostly though news reports. Since the news is slanted to the Russian point of view, Anders reports on the events from the other side through the eyes of the local people. The helicopters tanks and manpower invading the another village while the local population are rounded up murdered, women raped, livestock and food taken while the village is bombed. Hiding watching from afar while Sebastian records the atrocities. The memory card becomes the object that causes some hostage situations as the perpetrators do not want the evidence of their misdeeds broadcast. But that doesn't seem to be a problem since Anders can't get his bosses to interested enough to air it.

Based on a screenplay by David Battle with Mikko Alanne, director Harlin is able to bring the action sequences his usual stamp of excitement. The Russian Georgia war is a good subject that has not been covered in feature films. But there is a certain obvious pro Georgian anti Russian propaganda going on. Generally the political maneuvering are uninteresting and muddled. The war violence is horrific as the Russian wreck havoc on the peaceful villagers. Rupert Friend is a good actor in other work like Young Victoria is totally unlikeable here as the journalist who takes risks because of his troubled past. The other Americans like Val Kilmer are totally wasted. Kilmer gets top billing but doesn't have much screen time. There's the stereotypical Russian brutish bad guy who loves torture. There's the father who sells out to protect himself. Wish this film had a better story because it's hard to tell if this an action movie or a political one? Neither plays out effectively. Nor does it have characters we care about that even a romance between Tatia and Anders couldn't fix. The only nice part was the photography of the countryside which would have made a nice travelogue if not for the tanks and explosions.
(Review by reesa)





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