The Dallas Movie Screening Group

This is the homepage of the Dallas Movie Screening Group. To join our mailing list you must sign up at our group page on Yahoo. You will then be connected to receive notices on how to find passes to the local screenings in the DFW area. It's up to you to pickup or sign up for passes. You can also barter, trade or just giveaway passes you don't want, need or share with other members of the group. Please read the instructions on the Yahoo page very carefully before posting. This group is closely moderated so that your mail box is not full of spam or other unnecessary mail. We appreciate everyone's consideration and cooperation.

You can use this homepage for posting comments, reviews, and other things that cannot be posted to the group. Of course spam is not allowed. Thanks!

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

Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Adult Beginners





Adult Beginners: fireworks; sparkler; or misfire? My rating is unequivocally a misfire.

What an overall disappointment! This film reminds me how hard it is to make a truly outstanding movie. It is an incredible feat for any filmmaker just to make it to the finish line and get a film released. Which is why is it always heartbreaking when you see a film fizzle and die on screen after all the blood, sweat, tears, and sleepless nights you know went in to making it. Where did it all go wrong? How could they blow it?

I had high hopes going in for this film to be a hit with all the amazing talent involved. The entire movie team's pedigree is top notch. The independent film world darlings, the wonder brother team, Mark and Jay Duplass are Executive Producers on the project. Director and Producer Ross Katz (Lost in Translation, In the Bedroom, The Laramie Project) assembled a stellar group of actors expertly cast in their roles: Rosy Byrne (Bridesmaids, Neighbors, Adam); Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League); and Bobby Cannavale (Blue Jasmine, Chef, Shall We Dance).
The cast had great chemistry together but the biggest problem is with the script written by Liz Flahive (Nurse Jackie) and Jeff Cox (Blades of Glory). Rosy Byrne (Justine) and Bobby Cannavale (Danny) play the typical bored suburban married couple with a 3 year old son facing the stressful life challenges of a new baby on the way. Nick Kroll (Jake) plays Byrne's estranged brother who's start-up company in the city goes bust and he is forced to become his nephew's manny. Adult Beginners, sadly, does not cover any new ground. The movie felt like it was in a perpetual state of almost going somewhere. There are some laughs but at nothing super original or memorable.

Every film needs a solid foundation to build upon and that foundation should be an engaging, creative script. If it is not good on paper, there is no hope for it on screen. If we can generalize and say that Hollywood is all about the giant, super hero blockbuster films. The independent studios can be generalized to be all about the rambling, wordy films that dribble on and on and really do not go anywhere. Some films might occasionally work as atmospheric art but mostly they are just very tiring for their audience to endure . Filmmakers should want to teach and entertain their audiences, not drain the life out of them.

It comes down to the fact that not every film is a wild success. As in other aspects of life, the best we can do is celebrate the good and learn from the bad. I hope the gifted Adult Beginner team has the opportunity to learn from this film and the chance to make another project together. They are all better than this movie shows them to be and they deserve a chance to get it right and succeed.
(Review by Erin Nicole Parisi)


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Avengers: Age of Ultron





The newest Marvel production assumes that you are already familiar with the Avengers world with it's multiple character arcs. Each of the major Avengers have had their own movies to explore their origins and development. So it's only right that this story explores the Natasha Romanoff as Black Widow and Clint Barton's Hawkeye. It's a busy plot that also introduces two of Strucker's experiments, the twins, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff. And don't forget the Avengers are after Loki's scepter. So if you haven't seen the last movie, it's probably best to catch up before delving into this one, although the sheer action, battles, and heroism will be fun to watch despite one's lack of previous Avenger knowledge.

The movie opens the Eastern European country of Sokovia where the Hydra outpost led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker has been experimenting on humans using Loki's scepter. The twins, Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), has superhuman speed, and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen)can manipulate minds and throw energy blasts. They also harbor a resentment against Tony Stark for the weapons he provided that killed their parents. The Avengers manage to get the scepter, and Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Banner (Mark Ruffalo) discover an artificial intelligence inside the gem. Stark decides to use it to complete his Ultron global defense program. Unfortunately and unexpectedly the A.I Ultron (James Spader) become sentient and eliminates Stark's A.I. Jarvis, attacks the Avengers because it believes that he must eradicate humanity to save the earth. Ultron with the scepter gem heads to Sokovia to build an army of robot drones, and to build an indestructible body made of vibranium. The Avengers battle them for the magic metal, but Wanda manages to mess with everyone's minds.

The team is badly shaken by the hallucinations and retreats to the safe house. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) takes off to explore what he saw in his vision which affected everyone differently. Meanwhile Ultron forces Dr. Helen Cho (Claudia Kim) into building him a new body using her synthetic tissue technology. While Ultron is trying to download himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind discovering his plan to destroy the world. The twins decide to help the Avengers.

Needless to say this is just a simplistic synopsis of the story. There are lots of other stuff going on like the relationship of Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Banner. We find out that Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) has a family and tries to live a normal life. Captain America (Chris Evans) has a running joke about swearing over the communications and a joke about Thor's hammer. The best of course are the snarky comments by everyone that is pretty much expected from a Joss Whedon script and direction. The battle scenes are of course epic although at times, the busy heavy CGI moments are hard to appreciate. The whole concept of the Infinity Stones may need a bit of review to as when Thor comes back to activate the new synthetic being Vision/Jarvis (Paul Bettany). Don't forget to look out for the obligatory Stan Lee moment. Stay through the credits for the extra scene at the end with Thanos who vows to hunt for the stones personally which sets up the next movies to come. We will be happily waiting.
(Review by reesa)



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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Movies Scheduled 4/26-5/2

Well it is finally here the week we get Avengers. Yes I know I am a geek and love all things comic book related!Yes I know there have been some bad comic book movies and yes I watched them. But I don't doubt this one is going to be amazing!!

Please do not talk when the movie starts! I don't do it and try to be kind to those around me so I expect others to do the same!

Make sure if you see people offering passes you reply to the sender and not the whole group. If you just hit reply that means you are sending it to the whole group. If you don't want to get that pass then just hit reply. At the bottom of the email it says who it is posted by and gives their email. Copy there email address and hit forward then paste their email there. Super simply, right? I know you want to get the pass and if you it reply it won't get to them.

If you have any questions please email me at damitdaina@hotmail.com and I will get to them as quickly as possible.

Sunday April 26th

Rebecca Sunset Annette Strauss Square


Monday April 27th

Spy 7:30 p.m. Regal McArthur Irving


Tuesday April 28th

Avengers: Age of Ultron 7:30 p.m. AMC Northpark and Cinemark West Plano


Wednesday April 29th

Spy 7:30 p.m. SMG Arlington


Thursday April 30th

Avengers: Age of Ultron 7:00 p.m. AMC Northpark


Friday May 1st


Saturday May 2nd






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Saturday, April 25, 2015

USA Film Festival: Caring for the Recently Deceased




“Caring for the Recently Deceased” is a sort of dark humor story about an old woman and her dead husband. The husband comes back to life and the aftermath is where the humor kicks in. I thoroughly enjoyed this concept that was brand new to me from Britain. The stereotype of how husbands sometimes don’t do anything and the wives do everything was used in a surprising way in this film. The scenes when the undead husband is then a man slave serve as a comic picture of an owner with her dog. The makeup that was done to the actor of the husband as he aged was without false work. The little dark potholes in the story such as one of the leads dying by strangling by her undead husband served to tick all different tastes. The elderly resident community idea of the females controlling the males was so wanted and satisfying. This little film had a brilliant location and the feel of tasty British comedy that reminded me of “Hot Fuzz”. The lead actress looked like the tired and ready for a change woman she was portraying. Being next to the filmmakers made me appreciate this A of a project even more.
(Review by Wyatt Head)




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Friday, April 24, 2015

Little Boy



Little Boy tells the story of a young child who has his partner, his father, taken to War. He then meets different people who build relationships with him and starts growing his strong faith. This story is about believing in what people think to be impossible or hard to get to. The lead is a short for his age boy who gives adorable presence to the character. His father always asks the question “Do you believe we can do this?” in the imaginary worlds that they both play into. The boy has a very close relationship with his father which I believe every son desires. I do have to point out the scene where the little boy is bullied and then thrown in a dumpster while his father is shown ambushed in the Philippines. The parallel shots of those events were a striking move from the filmmakers. The little boy is taken away with this magician character he meets at a show. The magician urges him to “Ignore the world, focus on doing the impossible” which is another lasting line from this small film. The two major lines mentioned serve to put the steak on the plate of the theme if you will. There is a Japanese man who lives in the World War II era town with the boy who ends up being a mentor to him. The inherent ignorant racism towards anybody of Japanese dissent illuminates more of the kindness shown by this mentor. The boy learns a critical life lesson of giving everybody a chance no matter a preconceived notion. Also, the pastor of the town, played by the known Tom Wilkinson, tells this boy that faith will make people move things for you. He means that faith causes action for the good. The scene where that is said is so warming that I believe it is one of the best of the film. The little boy character learns to not be ashamed of believing in what is for the good. This film took 5 years to make and the set/location where they filmed was inviting to the audience’s eye. The small houses and the dock reaching out to the sea provided the perfect little town concept for a family story like this. When families or anybody watches this one has to remember the line of “Measure yourself from you to the sky”. This piece definitely produced some tears but it lifted me up. The film wasn’t too childish but it was maybe a little too lighthearted for the storyline. I would bring my family to this if I had one (meaning children).
(Review by Wyatt Head)




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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Age of Adaline



The romantic fantasy film tries to add a little science to the mix explaining how the 27 year old Adaline Bowman ends up staying young for several decades. The film directed by Lee Toland Krieger and written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz wants us to believe she has managed to survive all these years like the Highlander. It's a good thing that the star, Blake Lively is very beautiful because she is in practically every scene in the movie.

Adaline (Lively) was born in 1908. A car accident involving snow, hypothermia and a well placed bolt of lighting causes the revitalized Ms. Bowman from further ageing. The narrator explains all the pseudo science gobbley gook to justify her immortal status. Adaline manages to continuing living a normal life, getting married, having a child until one day she can't explain why she looks so good in her 40's. Soon the FBI is carting her off so that some nefarious researchers can study her. She manages to escape, thus beginning her never ending change of identities, jobs, and locations.

We meet Adaline in San Francisco where she is going by the name of Jennifer. She works at the SF Archival library, lives in Chinatown and has a dog named Reese. It's time once again, she changes every 10 years, getting fake licenses, passports and birth certificate. She adds her new name to her bank account too. At a fancy New Year's Eve party she cute meets the handsome Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman). He saw her earlier and has been dying to meet her, managing to bring her flowers in the form of books with flower names. So clever, so it gets her interest. But Adaline knows the danger of falling in love and having to break someone's heart when she has to leave again. She keeps herself distant to his overtures.

Adaline's daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn) is now old enough to be her mom's grandmother. She encourages her mother to take a chance at love and stop leading such a lonely life when Adaline says she's tired of running. So Ellis gets a chance with Jennifer to become two beautiful people in a schmaltzy romance. Ellis asks Jennifer/Adaline to visit his parents who are having their 40th wedding anniversary. When she meets the dad William Jones (Harrison Ford) he is gob-smacked to see the love of his life from the 1960's in front of his eyes. Adaline covers by saying she's her mother who passed away 6 years ago. Suddenly there's really awkward moments, and Adaline wants to take off.

Without giving anything away, it all rights itself in the end, and the journey there is fun to discover. The film is nicely photographed like a post card from San Francisco. Lively plays Adaline with old school poise and charm and her wardrobe is to die for. Huisman is just the right amount of eye candy. Kathy Baker is great as Ellis's mom who is feeling a little jealous of hearing her husband waxing poetic on his lost romance with Adaline. When the truth comes out, one wonders if dating your dad's ex-girlfriend is even considered.
(Review by reesa)



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The Clouds of Sils Maria



This 2014 French/English film written and directed by Olivier Assayas was selected for the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. It won the Louis Delluc Prize for Best Film and Kristen Stewart became the first American actress to win the César Award. The film is sort of an abstract discussion regarding ageing, culture, and acting with the roles of a play and real life seem intertwined.

Juliette Binoche plays Maria Enders, a middle aged popular actress who is on her way to Zurich with her assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart). Maria is supposed to accept an award on behalf of playwright Wilhelm Melchior. As a young actress Maria was cast in the play and film versions of Maloja Snake by Wilhelm about a tempestuous relationship between and older woman and a young girl that made her career sky rocket. But before she arrives she hears that Wilhelm has just passed away and everyone considers cancelling the ceremony, but despite her sadness she carries on. Director Klaus Diesterweg (Lars Eidinger) proposes that Maria perform in a revival of the play as the older woman Helena. Maria was totally invested in the younger woman part of Segrid and doesn't think she can do it. Klaus wants to cast Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz) an up and coming American actress who has a tabloid reputation for getting in trouble. Valentine thinks that Jo-Ann is potentially brilliant and tries to get Maria to see her in a new light.

Wilhelm's widow Rosa (Angela Winkler) offers their home in Sils Maria so that Maria can rehearse the play. The beautiful cottage in the Swiss Alps is a perfect backdrop for the long wordy scenes while Valentine runs lines with Maria. At times it seems they are just playing their own relationship until Valentine reads the stage directions. They spend time hiking and talking and talking. There are overlaps of reality and art. Valentine defends Jo-Ann's talent despite her online burn outs. It's an often muddled yet fascinating examination and endless intellectualism on acting, ageing and acceptance. Maria fights hard as Valentine tries to get her to realized that Helena's role in the play is the humanity of the story while Maria clings to her youthful portrayal of Segrid.

The clouds in the name of the story are actually known as the Maloja Snake. It's a weather wonder of rolling clouds that form over the mountain pass from Italy to Switzerland that flow over the lake and lands unfurling like a snake. That's the way the film feels to the viewers. A glimpse of the obsessive self examination of actors and their lives. Interesting, well played, beautifully photographed but probably not for everyone.
(Review by reesa)



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The Water Diviner



In Russell Crowe's directorial debut, in which he also stars, tells the story of an Australian farmer who travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to locate his three missing sons. It was based on the book by Andrew Anastasios and Dr. Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios, with the screenplay written by Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight. It's a gorgeously photographed quiet film that speaks of a father's love and faith. But not a whole lot of water divining.

Except mainly at the beginning of the movie when Joshua Conner shows his knack for digging wells in the dry farmland of his ranch in Australia. It's 1919, five years since the end of WWI, and his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie) has not been able to cope with the loss of her children. When she commits suicide, Conner promises to bring her sons back to be buried with their mother.

When he arrives in Turkey, a young hustler (Dylan Georgiades) steals his suitcase to bring him to a hotel in Istanbul run by his widowed mother Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko). Her husband may have been killed in the war, but she keeps hope that he's still alive. There's the issue of her having to marry her husband's uncle who owns the hotel once she's officially gone into mourning. Conner meets up with the British consul who refuses him permission to travel to Gallipoli. Ayshe suggests bribing a fisherman to bring him there by boat. When he gets there, the ANZAC's are there and assigned to identify and bury the victims of the war. Turkish officer Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdoğan) is assisting the ANZAC captain Lt.Col Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney) with the major battle locations. He persuades Hughes to help out Conner, because basically he's the only person who came to look for their loved ones.

Flashbacks are used to show the closeness of the brother's that was encouraged by their parents to watch over each other. Arthur (Ryan Corr) is the oldest, tries to save his brothers Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O'Toole), but they refused to run when he's injured during a battle. He watches both of the die while he lays between them. Conner discovers that Arthur may have been taken to a prison camp. When he tries to get help from the British consul, they take his passport and tell him he's going home on the next boat. On top of that the country is still going through political unrest as other countries try to divide Turkey for control. The Greeks have been attacking in the countryside, causing his journey even more problems.

The horrific effects of the war which was done brilliantly in the Mel Gibson movie Galliopli, is covered well here. Conner has to fight with Turkish nationals, the British and the Greeks while searching for his son. It's a meandering process, wading through the subdued budding romance of Ayshe and Conner when she sees his future by reading his coffee grounds. Before that she hated foreigners who ruined her country. And apparently Conner's divining skills is good at finding his sons. Nice to look at if you are not snoozing through it.
(Review by reesa)


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DIFF2015: Love and Mercy



What an emotionally jolting film. “Love and Mercy” tells the story of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys leader, in two stages of his life. We are taken through the effects of his psychiatric disorder and his musical genius. His character is one who had experienced a lot of traumatic relationships with people including his father and also his doctor in a later part of his life. There is also a delicate love story intertwined in this piece. Close to the beginning of the film there is a scene depicting Wilson’s mental instability. He tells a care saleswoman he’s just met that his wife had left him while she is kind of thrown off by it. I really saw the image of Wilson’s emotional deterioration in that scene. When the woman finds a card stating Wilson’s feelings in the car, my thoughts were confirmed. That scene brilliantly starts the revealing of the harmful life Wilson was living. He also experienced uncontrollable voices and sounds in his head. To serve the disrupting chaos of what it was like there are multiple scenes which blare the sounds off in the theater. We are really made to learn about how this psychiatric disorder obstructed some happiness from Wilson’s life. Paul Giamatti plays the cruel and himself insane doctor who is Wilson’s caretaker. What was incredibly uncomfortable was a scene when Giamatti screams at Cusack, the actor playing older Brian Wilson, for being impatient about eating a burger. This was even when Wilson’s love interest, played by Elizabeth Banks, insists on him eating it because he’s so hungry. We are just put into that frightening dysfunctionality of the domestic home in that scene. There was also a time when you see Cusack’s character at the piano sweaty and tired being forced to repetitively play a song from his doctor. I can’t imagine how mentally piercing that would have been to Mr. Wilson. He is portrayed as being trapped in a sick situation with this horrible person. There are also some focuses on the great parts of Wilson’s life too. His hearing for sounds that derive from his mass producing mind comes into the talented musicians he works with. The recapturing of the out of the norm feats that Wilson brings is absolutely spot on. His father did not appreciate his music or him for that matter consistently beating him as a child. We are still though with this film taken to a superb mind that came with a lot of baggage but brought love with it too.
(Review by Wyatt Head)



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DIFF2015: Manglehorn



This was the first type of film like this I saw. It was sort of dark but not in a horror type of way. Manglehorn is a man played by Al Pacino who owns a key shop and lives an unfulfilling life. He has this obsession over a woman he had previously known and cannot shake it off. He also is a frequent visitor of the bank and likes the cashier played by Holly Hunter. He has a son who became estranged from him and is a successful business man in a high rise. The story looks at this sort of tormented mind of Manglehorn and how he is trying to break free from his loneliness. His obsession with the woman is brought to us at a level just below insanity. The compulsive thinking of Manglehorn about this past love is solidly put on screen. I think this script did a good job of taking that mindset of a person that may not be as uncommon as one thinks. There is a moment where Manglehorn wants to be with the specific cashier even though there is an open one already. I really thought that that early revealing of interest to Hunter’s character was a smart move. Both characters are around the same dating age and Hunter is a pretty woman so it was a realistic potential relationship. Manglehorn also has an old student in his life who is an ex-drug addict and is annoying to him. There’s a scene where Manglehorn just asks him to shut up while he just keeps on talking and talking. That was a time when the lead’s unsatisfied feeling of living is stated. It was perfectly shot at a slot machine in a dimly lit bar which provided the backdrop for Manglehorn’s conscience. He also has a violent fit of rage triggered by a bowl breaking during the first time the audience sees his house. He is in such a rut in his mind. Pacino actively turns on a melancholy attitude for this role and it fits in just like a key. During a scene when Pacino and Hunter’s characters date for the first time Hunter says that she has a love of people. She says one of the best lines of the film that goes something like “When I see the water out of the faucet, I am happy.” Unfortunately because of Manglehorn’s attitude the woman feels upset and leaves straight up from the table. When I saw that I just thought about the missed opportunity for companionship that the lead blew off. This is a well written story that is gloomy and dispirited. During the whole film one hopes for clear skies to enter Manglehorn’s life.
(Review by Wyatt Head)


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DIFF2015: Dare to Drum



Let the beats begin. “Dare to Drum” is a documentary that blows world music from Texas’ mouth. It follows a gang of five friends who are major percussionists and a composer who comes from the famous band Police. We are taken into the comradery of hands beating on a drum while making a brand new concert destined for the Dallas Symphony at the Meyerson. Tons of different instruments from all over the world are found in this studio in the country land of Texas. Creativity is being expanded everyday with the help of the whole team. Stuart Copeland, the guy from the Police, is coming in with a flood of melodies that just seem to swim to the papers he’s writing on. The ability to maintain a funny calm attitude while making something of such a massive duty was just amazing to me. Copeland’s love of what he’s doing in that studio comes through his moving of his whole body to the music. This task of writing a percussion performance which is in conjunction with an orchestra is definitely not an easy thing to do. Yet, we are taken through this project as if each time the guys meet it is a chance for them to play around. They’re doing a productive playing around which produced some laughable moments in the film. Everybody in that team was using their own expertise to make the piece as concrete and great sounding as possible. Each person has the sound that they’ve practiced for years and they crank it up 110 percent for this once in a lifetime opportunity. There was a natural high concept that one of the drummers claimed drummers get from doing what they do. The sounds coming off the speakers in the theater make a person know why people love beats. There really is a “natural high” produced from this Texas based fun house. The camera went around the world going into the factories in Bali which make some beautiful instruments. One of the men in one scene instructs a maker of instruments to the perfect tone he wants. The man has an ear that seems to pick up on the nuances of sound and tone that can only be picked up by an expert drummer. During the last third of the film the band goes to the Meyerson to rehearse with a very intimidating maestro. They then, due to the ice storm of 2011, almost have their two and a half years of work wasted. It’s like a sports movie with everybody watching this film hoping immensely that the band gets to play. I have to say I felt the beat in this pic and I found why it was there.
(Review by Wyatt Head)


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DIFF2015: A Borrowed Identity



There is still a fight between the Arabs and the Jews today in the Middle East. In “A Borrowed Identity” a young man’s life visits us and throughout the film he faces a lot of predicaments. Eyad is a smart young boy who gets accepted later in life to a university in the Jewish part of the land. His father is a fruit picker as a result of his political views. Eyad meets a beautiful girl with whom he has a strong relationship with. He also volunteers for a disabled boy who is his age and his mother. The film really highlighted dedication to another human being. Eyad and his girlfriend sacrifice for each other in order to see each other. Eyad spends so much time with the disabled boy that he becomes a family member to the boy’s mother. This is a pretty deepened emotional drama that created a sadness in me. Early on in the film Eyad’s father gets arrested for protesting. The family’s worried and angry looks when they hear about it remind us that there is still this Jewish/Arab clear issue. When the father explains to Eyad that he was called a terrorist for something he didn’t do and that he was never brought to court, Eyad realizes the meaning of being in Israel. You can see Eyad’s hesitancy in entering the school. The factor of entering an unknown world is prevalent. He is also made fun of when he has to read the Bible for class even though that is not his religion. To know how pitted people are against each other there, makes that scene difficult to watch. Eyad also has people insult his religion explicitly which he just takes in a quiet manner. People’s backgrounds of hate towards each other become apparent in different circumstances in the film. The main character’s calm and mild tone is consistently there throughout the film which made me believe that he knew how to accept. Eyad’s transformation of a young shy boy to a grounded friendly person is a great transition in “A Borrowed Identity”. The actor playing Eyad has a face that is gentle and calm. The clearest idea that the piece communicated was once again this thing of Arabs as a second class citizen. Eyad, being Arab, gets stopped in the middle of the street and told to wait for confirmation of his papers. When one watches that scene there is a feeling of unjust treatment that flows through the head. Watching this taught me a two hour lesson on major conflict between individuals who have the ability to come to a stable place.
(Review by Wyatt Head)


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DIFF2015: Fresh Dressed





Clothes can be expressions of one or so it seems. In “Fresh Dressed” the exploration of fashion in the hood is brought to the silver screen. We are taken through the different decades of when fashion and hip hop started. Mink fur, Polo puffy vests, Louis Vuitton rapper jackets, and many other clothing are included in the film. Every member of the audience is exposed through animation and real footage of what life was like in the ghetto. The Bronx is where it all started. I really came to understand the hardship of what minorities were going through in the 70’s-2000’s and their coping skill of clothing. In the film was a very detailed step-by-step look at the companies who started this fashion phenomenon. I started thinking to myself while watching this about how healthy it was to idealize material things. The several black celebrities interviewed make it very clear that the way they had voice was through clothing. I think that people watching this were forced to recognize that not everybody grows up in a decent home. The reasoning behind the love of goods is validated through this heavily researched piece. Some of the jackets and pants people were wearing were incredibly stylish and out there. The matching Adidas sneakers, jacket, and pants brought me back to the origin of rap. There is an out of the box story about Dapper Dan who took luxury brands and remade them into street cool clothing. He then gets shut down based on copyright infringement. There are scenes when the Tommy Hilfiger brand takes their clothes to the hood and gives them out for free. This is of course was using the people who couldn’t really afford the items to advertise. The impact that the hip hop genre had on the fashion was repeated many times because of how significant the footprint really was. My eyes were staying on the screen especially when the story of how brands became successful was illustrated. It was just fascinating how these brands, such as Karl Kani, started by just talking to the right people and realizing a trend. This film is incredibly informative to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 80 this was a historic event that took place from the bottom class up. Even though clothes are not everything and there are more important things in life, the dress ware shown made me want to wear it. This is the first film about fashion that really threw me into the pool.
(Review by Wyatt Head)


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Monday, April 20, 2015

DIFF2015: Kung Fu Killer




Also known as Kung Fu Jungle. This 2014 Hong Kong/Chinese action thriller directed by the great Teddy Chan was recently screened at the 2015 Dallas International Film Festival just before it's U.S. theatrical release. It won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Action Choreography which was given to Donnie Yen who also stars in the movie. He's won this award four times previously.

Yen plays (Hahou Mo) who is a martial arts expert and a police self-defense instructor. He comes into the police station all beat up and confesses to killing someone. He goes to prison, but one day while watching the news on TV, he tries to demand to talk to the inspector in charge of the case involving a car accident and murder. On the victim was a sharp knife shaped as a swallow. Unfortunately he can't get the guards to help him out. So he instigates a fight among a new gang of inmates. The opening fight is worth the price of admission. Mo takes on 17 men in some pretty inventive fight sequences, some of which look like they really hurt. When Madame Inspector Luk Yuen-Sum (Charlie Yeung) shows up, he proposes to help her find the killer if they will let him out of prison. He tells her he knows the motive and gives her names of the next victims. Of course it isn't until one of the names shows up dead that Luk decides to take Mo up on his offer.

The movie involves Mo's need to redeem himself for his error of using Martial Arts to prove who is the best. He reunites with his girlfriend Sinn Ying (Bing Bai) who still works at the martial arts school. The vicious killer (Wang Baoqiang) has a atrophied leg, but was obsessed with training. After his wife dies of cancer, he becomes even more determined to prove that he's number one. The swallows are an ancient symbol given to losers of martial arts fights. Somewhere along the way, Mo becomes a suspect when the police think he is working with the killer to get him out of prison.

There are lots of cameos galore in the film and guest appearances, that unless you are familiar with Hong Kong action films, you will probably be lost. But the end of the film gives a nod to everyone even though you still may not know who they are. The fighting is what you came to see anyways, and there are some amazing battles. The killer goes through each of the masters of a particular discipline, like boxing, grappling, or swords. The climatic encounter between Wang and Yen on a busy highway is over the top but still a wonder. There's no doubt why Yen won for his action direction.
(Review by reesa)



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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Movies Scheduled 4/19-4/25

We only let y'all know who has contests or where to get tickets. We don't get to chose what screenings we get. That is all on the studios! Not all movies get screenings.

Next week will be a very big screening. For all those that will ask for passes please know the people who have won them will be very unlikely to give them up. So make sure to enter the contests or go where they are giving out the passes.

If you have any questions please email me at damitdaina@hotmail.com.


Sunday April 19th


Monday April 20th

The Clouds of Sils Maria 7:30 p.m. Magnolia


Tuesday April 21st

The Age of Adaline 7:30 p.m. AMC Northpark
The Water Diviner 7:30 p.m. Angelika Dallas
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 7:30 p.m. Angelika Dallas
Asian Movie Madness: Blade of Kings 7:30 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse


Wednesday April 22nd

Little Boy 7:30 p.m. AMC Northpark
Racing Extinction Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Auditorium


Thursday April 23rd

Little Boy 7:30 p..m. AMC Northpark


Friday April 24th



Saturday April 25th







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Saturday, April 18, 2015

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2015 DALLAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS!




http://diff2015.dallasfilm.org/congrats-to-the-2015-diff-winning-films-see-them-again-today-at-diff/


CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2015 DALLAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS!

The results are in, and the winning films of DIFF 2015 are...

2015 Audience Awards (presented by the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation, Geoff Hawkes and Sheri Deterling)

Best Short Film - MELVILLE
Best Documentary Feature - BATKID BEGINS: THE WISH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD
Best Narrative Feature - THUNDER BROKE THE HEAVENS

Narrative Feature Competition

Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize - RADIATOR
Special Jury Prize, Cinematography - SOME BEASTS
Special Jury Prize, Ensemble Performance - ECHOES OF WAR

Documentary Feature Competition

Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize - BARGE

Texas Competition (presented by Panavision)

Texas Grand Jury Prize - SACRIFICE
Special Jury Prize, Ensemble Performance - THE LOVE INSIDE

Shorts Competition

Student Short Grand Jury Prize - CAST IN INDIA
Short Grand Jury Prize - THE CHICKEN
Short Special Jury Prize - ONE HITTA QUITTA
Short Special Jury Prize - THE FACE OF UKRAINE: CASTING OKSANA BAIUL

Animated Shorts Competition (presented by REEL FX)

Animated Short Grand Jury Prize - WORLD OF TOMORROW

Silver Heart Award (presented by Embrey Family Foundation)

Silver Heart Award - FRAME BY FRAME





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Friday, April 17, 2015

DIFF2015: Dallas International Film Festival Legal Panel





Interviewees:
Evan Fitzmaurice—Former Director of the Texas Film Commission
Sally Helppie—Vincent Lopez Serafino Jenevein, P.C.
Lawrence Waks—Wilson Elser LLP



Q: Why would you need a lawyer if you were making a film?


A: Where to begin? Whoever wrote the book will have rights. You can’t just take a book and make a movie. There are securities laws of getting funding. Hiring people, contracts, stuff like that needs concern. Tracking down the author if he’s deceased there’s estate issues. Foreign publishers, different copyright laws are concerned. Intellectual property rights are involved. You can’t steal property. You can’t just go ahead and make the movie. There is an option to purchase rights of a story to make a film. You don’t want to already purchase rights to something you’ll never make.

Q: What if I did a documentary?


A: You have all the same issues, maybe some additional with real people. There’s no clear need although to base it on a property. There are creative and legal reasons if you do base it on a property like a book. There are benefits of basis on a book. There is also an open field to do a movie that you want to do a movie on because of the first amendment. Anybody can make a movie based on facts. It’s easier to get rights to a book sometimes. Argo is an example from getting rights from a magazine. There are considerations of private vs public facts. If there’s a famous person who is a basis for a movie that is also a consideration. If you read a book and want to make a movie out of it was it widely published? Did what was in the book become public knowledge or is it invasive to privacy? Any distributor will ask you for your rights bible to do what you did. Documentaries are different than narrative features, because there is clearance, which includes fair use and you can save yourself from infringement. You have to make friends with legal allies.

Q: With the recent Scientology movie, how did they get to use those unflattering clips in that film?


A: I did a movie on lawyers in ‘06 but that was a time when the libertarian view had taken over. It was the same time when “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” came out. People were realizing instead of going to the studios who owned these rights, you could use the fair use trick. There were four elements you had to fulfil. Depending on how you use transformative use and depending on the circuit were some of them.

Q: We need to talk about if I have an idea and I tell somebody, can it be stolen?


A: You can’t copyright ideas. You can protect ideas with contracts such as verbally in California. You have to be an established filmmaker who would be capable of making it. In the other states you can protect by contract. We try to use written contracts. If you have an idea for something that you think is great, you have to write it out. You have to be willing to pitch. If you’ve got a great idea you can do full treatment and register it at the WGA. Then if somebody steals your idea and it’s got all of the plot themes, characters, and everything in it, you can prove infringement more easily. You can pull your filling at WGA. The most important part is that if you’re not established you have to get represented. People are afraid of getting sued if you’re Joe Schmoe with an idea and you come to them in California.

Q: Let’s say my stuff is protected. What do I do to get funding?


A: Well there’s crowdfunding now. There’s two types non-equity and equity. All crowdfunding until recently was a gift. Now there are other things. If you’re going to be doing equity funds, you have to be in the scary world of SEC compliance. The conventional approach is if you’re a certain investor with means and accreditation, you’re protected by the federal government. You can raise money from investors still subject to SEC compliance. That’s good for filmmakers who have rich friends. For the first time on Indiegogo and Kickstarter the SEC allowed folks with lower incomes to receive equity where you can get a return. Equity is when somebody owns a piece of your film. Congress has regulations on this. Texas says you can only raise a million dollars with this. Especially for a low-budget film, you can sell 100 dollar units, but now you have a thousand partners in your movie. You have to think about that. The larger the single investor was the likelihood they wouldn’t complain. The smaller wealth investor will have more of an impact of there is no return on a film in equity. There is a PPM you can do to. You don’t have to register the securities you get but you still have to do notice requirements and disclosure requirements. If you’ve got four rich friends and they want to come on board they can become producers.

-There are a lot of legal details to concern when making a motion picture. It’s different depending on what state and it is vital to get counselling from an entertainment lawyer.
(Reported by Wyatt Head)





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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ex Machina



Alex Garland the screenwriter for 28 Days Later, Dredd, Sunshine, and Never Let Me Go, also wrote Ex Machina with which he makes his directorial debut. Robot stories, artificial intelligence running amok have always held a fascination on how human beings want to become a god like by creating machines that are close to human. Terminator cyborgs can't be bargained with, can't be reasoned with, doesn't feel pity or remorse. Blade Runner replicants want to be humans but they have a build in expiration date. Asimov's I Robots are programmed not to harm humans. Garland's new vision of AI adds to the collective a perspective on the inner life of an artificial being.

Domhnall Gleeson plays Caleb, a computer coder who wins a trip to his company's CEO's hidden lair for a week. He works for Bluebook, a Google like search engine that his boss Nathan (Oscar Isaac) wrote when he was 13. He is airlifted by helicopter to a vast mountainous reserve and set in a mountain valley where he has to make the rest of the way by foot through an exotic forest near glacial streams where he finds the hidden home. He is given a key card that will only allow him in certain areas of what turns out to be more of a research facility. The sleek modern architecture is beautiful, cold and somewhat lonely. Nathan seems friendly, yet expectantly extremely eccentric. He tells Caleb to sign a non-disclosure contract before telling him that the main reason he is there is to help him run a Turing Test on a humanoid artificial intelligence that he had created. In a series of “sessions” Caleb is to question the AI behind a glass partition to discover if Ava (Alicia Vikander) is capable of passing as human. The beautiful creation has a human flesh like face, hands and feet, but the body, shaped like human is encased in a see though frame where her clearly cyborg workings are showing. The facility also experience power outages that causes lock downs of the building and Nathan can not monitor Caleb's sessions with Ava.

The film is filled with discussions on the responsibility of AI and what it means to our future. Then there's the paranoid undercurrent as Caleb realizes that he didn't win a contest as much as he was personally selected by Nathan and he may the actual experiment. There's another mysterious person in the house, Kyoko who cooks and “serves”. Nathan says she doesn't speak English so he can do business without fear of leaked information. There's a scene when they dance together that is disturbing to Caleb. Meanwhile Caleb is trying to figure out how he feels about the strange erotic fantasies he is having of Ava. Nathan presses Caleb to wonder if Ava feels something in return.

Vikander does an amazing job portraying the AI. The graceful way she moves to the slight facial moments as she considers her thoughts. The special effects to make her body seem see though with her glowing wires inside is really, for lack of a better word, cool. Isaacs' sketchy Nathan is very elusive. He acts like a friend, but makes Caleb suspicious of his real agenda. The movie runs well at first, then sort of loses it during the last act. But that doesn't matter, it's still very conceptually interesting and visually pleasing. Worth the popcorn if you like Sci-Fi.
(Review by reesa)



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Unfriended




It was just a matter of time before a film like UNFRIENDED was made that played out entirely on a computer screen. Seriously, the whole entire movie. 'Ghost in the Machine' would have been an appropriate title for the 2014/2015 film release "Unfriended". The rising action takes place during a 6 (soon to be 7) way SKYPE session, exactly one year after the video taped suicide of a popular girl, who had been publicly humiliated on YouTube by way of a very embarrassing uploaded video. Hilarity, confusion and terror ensure over 80 minutes as the group moves from curiosity to confusion to apprehension and ultimately terror as, one by one, "someone" pursues a well though out plan of revenge online. Initially suspecting a living breathing prankster, they all believe suspected pals have taken over the dead friend's accounts to have a little fun at their expense, but they soon realize that this 7th party knows way to much about all of them and does not have their best interests at heart. As they begin to figure out exactly what is going on, who exactly is behind it all, how it is being accomplished and more importantly, why this is all happening, emotionally, they all begin to break down and fall apart. Over the course of the evening, secrets and lies are revealed as the friends learn that no one can be trusted and no one is loyal, even your very best pals.

Originally known as "Offline", the film was renamed Cybernatural (a la Supernatural....get it?) just in time for the 2014 Fantasia Fest. The film was also shown as "Unfriended" at SXSW in Austin amid a technological and social media coming out party of a higher order. "Unfriended" tackles the relatively recent phenomena of cyber bullying but takes it to a higher power. There have been many real reports, over the last few years, of the lengths young people will go to bully, harm and embarrass schoolmates and peers. The subject of cyber bullying is a very real and pertinent one. But this one has a bit of a twists. Usually cyber bullies are made of flesh and bone.

Meaning to appeal to the teen/young adult scream crowd, the film was pleasantly surprising and was an overall entertaining presentation. The film composition is rather creative and innovative in its formatting as the story relies on Skype, Facebook, YouTube, instant messaging, good old email and twitter interspersed with real time footage and photographs gathered on cell phone cameras and video recorders. The technological integration unfolds in a rapidly whirring barrage of clicks, uploads, downloads, copy./pastes and opened windows as the players in the 'game' come and go. While this is distracting to the viewer at times (yes, you have to read alot of the dialogue to be able to follow what is going on- there are texts, IM's and emails galore) it is rather essential to the storyline, with the huge part that modern social technology plays.

Distressing to the stalked and tormented pals is the frequent inability they have to shut down, close out, disconnect from and "unfriend" the intruder to the Skype convo. The intruder controls the communication and has a sixth sense about what the friends are thinking or are going to do, which is rather creepy, as it reads their thoughts. The sinister games, brazen manipulations and malicious revenge begins slowly and whips up a heady stormy wind by the end of the film. The panic and fear of the trapped victims who can't log off or walk away is palpable. The entity gathers their attention and eventual horrified respect as they become willing to do whatever is asked of them. The psychological drama plays out in classic horror film format, with revenge being enacted one by precious one, as the friends panic and turn on one another during an extended game of "never have i ever" , a more modern true confessions form of truth or dare.

The youthful, energetic cast is composed mostly of fresh faced actors, a few who have done a daytime drama or two, nightly series such as Teen Wolf or made appearances in minor movies such as Bling Ring and Ouija. A warning to parents. These kids free fling the profanity and are dabbling in some video sex play so pay attention to the ratings. Sadly there were many kids are the screening who One, couldn't read, Two, shouldn't hear the language, Three, had no business viewing the provocative scenes and Four, were too young to be forced into seeing scary scenes with moderate bloody violence. Keep the youngsters at home. While they will relate to and be familiar with all of the social mediums, the way they are being used is not something appropriate for younger eyes and ears. It is a bit of scary fun but as usual wondering, were there really no adults home at any of the six houses anywhere that night to hear all the screaming and yelling? Nope, not a one. And no parents were called...........
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)



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DIFF2015: Who Am I: No System is Safe



If you are looking for a pretty slick, engaging, fast paced cyber thriller, then this film from Germany is for you. I was highly entertained and it felt like I was injected with adrenaline from the moment it started.

I have to say this off the bat, and that this film is a version of Fight Club. The tone, atmosphere and the cyber hacking reminded me of it. That’s not say this film does bring its own flavor because it does. I would say this film is tad faster paced, but, yes, there is very similar attributes. Without spoiling anything, the film starts out on a kid who is an outcast and eventually becomes friends with a hacking group. They band together and create their group name called C.L.A.Y. They are apart of a culture of other cyber hackers online and they compete to be the best hacker and outdo M.R.X., the head hacker. This is all I will say because it’s a very fun time not knowing what to expect and take this crazy ride into the unknown. Director Baran bo Odar injects his own touch with a cool, slick style, great action, dark, gritty cinematography with great characters. The one thing I really liked was the way cyber space was portrayed. It was in a dark subway with a bunch of hackers in masks talking to each other and it added another layer of grit, creepiness and those scenes were favorite part of the film. There is a twist at the end and I did appreciate it. It didn’t feel forced and really played well with the themes of identity online. When people are online they can be who ever they want and be as many people as you want, creating a new identity since you aren’t satisfied with your own. It’s a good way to escape reality and into fantasy. There is also a lot of deception in this film so it makes you wonder if, as an audience member, you are being played, too. It makes the film more engaging.

All the actors did a good job, but I really liked the main character Benjamin played by Tom Schilling. He played the type of character to where he was unpredictable and that made him captivating to watch. The cinematography was shot in a dark, ominous tone that really complimented the story. The rhythm of this thing really kept a steady heartbeat to the fluidity of it and I enjoyed every pulse-pounding scene.

Overall, this is a fun, good time at the movies. Straight up. It was entertaining from start to finish. 7/10
(Review by Chase Lee)





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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

DIFF2015: She's the Best Thing In It.



Mary Louise Wilson is not exactly a household name, but the Tony winning actress has spend more than 50 years as a versatile stage and screen star. When she won another Tony for her 2007 musical role in Grey Gardens, she reports afterwards “I never worked again”. The offers dried up as producers thought she would ask for more money. So she moves back to New Orleans where she was born and raised to teach Character Acting at Tulane University.

Director Ron Nyswaner follows Ms. Wilson as she asks to be called, or Mary Louise, whatever. Never having taught a class on acting she refers back to her own acting mentor Sanford Meisner. She puts her class though repetitive exercises that confuse and dismay her students. The obtuse instruction to connect with feelings seems baffling. Ms. Wilson admits that she is uncomfortable speaking without memorized lines. The class of aspiring young thespians seem game to try and accept the criticisms as Ms. Wilson explores the concept of being in the moment and finding their real emotional selves. It's hard to say if anyone actually improved as a result. The Tulane students are all sure that this is what they want out of life. Acting is the only thing they know how to do. Although the interviews of the students were filmed a year after their class with Ms. Wilson, it would have been nice to know if they actually got anything useful out her class.

The film is filled with archival footage from Ms. Wilson's long career. She is quite a character herself with some self effacing analysis. She speaks lovingly about her tormented gay brother who took her under his wing when she moved to New York and her older sister who acted in community theater, who passed during the filming of this movie. She barely notes her short lived marriage and some realization that she found herself to be an alcoholic. The stories of moving to LA to pursue television roles made her miserable but she admits that she didn't really want to be there.

There are brief talking head interviews with many established older actresses including Frances McDormand, Estelle Parsons, Tyne Daly, Valerie Harper, Mary Birdsong and Charlotte Rae. They discuss their own process and craft of their profession. The rewards and sacrifices they have had over the years, their own talents to lose themselves into their characters. McDormand says that she didn't learn that from acting class in college. Most agree that you either have it or not.

Ms. Wilson obviously still has it as she is currently performing On the Twentieth Century, singing and dancing at the ripe young age of 83.
(Review by reesa)


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DIFF2015: Frame by Frame




This was my favorite documentary at the Dallas International Film Festival. It was gorgeous, rich in color and haunting beyond belief. This is Frame by Frame.

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they banned all forms of photography and destroyed anything on a photo. Memories wiped away just like that and you can’t get those back. In 2001, when the Taliban fell from power there was something happening, a photojournalism revolution. People were coming out with cameras to capture this ruptured reality that they live in. They wanted to capture the truth and let the world know the horrors they face as a society. The documentary focuses on a few photojournalists whose passion is to tell the truth and take photos of the events around them, their town, and their country. Directors Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli bring us this tragic story through their eyes and what they have experienced. It focused on a few gentlemen and a woman and what drew me the most was the woman. This is a person who is treated poorly because of her gender and shunned for taking photographs. It made me tear up a tad when she said in the film, “Since I am woman, this camera gives me a voice.” It still baffles my head on why women are treated so poorly over in the Middle East. I know it’s not everywhere, but it is most places. I digress. These photojournalists take these disturbing and beautiful photos throughout. We get to see these photos on screen. Some can tell a tale of sadness and loneliness, while others can express the sheer beauty that the area can offer. I won’t say anymore because I want you to experience this breathtaking film for the fight of freedom of expression.

With the beautiful photos being taken, the film is shot on the same caliber with breathtaking cinematography. It’s just a gorgeous film throughout and there is never a dull shot. Every shot was a painting. The film is about an hour and half and I didn’t feel it drag once. The pace is slow but it seeps into your skin and really irritates you. It’s a mix of both emotions of disgust and awe in beauty. It’s a beautiful nightmare that unfortunately, people from over there haven’t woken up from yet. The score also adds a level of emotional pull that was equal parts haunting and inspiring. After the movie was over, I sat there had to really let in sink in. It was that powerful. 9/10
(Review by Chase Lee)





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DIFF2015: Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot



As I am standing in line for this film, Dirk Nowitzki walks passed me and he has about six inches on top on me. I felt short and I am 6’4”. Now I know how the hobbits feel when Gandalf comes to comfort their little hearts in their Keebler Elf house.

Director Sebastian Dehnhardt shows the life of pro-basketball player, Dirk Nowitzki and how he started young in career up until now. There is really nothing more to say. If you like basketball sports or have a general interest in Dirk, then you will love this documentary. If you hate all of those things then you will hate this movie, because that’s all it lays out. I have lived in Texas my whole life and Dallas for about six years and Dirk’s story did interest me because he has been with the Dallas Mavericks for a very long time and follow them every now and then. It starts out with young Dirk playing middle school basketball and a young, spry man named Holgar Geschwindner recruits him to train him to be the ultimate basketball player. What you will notice right away is that the film focuses on Holgar and Dirk a lot. They train together constantly and are practically father and son. Holgar uses physics and geometry to perfect a shot with Dirk’s body structure. Think of it like a master and his apprentice, or like I did, Rocky Balboa and Mickey Goldmill. With focus and hard work, Holgar trained Dirk into a strong player resulting in being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks. We then see Dirk lead the Mavericks to two chances at the finals, winning one of them. Once Dirk won the championship, you could see in his face that he reached the final chapter in the Holgar and Dirk story. It was a triumphant moment for both. The rest of the documentary we focus on Dirk’s family, other players, and his wife and Maverick personnel. And all these people have the same thing to say about him and that’s he is a good person, a hard worker, determined and loves the people surrounded in his life.

From this documentary and what I can see in real life, Dirk is a genuine guy who just loves the game and was never after the fame or money. He was a simple guy from a small town who is now a major superstar and a humble one at that. It’s shot very well and it has a nice clean, bright look. I loved all the sports game footage they used. It’s enthralling to see Dirk play the sport on a big screen like that. This guy will definitely leave a legacy in the NBA. 7/10
(Review by Chase Lee)





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DIFF2015: The Wolfpack



Would if you couldn’t go outside and all you could do was watch movies all day? Actually, I wouldn’t mind that. But, what if you had no friends either, no contact to the outside world? That is the subject in this depressing, but intriguing documentary about six brothers, one wolfpack.

We open up with a scene being re-enacted from Reservoir Dogs and you think that this is cool. There are some guys passionate about movies and just want to have fun with their favorite scenes, I remember doing that. But then the joy is trampled when we realize that these kids have been sheltered their whole life and movies is all they know of the outside world. Director Crystal Moselle shows us the ramifications of six young boys who have been told to stay inside because the world is awful with awful people. Right off the bat I have to say there isn’t much to say about this particular documentary. The whole film shows us the daily life of these boys and them eventually going outside by themselves. There isn’t much plot to it, but what I can tell you the central theme of this movie is fear. Every scene the kids or the parents express fear of the unknown, the outside world. Everyone is scared of something and what you have to do is overcome it. And at the end we see the boys slowly start to do things by themselves outside (get an apartment, get a job, meet girls). They eventually overcome the fear one step at a time and recover their lives before it’s too late. The reason that they stayed sane through all those years was because of movies and their mother. Movies provided an escape from their crappy reality and I can relate to that. I use movies for entertainment, to provoke my brain to thinking and escape crappy situations in my life. The one part that got me was when they finally saw a movie in a theater by themselves. They were so happy when they got out that I got a tear in my eye. Everyone should experience a film in a theater because it’s a first experience that always brings a smile to a face.

There is a lot of regret from the father who made the decision to shelter them. He was the type of guy who said, “ Screw the system, I am not working for the man.” His actions and selfishness lead to this, but I am glad the boys could band together to get out of this situation one step at a time. For a documentary it’s shot really well, especially for being in a small apartment to film everything. The runtime is an hour and twenty-six minutes and I did get a tad bored in the middle as it felt like it came to a standstill in progressing the story.

Overall, it’s a depressing look at a group of sheltered kids, but also puts a smile on your face to see them happy and moving on to create a new life. 8/10
(Review by Chase Lee)





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DIFF2015: Alice in Marialand



I am a huge David Lynch fan and Mulholland Drive is one of my favorite films from him. This movie reminded of Mulholland Drive. It was surreal putting the audience in this beautiful nightmare from start to finish and I am glad I was apart of that experience.

Director Jesus Mangana Vazquez brings us into this dreary situation, but its told in a beautiful, strange setting that its really sticks with you when it is done. Without spoiling anything, this revolves around Tonatiuh and Maria; a couple that is shown happy at one point and at each other’s throats the next. They get into a car accident and Tonatiuh is placed in a coma. Falling in and out of a daze, Tonatiuh looks at a nurse named Alice and incorporates her into his dreams of him and Maria replacing her with Alice. This deals with loss and letting go of your loved ones when there is no more to be loved. With striking visuals, a non-linear story and great acting, we are given a hazy collection of memories, which can resemble a dream since we only remember certain things when are dreaming. Some of the dialogue can be cheesy and take you out of the moment slightly, but it didn’t dampen my experience. This is all I will say about this movie because you should go in blind. The director puts a unique pulse on something I haven’t seen or been surprised at in a long time.

All of the actors do a fantastic job and really sell the idea that each scene could be real or could be fantasy. The chemistry between all three felt like I was watching a real love triangle and they all had genuine feelings for one another. The cinematography was gorgeous ranging from dark, rich colors to the drowned out black and white really showing how much is worn out emotionally between this couple. There were a few green screen shots that looked a tad fake, but it was still gorgeous. If it were a definite dream scene, the bright glow would be on the outer rim of the scene and really capture the look of a bright, hazy dream. The visuals were definitely a nice side dish to this unique story. The pace of this is dead on. It’s not even an hour and a half (86 min) and copulates every second with intrigue. I was glued from the first moment it started.

Overall, this is a beautiful nightmare I couldn’t wake up from as the director holds you by the throat and never lets go with surreal imagery. It’s one of my favorite films from the festival. 9/10
(Review by Chase Lee





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DIFF2015: Being Evel



Icon. Superhero. Daredevil. Stuntman. These are words to describe the only and only Evel Knievel. But, as much of a badass and role model he was, Evel was a broken man who had as much fear as everyone else that watched his stunts.

Produced by Johnny Knoxville and directed by Daniel Junge, we are brought a documentary of the infamous life of this beloved stuntman, but also peel back the layers and show us he was human and had emotions like everyone else. I am not going to lie; it’s hard to review a documentary. This film is basically his life and that’s it, but I can tell you if it’s interesting. It is. I really thought his life was very rich and filled with great people in his life as they supported him through his crazy life. All the people in the interviews told it like it was and said he was a crook and he has messed up in life. I think that’s what makes a great documentary. It’s when you can take a celebrity or an icon and bring them down to a human level and show their mistakes and faults. Evel was not perfect and sometimes he was kind of a terrible human being. So I give the filmmakers props in not shying away from the dark times. Even your favorite heroes have baggage.

The people in the interviews do a great job in telling this story of a legend that we only knew the surface on. Johnny Knoxville was an interviewee and it was great to see his passion on one of his idols growing up. That then translates to the passion of producing the best documentary possible. I was impressed on all the footage and photos they conjured up to gives great visual eye candy over the talking heads. What made this documentary different was that when they would have the interviews going there was a theater screen behind also playing footage they were talking about. The interviews were actually shot well and had some nice lighting and color in the frame. The film is about 100 minutes and it flew by for me. I was enthralled at this guy’s life and if you liked Evel Knievel, I think your eyes will be glued to the screen.

Overall, this is a great documentary to bring a hero down to his knees as we examine a guy who just wanted to be loved and was fearful deep down like most of our in situations in life. He was human and that makes for the best stories. 8/10
(Review by Chase Lee)






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