Dallas Movie Screening

Dallas Movie Screenings started out as a mailing list on Yahoo Groups to facilitate finding free screening passes in the DFW area. When Yahoo Groups shut down, we are now posting screenings on our Facebook page at http://www..facebook.com/groups/dallasmoviescreenings
Earlier 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, July 30, 2015

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Plot: Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

If you were a part of this experiment, would you want to be a guard or a prisoner? It’s interesting to think about but, like one of the lines in the movie, you really don’t know what would happen when placed in the roles. It’s a fascinating experiment that will test your mental state; but will you as a viewer breakdown mentally like the characters? Here’s the deal folks, this movie has been made two other times before so, if you want to reincarnate it again, please make it standout. The 2001 German film Das Experiment tackles this study as well as The Experiment in 2010 made here in the states. I haven’t seen Das Experiment (which I hear is fantastic) but I have seen The Experiment and I thought it was ok. It felt too “Hollywood” and I never felt an emotional weight to it. How does The Stanford Prison Experiment compare? I liked it…a lot.


Pros: Kyle Patrick Alvarez has only directed two films prior and I haven’t seen any of them. After seeing this, I will check out his other work. What he brings to this incarnation is the emotional weight. I bought everything that was happening from the kids partaking in the experiment. He creates a slow deterioration of your mental state as the film progresses putting in right into the situation. That’s the thing I appreciated the most. He brings up fascinating ideas of human cruelty, the justice system, the sense of power or authority and how it can be a dangerous combination.

The film can seem repetitive. It shows the prisoners getting abused by the guards and, minus a few scenes, it’s basically the movie. Billy Crudup plays Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, the man responsible for the study, and I wish there was a tad more character development with him. I wanted more of the creator. Frankenstein’s monster is great and all but I am more interested in Frankenstein.


Pros: Everyone. I haven’t seen a movie in a long time where everyone clicked and was a great ensemble. Every single actor and actress delivers bone-chilling performances, especially the kids. This stars pretty much everyone you have seen in an independent film in the last five years like: Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Michael Angarano, Keir Gilchrist, Thomas Mann, and Johnny Simmons. I am pretty sure the same producer was on all their previous films and brought them together. The guards were really vile and the prisoners were very sympathetic. That’s how you want to feel, but something at the end happened where I felt for the guards. I won’t spoil it; but this moment reflects the entire study and makes you start thinking about the ideas presented in front of you for the past hour and a half.

Cons: I wish there were more moments of Billy Crudup, as stated above, and more scenes of the kids talking after the experiment and how things will change when they cross each other in their daily lives.


Not having seen Das Experiment, I thought this was the best shot one out of the two I have seen. There was a certain glow with that rich golden color that resembled the 1970’s. That’s great because this experiment happened in the 70’s. It’s a good looking film.


Editing/Special Effects

Pros: It’s a fast movie not wasting anytime and dives right into the action. I was engaged the entire time because I was fascinated of the subject matter.

Cons: It might feel repetitive and slow to some people. And as stated above, I wish there were more development and depth for Billy Crudup. This is the type of movie to where I wouldn’t have minded if they added more to this film.

Overall: This is a great interpretation of this study and I was glued in from start to finish. The actors get lost in their roles and the direction shows us a great and disturbing character study. I wish there was more to certain characters, but this is an enticing film that will interest you on the subject alone.

Score: B

*I am trying letters for grading. This is new to me and I am scared.
(Review by Chase Lee)

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A Lego Brickumentary

Who doesn't like Lego's? The classic plastic interlocking building blocks are the go-to toy for every holiday and birthday presents. As the second largest toy company and the only one that specializes in one product, the Danish company has become a global phenomena. Directors Kief Davidson and Daniel Judge who also wrote the documentary with Davis Coombe, traces the history of the origins of how Lego came into being. Narrated by Jason Bateman in the form of a Lego minifigure, quick facts and interviews with Lego designers and Lego aficionados make this film easy and immensely interesting.

Lego was started by a toy carpenter Ole Kirt Christiansen whose forays into making wooden toys was stymied a few times by factory fires. One year he bought a plastic mold machine and on the suggestion of his son to make a building block. They named the toy and company Lego, which means “play well”. The blocks have a patented “clutch power” design that helps keep the Legos in place. Later the grandson came up with the idea of mini-figures which gives Lego's a story when one is building with the pieces. The Lego design team use that concept, the story, to come up with the various Lego kits.

Considering how popular Legos are today, it's hard to believe the company almost went bankrupt. They were mired in a creative rut. That is until they decided to listen to their customer base. People who grew up with Lego's and have become AFOL or Adult Fan of Lego who have group meetings sharing ideas and builds. There was soon conventions like Brick Con in Seattle, Bricks by the Bay, Brick Fiesta, Brickfete, Brick World and Brick Fair. It was at some of these conventions that the Lego design team has recruited some of their staff. It's that willingness to open up the concept to everyone that the idea of the website Cuusoo came into being. Where people can submit their designs, the public votes on them, and the winner gets their design developed into the next Lego kit.

Although a lot of AFOL's are nerdy men, there are plenty of talented women builders who are just as obsessed with Lego's. It was interesting listening to the various builders in their studios with buckets of color sorted pieces on very organized shelving. They buy huge bags of pieces at a time and create massive scenarios to compete at conventions. The Lego movement has also allowed for others to create pieces that Lego will not manufacture like BrickArms, little plastic Lego-type guns for people creating war pieces. Artists have also used Lego's to create 3-D art pieces and some have created stop animated movies. The recent popularity of the Lego movie has brought a new resurgence to Lego.

So many quick fun facts are thrown at the audience like the number of Lego's produced in 2014 would reach more than 24 times around the world. Most of all you may be inspired by the life sized Star War's Two Wing Starfighter made completely by Legos. Brick by brick. The movie opens at the Angelika and some members of the local AFOL's will be on hand with a demonstration of their builds this Saturday morning.
(Review by reesa)

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Mission Impossible:Rogue Nation

Tom Cruise gets some cred for the recent publicity surge regarding his stunts in the latest MI5. Hanging off a flying plane does take some guts, as well as a high speed car and motorcycle chases. Not to mention the various fisticuffs with nameless bad guys. Director/writer Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) starts this adventure shortly after the events in MI4. If you can't remember, it's no big thing. The last one made big bucks, but because this film is better.

Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is after “The Syndicate” who are a shadow group creating what seems to be accidents involving major world figures. It's members turn out to be various bad guys who are supposed to be dead. Everyone thinks that Ethan is delusional and CIA head Hunley (Alec Baldwin) wants the Mission Impossible team disbanded. Especially the mess they made in Russia in the last adventure. The remaining IMF members will be now under the CIA. Benji (Simon Pegg) the computer geek is sent to a desk and has to take psych tests that he's not helping Ethan. Luther (Ving Rhames) quit so he's not working for the CIA. Brandt (Jeremy Renner) works closely with Hunley trying to get him to let up on Hunt. Meanwhile Hunt is captured by what may be the syndicate being set up to be tortured by Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) who for some reason helps him escape from certain death. But she may be working for them...or is she?

While Hunley is trying to track Hunt, Hunt sends a message to Benji to go to an opera in Vienna. There they uncover a plot to kill the Bavarian Prime Minister with three shooters involved including Ilsa. Once more she helps him escape from the glowering bad guys with her impressive fighting skills. She is like a female Ethan Hunt. Luther and Brandt try to get to Hunt before Hunley's team finds him, so they track Ilsa. There are lots of twists and turns, backstabbing, spycraft, some cool gadgets and those facemasks. The who what where and why they are doing this doesn't seem to be all that important, it's just the action sequences and that are basically why these movies remain as popular as they have been.

There are lots of international locations in this film as usual. Belarus, Vienna, Casablanca and London. The concept of the Rogue Nation is a bit of a red herring. The sleight of hand of who is working for who, is all nicely and neatly packaged for the last minute reveal. Simon Pegg steals the show most of the time and rightly so. Cruise is looking a little aged around the edges at the age of 53, the shelf life of his character is creeping up. He still seems fairly agile and game so another film of the series is already in the works for next year.
(Review by reesa)

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Movies Scheduled 7/26-8/1

Big Fan Boy is giving away swag from the movie Pixels. All you have to do is go to Zeus Comics at 3 p..m. today.

We have some newbies so make sure you look at the pass and see how many people it can admit. Most of the time it is for two people. You can always ask for passes if you don't win any but please make sure you try to win them before asking. We do have the same few people who are always asking for passes.

Now when you want to reply to someone don't just hit reply like you would normally do. All that does is goes right back to the group and gets denied! You need to reply to the sender down close to the bottom of the email it has who sent the email. Just copy their email address and hit forward and put that email in and bam they get the email and you can possibly get the ticket you want/need! That will make everyone happy and when y'all are happy I am happy!

Oh and if you are not signed up for the Angelika newsletter then most of the time you can go to their facebook page and it is there most of the time.

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

Sunday July 26th

Monday July 27th

Man From U.N.C.L.E. 7:30 p.m. Angelika Dallas
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 7:30 p.m. AMC Valley View
Shaun the Sheep 7:00 p.m. Angelika Dallas

Tuesday July 28th

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 7:30 p.m. AMC Northpark
Asian Movie Madness: Kung Fu Killer Alamo Drafthouse

Wednesday July 29th

Mission Impossible:Rogue Nation Inwood
Samba 7:30 p.m. Angelika Dallas

Thursday July 30th

Friday July 31st

Saturday August 1st

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

AFFD: Wild City

Wild City is a gruesome but intriguing look at a former cop, his brother, and a woman’s quest to end a gang war with them in Hong Kong. A woman named Yun gets drunk at T-Man, the cop’s, bar one night and gets his family involved in fighting a gang who’s trying to kill her. She also carries a case with dirty money and gold which is related to her former lover who is an attorney affiliated with the gangs. What made the sliced limbs and bloody bullets comfortable for me was that the protagonists were fierce good guys. T-man and his brother Chung, who help Yun end this chase, are dangerous forces of protection against the gangs. There are some scenes that are so second by second you think that they will get killed by close proximity. Yet, in reality they swing ferociously with the gang’s own knifes or slam the gangs rapidly to the point where the brothers are untouchable. Being a former cop, T-Man knows how to kill with his hands and plot situations where the gang is vulnerable. I love the type of action thrillers where the lead is or was in law enforcement. I really liked the small points where the brothers get back at certain gang members who hurt them. Even though at one point T-Man slices against an alive young member, there was a strange justice that I felt. The 3rd or 4th scene in where Yun is being kidnapped is very thrilling as you see T-Man and Chung tag-teaming to find the car. Chung is almost crushed by a semi and T-Man is attacked by several members. Knowing that even not 25 minutes in the film that level of loudness was all over the filmed city was very gratifying. Despite Chung’s teenager-like attitude, T-Man has a very straight, disciplined, and persistent personality that’s offsets his brother. Obviously don’t bring a 14 year old to this but do see it if you want to see some edgy urban battles. The Asian community makes fantastic films that sometimes beat anything made in the US. This was an example of a stimulating gangster film that was as not aggressive as to be indigestible. In the first scene I thought T-Man was actually a crooked cop when he said that everything has a price. I do realize now that that may be but some who are powerful can choose to fight for weaker majority.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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AFFD: A Girl Next Door

A Girl at My Door questions the real minds of people beyond their public figure. It also questions our hearts and asks how far we are willing to go to do the mandatory for the right in the world. The film takes us to a difficult level in the exploration of a police chief’s interactions with a severely abused girl and her corrections of what is wrong in her boundaries. I was horrified in a film that was a thousand miles away from the dumb horror genre. The actors seemed to permeate their story through the screen. Their acting would have surely won at least one Academy Award in the US. I truly believed the man playing Mr. Park, the child’s father, was the most sadistic father one had ever met. In reality I hope that off the camera he had a great relationship with the actress playing Dohee, the child. One of the first parts in this winding path is when the chief accidentally sprays Dohee with water from her car. She immediately stops while the child runs away and the audience is let known the specialness of the chief’s soul. Unlike when I get soaked during a storm while waiting for the bus, here is a character who responds to a stranger with immediate consideration. The chief has been transferred to this town along the water for an occurrence in Seoul that brought trouble. It is a little bit of semi-comedic relief when the chief brings her own case of water because she does not trust the tap water in the town. An older lady responds with a little offended talk. The child with her dirty hair and dirt on her clothes is like a familiar landmark leading to a destination of darkness. I knew from the first scenes of Dohee that she was in a harmful situation. The horridness I mentioned earlier immediately jumps aboard like a fish on a boat when you see the father, Mr. Park, holding the child’s head and punching her face. He screams “Come here you little b*@!#!”. The demons that can come into people surround Dohee as you realize even her Grandmother is on her son’s side. The chief enters the scene of the continued beating and puts the father into an arm trap while the Grandmother screams. This circumstance of an endangered child is very real and could be right in your school, work, or rec center. This expertly laid out screenplay does not let us pretend or not recognize the children who are living in a pool of evil. These human beings need people like the police chief to rescue them before they drown.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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AFFD: Women Who Flirt

The theme of this film is similar to teen rom-coms in America where the normal young woman must transform in order to get the handsome young man to pay attention to her. Director Ho-Cheung Pang of Love in a Puff, that previously screened at AFFD, wrote the script with Luk Yee-sum based on a book by Luo Fu-man. It's a funny premise when it involves adult characters and the film securely rides on the charisma lead actress Xun Zhou as Angie, who despite her aversion to women who use their feminine wiles to attract the man, she is game enough to try anything.

Angie (Xun Zhou) has had a one way love with her best friend Marco (Xiaoming Haung) since her college days. She even gave up on her dream of being an artist to work with Marco after they graduated. One night Marco says he met someone on his last business trip and is excited to have his bestie meet her. Angie hides her panic and disappointment and later seeks advice from May (Yi-Lin Hsieh). May calls in reinforcement from what she calls her Barbie Army and they go to work trying to teach Angie how to use her female prowess. The clothes, the makeup, the baby talk manner in manipulating a guy to do anything for you are things that Angie truly despises. When Marco asks her to meet his new girlfriend Hailey (Sonia Sui), the restaurant was changed from a fancy location to a street food vendor. Marco is surprised to see Angie got dolled up and looking good. But he's oblivious to Hailey's over enthusiastic greeting to Angie as a hostile warning shot to the other woman. Angie armed with a blue tooth is reporting to her friends news from the front. The Barbie Army becomes even more determined when they realize they are up against a formidable opponent who knows all the tricks of flirting.

Angie is set up on some test dates while the women watch from other table. As much as she tries, flirtation does not come easy to her. But to her defence her date material are enough for her to end each one with a declarative “I HATE you”. Soon the army is teaching her how to say that with a softer edge that is part whine, part pout. Angie, as Marco's supervisor at work, doesn't give him time off to spend the weekend with Haily. So Marco sends her off on her biking trip so she can spend with her friends. Angie then asks Marco to go with her to an art exhibit because he had given her an IOU back in college when he made her miss the exhibit at that time. Marco is surprised and touched that she kept those things, but then he also kept all the stuff she gave him back then. He did at one time consider asking Angie for a date, but he considered her a dude. Certainly not the sweet, childish woman like Haily. The plan was almost successful until Hailey sees a tweet by Angie showing them having a good time together.

Guys in these types of movies never seem to fare well. Women who use those flirting techniques also seem to have lower opinions of men as they can easily manipulate them to do their bidding. It's a very light flippant comedy where both sexes just are as shallow and self involved as the other. Just as long as you don't get bonged down in gender politics or any serious philosophical issues, you can just kick back and laugh at the antics and the power of flirting or not to flirt.
(Review by reesa)

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Fight movies are brutal and this new feature written by Kurt Sutter and directed by Antoine Fuqua does not shy away from the realities of what boxing does to the participants. The big concern over head injuries that occur in other sports like football is even more evident in the game of boxing. The big fast money and fame will not help you out when you are “punch drunk” for one too many hits on the noggin. The story also touches on the craziness of how the once were mighty and how quickly they fall. You have to sort that out during the mostly melodramatic story of redemption riding with the balls to the walls performance by Jake Gyllenhaal.

Jake plays Billy Hope, a 43-0 boxer who knows how to take a punch. The bloody excessive style in the ring is hard to watch. He's lets the blows come before finding that power to come back and save the day. His wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) has known him since they were both kids in the foster system from Hell's Kitchen. They have come up in the world living in a mansion now with their daughter Lelia (Oona Laurence). Billy is generous to his posse who surround him since childhood to his success. His manager/agent Jordan (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) wants him to sign a new 30 million dollar contract with a cable network. But Maureen begs him to quit to spend some time with their family, not when his brain is too scrambled to enjoy it. At a charity event Billy is egged on by and up and comer Miguel “Magic” Cantu (Miguel Gomez) which turns into a tragedy. This is where the kleenex comes out.

Maureen used to be the brains of their partnership. Billy becomes lost and inconsolable turning to drinking and drugs. Soon the custody of his daughter is taken away until he can clean up his act. He turns to Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) who runs Wills Gym. Their contentious relationship has a slow start until Billy can prove that he really wants to change. The second part of the film's focus is on Billy's transformation and establishing a new relationship with his daughter who is now in a state home. The music does the usual hip-hop soundtrack by Eminem while we fast forward through Wills' training sessions. But not as iconic as the Rocky theme. The final act is all about the fight between Magic and Hope which even though you know in the back of your mind the outcome, it's still exciting to watch.

Gyllenhaal who was so brilliant in Nightcrawler and does the same with Billy Hope. He's never looked so lean and lethal with his swollen face and bloody eye. And Whitaker is his usual excellent self. The chemistry between the two makes the movie interesting and have heart. The story itself is somewhat predictable and pulls heavily on the heartstrings. The fight scenes are well executed action-wise although nothing like watching the Friday night fights on TV. The power of Gyllenhaal makes the film worth watching. It's too bad the story was so manipulative.
(Review by reesa)

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

AFFD: Eat With Me

The Asian American cast and filmmakers is presumably the reason why it's included in this year's program at the Asian Film Festival Dallas. But the issues and story should be identifiable to most everyone no matter what ethnicity. Director/writer David Au presents his debut feature film that is funny and unexpected. It's been featured in film festivals all over the world and winning awards. So if you missed the charming little film you can watch it Online at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/eatwithme?r=davidau

Emma (Sharon Omi) is a nice quiet older woman whose most exciting moment in her daily life is smothering her food in hot sauce. One night her husband Ray (Ken Narasaki) cuts off his wedding band because it's giving him a headache. When Emma asks if he's going to have it fixed, he blames the headache. So Emma jumps on the train and heads to see her son Elliot (Teddy Chen Culver) who runs and cooks at a Chinese restaurant left to him by his mother's brother. Emma and Elliot are a estranged since when he came “out” to her, she did not take it well. So he's surprised to see her at his store asking if she can stay with him. Awkwardness abounds as Elliot hides the fact he's behind on his store mortgage and customers are dropping. Not only his mom, but his co-workers Jenny (Jamila Alina) and James (Scott Keiji Takeda) both tell him his food is boring and they need to spice up the menu.

Elliot is basically in a rut just like his mom. Emma has no clue what she is doing but finds some freedom in cleaning her son's house without her husband around. She meets the eccentric neighbor Maureen (Nicole Sullivan) who invites her in enabling her to drink, go to a belly dancing class, and get her to talk about what's bugging her. Especially after she discovers Elliot's Beefcake magazines. Meanwhile Elliot who has some intimacy issues feeling dissatisfied with friends with benefits booty calls. Until he meets Ian (Aidan Bristow) who after a quick hook up in the mens bathroom at the club where Ian is playing and is confused when Ian gives him his phone number. Ian meets him the next day and tells Elliot that there may be something between them and wants to take it slow.

In a hilariously silly sequence Emma mistakenly takes some ecstasy at Maureen's thinking it was aspirin and forces Maureen to do some too so she is not alone during the experience. For the first time Emma lets her hair down. When she goes back to Elliot's place she discovers her son and Ian sleeping in his bed. Confused she goes for a walk and gets some sage advice from gay guru George Takei who she meets at the park.

Outstanding performances from Sharon Omi and Teddy Chen Culver as they learn to communicate with each other. The light in Emma's eyes as Elliot asks her to show him how to make dumplings will steal your heart. The sex scenes are done tastefully and it helps the cast is attractive (as in hot). Nicole Sullivan is a hoot. Just wish the camera wasn't so close to everyone's faces all the time. The last part of the movie ties everything up nice and neatly, it's all feel good but you may want to indulge in some handmade Chinese dumplings afterwards. Truly. Call your order in before seeing this movie.
(Review by reesa)

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AFFD: Golden Cane Warrior

This story is about a girl, Dara, who is given a golden cane with the responsibility of learning a very special move. After she is given it, her master, Cempaka, is killed and the cane is stolen by her other two fellow students. She then fights to get it back with the help of a friend Elang and her other fellow student Angin. This film blended nature with martial arts. The use of the cane in fighting on the fields of grass really gave this film a different look than a city-like Jackie Chan film. I absolutely loved the story of two students who turn on their master and become really evil people. The way that Dara has a clear resistance to what is wrong is very appealing in this great Asian flick. Angin, who is the youngest student, pulls off a very serious and protective-like character which is convincing. There were not really any graphic scenes of blood but what was needed to be true to the illusion was implemented. Of course, there were massive leaps that the warriors take which are humanly impossible which makes the experience all the more fun. Elang was a vital character in the story as he is the backup battery to the force of good of Dara. Cempaka, who is only in there for the beginning, is a calm but strengthened master who pulls off some moves that make people question how she can do that being her age. She also states that killing a person equals a feeling of loss. That line shows the character’s level of maturity. I just love stories involving action that have a good protagonist who fights against the wrong whatever that may be. The line that says the life of a warrior is like a very long tunnel was a very deep analogy to me. It is mentioned in the first lines of the film. The person speaking mentions enemies lurking in the darkness of the tunnel but that there is always light at the end. I think that many audiences should see this as it is not dumbed down but it has a great message. You fight for what was rightfully given to you against the evil fallings of other individuals. It also let people know that being with others who are willing to help in a tough situation is being a team that it is stronger than one person. This was a high-flying piece that was as entertaining as it was teaching.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

AFFD: The Great Hypnotist

The Asian Film Festival Dallas always has interesting and complicated dramas on it's schedule of films each year. The Great Hypnotist is an entertaining, psychological thriller that is sometimes over done, but is definitely impressive. Directed by Leste Chen who also wrote the script with Endrix Ren challenges the viewer with it's supernatural elements and dimensional shifts. The Euro-gothic set decoration is intriguing as well with this huge chandelier that looks like a spider. The visions and cinematography presented seem often like a sleight of hand that is aimed at distracting one from some plot holes. But it's still fun to watch.

Xu Zheng plays Dr. Xu Ruining a psychiatrist who lectures a university class on the technicalities of hypnotism. Brisk and arrogant, he's a man who is confident in his skills. He is asked by his academic mentor Professor Fang (Lv Zhong) to help a patient who has stumped other psychiatrists with her claims of seeing dead people. Ren Xiaoyan (Karen Mok) show up at Xu's eerie clinic that has sounds bumping upstairs to add to it's unnerving atmosphere. Xu is a bit eccentric too with his quick and somewhat manic mannerisms. He challenges Ren's claim to see dead people. But she is also intelligent, wily and seems to often times turn the table on Xu. Ren doesn't care that she is seeing these visions, she just wants to know why.

Xu is known for putting patients under hypnotism more than once per session. Every time he uncovers something in Ren's story, he calls an associate to verify the information. Ren counters each discovery with her own challenge to Xu and at times it seems she is hypnotizing Xu. Of course there are times when the film seems like it's hypnotizing the audience making it drag in the middle. The shifts in balance between the two is well played especially by Hong Kong singer/actress/fashionista Mok who is sometimes sexy, coy, innocently vulnerable. While Xu plays his doctor like he needs a Xanax. The tight scenes often feel like a stage play that keeps the claustrophobic aura around the characters. The layers of the story keeps the audience guessing, but there's a good chance that you will probably figure it out fairly early on. The ending feels a little too tightly wrapped up with a bow. But the journey to it's conclusion is worth the time spent seeing ghosts.
(Review by reesa)

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AFFD: Someone Else

Director/writer Nelson Kim was raised in New Jersey and used the French film Cousins as the bare bones basis of his long feature movie debut. The low budget Kickstarter funded film was shot in Queens and around the actor's other schedules. It took a couple of years of working on the script and six years to get the film completed from the eighteen day shoot. It had it's Southwest premiere at the 14th Annual Asian Film Festival in Dallas which brought some interesting reactions to this puzzle film.

Jamie (Aaron Yoo) moves from Virginia to New York City for a summer job as an associate lawyer. He's hoping to leave his old life behind as he embarks on a new adventure and recreate himself. He's rooming with his cousin Will (Leonardo Nam) who has this really nice place and gives Jamie the small as a closet extra room. Will is more vivacious than the quiet and socially awkward Jamie. Will has some entrepreneurial ideas that so far has not panned out, but that doesn't stop his enthusiasm. He takes Jamie out for a few drinks and meets up with Kat (Jackie Chung) with whom he becomes immediately smitten. A feeling of guilt quickly overtakes him and he runs out after telling everyone that he just got engaged to his long time girlfriend Yoo Jin (also played by Jackie Chung). Jamie ends up breaking up with Yoo Jin and starts a relationship with Kat. He becomes more assertive at work and is finally feeling like everything is going well. But he's also indulging in cocaine first provided by Will and his hold on reality starts to slip. He's paranoid, can't sleep and believes Will is taking over Kat.

When things look bleak, the filmmaker changes lanes and suddenly events are not what them seem. Was it a dream? The replay doesn't seem like Jamie's life is any better when he decides not to snort the coke that led him down the wrong path. So while your head is still spinning another scenario is presented and it leaves the audience to decide what is reality and what is a figment of Jamie's with fulfilment. It's one of those movies that are open to interpretation. The director's use of mirrors as sort of metaphor for Jamie's sense of identity. The actors do a great job, especially Aaron Yoo who inhabits Jamie's various emotional and physical torments so effectively. So go see this, then go have coffee and talk it over with your friends.
(Review by reesa)

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AFFD: Pale Moon

This crime drama is set in Japan and tells the overboard story of Rika. Rika is a part-timer at a bank who just made employee status and at home she just leads a boring life. Rika then decides to go off the deep end and steals people’s money through her transactions leading to a life of fake luxury. She also has an affair with a significantly younger man who is just leeching off of her. This film sort of reminds me of The Wolf of Wall Street but in a more orderly way. Unlike Jordan Belfort, Rika is a very under the radar type of person. The fact that she gets into so much theft is not comprehensible from her demeanor in the beginning of the film. She has such an innocent attitude in the beginning that it seems that a rich old man whom she services is trying to have sex with her. That scene was quite ridiculous. The film takes an informing turn when you first see the young man mentioned earlier stalking her on the train. You know that the choices Rika will make will lead to a disaster for her stability. Her trip down the rabbit hole of crime was thoroughly communicated with her forgery, her spending, and her impure sexual relations. The key point scene is when Rika takes money from a customer’s account for the first time to buy cosmetics. She figures she will just pay it back. I could hear the audience around me murmur “Don’t do it.” That action by the character is like having a password hint on the computer. Once you see it and you put thoughts together, you know the result. This whole film was about a person’s sense of greed and how it can overcome you like a server being in the weeds. Once you have gotten enough money in an unethical way, you realize that the work needed to cover it up will soon be impossible. If you want to be intertwined with interest of a character’s outcome watch Pale Moon. Maybe for some people it can take away the urge to make bad choices just for a temporary pleasure. It was tough to watch but I didn’t think at all that it was a waste of time. Being selfish is there in some of the people we encounter in the world. Rika is the right choice for a tool to show us that so much selfishness can actually become cruelty. As the 25 year veteran coworker of Rika says, “Money is just paper. It’s fake and it can’t make us free.”
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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AFFD: Dearest

Dearest tells the story of two parents who lose their 3 year old child and the search for him through heart-breaking events. Losing a child is horrific and can ruin the parent’s lives. This concept in the film was accurately portrayed and showed the extent of the parents’ effort to resolve this feeling of anguish. When the film opens, the father, Tian Wen-Jun, is using the child to argue with his ex-wife, Lu Xiao-Juan. You feel sorry for the child because he has no idea what he is involved in. At the same time one feels frustration with the father for using his own offspring for disruptive causes. How the child disappears from the father is incredible. The scene involves no adult supervision and tragedy soon takes place. When I was watching this little child stray away from his friends at the playground I could feel alarming concern. The night shots where the father is calling everyone he can to find his child carried the chaos of Tian’s mind. As the clock reaches 3 hours past the last sight of the child, the audience feels the spiking anxiety of both of the parents. In my view the first hours of the child’s absence are the most important shots to shoot. There is even a wide search at the airport from a father who is reaching beyond desperate. The actor for Tian Wen-Jun captured the fear that would be in a parent’s eyes right on the dot. The degrading of mental sanity for both characters is captured as Lu Xiao-Juan hits Tian repetitively in the police station. You know that doesn’t help and it just takes the story to a heightened level of negativity. The most disturbing occurrence in the film is when the father is getting calls from conmen asking for ransom who actually don’t have the child. One is given a plate full of the reality of people with no morals. The cruelty of people is shown fully with guts out there. One man in poverty is trying to sell his boy to Tian because he can’t afford to take care of him. Me, being attached to the poor, took that 30 seconds very uneasily. In one conmen exchange Tian ends up warding off 5 or so men with a knife while begging for them to stop assaulting him. It is so disgusting that they are chasing him only for the money and were going to give him another boy as his son. The everyday unhappiness of not having your own flesh and blood was put beautifully in the dialogue. The filmmaker, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, really created a rush up the spine of the uncertainty and grief that happened to this real life family.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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Monday, July 20, 2015

AFFD: Ballerino

This picture from Korea tells the story of a North Korean defector, Pyeongho, working with the help of instrumental people to become a ballerino and be reunited with his sister. The film opens with Pyeongho working two jobs to support himself while living with a friend. It’s not until he steps into a ballet school that his life begins to take unbelievable jumps. What really hit me was that the lead goes through so much in this film. The filmmaker really wanted to translate what it meant to be separated from your family and undergo escaping your country at the risk of death. The lead has a quietness about him that made his magnificent journey through the world of ballet so much more humbling. The star of the Korean ballet ends up teaching Pyeongho with toughness and reluctance that eventually leads to caring. One choice that the lead makes in the film is to not work as much even though he needs the money in order to practice for an audition. This film teaches the concept of grabbing an opportunity by the throat even when faced with circumstantial opposition. The star Ballerino teacher has to learn to be less prideful after he loses a role early in the film to another company member. We see a gradual change installed in him through his relationship with Pyeongho and his former girlfriend. This explaining of people’s struggles and the way they think was clear to see in the film. Extra pushing for hard work was all over the screen with the sweat sprinkling off the heads of the rising star and his teacher. Conflict’s consequences were gripping me as I watched what happens to Pyeongho. I can’t imagine what it is like to witness a family member taken away from you in a desperate time. A flashback shows this exactly as Pyeongho loses his sister while crossing the burying fields of grass to South Korea. Pyeongho’s friend wishes he could be home again to be with his family and see the stars even if he doesn’t eat. This tear from people closest to you gets repeated and permeates Pyeongho throughout the two hours of story. There is a pivotal scene where the lead copies the moves of the star ballerino teacher from the back of him. The student’s potential to be a professional dancer is realized by the teacher in a way that sparks up their relationship for the rest of the film. With various belittling wounds happening close together, Pyeongho does not give up. Films like this have a purpose of many to let people in on how others live and show how they keep on going with perfect effort.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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AFFD: Northern Limit Line

Northern Limit Line explains through vivid tales of brotherhood the story of South Korean Battleship 357 having a detrimental attack by the North Koreans. The well-developed characters also revolve around the 2002 FIFA World Cup in which South Korea played against Turkey. This was definitely a nose-dive into an impeccable drama. The mirror images that bounce off the screen of the World Cup and the almost dead survivors of the attack stun the audience with their contrast. One is faced with the gruesome casualties these real men endured while fans crowded the football stadium. The lead character, Park Dong Hyuk, and his shipmates share food together, sleep in very close quarters, and share the final climatic battle caring for the other human being. The first drill portrayed on screen occurs right after a win for the national soccer team and has the men speed crazily to get in position. Scenes like that gripped the fast and orderly reality of the military fascinatingly. Park is told within hours of stepping on to the ship that one shot from the North Korean artillery bridge will sink their ship immediately. This almost gears up the audience with anxiety for the last 30 or so minutes of the intense drama. The unity of the group on the ship comes with the jokes that the men use with one another. One scene when the men are discovered eating noodles, the commander makes them do 100 paused pushups. Instead of saying 1 and 2 for each pause in the exercise, the men yell food terms of what they just ate. These moments are so sorely missed during and after when the tragedy takes place. I have to say that this picture made me know each character like they were really in my life. Like I said before, the character development was so detailed that it basically created the Facebook page in my mind for the main men in the film. One of Park’s friends, CPO Han, deals with tremors in his right hand which makes his job as a steer even more demanding. A brief and close encounter with the North Koreans early in the film puts CPO Han in the film goers eyes more closely. This character who is based on a real person is very relatable to somebody who is put before a painful obstacle. Director Kim Hak-soon draws love for these men with a supremely executed war drama.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Movies Scheduled 7/19-7/25

I want to thank y'all who have posted to the facebook page on contests and other ways to get passes. Y'all don't know how helpful that is!

One thing I have noticed that people are using chairs from the theater and when the line moves to go in they just leave the chair in line. If you are going to move their chairs you should move them back to where you got them!

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

Sunday July 19th

The Explorers 3:00 p.m. Texas Theater

Monday July 20th

Vacation 7:30 p.m. Angelika Dallas

Tuesday July 21st

Pixels 7:30 p.m. AMC Northpark

Wednesday July 22nd

Pixels 7:30 p.m. Cinemark 17
Southpaw 7:30 p.m. Angelika Dallas

Thursday July 23rd

Straight Outta Compton 4:00 p.m. Cinemark West
Cooties 7:30 p.m. Angelika Dallas
Vacation 7:30 p.m. AMC Mesquite
Vatican Tapes AMC Northpark

Friday July 24th

Saturday July 25th

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AFFD: The Big Match

This is the type of foreign film that makes audiences in the US wonder where has the enthralling experience of action gone to. In this smashing (literally) comedy from Korea, Iko, an MMA fighter, is forced to get his brother back from the hands of crooks. He does this by completing extremely risky and painful stunts all across town to facilitate a gambling ring held by ‘Ace’. Before the blood starts marking people’s faces, Iko’s brother thinks that Iko is crying because his opponent was disqualified from a fight. What starts off the sneaky humor of the film is that Iko is making a “crying” sound actually from eating noodles. The funny man off the leash in the film is Iko’s sister-in-law. There’s a scene when Iko first doesn’t know what happened to his brother and the sister screams so quickly over the phone that she almost throws it on the street. Perhaps this family character was some comedic relief from the more graphic scenes of this gangster action comedy. In the same scene Iko talks to Ace through a small communication device in a holding cell and the detective says “What a psycho.” Some of these perfectly timed reactions from the detective and sister-in-law made most of the laughs. The stunt sequences were unbelievable. They’re firing rubber bullets that make holes in concrete at Iko and then he steps on two parallel walls to get over a barrier. The stunt man or men used in this production were incredibly fit for this project. One of the harder scenes for me was when the hostage brother is getting pummelled in the face by a mob and Iko has to sing karaoke during it. It caused some pretty deranged laughter in the theater considering the circumstances. Once again the sister-in-law shines in the lights when she breaks into the detective’s office and almost snaps his arm. The fight for family story is taken to an extreme to cause hard laughter and hard to watch shots. I think the section that I most applaud the quality of is the stunt in the football stadium. There are some fun and energizing aerial shots that can’t be missed of the fighting bull trying to meet his brother. The one final aspect I have to appreciate is the technology used like smart bracelets, offices in Mercedes-Benz, and blank tablets that project the screen. I’m pretty sure we do not have these in the US. If the Korean director CHOI Ho can make films of this caliber, I’m going to look him up on Netflix.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

AFFD: How to Steal a Dog

Directed by Kim Sung-ho who wrote the screenplay with Shin Yeon-shick based an American children's book by Barbara O'Conner. It's a delightful and touching adventure of a little girl who plans a robbery to get what she wants which is a place to live. This South Korean production is full of fun and whimsy with some poignant moments of how tweeners see life and the adults around them.

Ji-So (Lee Re) lives with her mom Jung-Hyun (Kang Hye-Jung) and little brother Ji-Suk (Hong Eun-Taek) in the family's pizza van. The father took off one day and left them with no money and no place to live when the creditors came to take it all back. Mom tries and does her best getting a job waiting tables at Marcel's, a fancy restaurant. A former boyfriend Soo-Young (Lee Chun-hee) manages the place for his rich aunt Kim Hye-Ja. The aunt is obsessed with collecting pieces of art and the nephew is upset thinking the money from her estate will be gone by the time he gets it.

Ji-So becomes upset when her best friend Chae-Rang (Lee Ji-Won) follows her back to the van. Ji-So has to confess that she lives there and will understand if she doesn't want to be friends with her. But Chae -Rang promises not to tell anyone and they become confidants. When a teacher asks Ji-So if she is having a birthday party at her house like her other classmates do, Ji-So stresses that she has no where to live and doesn't want anyone to know. The girls see an add at a Realtor that says $500 per square. Ji-So and Chae-Rang thinks per square is a location like Times Square. Ji-So finds that number everywhere and considers that it's a sign. So she figures out a plan to get the money when she sees an ad for a reward given for finding a lost dog. The elaborate plan includes clever stickers, cut outs and popups in her notebook. The girls decide to take the dog that belongs to the rich woman who owns Marcel and bring it back to her for the award. What they don't know is that the greedy nephew is in ca-hoots with con-man unbeknownst to him of course. F.T. Island's idol Lee Hong-Ki plays Suk-Goo a pizza delivery guy who gets blackmailed by Ji-So to help steal the dog. Choi Min-Soo is the three fingered homeless guy who builds a dog house for Wol-Ri the dog (Gary).

What is interesting is how these 10 year old girls wander all around the city with no supervision. That is something that you don't see in American cities. Lee Re is wonderful as the little girl who just believes her father is lost and will come home when he finds his way. She figures that is why her mother doesn't move far from her school so the dad will know how to find them. Mom tries her best to be positive and feels badly when Ji-So acts out her frustrations with their living predicament. The little brother Ji-Suk is wonderful as the one who brings reality to the nuances of the heist with helpful and important questions for the girls to consider. This is a great family film, however non-Korean speaking children will need to read subtitles.
(Review by reesa)

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AFFD: The Last Reel

Some 300 films were made between 1965 and 1975 before the dark days of the Khmer Rouge destroyed with all but 30 films that survived. The filmmakers however did not. This debut film by Cambodian director Sotho Kulikar blends a bit of the country's history and the young people who must come to grips with the ghosts that surround their parents with a screenplay by Ian Masters.

The story shows Sophoun (Ma Rynet), a pretty young university student who has poor choice in men. Her boyfriend Veasna (Rous Mony) is a bad boy who pulls a gun at any confrontation including trying to win a prize for his girl at a carnival. “Phoun” is upset to hear her father Colonel Bora (Hun Sophy) is coming home which means he has found someone to marry her off. Her mother Sothea (Dy Saveth) is debilitated by a bad spells of depression. Her father's locks Phoun in her room when she returns after a night of partying with Veasna, so she takes off via the window and hides out at the old cinema that is being used to park scooters. She discovers the building's owner Vichea (Sok Sothun) is playing a film on the projector. Phoun is mesmerized by the story, but even more intrigued to discover the lead actress is her mother. Vichea tells her the last reel of the film is missing. Phoun assumes that Vichea was the director and tells him that they should finish remaking the missing part of the movie. Recruiting the film professor at her university, her enthusiasm even gets her boyfriend Veasna to play the role of the masked peasant. Veasna is hiding out anyways from a rival gang that was encouraged by her father to track him and Phoun.

The truth about her parents and the lost film takes a toll on Phoun. Once considered a beer girl by Veasna's friends who believe that he's lost his “balls” because of her, Phoun is determined that if she finishes the movie she can show it to her mother and bring her back from the what ever haunts her. Phoun's father has some secrets too and it's all tightly bound by the nightmare of the past. While Phoun finds herself a new destiny, she also unlocks some family secrets that need to be confronted. The aftermath of the Pol Pot regime still effects today's Phnom Penh and it's inhabitants. This movie is unique in shining a light on how those days are affecting the culture and relationships of the parents and their children. Hopefully we will be seeing more films from Cambodia through film festivals like the Asian Film Festival Dallas.
(Review by reesa)

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