The Dallas Movie Screening Group

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

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

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

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

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

Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Green Room




Opening:

Heavy metal and graphic, brutal violence? It sounds like another music video waiting to happen, but this movie also caters to this and it’s extremely entertaining. Let’s get reel and break this down.

Plot:
After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads.

Directing/Writing

Pros:

Director/Writer Jeremy Saulnier creates a tense, thrill ride with enough flair and style to call it something fresh and unique. I have never seen his previous film Blue Ruin but after seeing this one I want to check that one out. The way he uses violence has a brutal and yet majestic quality to it really adding a cool, midnight movie atmosphere. The story is a survival story and you are rooting for the main characters to escape the terrors of these neo-nazis, but told in a fun, exciting way.

Cons:
Some of the dialogue can sound and come across cheesy but the B-movie quality of the movie kind of complements it.

Acting

Pros:

Everyone does well but the two standouts are Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart. They both step out of their comfort zone. Anton is likeable and kicks a lot of butt in the violent scenes and Patrick is horrifying in every scene but extremely captivating. I wish there were more scenes with his character because he is just that good.

Cons:
None.

Cinematography

Pros:

The claustrophobic tone of the film really puts us in the moment with the rich colors (especially green), harsh lighting, and beautiful, haunting gore effects.

Cons:
None.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

The suspense alone provides an edge-of-your-seat experience and has a great rhythm to the story. I was never bored.

Cons:
The hard-R violence can be extreme for some people and be a turnoff. I wanted more of this movie but this type of genre I know isn’t for everyone.

Overall:
If you like those midnight movies with graphic violence and a fun tone you will like this one. However, the colorful cinematography, Stewart’s fantastic performance, and the adrenaline pumped throughout are enough to see it.

Grade: B
(Review by Chase Lee)








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Mother's Day




Director Garry Marshall is back with another holiday ensemble movie from a script by Tom Hines, Anya Kochoff Romano and Matt Walker. Like Valentine's Day (2010) and New Year's Eve (2011), the film covers several intersecting character in some personal crisis so we can laugh at their predictable confrontations. Set in a small Georgia town where mostly Caucasians reside in perfectly appointed homes dealing with the day to day trials of being a parent. It's amusing and ultimately forgettable.

We are introduced to Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), a divorced mother of two boys whose ex-husband Henry (Timothy Olyphant) has confessed he had eloped with his young girlfriend Tina (Shay Mitchell). She is feeling possessive of her boys, not wanting to have some young thing share motherhood with her. She is friends with Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister Gabbi (Sarah Chalke) who share a house with Jesse's Indian doctor husband Russell (Aasif Mandvi) and their son, and Gabbi's lesbian wife (Cameron Esposito) and their child. They are hiding from their conservative parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine) who live in Texas. Britt Roberston plays Kristen is a waitress who had a baby with her long time boyfriend Zach (Jack Whitehall) who wants to marry her, but she has some issues to resolve like finding her bio mom. Gym owner Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is still mourning the loss of his wife (briefly seen on video, Jennifer Garner). He has two girls and thinks they will skip mother's day. Then there is Julia Roberts playing the uptight career woman Miranda who has built her fortune on the home shopping network and her books telling everyone that she doesn't have kids, but of course, we know that will be resolved later in the movie.

Garry Marshall is a master of these romantic comedies, simple, sappy, and quickly served. Everyone gets just enough story to keep you interested in how they will resolve their conflicts. No one seems to have any money, housing, or drug problems. They live in nice homes, have good cars, and dress well. There's even some token people of color in the background. It's all so pasteurized and easy to swallow.
A few set ups like the womb float for mother's day, and the racist/sexist comments by Jesse and Gabi's parents are all played for laughs. But you know in the end, everything will work out all right. You can leave the theater happy waiting for the next holiday film.
(Review by reesa)





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Papa: Hemingway in Cuba




As the first Hollywood film shoot in Cuba since 1959, it helps that country has been in a time warp and unchanged for this biographical story. Journalist Denne Bart Petitcler had written the screenplay and started working on the production of the film at the time of his death in 2006. Based on his friendship with Ernest Hemingway, Peictler tells how the famous writer helped him find his literary voice amidst the Cuban Revolution and a few month before Papa commits suicide. Directed by Bob Yari, the film makes little use of the beauty of the country confining most actions inside Finca Vigía, the large home where Heminway lived and is now a museum.

Giovanni Ribisi plays Ed Myers (name change by Denne Bart Petitcler), a Miami reporter in the late 1950's. He has written letters to his Hemingway(Adrian Sparks) to explain how his books has gotten him out of a troubled childhood and led him to his current career. He never mails them. He is unaware that his latest letter is read by his girlfriend Debbie (Minka Kelly) who mails it. So it is a big surprise when he gets a phone call from Hemingway telling him it's a good letter and does he want to go fishing. Thus begins a series of weekend jaunts to Cuba as Ed and Papa develop a father/son bond. Joely Richardson plays Hemingway's fourth wife Mary who Ed walks in on while she is swimming in the nude.

The famous writer is usually surrounded by fans when he's in public. So they rarely leave their home and Papa plays host to dinner parties with other literary friends and doling out wisdom and mentorship to Ed. But in his office he stares at the blank page in his typewriter, playing with his gun, drinking too much, ranting to his demons. His put upon wife had given up her own career as a journalist, is getting frustrated by lack of affection and impotence. Meanwhile, Fidel Castro rebels are having a shoot out with soldiers of the Fulgencio Batista government. Ed, who covered the Korean War, is dragged to the middle of the action by Papa. Ed comes back to Miami to write about war in Cuba, and the FBI comes to ask him to report on Hemingway's political standings on this issue.

The last subplot of why the FBI has targeted Hemingway is pretty much the only interesting action of the film. There are some interventions by Mary, Ed and poet Evan Shipman (Shaun Toub) to keep from Hemingway giving in to ending his life and some mysterious friends of Hemingway getting killed by government. The film is pretty slow and laborious. Sparks does a good job as Papa, and Ribisi does well as someone over his head involved in a bigger than life personage. The best parts are the period cars featured, which auto aficionados are anxious to head to Cuba to obtain.
(Review by reesa)





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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Movies Scheduled 4/24-4/30

I would like to say first off that our thoughts and prayers are with Gary Murray's friends and family. May he rest in peace.

So the next big movie will be screening soon. Please make sure to enter the contests or try to grab passes. Yes I know they go quickly but at least try.

I have had someone ask if they could offer money for a screening pass and we will not approve those. These are free passes and if you want to offer money then why not just pay to go see it?

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


Sunday April 24th


Monday April 25th

Sing Street AMC Northpark various locations
Papa Hemingway in Cuba Angelika Dallas


Tuesday April 26th

Mother's Day SMG Royal


Wednesday April 27th

Keanu Angelika and AMC Mesquite
Mother's Day Cinemark 17


Thursday April 28th


Friday April 29th


Saturday April 30th



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Saturday, April 23, 2016

#DIFF2016: Oddball





This feel good family film entertains with the story of a dog, Oddball, who begins protecting penguins on an island in Australia. He is their guarding against the evil foxes who keep on attacking the population of penguins. Swampy and his granddaughter, Olivia, try to salvage Olivia’s mother’s job by using Oddball to keep the penguin number steady on the island. I thought that this story about family working together was a cozy one. The relationship Swampy has with his family and the way he is brings warm feelings to the audience. Swampy is sort of like the father anybody has ever wanted because of his innocence and kindness.

His dog, Oddball, although a trouble starter, is consistently loved and forgiven by his owner. The fact that this dog was so handsome and adorable made his role as the hero all the more exciting. The small town in Australia where this story takes place is a quaint seaside town that makes people feel at home. Coco Jack Gillies, who plays Olivia, gives a mature and spot on performance as an adventurous child. This film is based on a true story which I think is another great feat for making dogs the rescuers of dilemmas.

One gets the feeling of the town being small in that everybody knows each other. That type of backdrop makes for a purposeful family film because the characters try to get along. I did like the characters in total including the dog but I felt that the story wasn’t exceptionally strong. Yes, it is impressive what happened but the details seemed too simple. The film almost felt like it went too quickly for my taste. I thought that the film was really aimed at very young children and it didn’t have too much meaning in its message.

There were some pretty shots though. There were some in the beginning that had the waves of the ocean overlapping one another as the camera came closer to the island. The opening credits are displayed in a sense of bliss and light air. There was a cute introduction clip where Oddball gets a shower and then shakes off the water creating a radial spray that gets onto Swampy’s face. The dog scenes I have to say made me want to cuddle the big teddy bear of a canine. I know that sounds a little childish of me but don’t judge because it is a family film. Oddball was an adorable story that maybe needed a bit more detail to it.
(Review by Wyatt Head)



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#DIFF2016: Other People





This melancholy-infused comedy brings us into the life of David who is returning home to care for his dying mother while he is experiencing hardship. His long-time boyfriend is breaking up with him and his television writing career is slowing down. Jesse Plemons, who plays David, executes the role perfectly. He’s stuck and has a sense of humor. He is also thrown off by his hometown a little bit. The story was based on the director and writer’s, Chris Kelly’s, life. It was one that I think millions of families can relate to across the U.S. The mother has cancer and it is incurable. The family cannot do anything but help her continue her life until the end.

Supporting characters give more breath to the film with their uplifting influence. For instance, David’s boyfriend is splitting up with him but one night they share jokes over past times. One can feel the connection between the two partners in a scene that I think helps the acceptance of a gay relationship. David has been living in New York for a while and when we see him there one can feel the hip late night vibe. David and his mother have a concrete relationship with each other that has been strengthened by his openness with her. It was lovely to see the scenes between the two characters as they laugh just like they’re good friends. David knows that his mother fully understands his sexual orientation and that she looks out for him the best that she can.

David’s mom’s, Joanne’s, sickness is stressed right as the film takes off. There is a New Year’s Eve scene where David has come home for the first time in this period and everybody’s hopping. David is greeted and is sort of amused by his family while thinking about a failed project. He and Joanne share a prior mentioned moment together as the scene soon sharply changes to Joanne throwing up. A scene like that reminds us in a measured way the balance that the film has between funny and serious. A scene that is comedic mastery is when the mother has died and the family is all on her bed. A call comes and a person leaves a message just now realizing that Joanne was sick while ordering Taco Bell. One thinks about the huge comedic value in that startling segment. Other People brought home the ball for me in its delicate comedy that is sure to please.
(Review by Wyatt Head)



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#DIFF2016:High-Rise






Opening:

Uh……………………………………………I need a drink. Let’s get reel and break this down.

Plot:
Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control.

Writing/Directing

Pros:

They tried? Seriously, maybe the production design is good, that’s about it.

Cons:
To start off, the story isn’t that interesting and really is just two hours of social class warfare within an apartment tower thing. The characters, for the most part, are unlikable and some are unnecessary. With the story and “plot”, it’s messy in the structure and incoherent to the actual plot and knowing what the heck is going on half the time. There were too many random moments that would happen and be either never addressed again or be shown, go to something else and come back it for really no reason. And the last thing that bugged me was, and I hate using this word, it is pretentious. The movie thinks too highly of itself with its random editing and swelling music to force us to feel something as an audience member.

Acting

Pros:

Tom Hiddleston and Luke Evans delivered a good performance for how they were directed.

Cons:
With this stacked cast, everyone else was just ok and some are very outlandish and I didn’t believe anything from anyone.

Cinematography

Pros:

Some of the visual choices were neat and colorful to look at it adding a certain flair to it, so it at least sticks out from other weird movies like this.

Cons:
None.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

The special effects, for the budget they had, were ok and didn’t really take away from the film.

Cons:
Since I was taken out of the movie, it was a chore to sit through and the choppiness didn’t help and just added more frustration.

Overall:
Everyone will come at me and say that I didn’t understand the abstract nature of it. I will come back with movies like Videodrome and Mulholland Drive as they are some of my favorites of all time. The difference is that they are delivered very well from every aspect of filmmaking. Listen, I realize that people will love this movie and that’s great, but for me, it was just a mess. This movie is not for everyone and definitely not for the casual movie going audience.

Grade: D
(Review by Chase Lee)






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#DIFF2016: Other People





Opening:

Get your tissues because your tear ducts are going into overdrive. Let’s get reel and break this down.

Plot:
A struggling comedy writer, fresh off a breakup and in the midst of the worst year of his life, returns to Sacramento to care for his dying mother.

Writing/Directing

Pros:

The emotional pull will give anyone a run for their money if you think won’t at least get misty-eyed while watching this. The grounded realistic tone will connect to anyone who has gone through a horrific situation such as this. Despite the core of film being a mother with cancer, the other family members are just as complex and interesting as the story advances. You begin to feel an instant connection as soon as they come on screen and that has to do with the acting as well. For a first time feature writer and director, Chris Kelly nailed it and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Cons:
The story might seem simplistic to some people but the execution is flawless.

Acting

Pros:

This is where the movie shines the most. Molly Shannon and Jesse Plemons add so much heart and depth to this movie that is absolutely incredible to witness since both are more known for comedy or dark comedy. Their performances are very tender and human. The supporting cast does very well and the other family members add layers to the story.Plemons and/or Shannon need to be nominated for something.

Cons:
None.

Cinematography

Pros:
It’s a well-shot movie and the handy-cam feel adds to the realism. This isn’t a film to go to see for the cinematography but its solid.

Cons:
None.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

The emotional investment that I experienced made the movie fly by very fast and there was no drag to it. The family is so likeable that I wanted to hangout with them more.

Cons:
If emotional weight of someone experiencing cancer doesn’t appeal to you then you probably won’t like the film or find it boring.

Overall:
The story maybe simple but the emotional weight is very palpable and delivered so well with the strong acting and themes. This is one of my favorites of the Dallas International Film Festival.

Grade: A

(Review by Chase Lee)









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#DIFF2016: High-Rise




This film that tells the story of an apartment building gone into a chaotic mess certainly delivers a shock factor. A man named Dr. Robert Laing, who is played by Tom Hiddleston, is a newcomer to a futuristic apartment high-rise that has some of the oddest inhabitants. He soon finds himself in an immense battle between the different strata of floors. There was a lot of explicit sex and jarring violence that I have to say added to the slightly off story.

I do give credit to the computer graphic artists and set designers who made this film because of the convincing scenery that permeates the picture. The skyscraper apartment building had a most modern look of the top extending over the body laterally. I thought the guys who made that possible made their clever idea shine as the center for the film. The set designers made the gradual degradation of the inner structures of the building believable and engaging.

The story was a bit hard to follow. The whole film was almost as if it was trying to explode in your face and that was it. We see in the beginning scenes that Dr. Laing is in a stranger than comfortable place. There are some men who just keep on popping out and giving him an unfriendly look. We get the sense that this will be a disturbing thriller right from the opening. I do give credit to the director and writer for making that come to the screen. I think one line in the script was one of the best that I have heard at DIFF 2016. Laing gets too close to another man and the guy goes “I’m an orthodontist, not a homosexual.” That caught my attention as an appreciating film-goer of good humor. The line gave a universal characteristic to all the inhabitant characters of the building.

People are able to afford units in this place but have something hidden in their hearts which can be harmful to you. Jeremy Irons plays Anthony Royal, the architect and person of supremacy for the building. In a scene, Dr. Laing goes up to Royal’s grand penthouse and steps out on a spread yard on top of a building. It is incredible to see the exclamation point of luxury that Royal commandeers. Scenes like these make the rest of the battle in High-rise more understandable to an extent. The film was good to watch but it needed some tidying up to make the chaos translate more effectively.
(Review by Wyatt Head)




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The 2016 Dallas International Film Festival Award Winners Announced






The results are in and the 2016 Dallas
International Film Festival Award Winners are...

AUDIENCE AWARDS - PRESENTED BY THE ARTHUR E. BENJAMIN FOUNDATION


Audience Award Short Film: SO GOOD TO SEE YOU

Audience Award Documentary Feature: UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

Audience Award Narrative Feature: TRANSPECOS

TEXAS FEATURE COMPETITION - PRESENTED BY PANAVISION
Texas Jury: PJ Raval & Amy Talkington

Special Jury Prize Winner: BOOGER RED

Grand Jury Prize Winner: TOWER

ANIMATED SHORT - PRESENTED BY REEL FX

Grand Jury Prize Animated Shorts Competition:
SNOWFALL

SHORTS COMPETITIONS
Jurors: Lisa Ogdie, Kyle Laursen, Jonathan Lisecki

Student Short Special Jury Prize: THE MINK CATCHER

Student Short Grand Jury Prize: FATA MORGANA

Short Special Jury Prize: MINOR SETBACK

Short Grand Jury Prize: THE BLACK BELT

SILVER HEART AWARD - PRESENTED BY THE EMBREY FAMILY FOUNDATION

Silver Heart Award:
HOOLIGAN SPARROW

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

Jurors: Ben Powell, Brit Withey

Special Jury Prize Winner: IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE

Grand Jury Prize Winner: THE PEARL

NARRATIVE
Jurors: Dan Berger, Michael Cain, Julia Dyer

Special Jury Prize, Performance: ARIANNA

Grand Jury Prize Winner: MR. PIG

See the 2016 DIFF Award Winning films in encore screenings today and tomorrow during closing weekend of the 10th Annual Dallas International Film Festival! CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE ONLINE SCHEDULE FOR TICKETS & SHOWTIMES.










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Friday, April 22, 2016

Sing Street




Sing Street written by John Carney’s (Once, Begin Again), reminds us of a time when discovering your inner talent was something that was made of from your dreams. Take Conor (Ferdia Wals-Peelo) a young 14-year old boy who breaks from his ordinary day life when he realizes that he wants to create his own band. Beating the odds, he does what his brother could never do to go after his dreams, no matter how much he went through. But it does not come easy. He gets bullied by a students, picked on by the teacher but no matter what, no one can sidetrack his dreams of starting his own rock band. Meeting new friends who sees his vision is a start if it helps to avoid dealing with his strange but unorthodox parents who are in the middle of splitting up.

Meeting the beautiful but sassy and cool Raphina (Lucy Boynton) who seems to be a bit out of his league, he tries to impress her by having her to star in his music video. But there just one bit of a problem. He doesn’t have a band. He doesn’t have music and he doesn’t have friends. But Raphina agrees to star in his first music video if he can get it started. Conor set out to find other guys who has similar interest in forming a really, cool band. He recruits five other guys by putting a flyer up on the school wall. They name themselves the Singstreet and Conor adopts the name “Cosmo" given to him by Raphina who says he needs a rock and roll name. He soon discovers that having a band is more work than that he ever admitted. He needs to create music. His brother helped him to discover his true writing ability by plugging him in to his record collection. Conor find his ability to sing, write, plays, which makes him the coolest guy around. Everyone wants a piece of him. He creates cool songs which are influenced by the craziness of his life. With each new musical experiment he also changes his fashion template that reflects the 80's "futurist band" type.

I like the fact that each character was able to contribute to the storyline. This was a cool movie because deep down Cosmo figured out what was missing in his life. His older brother, who was still trying to find his own identity and through Cosmo finally figures it out. This movie reminds me of an older version of high school musical, with lots of great songs, lots of funny moments and is full of anticipated great music. However, the storyline is very predictable but still very entertaining. This movie is worth seeing if you enjoy lots of good and original music.
(Review by Dr. Dwanna Swan-Ary)




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Thursday, April 21, 2016

#DIFF2016: Slash




Opening:
This is definitely the most unique film I have seen at the festival but I will say it has a certain charm about it that does keep a smile on your face. Let’s et reel and break this down.

Plot:
Freshman Neil's Vanguard stories are all he cares about...until he meets the older Julia, who pushes him to put his own fan fic online. When the website's moderator takes a special interest in Neil's work, it opens up a whole new universe.

Writing/Directing

Pros:

The director creates a fun movie with a surprisingly large amount of depth and heart. The story is fresh and gives us as an audience a 101 guide to fan fiction culture. The two leads provide a lot of chemistry with some mystery with their character’s traits and that keeps an amount of surprise throughout.

Cons:
There is a lot of humor and a lot of drama but only half of it works for me. Some of the dramas hit well and is delivered with ease, and some of the drama is jagged and feels forced. Same thing goes with humor, some of it hits and some falls flat. Some of the supporting characters felt unnecessary and could have been taken out or given a bit more screen time.

Acting

Pros:

I believed the chemistry from the two leads and the relationship that blossomed between them. They were extremely likeable and complex as individuals in high schools, which I appreciated. A few of the bigger celebrity roles provide a large amount of humor and levity

Cons:
Like I said above, some of the supporting characters are unnecessary and some deliver flat performances.

Cinematography

Pros:

You can tell this is a low budget film and it is filmed with a sense of cheesiness and goofiness with the sci-fi fantasy scenes and a nice warm feeling with the characters. But overall the cinematography is fine.

Cons:
With its low budget, there were a few shots that looked really low definition but I can’t fault them for that.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

The costumes and props for the fan fiction scenes are filled with imagination that reflects the main character and are fun to watch. For the most part, the story is structured well enough to keep your attention until the very end.

Cons:
At some points, it feels a bit longer than it should but the 100-minute runtime is good enough for the story.

Overall:
The sense of charm and likeability is very addicting even though some of the drama and humor doesn’t work for me. I won’t see this movie again but I will still say you should check it out if you want something new in your movie viewing life.

Grade: C
(Review by Chase Lee)







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#DIFF2016: Transpecos with Q&A






Opening:
Do you like deserts? Do you like thrillers? First off, we should be friends and secondly you will like this one. Let’s get reel and break this down.

Plot:
For three Border Patrol agents working a remote desert checkpoint, the contents of one car will reveal an insidious plot within their own ranks. The next 24 hours will take them on a treacherous journey that could cost them their lives.

Writing/Directing

Pros:

I will definitely keep things vague since I want you to go into this blind. The story is like a fast roller coaster and demands your attention from the start of it. The complex characters keep the audience guessing on whom to root for and adding another layer to this suspenseful thriller. The atmosphere is palpable with unnerving tension and the director keeps that tone throughout with never a dull moment.

Cons:
This is a selfish thing but I wish certain elements, towards the end, were explored more since we spent a lot of time building it up. However, it didn’t bother me because I was hooked more on the relationship between these three border patrol agents.

Acting

Pros:

The three leads deliver a believable chemistry among them and I felt like they have been friends for a while. Johnny Simmons is the standout as he has been taking a backseat for many years so it was nice to see him flex his acting chops. Gabriel Luna is also very strong and Clifton Collins, Jr. is…well…always awesome.

Cons:
None.

Cinematography

Pros:

The grit and intensity flows through the cinematography grounding the story and making us feel the heat from the sun, the sweat from the characters, and the vastness of the desert with the emotional, intimate core of the characters. It also helps when most of it is shot with natural lighting, highlighting Mother Nature in her true form.


Cons:

None.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

The story grabs you by the throat and never lets go. With it’s short run-time, I wanted more when it was over. This is good thriller filmmaking.

Cons:
Again selfish, but I wanted more because I loved the story.

Overall:
This is a fast paced thrill to fill anyone’s need for some adrenaline in his or her movie going experience. Did I mention I love desert thrillers?

Grade: B+
(Review by Chase Lee)





Q&A following screening of movie:




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#DIFF2016 A Fat Wreck




Doing a documentary on this project was the idea of Dallas's own Shaun Colon who in 2013 envisioned a short film about the Fat fandom. The response was enthusiastic not only from the fans but from the record artists which resulted in a successful crowdfunding effort and that turned the film into a feature length project. Making it's World Premiere at the 10th Annual Dallas International Film Festival, the filmmakers were on hand to to relay some interesting liner notes to the making of the movie which will be screened at various film festivals across the country.

In 1991, “Fat Mike” Burkett of the legendary punk band NOFX and his then girlfriend, future wife, then ex wife Erin Burkett, started an independent punk rock record label they named Fat Wreck Chords. Operating their mail order business out of their closet, they built up their empire over the past 25+ years to over 150 albums and 300 total releases selling over one million records per year during their peak. The nihilistic and anarchistic ideals of the genre is not exactly for mainstream music moguls who homogenize their product to the masses. This niche market survived by the savvy of Fat Mike and the outside the box thinking of dealing with the bands. Which basically was letting them do their own thing. Interviews with several of the label artists like Lagwagon, Propagndhi, No Use For A Name, Strung Out and Good Riddance, plus many others, sing praises for their time with Fat Wreck Chords. Sharing behind the scenes stories and the importance of what Fat Mike has done for the industry.

Visually the film is filled with really colorful animation created by COREPOPS who are known for producing animated bumpers for MTV2 and [Adult Swim]. Plus there are puppets created by Jennie Cotterill who is singer/guitarist for the Fat Wreck Chords band Bad Cop/Bad Cop, as well as a mural and background artist. Then there is the music that is broken down into chapters featuring the various bands and samples of their music. There are some major discussions regarding punk vs. metal to the discerning ear. The stories, the memories, the drugs, the debauchery involved over all those years are succinctly edited into a amusing mix of punk puppetry and interviews. If you were not familiar with this punk rock world, you will want to be after watching this movie.
(Review by reesa)


Here's an interview Dallas Movie Screenings had with the Shaun before the festival:





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#DIFF2016 Ma Ma



\


Breast cancer is not exactly a subject that would draw in the public for a night at the movies. But this new film written and directed by Julio Medem stars the ever radiant Penélope Cruz who carries the film with hope and beauty. Yes, it's very melodramatic with nicely appointed homes, fashionable clothes, and Cruz's irrepressible beatific smile that seems to draw everyone into her world. There's really no character development, no back ground to explain the series of men who enter her universe and are immediately smitten. It's sad and heartbreaking, but you are not left with a wad of wet tissue afterwards.

Cruz plays Magda who finds out from her handsome doctor Julián (Asier Etxeandia) who begins the film doing a breast manipulation looking for lumps. This Europe after all, not like a US movie where showing a doctor manhandling a bare breast would be done “off camera”. He wants to send her for more X-rays and tests while she bemoans that all this extra stuff is happening on top of losing her teaching job, and her husband Raúl (Àlex Brendemühl) going off with one of his college students. She is left with her son, Dani (Teo Planell) who is crazy about soccer. At her son's soccer match she meets Arturo (Luis Tosar) who is a soccer scout who compliments her son's talents. In the middle of the conversation, Arturo gets a phone call that his wife and daughter were in a accident, so Magda goes with him to the hospital offering support. She continues to visit him daily while he waits for the inevitable. Telling her son, that she doesn't want to lose the connection for his soccer future.

Meanwhile she sends Dani off for the summer while she is getting chemo, not telling her son that she is sick and due to have a mastectomy. She leaves a cheeky message to her soon to be ex husband to make sure that he pays attention to Dani and not let him know what's going on. But of course he does, and they all end up at the hospital, but she tells her hubby to go, and Arturo who just lost his wife to stay. Soon she is living with Arturo, but they haven't had sex yet as their relationship is based on mutual emotional support. Not until she finds out from her doctor that the operation didn't work and now only has 6 more months to live. To keep up her hope, she finally gets Auturo in bed, and of course finds herself pregnant.

Outside of Cruz whom the camera loves, the rest of the cast seem to wander in her shadow. Arturo seems to just mope around, her doctor who also sings hangs out for some defined reason, the ex-husband says sorry a little to late, and Dani the doted son gets mad cause mom won't try to understand soccer and is creeped out by mom's prosthetic breast. There are some dreamy sequences involving a nipple on ice and an orphan from Siberia, which don't really make much sense, but then Penélope Cruz flashes that smile, and all is right in the world.
(Review by reesa)




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#DIFF2016 Tower




Opening:

Wow. I was speechless after the screening in the best way possible. This might be one of the most unique and best documentaries I have ever seen. Let’s get reel and break this down.

Plot:

Nearly fifty years ago, a gunman rode the elevator to the twenty-seventh floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire. TOWER, an animated and action-packed documentary, shares the untold story of that day - when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.

Writing/Directing

Pros:

Director Keith Maitland creates an entertaining look on this tragic shooting but also an emotional documentary showing normal people uniting and being heroes in this day of terror that happened almost fifty years ago. The choice of animation in the film provides a different approach but one that is beautiful and haunting to look at it causing you to get lost in the art as it plays. In contrast of its color, Maitland also brings up the dark reality of public shootings and how we need to stand up as a group and do something about it, or at the very least, make your voice heard.

Cons:

None.

Acting

Pros:

Documentaries are too cool for this section. However, this film has good acting of the reenactments really selling us on that day and taking us back in time.

Cons:
None.

Cinematography

Pros:

The animation is rich in colorful and has a surreal quality to it really sucking you in the moment. It was like watching a fragmented dream that you have experienced the night before.

Cons:
None.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

The special effects are breathtaking and make it some of the most unique shots ever in a documentary. With that said, I was fully engaged and never felt the drag in the hour and half runtime.

Cons:

None.

Overall:
I have said my peace about this brilliant documentary. You need to see it.

Grade: A+
(Review by Chase Lee)








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#DIFF2016 Dheepan





Opening:
This film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year so I was really looking forward to this one. I didn’t love it on that level but I really liked a lot. Let’s get reel and break this down.

Plot:
Dheepan is a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris.

Writing/Directing

Pros:
The mystery of the story and the unknown is really compelling and the emotional weight of three strangers becoming a close family is engaging to say the least. The themes of the horror of humanity are throughout and really puts a perspective on no matter where you are you can’t escape it. It’s an emotional roller coaster between the main character and his struggle to move on from the wars of his homeland and start a relationship with his fake family. I also noticed this film has elements of romance, suspense, drama, and action; a true crock-pot of everything. I don’t want to say too much because I think people should go into this blind but I think I gave enough information to go off of.

Cons:
Maybe, the criminals introduced are a bit underused but that didn’t bother me too much since this is ultimately about Dheepan and his family.

Acting

Pros:

Everyone does a great job and really brings emotional weight when it’s needed or a bit of levity while the darkness of the world is around them.

Cons:
None.

Cinematography

Pros:

The grounded hand-cam feel provides a gritty realism that puts you in the fray with these characters. The color also adds that extra layer of realism as the actors feel like real people going through this situation.

Cons:
None.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

The cloud of mystery and intrigued fuels this movie and never has a dull moment. The film even opens on powerful imagery to capture the entire tone of the film. For being almost two hours, I was never bored.

Cons:
None.

Overall:
Without saying much, I can say this is a great emotional family movie of three strangers who pretend to be a family among the horrors they face no matter where they go and just survive in this crazy world.

Grade: B+
(Review by Chase Lee)







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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

#DIFF2016: Signs of Humanity





There are few major problems that are disregarded as much as homelessness. This film, being the second one I’ve reviewed regarding this epidemic, gently forces people to look into the eyes of their fellow human being. Signs of Humanity is an emotional combustion of a documentary that gives voices and faces to those who we have silenced by our judgement. We hear the stories of how some had a stable life before a series of debilitating events occurred. We hear the stories of how so many veterans ended up with physical disorders while society let them fall down to a state of desperation. We hear stories of how men and women are mocked and thrown at as if they were in a feudal time period.

This incredible film follows Willie Baronet as he goes on a journey trying to buy signs from individuals who are homeless. He travels across the U.S. ending up with hundreds of signs that he will use for an art exhibition. His team goes through multiple moments of learning, heartbreak, and empathy. Willie tells us that when he began collecting signs he did it to have a conversation and look past his initial thoughts. This documentary makes it possible to have us as an audience be there to listen to stories of our fellow people. Willie brilliantly says in the film that if we as society can increase our compassion just a little bit more then maybe healing can start. That is such a powerful statement.

The film attempts to change and shape people’s attitudes to the most vulnerable collectively. We are insightfully told to rub up closer to this marginalized segment and to realize their experiences in a little way. Watching this magnificent work on screen was almost like going to a class as young college students. The class would then teach us all what we had not had any connection to and would make us better men and women. In one highly informative scene, a homeless man who is a senior explains that he drinks alcohol to numb the loneliness. He then states that he went to college and to the military. In those two sentences we understand that he is in pain and at one time was just like that student with his headphones in. I know that empathy and the obligation to reach out to all those who are hurting are firmly established in raw scenes like these. Sings of Humanity is a must-see for every member of this country and it does not discriminate in its powerful connections.
(Review by Wyatt Head)



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#DIFF2016: Halfway



This calm but striking drama follows a man named Byron as he tries to fix his life. Just getting out of prison, Byron goes to work on a farm for his Aunt Beth as a repayment to his stepbrother. His lawyer stepbrother, Josh, helped set him free and therefore feels entitled. Quinton Aaron, who plays Byron, brings such a kind but troubled personality to the role. He is trying to work well in his new surroundings but has a difficult time getting adjusted. He beautifully portrays somebody who's just trying to do the right thing.

The film really did well in explaining how the world can be against somebody who got caught up in some muddy waters. We as an audience feel the uncertainty of this new venture for Byron as soon as he steps off the bus. We can see the rural surroundings and potential disregard for a black person to be in that town. You feel the distance Aaron's character is from home and his pain in the early parts of the film. There is a scene where a young girl asks Byron if he was in jail while he looks down at his first plate of dinner with the family. One could feel the uncomfortable vibe and possible shame that the character felt. The scene paints a picture of the environment that Byron has to break while on the farm.

One of the things that I loved about this story was how it was a different kind of ex-prisoner tale. There were relationships built and improved among the relatives that formed a feeling in me to hope for the best in Byron. He doesn’t want to go back and get involved in crime. The farm experiences financial difficulty in the film which created a sense of compassion for the family. I know that similar circumstances do occur in life with any business and how troubling it can be to one’s conscience. We see the stress that it puts on Aunt Beth while she's trying to still take care of her children and her farm.

Halfway was a completely serious film that tested the human sense of security and caring. I thought the screenplay was sophisticated and well-planned in order to cover all meaningful facets of a similar happening in life. Writer and Director, Ben Caird, certainly did not waste anyone's time with this quiet and emotionally touching film.
(Review by Wyatt Head)


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#DIFF2016: Weiner






This highly entertaining and fantastic documentary follows former Congressman Anthony Weiner as he makes a race for Mayor of New York. The sexting scandal that he was involved with comes to light as something that greatly hinders Weiner’s political life. This man during his time in office fought immensely hard for the middle class and the low-income. I thought it was a jolting but brilliant choice to open the film with Weiner yelling in a Congressional hearing. It was incredible to see a Democratic Congressman not trying to be polite and getting so passionate about his constituents in Washington. That beginning clip grasped my attention from the spot.

As the film progresses, Weiner’s personal life comes onto center stage in front of everyone to see and it causes chaos. Weiner’s reputation and what he had fought on is ignored by the media and instead he is berated by questions asking about his mistakes. He says to the interviewer early on “Did I tell the truth or did I tell a lie?” He does this in order to be upfront about what he did. This whole explosion takes a great toll on his wife, Huma, who’s trying to forgive Anthony and fight for him to get back into office.

I thought this film took great actions in trying to cover every inner event that Weiner and his team had to fight through. It all happened, from having donors question and criticize Weiner over the phone to having people hurl insults at him to his face. There is a scene that is the epitome of Weiner’s turmoil that is occurring because of his celebrity status. He’s riding a bike on the street and a woman asks why the camera guy is filming him. He then states he doesn’t know and then another man recognizes him and says his name out loud. Yes, this scene was pretty funny but one has to feel sorry for the politician.

He’s trying to get through challenges that are popping up all around him. Weiner is shown to feel tackled by reporters and that is rightfully so as there are constant flashes in his face. His child at one point is even blockaded by one reporter who says “One more question.” I thought that this documentary was more trying to show the toll that this media frenzy took on his family than it was trying to be funny. People in the audience laughed a lot but I tried to look past the mockery. I tried to look into Weiner as a fighter for those less fortunate and I thought the film took great lengths into explaining Anthony. I was extremely glad that I watched it.
(Review by Wyatt Head)









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#DIFF2016: Occupy, Texas




This small budget film had its moments. It had its character reforms, its contrasts, and its relationships. The story follows an ex-Occupy Wall Street protester who goes from sleeping on the streets of NYC to being back in his hometown. The hometown is Dallas, Texas and this man, named Beau, is in charge of taking care of his two younger sisters who have lived an upper class life. I felt that the story had been done before a little bit. There were some great "cool skater dude" lines that Beau being the older brother connects with his younger sisters. Beyond that, I wasn't taken by the heart when the actual important story changes occur. It felt as if the script for Beau didn’t have enough significant moments for him to grow.

I did appreciate, as anyone would, seeing their hometown filmed on location. It reminded me of the different parts of my childhood throughout the city. The team filmed the skyline, Valley View Mall, and in an actual Dallas school among other things. Some scenes were well done like when Arden, Beau's youngest sister, says "I'm your sister" to Beau after years of not seeing him. That scene made one understand from early on how much the character had missed from his life at home. One can feel a great sense of being in cold water as him being back home is a shock to him.

Beau is a person who doesn't care at all where he is and what is appropriate in the circumstances. He walks into his estate lawyer's office with a torn shirt and rough shorts. I think this is what people find attractive about his character in that he's not trying to be proper in conforming to demands. He’s got that rocker look and when he’s found in the first scene of the film you get why he was sleeping on the street.

This is a story about transformation that I think could have been more strong in its convictions. There could have been more instances where see Beau realize more fully what the facts are and how to handle them. I am not the writer of course. Gene Gallerano, the writer, worked very hard to make this film into a reality and I appreciate that as a film goer. It had good comedic moments. At the end I wasn't really there and feeling like I wrapped up an engaging story.
(Review by Wyatt Head)





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#DIFF2016: White Girl







Opening:

This film raises questions, whether if it’s about the themes or the quality of the film, there is something there. Let’s get reel and break this down.

Plot:
Summer, New York City. A college girl falls hard for a guy she just met. After a night of partying goes wrong, she goes to wild extremes to get him back.

Writing/Directing

Pros:

Once the hook of the story is presented, it is an engaging story but a frustrating one with the naive nature of the main character. I have to commend the director for setting this story in the gritty, realistic setting of New York. You feel like you are there hanging out with these characters.

Cons:
The majority of the movie there isn’t anything compelling of the main character except she parties, does drugs, and has sex. So basically a normal person in their twenties. Not only that, once the hook happens she goes through a series of events to help someone and at the end it was all completely worthless and she was just dumb in making her decisions. Everyone else, besides the drug dealer she falls in love with is extremely unlikeable and it’s hard to get behind anyone. Speaking of the drug dealer, he is definitely the most interesting with the most complex character. Listen, I realize it is a love story based on lust and, when people are like that they aren’t thinking clearly, I get it but the main character was like a grown child that didn’t know anything of the world and consequences. And finally, some themes of prejudice and the justice system are brought up but never really explored at all and just scratching the surface. That would be very compelling.

Acting

Pros:

Despite the characters and how they are portrayed, the acting is very good and the drug dealer was my favorite in terms of character and performance.

Cons:
None.

Cinematography

Pros:

The gritty, handheld look of the bellies of New York provides a rich and dense environment making the whole movie feel grounded.

Cons:
None.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

With overall dislike of the main character, it made me want the movie to end; however I was intrigued on how the movie was going to even end.

Cons:
If you don’t like movie with a lot of sex and drug use, then you will hate this movie and it will be 88 minutes of torture.

Overall:
There are a lot of themes that could have been explored but ultimately it was mostly just a girl having fun leaving complex character arcs to take a back seat. Not going to lie, I might watch it again as it hits Netflix in the fall; but I am not betting on it.

Grade: C
(Review by Chase Lee)







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#DIFF2016: The Bad Kids





Opening:
I love me a good documentary and this is definitely one of them and the front-runner for my favorite documentary of the year. Let’s get reel and break this down.

Plot:
A group of teachers at a Mojave Desert high school take an unconventional approach to improve the lives of their struggling students.

Writing/Directing

Pros:

There is a lot going on in this doc but everything seems to come together nicely in a seamless blend of every emotion under the sun. All the kids presented, despite their outcomes, are all likeable and I guarantee you that after watching this you will want to become a teacher in some way shape or form. You are rooting for these kids to get an education and better their lives from their past or their awful present situation. But after all the emotions you go through, the real heroes of the story are the teachers and principal. The emotional toll they go through and the passion they have to support the kids is very inspirational.

Cons:
None.

Acting

Pros:

Documentaries are always exempt from this category.

Cons:
None.

Cinematography

Pros:

Inside the school is clear and lively with good shots but the outside landscapes provide a calm, outer shell of this school filled with teenagers who have lost hope on the world.

Cons:
None.

Editing/Special Effects

Pros:

The interest of the kids and their backstories will have you glued and rooting for them all the way until the end. It was a pure psychological observation of these people as a mirror to the reality of some teenagers.

Cons:
None

Overall:

I don’t need to say anymore. This is a fantastic documentary. This is the first high recommendation for DIFF.

Grade: A
(Review by Chase Lee)






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