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.
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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:
Reesa's Reviews can also be found at:
Logo art by Steve Cruz http://www.mfagallery.com
Website and Group Contact: email@example.com
Sunday, December 31, 2017
Happy New Year!!!! Hope everyone had a great holiday week. No movies were scheduled so hopefully you caught up with everything you may have missed. Or like me stuck inside battling that dang flu. It's a good thing many movies are available on streaming services, because it's too dang cold to go out! Stay warm and stay safe!
Dec 31 - Jan 6
Mon - Jan 1
Condorito: La Pelicula - 7:00 pm - Cinemark 17
Wed - Jan 3
Insidious: The Last Key - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark
Thu - Jan 4
Hostiles - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Dallas Movie Screenings staff reviewers and contributing writers offer a diverse and opinionated reflection on the slate of movies screened in 2017. We don't always agree on everything, but we see enough movies to have a broad view of what filmdom had to offer. Please comment on your lists.
2. Call Me By Your Name
3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
4. The Disaster Artist
5. War for the Planet of the Apes
6. Brigsby Bear
8. I, Tonya
9. Lady Bird
10. Your Name
1. Lady Bird
2. The Shape of Water
3. Call Me by Your Name
4. War for the Planet of the Apes
5. A Ghost Story
6. The Florida Project
8. The Lost City of Z
The Special Jury Prize (five films tied at #11): Baby Driver, Free Fire, Logan Lucky, Okja, Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Next Ten (honorable mentions): City of Ghosts, Get Out, The Girl with All the Gifts, Graduation, I Am Not Your Negro, Logan, My Life as a Zucchini, Nocturama, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Your Name
1. The Shape of Water
2. Wonder Woman
3. Get Out
4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri
6. Lady Bird
7. The Post
8. Beauty and the Beast
9. Blade Runner 2049
10. Killing of a Sacred Deer
1. The Founder
3. Get Out
4. Before I Fall
5. Molly's Game
6. The Shack
7. Rebel in the Rye
8. The Promise
9. Hidden Figures
10. Whose Streets?
1. The Shape of Water
2. Call Me By Your Name
3. The Post
4. Get Out
5. Lady Bird
9. The Disaster Artist
10. The Florida Project
My honorable mentions: Logan, Wonder Woman, Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri, I, Tonya, The Taxi Driver, Baby Driver, Molly's Game, Blade Runner 2049, War of the Planet of the Apes, Stronger, The Big Sick.
Best of 2017 by Ricky Miller
“The Post” Grade: A+
“The Zookeeper’s Wife” A
“your name.” A
“Molly’s Game” A-
“The Shape of Water” A-
“Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2” A-
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” A-
“Blade Runner 2049” A-
“Baby Driver” A-
“Justice League” A-
“Logan Lucky” A-
“Darkest Hour” B+
“War For Planet of the Apes” B+
“Thor: Ragnarok” B+
“Wonder Woman” B+
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” B+
“Kong: Skull Island” B+
“A Dog’s Purpose” B+
“John Wick Chapter Two” B+
“American Assassin” B
“American Made” B
“The Big Sick” B
“The LEGO Batman Movie” B
“The Foreigner” B
“The Great Wall” B
“The Mummy” B
“Roman J. Israel, Esquire” B
“Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri” B
“T2: Trainspotting” B
“Victoria and Abdul” B
“The Wall” B
“Alien: Covenant” B-
“Atomic Blonde” B-
“Beauty and the Beast” B-
“The Book of Henry” B-
“The Dark Tower” B-
“Fate of the Furious” B-
“Get Out” B-
“Girls Trip” B-
“Going in Style” B-
“Happy Death Day” B-
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” B-
“I, Tonya” B-
“Justice League: Dark” B-
“The Meyerowitz Saries (new and selected”) B-
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” B-
“City of Ghosts” B-
“Murder on the Orient Express” B-
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell o Tales” B-
“Table 19” B-
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” B-
“The Villainess” B-
“Wolf “Warrior 2” B-
“Bad Moms Christmas” C+
“The Ballad of Lefty Brown” C+
“Before I Fall” C+
“The Beguiled” C+
“Beyond Skyline” C+
“The Boss Baby” C+
“Cars 3” C+
“The Circle” C+
“Cop and a Half: New recruit” C+
“Despicable Me 3” C+
“The Emoji Movie” C+
“Free Fire” C+
“Gerald’s Game” C+
“Ghost in the Shell” C+
“The Hero” C+
“Jeepers Creepers 3” C+
“Killing Gunther” C+
“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” C+
“ Power Rangers” C+
“My Cousin Rachel” C+
“My Little Pony: The Movie” C+
“Sky Hunters” C+
“xXx: Return of Xander Cage” C+
“47 Meters Down” C
“Rough Night” C
“Everything Everything” C
“Fifty Shades Darker” C
“Fist Fight” C
“The Glass Castle” C
“Good Time” C
“The House” C
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” C
“Annabelle: Creation” C-
“How to Be a Latin Lover” C-
“It Comes at Night” C-
“Diary of a wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” C-
“The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” C-
“Open Water 3: Cage Dive” C-
“Sense of an Ending” C-
“The Square” C-
“Vengeance: A Love Story” C-
“Song to Song” D+
“The Belko Experiment” D+
“Song to Song” D+
“Oceans Rising” D-
“Cold Zone” D-
My 10 Best Films of 2017!
Here are my top personal besties of 2017 with some interesting genres from science fiction, superhero, animated, comedy, and drama. Some of these films would have a great chance of being nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globes in 2018. Let me say this, 2017 is the best year for my rising role model as a film critic/movie reviewer. It brings me a great motivation and inspiration to oversee these films as well as working with other critics and writers. From 2016-2017 year, I been previously part of Richland College Student Media as a journalist and film critic and wrote some reviews online. Happy New Year to everyone and to 2018!
2. Thor: Ragnarok
3. Baby Driver
4. The Post
5. The LEGO Batman Movie
6. The Florida Project
7. Spiderman: Homecoming
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
9. Wonder Woman
Sunday, December 24, 2017
“Molly” wins the poker game!
Not a big fan of casino games nor casino films that would end up in the gutters of losing bets or getting into the high streaks of victory.
Aaron Sorkin made his directorial debut of Molly’s Game based on the book, Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker, written by the real author, Molly Bloom.
Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain (The Help) and the director both made a great team (and a winning pair) to develop a sense of style for casino games and gambling games that could throw the celebrities, business titans, and billionaires off. Gives the pain-in-the-butt moment when Chastain’s character produces more and more sophisticated, but highly-intelligent security breach on the gambling hook of the players. Her character was like the eyes-in-the-sky spy to track down who was betting and who was cheating, a direct reference to a style in prison movies for guards to see who escapes from prison.
Looks like Jessica Chastain provide some high-staking roles as a charm, sexy woman who can reached the levels and chances of winning the poker game. Same goes to the actor Michael Cena, portraying his juiciest character, Player X, who loves to tolerate and messing the players all around the table.
In this story, Chastain’s Molly narrates the story about her building up a successful, but illegal gambling role, which had her world turned upside down when she was in debt for huge amounts of money. When endangered from being targeted by FBI, she solely comes the supportive criminal defense attorney (portrayed supportively by Idris Elba), who calls upon the table to defend his long-suffering, sarcastic, but yet loyal client.
This film was good when the story was well-told from the life of Molly Bloom during her great but conflicting life as a secretive money-grabber who makes millions of dollars, even it means getting tips from her own players. “Molly’s” doesn’t stand a chance to go uphill to oversee the men’s luck and greed turning against them. Seems like it was a set-up or trapdoor for her character and maybe other gambling-characters. Really enjoyed the visionary from Sorkin and the character parts from Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cena, and the Oscar winner, Kevin Costner.
However, the Russian mob characters were the biggest issues to be put into a higher risk for the Molly character as if something was about to be soon discover by either them or the FBI agents. It was a harder experience to watch when the betting and beatings have just got real.
Overall, this film is good but somewhat mediocre for anyone who was fan of casino games or films based on people’s pleasures of being part of the games of any kind and subject. No problems and complaints on this. For people liking the board games, maybe you should take a bet on watching this if this film gets into highest chance of winning. In reality, it’s an all-or-nothing event to see if anyone is a winner after the chips were stacked and the dices were rolled.
(Review by Henry Pham)
I am a sucker for 2 things: buddy-buddy movies and romantic comedies. “Bright,” a movie made specifically for NetFlix, falls into the former.
With David Ayers new entry, “Bright,” it is Oscar-nominated Will Smith (“Ali”) who stars alongside Oscar nominee Joel Edgerton ’s (“Loving”) Nick Jakoby, a fellow officer in blue.
Smith’s Daryn Ward is a family man who has to deal with an annoying flying fairy who essentially invades the bird feeder on their front lawn. “Bright” does not have a date, but is set on the near future where orcs are a commonplace occurrence.
What is cool about the movie is the verbiage and references that abound in this fun fantasy flick. The main deal centers on a magic wand, that essentially gives the owners a chance to change one’s life in an instant.
The fantasy elements are just written in as a reference point to all the shenanigans that occur. It is a bit lengthy, clocking in at 157 minutes but once you are watching it, it just flows.
This one is also just a violent shoot ‘em up, even more so than either Michael Mann’s brilliant 1995 “Heat,” wherein an action sequence is played out as a strategic chess game.
A more recent film comes to mind with 2007’s “Shoot ‘Em Up,” a Clive Owen-led actioner that takes ludicrous action scenes to the point of sheer ridiculousness.
Also integral to the story is the appearance of Noomi Rapace, who was the lead in the Swedish original “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy as well as “Prometheus.” In “Bright,” she is a malevolent witch know as Leilan, who just wants the wand to raise an evil spirit back from the dead.
Director Ayers knows how to keep the pace and momentum going for the entire picture. Like his ultra violet entries “Fury,” “End of Watch” as well as the disappointing “Suicide Squad,” he knows how to tell a compelling story. The characters all have a healthy resolve by movie’s end.
This mismatched human-alien dynamic was done before with 1988’s “Alien Nation,” wherein James Caan was an L.A. detective partnered with Newcomer Mandy Patinkin’s Sam Francisco. It was not a great movie by any accounts, since I gave it a so-so grade of a C+ when I originally saw it.
“Bright,” to me was just a sheer enjoyment to watch. I’ve noticed other outlets have dismissed this one as sheer garbage, but I am not like most critics.
It did what it was supposed to do and provide viewers with just an escape from the ordinary, monotonous and mundane.
I recently found out that a sequel has already been approved by NetFlix, so that is something to look forward to a couple of years down the line.
(Review by Ricky Miller - Film Critic)
The first statement that I would like to make is that this is the quintessential film that is the primary reason for me engaging in cinematic experiences. It is not even justified to say that this film is of a flabbergasting nature. This is a movie that illustrates a chaotic world where the person in the middle is one of great intellect and mental power.
The story follows Molly Bloom, a brilliant young woman with immense intellect, as she makes her way from highly accomplished skier to a massive leader in the underground poker world. We see from the very beginning scene that her father imposed on her a rigorous and almost alienating persistence for success. We jump into Molly’s shoes right as she is taking a break from her climbing trajectory into her life in LA which subsequently leads her into the world of poker. She works for a horribly mean boss until she runs her own game which leads her into an abyss of riskiness and illegality.
Jessica Chastain gives Molly that extreme quick-wittedness and brilliance that communicates to the audience what type of individual Molly is. She was capable of building a huge poker organization with respect and her desire of not hurting anybody. Her legal battles are spearheaded by the character of Charlie Jaffey, an experienced top lawyer whose early misconception of Molly is transformed into great admiration and respect. The story within the story of their relationship is fantastically displayed with their disagreements and dialogue that clearly communicate their intelligence.
We see how Molly starts from one-upping her former boss with a better high-stakes game to suddenly being involved with the mafia. This notion and realization of the latter becomes extremely tangible in a cringe-worthy scene. It is amazing to think that this Colorado girl about to go to law school becomes the owner of an illegal poker game involved in such messes.
Kevin Costner, who plays Molly’s father, Larry Bloom, is a relentless educated man who strives for nothing and I mean absolutely nothing less than the best from his children. In a few scenes, especially one from Molly’s childhood, this concept is highly understandable and becomes a serious misstep by Larry. One is angry at why a father would be so demanding on a child even to a point of carelessness but can understand his mind as well. We see Larry go from a character that is pretty unlikable to one that is authentic later in the story.
It’s funny that poker, while still a major component, is not really a primary player in the film. What is truly the primary vehicle in this movie is the study of Molly Bloom and the realization of the magnificent character that she possesses. In this film, Chastain exudes Molly’s integrity, intellect, wit, and possibly overlooked great moral compass that is a marvel to watch on screen.
(Review by Wyatt Head)
As the Movie Progressed, This Game Kept Striking Out.
Title: Molly’s Game
Rating: R for Language, Drug Content, & Some Violence
Run Time: 2hr & 20min
*½ (out of ****)
Apparently, Molly Bloom almost had a degree in Astronomy without realizing that she had enrolled in the program. This is a detail we learn late in Molly’s Game about the woman whose sole, defining characteristic – at least, according to the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (also making a surprisingly inauspicious directorial debut) – is the fact that she led a series of underground poker games featuring the incredibly wealthy (from movie stars to, unfortunately for her, members of the Russian mob), was arrested and sentenced lightly, and wrote a book on the subject, which is the source of the screenplay. It’s far from a scholarly analysis of the woman’s obvious vices and virtues.
This film’s version of Molly, played by Jessica Chastain, is guarded about her past and unable or unwilling to be entirely forthcoming about her present. That means that, to Sorkin’s discredit, any insight into Molly’s childhood is vague and any context that the present might provide is immediately questionable. We only see her father Larry (Kevin Costner) through her eyes, which means that his gruff demeanor and lessons of self-preservation, while surely masking a tough-love attitude toward his daughter, are also his only defining traits until around the time we learn of Molly’s unintended college degree program.
The film opens at the point where Molly’s story is a step away from becoming public knowledge: with a nasty injury while skiing. It was her father who instilled a love of the sport in her, and Sorkin, by way of his signature dialogue style of literate witticisms, has Molly narrate, step-by-step, her way through some of the motions of a skiing event in which she is competing. The scene is a showboat – ultimately useless to the plot, except as a way to bookend the flashback structure that ensues and to show that Sorkin learned a lot about skiing and the terms that go along with it in order to write dialogue that feels natural (or whatever passes for “natural” with Sorkin).
Perhaps the point, relevant to later points in her story, is that she can take a bit of physical pain, what with the grievous back injury she sustained and the metal plate that was inserted to fix her posture. Whatever the case, Molly narrates the rest of her story for the following 120 minutes, much of which is devoted to activities that, like the elements of skiing, make for some good excuses for Sorkin to write long strings of dialogue or narration about those activities. This is the first semi-biographical film in memory to tell its entire story through narration and, even more obstinately, montages. Certainly, editors Alan Baumgarten, Elliot Graham, and Josh Schaeffer had their work cut out with the mountain of material presented to them.
Then again, the film needed a team of three editors and still ends up being padded out to 140 minutes. The kicker is that it amounts to a vaguely diverting campfire story without an actual ending or anything resembling a conclusion: Molly starts out as a waitress, is suckered into working for a man she calls “Dean Keith” (Jeremy Strong), ends up being the glorified accountant at a series of increasingly illegal poker games run by “Dean,” eventually spearheads her own, attracts the attention of members of the Russian mob (who retaliate in a way only they can), and, in the event that frames the story’s flashback structure, is arrested by the FBI, hiring a lawyer, Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), to represent her in court.
We also meet a fair amount of her clients, who include Michael Cera as an ultra-famous actor (It isn’t clear whether Cera is playing himself here, because of the secretive nature of Molly’s perspective, although one suspects the PR would be poor if he was involved in this stuff), Brian d’Arcy James as a player who always loses and needs loans in increasing amounts, Bill Camp as a gambling addict on the last legs of his marriage, and Chris O’Dowd as a player whose greetings all sound to Molly like the titles of bad airplane novels. They don’t really register as important to the story beyond being pawns in Molly’s scheme, and then there’s the pesky knowledge that Molly might be having us on.
The film is certainly flashy, although even Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s crisp cinematography cannot push off the feeling that this is an overblown, made-for-cable movie with some salty language thrown in and a big star at its center. As for Chastain, the performance is serviceable, but the actress’s quieter moments of reflection serve her better than the quick-wit dialogue and bloated narration. The result is that she seems to be a bit lost in a role that remains two-dimensional despite being the subject. Molly’s Game ultimately comes to a point of apparent conclusion, but the payoff is so negligible that the only response that will make any sense is, “So what?”
(Review by Joel Copling)
(Review by Chase Lee)
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Musicals, you either love them or hate them. In any case they always end up being nominated on the awards lists for all the singing and dancing. First time director Michael Gracey manages to get a kinetic energy rolling, but there is a synthetic aura to the scenes. It moves quickly, visually entrancing with it's colorful costuming and set dressing. Songs somewhat awkwardly a times burst out at odd moments. Maybe it's the script by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon that keeps this production moving slowly and without true purpose. The themes of achieving one's dreams, finding family, racism, socialism and conservative backlash are all very worthy in this day in age, come and go not really sticking in brain to make any difference. Then again it may be the music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul who won an Oscar for La La Land. Some of the numbers are quite lovely, but the tunes don't seem to stay with you after the movie.
The ultimate dance man Hugh Jackman, proves that he can be more suave without claws. Playing PT Barnum the first name of the American circus, started out by offering people a look at the strange and odd. The story covers how his poverty as the son of a fabric salesman, pushes him to dream big and how he goes off to prove himself for the hand of the rich girl he met as a child. Promising his wife Charity (Michelle Williams) a good life comparable to the one she left behind he comes up with his big plans. Although Charity and their two daughters are happy with their lives even if they are poor. They have each other. Betting it all on the his American Museum, his success goes up and down as his ability to sell his show of oddities. Soon he enlists the help of playwright Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) who Barnum hopes will attract the upper crust of society. Carlyle has his social values challenged by becoming attracted to mixed race trapeze artist, Anne (Zendaya). Despite their ever growing audience, Barnum is still wanting to get the approval of theater critic (Paul Sparks) who calls his show a lie, and Barnum is a "humbug". Enter Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson) a Swedish vocalist that has been taking Europe by storm. He goes into debt to book a tour in America, hoping to gain some some legitimacy as a promoter. Unfortunately, he begins to lose it all, even his wife and daughters.
Barnum is not really a likable character. He's so self involved and single minded that he ignores the people who are the stars of his shows and the reason why he's now rich. The circus people are far more interesting than Barnum. Even Carlyle, who lost the respect of his family fares better and is able to keep the show together. The story moves too quickly at times, with the music popping up constantly and sometimes when you least expect it. But overall, it's fun, and beautiful to behold even if you don't quite remember the music afterwards.
(Review by reesa)
The first Pitch Perfect film in 2012 was a huge hit that increased the number of a cappella groups in college and TV shows. It even made stacking cups a legitimate musical instrument on a hit song. The second movie in 2015, was more of the same musical covers and bordering on a annoying comedic spots. Now the original group, having graduated from college and trying to make a living in the real world are getting back together to go on a European USO tour, that also happens to be a competition. It really would help if you have seen the previous movies to understand the quirks of the various characters and why they are so obsessed with performing as the Bellas.
Beca (Anna Kendrick), got a job as a music producer, but quits when she has to work with talent-less punks without a clue. She shares her flat with Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) who does street performances as Fat Amy Winehouse, and Chloe (Brittany Snow) who is trying to get into Vet school. They are headed to the Aquarium where they think they are going to do a reunion performance. Instead they were just invited by Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) to watch the current Barton Bella's perform. Aubrey (Anna Camp) suggests they join the USO tour since her officer father maybe able to get them on the roster. They head to Spain with the less than politically correct TV commentators Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) following them around with a camera for the documentary they are making of the Bellas. DJ Khaled (playing himself) is planning to pick on of the acts at then end of the tour to open for him. There's a country band, Latin band, rappers, and a all women rock band with the unfortunate name of Ever Moist.
The Bella's seem an odd fit for the type of acts hired to entertain the troops, but their high energy and dancing makes them very popular drawing the attention of DJ Khaled music executive Theo (Guy Burnet), although he may just be checking out Beca. Meanwhile, Fat Amy discovers her gangster father (Jon Lithgow) is around trying to lure her back to him. Fat Amy is one character which we never really got a back story and for this alone makes it worth it. The movie definitely ties up all the ends for the Bellas and we can rest assured they will all succeed in their normal lives, no longer indulging in riffing contests that they never seem to win. Directed by Trish Sie and written by Kay Cannon and Mike White, the last entry of the Pitch Perfect franchise, is probably not the best, better than the second, and a great send off. That is until they plan on doing spin off's with Fat Amy.
* (out of (****)
From top to bottom, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle lacks the invention of its predecessor. That film, released in 1995, employed the talents of the late Robin Williams in service of a genuinely clever hybrid of fantasy and adventure with a surprising and rather morbid sincerity at the end. This update, still claiming to be adapted from the Chris Van Allsburg novel, tries for the sincerity in its bookending segments but forgets that there must be something more than trivial moralizing as its connective tissue. As for the “fantasy and adventure” part, well, that problem is located a bit deeper than the surface.
The earlier film’s premise, one might remember, was centered on a board game called Jumanji wherein the player needed to fulfill simple tasks to get to the end. The gimmick was that the “tasks” were usually animals or oversized monsters that would come alive as soon as the player rolled the die. Following a prologue that opens on the closing shot of the earlier film (with the game and its ominous drum beats luring a runner on the beach where it was left to be forgotten by the earlier film’s heroes), this reboot takes on the attitude that, as no one even plays board games anymore, its spirit would transfer itself to a video game console.
There is some comic potential there, and there are times when director Jake Kasdan’s approach to the updated gimmick is clever in how it mimics the functionality of a video game: If an NPC (non-playable character) crosses the paths of the avatars chosen for our young heroes, it speaks a scripted line of dialogue with a programmed response, and if it does not receive that response, it repeats that line of dialogue. That’s about as clever as the screenplay (by Chris McKenna, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Erik Sommers) gets, though. Otherwise, there’s an extended joke about how one of the heroes, a ditzy girl glued to the screen of her iPhone, gets turned into an overweight, middle-aged man.
We’ll return to that in a second, as there are the formalities to get out of the way: The characters who discover the video game called Jumanji are a foursome of teens who find themselves in detention: Spencer (Alex Wolff), the nerd, was in for doing the homework of a classmate, and Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), the jock, is that particular classmate. Bethany (Madison Iseman), the ditz mentioned above, video-chats with a friend in another classroom before her fellow students have finished a quiz, and Martha (Morgan Turner), the loner (who is also Spencer’s crush), mouths off to a teacher about the uselessness of her profession. In other words, they deserve to get the detention they receive because they connive and bicker their way through life and are barely tolerable. Someone among that writing team didn’t think this all the way through.
They each pick characters in the game and then are sucked into it: Spencer becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone, which is a great name for a video game character (and, indeed, one of the character’s “strengths” is “smoldering intensity). He is a hulking man at more than six feet and 270 pounds, which means he is obviously played by Dwayne Johnson, allowed to have a bit of fun with his own physicality – until it gets old. Fridge becomes Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart), a zoology expert who is two feet shorter than his human counterpart, and Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), a Lara Croft-type stunning beauty whose strength is “dance fighting.” That sounds neater than it is in practice, because in practice, it’s just fighting while a song plays in the background.
And then there’s Bethany, whose choice of character in Dr. Shelly Oberon is based on the description “curvy genius.” The film’s most prominent joke is that “Shelly” is short for Sheldon, and the avatar is played by Jack Black, whose “curvy” quality is that he is of a certain size not anticipated by Bethany. She also “just can’t” with the physiology that comes with being a man, meaning that Black adopts the vocal stylings of a stereotypical gay male and has a bit too much fun with a scene where the character must go to the bathroom. Why a video game character needs to go to the bathroom is apparently not a question that was addressed in the writers’ room.
In any case, the plot of the video game itself is just an excuse on which to hang action sequences: It’s something or other to do with a glowing crystal that the villain at the boss level, Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale), stole for himself and that needs to be returned to its rightful place to break a curse, and yada yada yada. They stumble across another playable character (a pilot played by Nick Jonas), and blah blah blah. Action sequences occur, because this is a video game with levels of increasing difficulty, but Kasdan’s staging alternates between cheap-looking and, because the finale is set at nighttime, murky. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle finally mimics a mediocre video game on its twelfth or thirteenth run, which is to say it’s the opposite of fun.
(Review by Joel Copling)
Monday, December 18, 2017
NORTH TEXAS FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION NAME “THE POST” AS BEST PICTURE OF 2017
The North Texas Film Critics Association voted the newsroom drama THE POST as best film of 2017, according to the results of its annual critics’ poll. Completing the list of the top 10 films of the year were: THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2), GET OUT (3), THE SHAPE OF WATER (4), DUNKIRK (5), BABY DRIVER (6), LADY BIRD (7), THE FLORIDA PROJECT (8), THE BIG SICK (9) and LOGAN (10).
For Best Actor, the association named Gary Oldman for DARKEST HOUR. Runners-up included James Franco for THE DISASTER ARTIST (2), Tom Hanks for THE POST (3), Jake Gyllenhaal for STRONGER (4) and James McAvoy for SPLIT (5).
Frances McDormand was voted Best Actress for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. Next in the voting were Meryl Streep for THE POST (2), Saoirse Ronan for LADY BIRD (3), Margot Robbie for I, TONYA (4) and Jessica Chastain for MOLLY’S GAME (5).
In the Best Supporting Actor category, the winner was Sam Rockwell for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. He was followed by Willem Dafoe for THE FLORIDA PROJECT (2), Idris Elba for MOLLY’S GAME (3), Will Poulter for DETROIT (4) and Patrick Stewart for LOGAN (5).
For Best Supporting Actress, the association named Laurie Metcalf for LADY BIRD. Runners-up included Holly Hunter for THE BIG SICK (2), Octavia Spencer for THE SHAPE OF WATER (3), Allison Janney for I, TONYA (4) and Tilda Swinton for OKJA (5).
Guillermo del Toro was voted Best Director for THE SHAPE OF WATER. Next in the voting were Jordan Peele for GET OUT (2), Christopher Nolan for DUNKIRK (3), Steven Spielberg for THE POST (4) and Greta Gerwig for LADY BIRD (5).
The association voted RAW (France) as the Best Foreign Language Film of the year. Runners-up were MENASHE (Yiddish) (2), and FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER (Cambodia) (3).
JANE won for Best Documentary over STEP (2), and CITY OF GHOSTS (3).
COCO was named the Best Animated Film of 2016, over THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2) and LOVING VINCENT (3).
The award for Best Cinematography went to Roger Deakins for BLADE RUNNER 2049, followed by Dan Laustsen for The Shape of Water
(2), Hoyte Van Hoytema for DUNKIRK (3) and Michael Seresin for WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES tied with Janusz Kaminski for THE POST (4).
Brooklynn Prince was awarded BEST NEWCOMER for THE FLORIDA PROJECT.
The association also voted THE POST as the winner of the first installment of the Gary Murray Award, named for the late NTFCA president. The honor will be bestowed annually to the BEST ENSEMBLE.
The North Texas Film Critics Association consists of 17 broadcast, print and online journalists from throughout the North Texas area. For more information, visit us at www.northtexasfilmcritics.com or follow us on Facebook. Or contact Susan Kandell at dabronx101@gmail or 214.878.2700.
SUMMARY OF AWARD WINNERS
2017 North Texas Film Critics Association
(Choices listed in order of votes received)
Winner: THE POST
Runners-up: THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI; GET OUT; THE SHAPE OF WATER; DUNKIRK; BABY DRIVER; LADY BIRD; THE FLORIDA PROJECT; THE BIG SICK; LOGAN.
Winner: Gary Oldman, DARKEST HOUR
Runners-up: James Franco, THE DISASTER ARTIST; Tom Hanks, THE POST; Jake Gyllenhaal, STRONGER; James McAvoy, SPLIT
Winner: Frances McDormand, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Runners-up: Meryl Streep, THE POST; Saoirse Ronan, LADY BIRD; Margot
Robbie, I, TONYA; Jessica Chastain, MOLLY’S GAME
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Winner: Sam Rockwell, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI.
Runners-up: Willem Dafoe, THE FLORIDA PROJECT; Idris Elba, MOLLY’S GAME; Will Poulter, DETROIT; Patrick Stewart, LOGAN
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Winner: Laurie Metcalf, LADY BIRD
Runners-up:Holly Hunter, THE BIG SICK; Octavia Spencer, THE SHAPE OF WATER ; Allison Janney, I, TONYA; Tilda Swinton, OKJA
Winner: Guillermo del Toro, THE SHAPE OF WATER
Runners-up: Jordan Peele, GET OUT; Christopher Nolan, DUNKIRK; Steven
Spielberg, THE POST; Greta Gerwig, LADY BIRD
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Winner: RAW (France)
Runners-up: MENASHE (Yiddish); FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER (Cambodia)
Runners-up: STEP; CITY OF GHOSTS
BEST ANIMATED FILM
Runners-up: THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE; LOVING VINCENT
Winner: Roger Deakins, BLADE RUNNER 2049
Runner-ups: Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water; Hoyte Van Hoytema, DUNKIRK;
Michael Seresin, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES tied with Janusz Kaminski, THE POST
Winner: Brooklynn Prince, THE FLORIDA PROJECT
GARY MURRAY AWARD (Best Ensemble)
Winner: THE POST
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Down to the last stretch before the holidays. Lots of movies this week, mostly on the same day and nothing scheduled for next week. Our group calendar is still out of whack, so sorry for the multiple posts on some screenings. If I have missed something, please let me know.
The NTFCA NAME “THE POST” AS BEST PICTURE OF 2017 https://sites.google.com/a/northtexasfilmcritics.com/www/home/the-best-of-2017-from-the-ntfca Dallas Movie Screenings is a proud member of the North Texas Film Critics Association.
Have fun this week at the movies. The malls will be madness for parking with the holiday shoppers in force and all the kids on vacation. So keep your tempers and patience in check. Lets all keep safe and warm.
Dec 17 - Dec 23
Mon - Dec 18
Jumanji - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark and Angelika Dallas
Tue - Dec 19
Pitch Perfect 3 - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Father Figures - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark and Cionemark 17
Downsizing - 7:00 pm - Cinemark 17 and Angelika Dallas
All The Money In The World - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas
Wed - Dec 20
Molly's Game - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Thur - Dec 21
Bright - 7:00 pm - Studio Movie Grill Northwest Hwy.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
In this crazy mixed up world we have right now, here's a movie that reminds us the importance of being true to oneself. For a children's animated feature even the adults who bring the young ones will enjoy the message based on Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson's children's book The Story of Ferdinand. Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox Animation with director Carlos Saldanha and screenwriters Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, and Brad Copeland creates a colorful world that just received nominations for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song ("Home") at the 75th Golden Globe Awards.
Young Ferdinand (voiced by Colin H. Murphy) lives on a Spanish bull ranch that trains bulls for fighting matadors in the ring. The young bulls, Valente, Guapo and Bones all dream for being the best fighters like their fathers. They mercilessly tease Ferdinand for preferring flowers over combat. When Ferdinand's father (Jeremy Sisto) doesn't return after being chosen by the matador El Primero (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), grief stricken Ferdinand manages to run away jumping on a train. Scared and lost he is rescued by a young girl Nina (Lily Day) who brings him home to her father's flower farm. Ferdinand finds true happiness with his new family surrounded by the beauty of the peaceful countryside and the smell of his favorite flowers. Until the day he grows to his full capacity and a bee sting makes everyone think that he is a mad bull. And what's a bull without a china shop bit in it.
Ferdinand (now voiced by John Cena) is captured and given a calming goat Lupe (Kate McKinnon). He's asks Lupe for her help which she interprets as becoming his fight manager. They are taken to his old farm, where he finds his friends have also grown up (Bobby Cannavale as Valente, Anthony Anderson as Bones, Peyton Manning as Guapo, and two new bulls, Tim Nordquist as Maquina and David Tennant as Angus). Valente still tries to challenge Ferdinand to fight, but Ferdinand tries to convince them there is more to life and the matador arena is a one way trip. Valente reminds him that bulls that don't fight end up at the meat farm up the hill. Now more than ever Ferdinand needs to get everyone out, enlisting the help of three hedgehogs (Gina Rodriguez as Uno, Daveed Diggs as Dos and Gabriel Iglesias as Cuatro - "we don't talk about Tres").
There are many amusing adventures, German dancing horses, and chase scenes that will entertain the young ones. Most important is that friendship and acceptance of one's differences will help each other survive in the world. We can all use a bit of that right now.
(Review by reesa)
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Only 2 more weeks til Christmas!!! Seems like we should be having lots of those award type movies crowding our schedule, but it's so uneventful. Probably a good time to watch the new season of The Crown, or catch up with the binges you have collected on your DVR.
The North Texas Film Critics Association which Dallas Movie Screenings is proud to belong, will be selecting our "Best of the Year". It's unfortunate that we were not able to view all the front runners or the foreign films or even some of the highly touted animated entries. But we do what we can with what we got.
As usual, Yahoo is giving us a headache, so if we missed listing a screening, please let us know.
Dec 10 - Dec 16
Dec 10 - Sun
The Greatest Showman - 10:00 am - AMC Northpark
Dec 12 - Tues
Paul Apostle of Christ - 7:00 pm - Cinemark West
Dec 13 - Wed
Insidious The Last Key - 4:00 pm - Cinemark West
9-1-1 - 7:00 pm - Studio Movie Grill Northwest Hwy.
Father Figure - 7:00 pm - AMC Mesquite
Thursday, December 7, 2017
It is Bull****, I Do Not Hate This Movie, It is Not a Disaster. It Tis’ Nawwwwwt. Oh, Hi Review.
Title: The Disaster Artist
Rating: R for Language Throughout and Some Sexuality/Nudity
Run Time: Ihr & 43min
***½ (out of ****)
“The best thing about all this is that no one’s going to see it.” Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, so the character who says this about the movie whose crew he is part of would probably like to eat his words if asked about them now. He’s the script supervisor on The Room, 2003’s infamously awful romantic melodrama (later marketed as a “quirky black comedy,” though it was anything but) that, following its two-week, awards-qualifying run in Los Angeles, during which it made a small percentage of its budget back, enjoyed cult status because it was so widely reviled – but, in its own way, loved because of that awfulness.
The Disaster Artist, an account of the earlier film’s financing and production, is also about as comprehensive a biopic of its human subject as it could possibly be. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (adapting a nonfiction account by Greg Sestero, the film’s co-star and line producer, and Tom Bissell) are dealt a curious hand with Tommy Wiseau. He was notably secretive – pooling funds with no stated source to afford the equipment that would be used, speaking in an accent that was naturally cartoonish and vaguely Eastern European while claiming to be from New Orleans, and telling his new best friend Greg (Dave Franco) never to speak about him to anyone while refusing to give a straight answer about anything on display in his apartment (one of two).
James Franco plays Tommy in a remarkable performance, and here there are two major achievements: The impersonation is uncanny, from his drooping eyelid to his slurred speech to the laugh that is always three carefully pronounced syllables, and the externalization as an actor of everything within himself offscreen gets to the evasive heart of the man. Perhaps something within the older Franco brother, who also directed the film, caused him to realize that only he could play this role. He certainly seems to understand the drive had by Wiseau – to be the next Tennessee Williams – that sends him and Greg to L.A. from San Francisco to pursue their dreams of becoming movie stars.
Auditions either go poorly (in Tommy’s case) or dry up (in Greg’s case after he signs on with an agent, played by Sharon Stone, who essentially abandons him). Greg meets Amber (Alison Brie), a bartender with a heart of gold who unintentionally interrupts the curious-to-the-say-the-least friendship between Greg and Tommy, and Greg sparks an idea in the head of his new friend: They should make their own movie. And make one they do, Tommy cobbling together a script that seems to be vaguely autobiographical (but who knows if it is), hiring a cast and crew (including Seth Rogen as the script supervisor, Sandy Schklair, and Paul Scheer as the D.P., Raphael Smadja) and pushing forward with their director, whose dictatorial methods are at constant loggerheads with his underlings.
The fun of the film is certainly in seeing the recreation of many of The Room’s most iconographic moments and more than one of its unintentionally funny narrative gaps by actors with more know-how and, perhaps, dignity than their counterparts: Tommy, naked as whatever day he was born, aims incorrectly during one of the awkwardly staged sex scenes with Juliette Danielle (Ari Graynor), the actress playing “Lisa” to Tommy’s “Johnny.” The inexplicable tone of “Johnny’s” reaction to a story of domestic abuse told by “Mark,” Greg’s character in the movie, is nothing on the hours-long process of capturing a single take involving “Johnny’s” insistence that he himself is not involved in domestic abuse. Carolyn Minott (Jacki Weaver), the actress playing the mother of Juliette’s character, questions an apparently abandoned subplot involving breast cancer, and the answer she receives is unexpected.
There is more where that comes from, and Franco’s approach, while very funny, is delicate enough that we appreciate Wiseau’s drive to create, while put reasonably off by his method to get to that point. The ultimate result of The Room might have been quite awful (Indeed, the story’s crux, that the abusive creep is the tragic hero and his poor fiancée escaping the relationship is the villain, is kind of gross, and that’s apart from the lapses in narrative and imprecise performances), but the greatest coup of The Disaster Artist is that it argues in favor of such ambition. It might have been misplaced, but a movie was made. How many people can say they’ve done such a thing?
(Review by Joel Copling)
This year's slate of movies heading for the awards season has been fairly eclectic with a good amount in contemporary based stories. Good, and satisfying, but none that stirs such an emotional and visually entrancing reaction as the fantastical and magical The Shape of Water. Directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor is sort of a Creature From the Black Lagoon type film, with romance set in the early 1960's. Every last detail of the set decoration, music soundtrack and costuming is drenched in color and patina the takes you into their world and the journey of the characters that you will never forget.
The story begins with mute Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who lives above a movie theater as she begins her day, as she does every day with little variation. She is friends with her next door neighbor Giles, an out of work commercial artist for whom she makes breakfast and keeps company. Elisa works at a government research warehouse in Baltimore as a cleaner with her co-worker best friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer). Being mute seems to encourage those around her to speak more often to fill in the quiet. The research team is gearing up to bring in an "asset". A creature found in a South American river, where the locals consider it a god. The team is lead by the cruel and abusive security leader Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), a highly religious man who doesn't trust the fish-like creature as he believes humans have a moral and righteous superiority over all things.
Curious Elisa sees the creature (Doug Jones) while cleaning the lab. She sneaks back in and feeds him eggs and plays music for him. Her lack of fright at the creature, helps him to trust her. When she sees Strickland torturing him and learns of the plan to take him apart for study spurs her to enact a plan to get him out. Meanwhile research doctor, Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) who is also a Russian spy named Dmitri, is given the task of killing the asset just to stymie the governments plans. Instead, the doctor who finds out Elisa's plan, decides to help her.
Michael Shannon is such an evil character, but he is tempered by his family man home life and the giving in to buying a new car. When he is commanded by General Hoyt (Nick Searcy) to clear up this mess of the missing asset or his professional life is over, kicks Strickland in the path of no return. Giles, is a lonely and frustrated closeted artist who indulges in electric colored key lime pies just because the counter help is nice to him. And Zelda despite her trash talking about her husband, has a big heart and helps her friends despite the dangers. Eliza, who was found in the water as a baby with scars on her neck finds a soul mate in the creature who she believes "sees" her. And the creature despite his other worldly-ness, makes one feel compassion to his plight. Each actor is so perfect in their portrayals, it makes the movie immerse the viewer in the amazing imagination of the filmmakers.
Parents be forewarned, it's not a movie for small children. or even tweens. Older teens would be more suitable.
(Review by reesa)
Monday, December 4, 2017
Director: Kevin Deters, Stevie Wermers Studio: Disney
“Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” snows and blows!
Hope you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving holiday with your families and friends because this year, Christmas season is here. A long, less-applauded pleasure for holiday nearly-twenty-minute short film as a pre-Coco show to spread the joyous holiday season of the year. Although, there are several criticisms beyond the release in theaters, particular the readings and news over the complaints and issues happening in the Mexico release in theaters. Originally, it was planned as a holiday special on television before it was chosen to showcase it in front a feature film.
In this short film, Olaf the snowman (voiced by Josh Gad) was on the verge of celebrating the holiday for the first time, but hope is lost when the sisters, Anna and Elsa, realized they have no family traditions and it’s up to Olaf to search for traditions all over town to bring the holiday cheery-spirits to the sisters.
Let me say this, it wasn’t a bad film regardless of the negative responses but it was somewhat a bad idea for Disney to place this in front Disney-Pixar’s Coco. I would think it was okay and pretty decent when it comes to short films. The time length is what increases the issue for angry audiences who really looking forward to see the heart-stringing Coco film. It’s not really a short film but maybe as a “short test.” I was surprised when I saw Coco, it didn’t showed the short film to the early audiences and critics (mainly). It may be due to time length. That was a roadkill and maybe a trip to awful-land or promise-land as Disney would have a decision to screen this, thought Disney did said it was for a limited-time, not all the time. I would called it a “staircase” to the upcoming Frozen sequel as many people found it easier to be “marketed” for the upcoming sequel. It was a “reverse payment” for Pixar’s Tokyo Mater when it was screened in front of Disney’s Bolt back in 2008. Looks like the short have lost its magic and the icy moments are about to worn off and melt.
However, the only things I like about the short was the holiday song, the returning cast, and the holiday tradition that connects and ties together for this and Pixar’s Coco, which is based on the Day-Of-The-Dead holiday. I really loved how these gifts that kept on giving for entertainment. It was the first time a non-Pixar short was shown in front of a Pixar film. If Pixar doesn’t have a short film to be released beforehand, then their tradition will be nontraditional. This short is like the “absence of new Pixar short” since there is no Pixar short being produced for Coco. To add a few bonus points for this short, love the fruitcake joke as it seems to be reality check since it was unpopular in the real world.
Overall, this short film was ok, but I think the world is better off of seeing Coco rather than this before the film or seeing this on television or as a special feature on Blu-ray/DVD copy of Coco (if there is). This isn’t my first time writing a negative review of the animated shorts but the time issue and character adjustments have just prevented this short from receiving a positive reaction. Not to be negative, but time was always the issue. The rise of franchises (Frozen, Thor, Star Wars, etc.) seems to have gotten out-of-hands. The time length is 21 minutes while Coco is 109 minutes.
(Review by Henry Pham)
Sunday, December 3, 2017
There wasn't a calendar last week, because there wasn't anything on our calendar. If y'all notice something missing, please share with the group. Hope you had a chance to catch up to what you missed or binged out on your streaming services.
Of course our Yahoo Group page has been a bit wonky lately. And the calendar page lets you look but not touch. So if there's anything missing here let us know. When the group goes down, please check out our FB page for screening links posted there.
With the holiday movies filling the schedule, there will be lots of opportunities and win GA and VIP passes. Please understand the first come first serve rule, keep your wristbands on, and don't fight with the reps. They have a big job keeping track of us all, plus the press, and contest winners. It's a free screening, y'all. If you don't want the drama, go hit the early bird discounted screenings. Keep in mind, saving a place for one or two people is not a big thing, but when you got 10 people who wander in late, it's not fair to those who camped out before them.
You know who you are!!!
December 3 - December 9
Mon - Dec 4
The Shape of Water - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas
Tue- Dec 4
The Darkest Hour - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Wed - Dec 5
Wonder Wheel - 7:30 pm - Magnolia
Sat - Dec 9
Ferdinand - 10:00 am - AMC Northpark
Ferdinand - 11:00 am - AMC Grapevine Mills
A Ponzi scheme that bilked over a hundred billion won from Korean citizens in 2008 that caused multiple suicides led to a manhunt for the culprit. Unfortunately Jang Doo-chil escapes to China, with the help of a retired counterfeiter who was found later dead from an apparent self hanging. The counterfeiter's son vows vengeance for his death. This South Korean heist film directed and written by Jang Chang-won in his first solo project dominated the ticket sales during it's opening week, beating out Justice League.
In the present time, three grifters (Bae Sung-Woo, Nana, An Se-Ha) who are under the control of Prosecutor Park (Yoo Ji-tae) are set on a task to search for Jang who is rumored to be still alive after everyone believed he had died in China. They find a former associate Choi (Lee Kang-Suk) who is also a con artist. He's currently trying to get an old gentlemen to invest in a real estate scheme. Instead the old guy ends up scamming him using the same playbook as Choi. The team, grabs the old guy who turns up to be Hwang Ji-Sung (Hyun-Bin of Secret Garden fame), who is the son of the counterfeiter. Before Park can throw him in jail, Hwang tangles some first hand knowledge of Jang and that he is hiding out in Thailand. Park decides to work with Hwang who insists that he is in charge of the plan. Park is under enormous pressure from his superiors who had profited from Jang's schemes and would like to get him out of the way permanently. Hwang tries to lure Jang in by offering money laundering though a casino operation. Jang's money man Kwang Seung-gun (Park Sung-Woong) comes to assess the situation. The team has to show a large pile of cash to complete the scam.
This is a very entertaining heist film, with every character having their own motive for their participation in the plot. The film moves quickly
with twists and turns and it's almost a surprise as the conclusion comes to it's satisfying ending. Just don't think too closely at the plot holes that will nudge you afterwards. It's fun, full of double and triple crossing. The bad guys get their justice and the good guys you want to come back and do a sequel.
(Review by reesa)
Movie opend in Dallas, December 1,2017 at AMC Grapevine Mills
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Director: Lee Unkrich Studio: Disney/Pixar
Pixar’s “Coco” Offers Colorful and Musical Memories
Not to be confused for another “The Book of Life” adventure, the team of Pixar Animation Studios has offered an eye-dropping, second main course this year after producing Cars 3. The “ingredients” Disney and Pixar have put together are child actor, slapstick sidekick, refreshing memories, family gatherings, colorful images, and emotions. As far as music films echo compared to “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King,” this film reached the perfect musical height and more complex for the background and plot twist than these four.
The story tells about the ambitious twelve-year-old kid, Miguel, who wanted to become a musician just like his idol, but the main conflict is his family were turned against music. Fulfilling his dream, he must rebel on the Day of the Dead celebration but stumbles into the other side of the world, the Land of the Dead. To return to the living world, he must have some music talents while learn the importance of family and its generations.
The peak of the idea for the film and the worlds of the Land of the Dead was extremely ambitious with some breathtaking experiences and discovery that people drew the line or border of any place, similar like the shadows of Trump’s effort to build a wall on the border. The film highly spread existential questions on how it follows between loving the families and loving the life of music of the familiar masterpieces from time to time. It would be rough to figure out what was more important than ever after witnessing the action and the emotion “Coco” has been carried on as a legacy similar to 2007’s “Ratatouille.” There’s a lot more than anything than everyone’s heart desires. If you can recall from Disney’s “Zootopia,” the motto is “where anyone can be anything.” Going back to “Ratatouille,” where anyone can cook.
As for acting, child actor (and newcomer) Anthony Gonzalez (as Miguel) provided the most intentional, steadiest role ever for a child character, similar like Russell from Pixar’s “Up,” after appearing two episodes from 2014’s “The Bridge” and 2017’s “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.” This was his first time leading the role as a conductor for the rest of the cast. Benjamin Bratt (as Ernesto, Miguel’s idol) provided the most wonderful, beating voice than the mediocre “Despicable Me 2” as El Macho. Even the Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal is willing to save his character, the mess, and the entire family.
The film was perfectly magical as it contains some sense of cartoon slapstick and humor for the film’s acts. But the two most important ingredients are music and family gatherings, which are the centerpieces to the family tree and in everyone’s hearts to remember the love ones, life or loss. It would brought a revitalizing moment to see and to learn from living families and deceased ones. The plot was a heartwarming, delightful taste of the original sensation like the “WALL-E,” ‘Ratatouille,” and “Inside Out.” Though the film’s structures are exactly similar based on “The Book of Life” but Pixar put more effort and eye-dropping ambition throughout the years. The direction, the writing from Pixar worker, Adrian Molina, the music, the entire cast, skeleton characters, and the background have outdone it smoothly and painstakingly. It takes a plethora of people, commitment, years, dedication, idea-makings, and hard work to put everything in one big presentation. It was over improved than “Cars 3” when this film have went to the finish line first. The originalities were better off than “Finding Nemo” and “Cars” sequels. Fun fact is “Coco” director, Lee Unkrich, have pitched this idea after directing “Toy Story 3” and before “The Book of Life” got made in 2014.
Before I get a chance to see this, I took a trip to the Mexica-Art museum, located in Austin, TX, to discover the Day of the Dead arts and creations representing the Mexican holiday tradition, defining research, and assignment. It was true commitment to learn about how Day of the Dead was celebrated every year around the world.
Overall, this film looks mighty great as a Day of the Dead and Thanksgiving treat to all families and friends. You can also watch ‘The Book of Life” before you watch this film, but under the hood, they’re both as aspirational as ever. I don’t understand why this film was released on Thanksgiving despite the fact this is a Day-of-the-Dead film but mainly due to box-office competition with Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” took its date. I can guarantee this film is a “must” and on “before you die” to-do list. Great movie for not only for Mexicans but also for Asians and Americans as well. Due to positive reception, I may predict that “Coco” may have a slight chance of being nominated for an Oscar.
As a bonus, there was a Walt Disney Animation Studios short film, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, featuring the returning characters from “Frozen.” Josh Gad will be brought back to life as Olaf along with Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff. This is the first time Pixar would screened this non-Pixar short film, thought it definitely served as a holiday treat for fans. Running time for this short is 21 minutes while “Coco” is 109 minutes.
(Review by Henry Pham)
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Hope you have some good stuff planned. Not too many movies this week, but that's usual for the holidays. The Yahoo Groups calendar is down again so I'm just guessing on the movies this week. If you see something I've missed, please share with everyone.
Nov 19 - Nov 25
Mon - Nov 20
Coco, 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Roman J. Israel - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Tues - Nov 21
Coco - 7:00 pm - AMC Grapevine.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
**** (out of ****)
The idea of preferred names runs through the beating heart of Lady Bird. It comes to a head in a scene early on, as our protagonist and her best friend in the known world sign a sign-up sheet for an activity at their school. Christine – who would like to be called “Lady Bird,” thank you very much – places the given name (“It’s given to me by me,” she clarifies to the easily confused) between her birth name and surname in the same quotations I just used. Her friend does the same thing with a shorthand of her name (“Julie” from “Julianne”). It is not, Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) argues, the same thing at all. Julie (Beanie Feldstein), who later adopts another shorthand by which to be referred, disagrees.
Both of these young women are finding themselves, and the concept of self-discovery is what drives writer/director Greta Gerwig’s exceptionally moving, exquisitely crafted study of the affairs of the heart. This is not, though, a simple, coming-of-age tale. There is no tidy resolution to a story in Gerwig’s screenplay. Likewise, there is no comfortable start. It begins in the middle of Lady Bird’s story, and it ends in the middle. That isn’t to suggest there isn’t movement within her character but that the movement is in the degrees relative to one’s teen age transitioning into adulthood.
In other words, the character changes in ways that seem to her, at this transient period of her life, to be gigantic. In the long run, the changes are quite small, even as the snowball effect of those changes will lead to a path of escape from a life of drudgery and disappointment. One hopes that, given years of hindsight later in life, Lady Bird comes to realize this. Perhaps by the note-perfect final scene, she begins to grasp that truth. This, again, is not the kind of film in which any given character finds a convenient solution for their quirks or personal hang-ups.
It is, though, a film that displays the range of compassion and human emotion. It finds comedy in the awkward and uncomfortable places of an older adolescent girl’s experiences. It locates the gravity of the drama when events within those experiences go awry. There is both a specificity and a broadness to the character that is genuinely inspiring. Film characters should not be so easily defined by how empowering, either specifically or broadly, they are. There is, though, a difficulty in seeing how young women everywhere won’t find this character empowering to some degree. There must, by the simple laws of likelihood in nature, be someone who finds something within themselves in Lady Bird. Her experiences are too universal not to be recognized in the experiences of the everyday, 17-year-old girl looking toward the future and seeing only uncertainty.
That’s the beauty of Gerwig’s film: The events of whatever narrative there might be (It certainly isn’t confined by one in the traditional sense) might be modeled by her own life, which is where the specificity comes from, but the filmmaker understands that we all see ourselves in other people. That is, at its core, how friendships form. Perhaps they fall apart, as one does here, when we start to have trouble identifying ourselves within ourselves. “I want you to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be,” Lady Bird’s mother tells her, and the query she receives in answer is the one that we likely feel we could voice in our own experiences: “What if this is the best version?”
As for the narrative, it’s mostly a patchwork of moments within Lady Bird’s final year at a Catholic high school. She’s looking at colleges that are both affordable and akin to the prestigious ones into which she doubts she can muster up the grades to gain entry. Her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) wants her to stay close, and her father Larry (Tracy Letts) just wants her to be happy. The dynamic here is complex and hardly easy to pin down. She is at constant loggerheads with her mother, whose nervous energy suggests a woman who easily shuts down in the face of tremendous strain, and though she enjoys a more emotionally open relationship with her father, it is disrupted by a revelation involving mental health that causes her to reevaluate almost everything. Letts and Metcalf are remarkable in roles that could have fallen into the archetypical traps of the “parent roles” but, thankfully, don’t.
At school, she wants to fit in somewhere. That means a falling-out with Julie, who is “replaced” by cool-girl Jenna (Odeya Rush) when things fundamentally shift within Lady Bird, occurs even though everyone present knows that no one can replace your best friend in the world. She meets two guys and thinks it’s love both times when it’s really just a crush: Danny (Lucas Hedges in a terrific performance), a theater nerd ignoring a gigantic emotional truth about himself until he no longer can, and Kyle (Timothée Chalamet), an anarchist who seems to be floating through life. She attends school dances, makes plans that might not be ideal for those around her but that offer a chance at arriving at those greener grasses, and, ultimately, reclaims some lost bit of herself to which she never realized she had access.
There’s even more here, every avenue explored thoroughly and satisfyingly within a compact, 93-minute frame. It isn’t too much weight for Gerwig to bear, and it certainly isn’t for Ronan, whose tremendous performance avoids making the quirks and tics within the character of Lady Bird some sort of joke. She’s unique – that’s for sure – but that uniqueness never becomes the defining characteristic of the performance. Like all of us, Lady Bird is discovering how she fits in while being her best self, and Lady Bird, a masterpiece about the baby steps that start this journey, understands that, sometimes, it takes a little work even to get to the baby steps.
(Review by Joel Copling)