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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Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Monster Calls

Childhood and preadolescence can be an incredibly rough time in a young man's life. Especially so if he is smart, creative, sensitive and introspective. Conor is 12, small in stature, and somewhat of a loner. It is said that children are resilient but sometimes it takes a strong fantasy life to take one away from the things that are too scary and awful to face. He has several things not going for him.

His father (Toby Kebell) is long gone, his mother is dying of cancer and his future looks to be a life with his icy but well-meaning grandmother ( Sigourney Weaver) who lives in an emotionally sterile home full of antiques and untouchable furnishings. He is also bullied at school. Frequently. Conor (Lewis MacDougall) has inherited his mum's talent for drawing and he has been forced to develop special coping skills , not unlike the young girl in Pan's Labyrinth, because he cannot and will not face the reality of his future. He immerses himself in his drawings, but won't even consider the possibility that he will lose his mum (Felicity Jones).

The film, based on the award winning book by Patrick Ness (from an idea conceived by children's writer Siobhan Dowd- herself dying of cancer) and directed by JA Bayonna, who directed The Orphanage, is an emotional roller coaster and a visual tour de force via the fantasy escape sequences dominated by a yew tree monster growing near a disintegrating church within visual distance of his bedroom window (voiced magnificently by Liam Neeson) in a somewhat menacing, yet fatherly figure way. The Monster visits him in the night, offering 3 stories over time but demanding one from Conor after the 3 are revealed. The story from Conor must be a realization of what all that he is running away from but that he must ultimately face. via the Monster, Conor safely expresses his deeply hidden anger under the protective and collaborative branches of his "mentor". He learns to face all of his bullies, the adults who have let him down throughout his life and the things he cannot control in his young life. A child, as we know, grows best with a mum, a dad, loving extended family, friends, carefree experiences and solid support systems. The fantasy sequences are visually and cinematically sweeping and dramatically stunning. The CGI techniques utilized are unique and compelling. The book's original illustrator, Jim Kay, lends his talents to the illustrations in the movie version as well. The script, bittersweet and sad, is guaranteed to evoke a few tears. There are no weak acting performances in A Monster Calls. The film is dark in theme, and could be scary for young children with the topics of cancer, death, fear, bully violence and abandonment. Not to be overlooked is the beautifully melodic score by Fernando Velazquez. It complements all the artistic expression well.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)

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