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

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Movies Scheduled for the Week of April 30 - May 6


Well the first big movie of the upcoming summer season is upon us. For some reason, even after I asked that y'all not beg for passes, a bunch of gimme emails popped up as soon as the first offer was posted. But if you just waited, more offers are always are always just around the corner. Here's hoping you got the passes you wanted.


April 30 - May 6

May 1 - Monday

Guardians of the Galaxy - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark

May 2 - Tuesday

Guardians of the Galaxy - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

May 3 - Wednesday

American Wrestler: The Wizard - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark, AMC Parks, AMC Firewheel, AMC Grapevine, AMC Mesquite, Cinemark Legacy





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Saturday, April 29, 2017

How to be a Latin Lover





How to be a Latin Lover
Director:
Ken Marino
Writers:
Chris Spain
Jon Zack
Cast:
Eugenio Derbez
Salma Hayek
Rob Lowe
Kristen Bell
Raphael Alejandro

"How to be a Latin Lover" is the first English comedy staring the hilarious Mexican star Eugenio Derbez as Maximo a aging gigolo that has lost his sugar mama of 25 years to a younger man. With not a pot to piss in and no where to go Maximo tracks down his estranged sister Sara to crash on her couch played by the incredible Salma Hayek, that is now a widow with her 10 yr old son Hugo played by the adorable Raphael Alejandro. While looking for a new meal ticket I mean wife hilarity ensues, but he learns a valuable lesson that family and people that are there are more important than material wealth and creature comforts. As his father said "You get what you work for, not what you wish for".

Eugenio is know for his brand of vaudevillian comedic style in Mexico but not as known in the states but should be. He is the king of cameos but when he leads get ready to laugh your ass off, English or Spanish this guy kills it at comedy. Salma Hayek plays the straight man in this flim to his slapstick humor as the responsible sister that won't deal with his nonsense. They did a great job of blending a Spanish and English in this Bilingual hit, what is cool this was the first film in theaters to be dubbed in Spanish from it's original language so you can see it completely en español at select theaters. I like that they are making more language diversity in film because the world doesn't speak one language (neither does America), so why should our films be one language. The mix of Spanish and English music was great too. How they filmed a fast and tight which kept me absorbed in the film and with lots of slapstick comedy you can't tear your eyes away for a second or you'll miss something funny. I love comedies that have a moral to the story, instead of just ending (but a happy ending).

This was a great comedy I loved every minute. It had everything you want, even a blooper reel at the end. With the great line up of comedic actors in this film packs a punch (no spoilers), so you will laugh til you hurt and learn how to do a sexy walk. With all that said this film is definitely worth the ticket.
(Review by Samantha Leggio)


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Friday, April 28, 2017

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent





JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT
*** (out of ****)
There are two major questions asked here: What is the essence of Jeremiah Tower’s reputation, and why did he sign on as executive chef with a failing brand? By the time we get to the point in Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, a documentary about the prominent chef’s rise and tumultuous fall from public standing, at which that second question must be asked, it’s clear that we care about the answer. It’s a considerable achievement on the part of director Lydia Tradaglia, who has crafted a fairly standard, meat-and-potatoes biography here, but who understands that, sometimes, it’s the details of a life that make the story of such a life as interesting as it is. And Tower is quite the memorable individual.

He presides over the kitchen by his mere presence. A former general manager describes it as his dominion, and that seems fairly accurate. He witnesses every appetizer, entrée, and pudding that crosses his path, with “eyes in the back of his head” to detect a wrongful morsel of food, and he scolds the cooks and the links in between on the chain of command if perfection is not met. He does these things, not out of petty spite for his underlings, but out of an abiding love of food.

We get a sense of the man’s past, informed by an experience early in childhood of being separated from his parents and being introduced to an exotic plate of barracuda that opened his taste and smell senses to a world brand-new to him. A youth and young-adulthood were complicated by a complex and uncertain view of his own sexuality that was still considered taboo. The creations of Chez Panisse and, later, Stars, two restaurants of renown, would put his name on the map – the latter in particular for its tendency to draw major names in upper-class celebrity circles, such as within the opera world.

We get a sense of the man’s present, complicated greatly by the liquidations of both Chez Panisse and Stars (the latter in a very final way after an earthquake), which leads to a lengthy reclusion from outside society. Friends, of whom there are a number (many of those interviewed as talking heads here), admit that they don’t really know the man underneath the visage of stern acumen. This helped Tower to disappear in the truest sense in the interim. The question of his disappearance is replaced in the public eye by another question, with wider-ranging consequences: Why – oh, why – did he seek (or, if he was sought, agree to) the position of highest chef for Tavern on the Green, the infamously flailing fixture of New York City?

We are allowed hints into the man’s future that are not promising. Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent is a eulogy toward a man whose life might not have ended yet but whose professional life has come to a gradual halt. Tower has carried on his legacy through books and lectures, but Tradaglia’s film is a good and perceptive one about the particulars of what shaped it. Her style oscillates between talking-head interviews and contemplative, slow-motion shots of Tower staring off into the distance while the audio of the interviews plays out. It’s a typical biographical account but a potent one.
(Review by Joel Copling)


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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Movies Scheduled for the Week of April 22 - April 29


Wow, where did April go? It will be May soon, so this nice weather will start inching up in the heat zone. It will also start with the big name tickets, like Guardians of the Galaxy 2. So far no one has been offering this and if and when they do they will go fast. Keep an eye on your email. Remember that if people go through the effort of securing passes, the likely hood of them wanting to part with them will be pretty iffy. Keep your begging and mooching at a minimal.

The USA Film Festival will be at the Angelika starting Wed. If you have not picked up their program, you can find them at the theater. They are offering some free screening:

Wed - April 26 - Death by Design - 7:15 pm
Thu - April 27 - The Dating Project - 7:00 pm
Sat - April 29 - High School Shorts - 3:00 pm
The Father and the Bear -3:30 pm
Bill Evans/Time Remembered - 4:00 pm
Non-Fiction Shorts - 4:15 pm
Student Shorts - 9:00 pm
American Shorts - 9:30 pm
Experimental Shorts - 9:30 pm
Sun - April 30 - Whale Rider - 4:00 pm
Short Film Awards - 4:00 pm

April 22 - April 29


Tues - April 25

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent - 7:00 pm - Magnolia

Wed - April 26

How to Be a Latin Lover - 7:40 pm - Cinemark 17

Thurs - April 27

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark, AMC Grapevine, AMC Firewheel, AMC Parks, AMC Stonebriar



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Friday, April 21, 2017

EARTHxFilm Festival



Filmmakers of #CHASINGCORAL of #EarthxFilm at Dallas Fair Park Music Hall. #OpeningNight #EarthDayTexas #DallasMovieScreenings #DallasFairPark


The inaugural EARTHxFilm Festival began tonight with a screening of CHASING CORAL at Dallas Fair Park Music Hall! It is an amazing film about the coral reefs in our oceans. Did you know that the Earth's temperature would be over 122* F without the oceans absorbing 93% of the heat? Maybe you should see this movie! Good news! There will be a second screening this weekend! Come out to Fair Park this weekend to experience the largest Earth Day celebration! #EARTHxFilm #EarthDayTexas #DallasFairPark #ChasingCoral

Here is a link to the full film schedule:

http://earthxfilm.org/film-screening-times/#elevent


Happening at #EarthxFilm on Saturday, April 22nd, FREE screening of BIGGER THAN WATER at 7:30 pm in the Dallas Music Hall at Fair Park! Come see this 96 minute work in progress documentary feature about the water crisis in Flint, MICHIGAN. Special guests in attendance will be: Monica Lewis-Patrick, Nayyirah Shariff, Marc Edwards;
Producer/Director Rameen Aminzadeh;
Producers King Hollis, Michael Cain, and Trammell S. Crow; and
Producer/Writer: Jeffery Copeland.

Here is a little synopsis from the filmmakers:
Clean water is supposed to be every American’s birthright, but when the City of Flint fails to properly treat their water system, and city and state officials move to cover it up, residents fight to fix their vital lifeline and thwart the effects that a politically negligent system created. Bigger Than Water explores the Flint Water Crisis through the eyes of those directly impacted, and illustrates how a thirst for money poisoned an entire city. This film depicts one community’s fight for justice as they ban together to ensure their survival.

Here is some information about the Director:
Rameen began his career in filmmaking at the age of 19. As a young man on the streets of Baltimore, a rare opportunity to learn editing provided the foundation for a creative and sustaining career. With over 17 years of experience directing, editing and producing film, television, and live concerts across the nation, Rameen has brought his unique perspective and storytelling abilities to every project he takes on. From series work on Discovery ID, A&E Network, The History Channel, National Geographic, MTV, TLC, and ABC, to independent music projects and social justice documentaries across the globe, he is both artist and activist – using his artistic talents and resources to fight for justice on many fronts. He has worked with artists including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Dr. Dre, The Outlaws, Nas, The Black Knights, Creed, Mandy Moore, Brittany Spears, Henry Rollins, Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, Eight Ball & MJG, 36 Mafia, as well as countless underground hip hop and rock groups nationwide.

#EARTHxFilm #EarthDayTexas #DallasFairPark #DallasMovieScreenings
(Reported by Erin Nicole Parisi)




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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Promise




This story of the Turkish forced genocide of the Armenians is truly something to behold. The journey follows Mikael, a passionate medical student who is Armenian, Ana, a gorgeous French woman with vast love, and Chris, an American reporter for the Associated Press. The disturbing disruption of their lives is captured on screen during the war which brutally massacred an estimated 500,000 Armenians. The idea that peaceful lives with friendships and romantic relationships can be torn to pieces because of violence had a concrete display in this film.

Oscar Isaac brings the gentle being and absolute brilliance to his character of Mikael Boghosian. He is a lover of medicine and wants to better his life in order to help his people with the resources that he has to gain. He is truly a kind human being who remains faithful to his words and actions. There’s a scene where he and his new friend are given a test on a cadaver. His friend accidentally gets feces squirted onto him and faints. Immediately, Mikael takes his friend and makes sure that he is alright. This type of person is what continues to be exuded throughout all of the truly terrifying moments in the story.

Ana Khesarian, played in a compassionate way by the fantastic Charlotte Le Bon, is a beautiful woman who cares for the children affected by this war resiliently. She also has a teetering relationship with Chris Myers, who is played with anger and seriousness by Christian Bale. Ana has a beaming quality about her that gives light in the horrifying murders throughout the three’s journey together. A little ways into the movie, she develops a relationship with Mikael even when he is bothered because of his being betrothed to his wife.

The Turkish military truly commits heinous crimes in this film and its sinister criminality is exploited to be hated by bounds in this rendition. The hangings of innocent villagers, the shootings of injured men, the brutal beatings of any person, and the mutilation of mothers are nightmares that drive the gross injustice home to the audience. Chris Myers is the one who seeks the dissemination of the truth and for these despicable actions to be rectified. He is almost like the hero of this story as he is the informational source to the world of what is going on in this dark place.

Although some may disagree, this is a fine film that educates in an intensely engaging manner on a genocide that should touch all those who see the piece.
(Review by Wyatt Head)


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Free Fire




Reel Time with Joel and Chase

It’s a Free-for-All in Free Fire and its Hilarious and Delightful

Title: Free Fire
Rating: R for Strong Violence, Pervasive Language, Sexual References and Drug Use
Run Time: 1hr & 30min

Plot: Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.

The set-up is remarkably simple: Twelve people meet in an abandoned warehouse to transact a gun deal. The kicker, though, is that the film isn’t simplistic. This isn’t just any group of people. Some are strangers to others in the group. Some are longtime business partners. Some have coincidental connections to each other. The entire deal hinges upon the disparate personalities of its participants. Some of these people are psychopaths. Others simply want their money and to leave peacefully. None of them anticipates the wrench thrown in the works.

Co-writer/director Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire is a masterful example of simplicity in plotting that has a surprising amount of anger simmering underneath the surfaces of its characters, readying to boil over the sides of this heightened conflict. Wheatley and co-screenwriter Amy Jump provide a cadre of personalities, and this secretive deal, as with most deals of this nature, is built upon the assumption that these men (and one woman) can behave themselves. The assumption is the wrong one, and that is where the central conflict of this story receives a lot of its surprising nerve.

Lest it seem the film is a joyless excursion, be reassured, reader, that this is quite the rollercoaster. The key is in Wheatley’s formal approach, which lives or dies upon the decision to set almost the entire exchange (apart from the prologue, which, in any case, is set outside the warehouse and within a van about to arrive at it) within the walls of the warehouse. This surprisingly doesn’t hinder cinematographer Laurie Rose, whose utilization of light, shadow, and elegant movement within the confined space is stunning. The beats of the editing (the director and his co-screenwriter) are stunning during the extended gun battle, and the sound work is spectacular and immersive.

Somehow, we’ve gone this long without mentioning those characters. They are a motley collection: On one side, the players are performed by Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Jack Reynor, and Michael Smiley. On the other side are Sharlto Copley, Noah Taylor, Sam Riley, Enzo Cilenti, and Babou Ceesay. Copley's Vernon is a squirrelly nut and an openly sexist louse toward Larson’s Justine, Hammer’s Ord turns out to be the only one here with any detectable weapons training, and Riley’s Stevo and Reynor’s Harry had an unexpected quarrel the night before a deal in which neither knew the other was taking part.

It’s an explosive and implosive mix of total coincidence, warring personalities, pent-up anger and frustration, and several unforeseen complications (none of which will be revealed here), and in this confined space, that makes for great drama and for terrific ammunition (pun fully intended) in an extended sequence of controlled chaos. These performances show utter precision, especially from Hammer (a hoot as the unknown variable in the group) and Copley (who adds something more than blustering gusto as the wimp disguising himself as the tough guy). The violence is brutal: These guns have real firepower, and Wheatley refuses to back down. Free Fire is a lit match and a live grenade, a remarkably entertaining crime comedy stripped to its essentials. What a ride.
(Review by Joel Copling)


Free Fire Movie Review
(Review by Chase Lee)







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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Movies Scheduled for the Week of April 16 - April 22


Now that DIFF2017 is over there are still more film festivals in Dallas coming up.

Thin Line Denton
The festival is free this year; BUT! you have to register and then pick up your badge at the fest. They'll be scanning badges at all indoor events.
http://thinline.us/ April 19 - April 23

EarthDay Film Festival
Screenings will be held at various museums and halls at Fair Park. There are some free outdoor movies for kids too. There are some great documentaries lined up to enlighten and inform. Our environment is important despite the opinion of 45.
http://earthxfilm.org/ April 21 - April 23

The USA Film Festival
This is a fun festival that also holds a kids film festival. Celebrities and filmmakers are usually in attendance and they hold screenings of vintage films.
http://www.usafilmfestival.com/ April 26 - April 30

Not too many movies scheduled for the week and nothing so far for next week. But keep an eye on your emails, because stuff always pop up when you least expect it.

April 16 - April 22


Tues - April 18

Born in China - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas
The Promise - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark
Unforgettable - 7:30 pm- AMC Northpark

Wed - April 19

Unforgettable - 7:30 pm - AMC Valley View and Cinemark 17

Fri - April 21

Hedwig and the Angry Itch - 10:00 pm - Texas Theater




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Friday, April 14, 2017

The Fate of the Furious






Preposterous, Inane, Ridiculous, Far-fetched and Goofy are just a few of the adjectives that describe “Fate of the Furious,” the eighth entry (Eegads!) into the road racing movie series that has actually gotten better with age. I really did not care for the first four entries in the series because they had no substantial plots, twists or storylines.

They went in to as far as to trick viewers into making the fourth chapter “Fast and Furious,” since they took out the thes! That is the dumbest way of misleading viewers to return to a franchise that was near death to ending its over welcome stay in the industry. Sorry, but to me they were run-of-the mill stories with no real intrigue.

I did not start caring until the fifth chapter in the saga wherein they brought the credible Dwayne Johnson into the mix. He has presence, and I think that goes back to his days as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, an alter ego who made faces by just shifting his eyes and stupid she grins.

Gone are the street racing days of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel since those times have led to a modern day heist cops and robbers franchise. To me, the only real car in the early entries was the car Dom (Vin Diesel) drove, a 1960s Dodge-era Super Sport.

Going back to “Fate,” this is the first chapter without Paul Walker involved in the story arch. Instead, we are treated to a corrupt and evil Charlize Theron pulling the strings to get the aforementioned Diesel’s Dominc Toretto to essentially turn on his extended family.
For some unknown reason, her character Cipher has weird blonde locks that are very reminiscent of Angelina Jolie’s character in 2000’s update of “Gone in 60 Seconds.”

Also cool in this chapter is the presence is Oscar-winner Helen Mirren (“The Queen, “RED”) as the mother of brotherly villains Deckard (Jason Statham) and Owen (Luke Evans). She, like Theron breathes a much needed breathe of fresh air into this once faltering franchise.
Returning as well are Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody and the aforementioned Johnson. New to the mix is Scott Eastwood’s (“Suicide Squad”) Little Nobody, a higher up suit who works for Russell.

The storyline here is the hijinks of a Russian submarine, the God’s Eye (a plot device from the seventh chapter) and a forgotten lover, Elena (Elsa Pataky) from a previous chapter.

The reins on this entry were handled by F. Gary Gray, who previously worked with Theron on 2003’s update of “The Italian Job.” I liked that one, giving it a B- when it originally came out.

“Fate,” like Diesel’s return as Xander Cage in “xXX: The Return of Xander Cage,” is a complete mess of over-the-top action scenarios involving illogical situations and ridiculous outcomes. It is, however just fun to watch on the big screen
.
I hate to say it and admit it, but this chapter delivers the goods big time. It is just so far-fetched and ludicrous that one will be entertained regardless and leave the theatre smiling.

Grade: B-
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Their Finest




Reel Time with Joel and Chase

Just like the title, this film is pretty dang fine. Bill Nighy is also wonderful and should be nominated for Supporting Actor.

Title: Their Finest
Rating: R for Some Language and a Scene of Sexuality
Run Time: 1hr & 57min


Joel’s Review
THEIR FINEST
*** (out of ****)


A portrait of the English film industry of the early 1940s is painted in Their Finest, a surprisingly enjoyable period piece that also offers a unique view of wartime heroism. The film isn’t based upon a specific event in history but seemingly upon any such production that took place in this era of British filmmaking designed to fight against Adolf Hitler. The primary characters are the trio of writers hired to fit the film in production into a specific mold. The primary setting is London, which is under attack from German bombers. Explosions rock the streets day and night. Anyone, at any time, could die, and that pall of death grounds what is otherwise an acrid and perceptive comedy about egos clashing.

Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is one of those writers, taking pride in being a constant thorn in the side of film executives who only want female writers for the “slop” (the sentimental stuff – perfect, the men reason, for the “gentler sex” to handle). The other woman in the group is Phyl Moore (Rachael Stirling), and the man – and de facto leader, obviously – is Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin). The film’s most pointedly funny material, or some of it anyway, surrounds the dynamic of this group, with Tom transferring much of the action from the female characters to the male ones in the screenplay, Catrin protesting, and Phyl just trying to keep the peace while resigned to the fact that she cannot be of much help in this fight.

The other part of the comedy comes with the inception of the film’s production. It is to be a dramatization of the Dunkirk evacuation between May and June of 1940. Rather than a straight dramatization of it, though, the studio execs (led by Richard E. Grant’s Swain and Henry Goodman’s Baker) want it to have mass appeal. They’ve located a true story, about a pair of twin women whose act of heroism is exactly the kind of combat-suspense picture the studio wants. One thing, though: They must shift the act of heroism to being that of a man, known as “Johnnie” in the film (played in the film-within-the-film by Wyndham Best, in turn played by Hubert Barton). They must also reconfigure an abusive drunk of a father into a comically drunk uncle for purposes of optimism, and they approach popular genre actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), who agrees reluctantly to take on the role.

A lot of this main driving plot is so light, funny, and surprisingly insightful about the filmmaking process, which consists of a lot of grief for the crew and the cast alike, that it’s a wonder the shifts into dramatic territory aren’t more jarring. Deaths and the bombings of property hit like gut-punches. A subplot involving Catrin’s tumultuous relationship with Ellis Cole (Jack Huston), a man with whom she is living although they are not yet married, is a bit of a distraction that leads to a melodramatic revelation. It matters less than it could have in a film with less able direction than what is provided by Lone Scherfig or a screenplay (by Gaby Chiappe and based on a novel by Lissa Evans) that had a broader sense of characters who are capable of real compassion, with which the movie is generous.

The actors are the main component of allowing this material to work, from Arterton’s forthrightly honest Catrin to Claflin’s superbly indifferent, eventually warm Tom to a very Jake Lacy as the lunkheaded American actor shoved in for star appeal to Nighy, who is riotous and charming in a superb performance worthy of any accolade one can give it. The coup of casting so many actors on top of their game gives Their Finest a credence and an urgency it might not otherwise have. This is a good film, warmhearted and engaging.
(Review by Joel Copling)



Chase's Review





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The Fate of the Furious





How many times can a action movie franchise make itself bigger, badder and more ridiculously over the top than the last one. The Fast and Furious world of criminals and street racers have blown themselves out of the water so much and yet they keep us coming back for more. The unfortunate passing of Paul Walker would have spelled the ending of series, but after the touching memorial of the last film it seems they will continue this mindless ludicrous yet oddly satisfying films until they are too old and can't think of more stunts. Directed by F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) and written by Chris Morgan moves the "family" into less heist for profit scenarios and more international espionage. It seems that this new saving the world attitude will make them the new superheros.

As always the film includes the usual scantily clad beautiful women booty shots while hanging around cars while selling this idealized image of the race car world. They also have to have a race to justify this eye candy involving the vintage cars of Cuba, where Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriquez) are spending their honeymoon. Enter Charlize Theron as the evil cyber terrorist, Cipher who gets Dom to betray his team by showing him some information to force him to work for her. At the same time, DSS Agent Luke Hobbs is recruited by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his rookie sidekick Eric (Scott Eastman who looks just like his father Clint only shorter), to track down some tech that Cipher is planning to steal, which of course she does with the help of Dom, leaving his team spinning they wheels at his traitors actions. Soon, Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) are faced with having to use their skills to get back Dom. Mr. Nobody brings in Deckard Shaw, a rogue special forces assassin, who was captured in the last movie, to help them out. Snarky remarks, and macho blustering ensue between Hobbs and Shaw.

The set up is just to show off some of the most amazing action sequences including using the automated driver-less car features on new models, filling the streets of New York, while some of them hurl themselves off of parking structures. Then there's the Russian sub base in the cold tundra while the team driving their favorite cars race on the ice while being pursued by the Russian army and the sub under the ice. The movie clocks at two hours and forty minutes, and it doesn't let up so you can't think of any possible hole thereby you can buy into whatever crazy thing is happening on the screen. By the end, the audience is so entranced they are applauding the cameos of some favorite returning faces that helped in the plot. Plus, the inclusion of Helen Mirren just makes it that much more enjoyable.
(Review by reesa)



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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

DIFF2017: Sky on Fire





Director Ringo Lam returns to his roots of his 1987 cult classic City of Fire, with this non sequel mash up of the best and and wild mayhem of action adventure films of that time. Working from his own script, the beginning of the story seems a bit confusing as it establishes the characters. The sights and sounds of the busy crowded streets of an unnamed Chinese city adds to the feeling of that non stop thrill ride. If you can muck out the first half of the movie, then you will be rewarded to car chases, shootouts, Parkour over tall apartment buildings, and so much breaking glass that is so outrageous it's almost a drinking game.

Daniel Wu is the main character Chong Tin-Po who works as a security chief of Sky One, a high tech research facility trying to cure cancer. Tin-po's wife had passed from the disease and he feels compelled to work with Gao Yu (Zhang Jingchu), the main researcher. She is unfortunately married to the executive of Sky One, Tong Wing-cheung (Fan Guangyao) who only see's the material rewards that come from ex-stem cell cure. He and his wife had once worked together with their professor and mentor who mysteriously died in a laboratory fire and his notebook stolen. The late professor's son Yinwan (Zhang Ruoyun) and ex-army mechanic (Joseph Chang) with the sick adopted sister (Amber Kuo) get all mixed up in this thing by trying to steal the ex-stem cells. Tin-po tries to track down the stolen truck, but Tong sends his own mercenaries out too, and they don't have any qualms about leaving a body count behind.

It probably really doesn't matter why the ex-stem cells were stolen, and why Tong wants to eliminate everyone associated with his old professor including his long suffering spouse. There are quiet moments of reflections by everyone on their past that have brought them to this moment in time. It's the crazy, tense, excitement that fills that last act of the film that makes it worth it all. So it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and the special effects are not quite spectacular, it's just a nostalgic nod to the heyday of John Woo.
(Review by reesa)




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Monday, April 10, 2017

DIFF2017: Whose Streets





This chilling documentary captures the fight that numerous members of the black American community took to in response to the violent shooting of Michael Brown Jr. As many Americans from all races came to understand, Mike Brown was an unarmed black teenager who was shot several times by a white police officer. This catastrophe in Ferguson, MO set off an intense series of escalations between members of the community and the mostly white police force.

I was absolutely appalled and grossly horrified by the footage in this film which I am exceedingly grateful for. This film is an absolute game-changer that disseminates the truth to all viewers by intimately displaying the concrete events in Ferguson. The death of another black unarmed teenager literally inflames members of the black community as well as white individuals into a constant rage. I, myself, was severely angered by the grotesque circumstances and the subsequent treatment of this majority of peaceful protesters. The entire United States justice system was yet again put into question in my conscience as I relived the witnessing of police brutality.

I have overflowing respect for Sabaah Folayan and Sabaah Jordan, the ingenious creators of this barrier-breaking piece of cinema. The very concept of peaceful protesters being basically attacked by the officers with tear gas, dogs, and rubber bullets was beyond disturbing. The footage, in my opinion, was a replica-like reenactment of the demented injustices that occurred to black Americans just over fifty years ago. The absolutely shocking revelation by one of the prominent actors in this movement that the police used chemical weapons that were illegal on U.S. soil mortified me.

One has to not have a conscience or have a complete depletion of empathy to not feel for the individuals on screen. This movie excels remarkably at blasting the siren of racial injustice and comprehensively invalidates the idea of a post-racial society. Being in the theater viewing such a momentous piece of cinema is so impactful that to me it constitutes a physical experience. A message, through repetition, permeates the entire documentary that basically says that we need to love each other. Enough is strictly enough.

The highly visible display of community and affection for one another amongst these individuals exuded compassion. After seeing this utterly incredible film, I am reminded of how Mike Brown had a college experience, a career, a wife, potential children, and a myriad of other things taken away from him by that officer. God bless this movie and may it make its way to the eyes of the vast American society.
(Review by Wyatt Head)


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DIFF2017: Step





This exceptional documentary explores the lives of several young girls in a public charter school who comprise a step dance team. The school’s goal is to get these girls all into college and for them to graduate. The setting is Baltimore and all of these students come from low-income families. I was in awe of the energy, focus, and performance that these girls had in their expression of the dances.

The film fully examined these students’ lives and what they went through on a daily basis. Their neighborhoods were dangerous, they could have no food in the fridge, they could have no lights, and they could even have no fridge at home. The step group was the essential component of these girls’ lives that provided a haven outside of the obstacles that they faced.

We are primarily introduced to Blessin, a beautiful senior who has gifts as well as burdens, in the documentary. She is a happy-go-lucky energy ball who has strength that is contagious. She also has a difficult life at home, although her mother tries her best to keep the family sane. She has multiple family members living under one roof and her mother has dealt with considerable depression for decades. Her mother has had a hard time being there for Blessin in relation to the school and in one scene we see this illustrated. Blessin also has had a dismal track record when it comes to academics. We see her during the film try to completely re-arrange her performance with school and then also relapse. The movie did a phenomenal job in getting the audience to understand Blessin and root for her up until the last segment.

The true gem of step dancing is greatly exploited in this film to its benefit. We see multiple groups from different high schools profoundly impact the audience with their serious talents. We see whole theaters getting rallied up because of the supremely executed performances of the step teams.

The film definitely intertwined well the aspects of low-income life with what these girls were doing. Blessin, in a heart-breaking scene, explains how she doesn’t mind not eating but cannot stand to see her 6 year old relative not eat as well. He is simultaneously playing in the hallway after stating that when they receive their food stamps he will eat a humongous amount. Scenes like these from the actual lives of people are, in my opinion, what cinema is about period. To actually see someone be hungry and for them to communicate their situation is connecting to us as human-beings. All persons have much to gain from this project.
(Review by Wyatt Head)



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DIFF2017: Dina





This documentary was funny, uplifting, and slightly frightening for a scene. It follows Dina, an autistic woman in her late forties, and her lover, Scott, an autistic man, as they engage in their relationship. From the beginning scenes, we can tell that they strongly love each other through all of the facets in their lives. Their lives are pretty well put together. Dina and Scott are both members of a group of people with disabilities, have jobs, and have two good friends. They ride the bus independently, sustain themselves with all available finances, and live in their own place.

Their love is extremely quirky and extremely cute. Scott tells Dina that he loves her multiple times a day while Dina reciprocates that love and continually seeks more intimacy with her partner. Throughout the film she concentrates on bettering the sexual aspect of their relationship while Scott increasingly feels a bit uneasy. The creators took great lengths into penetrating all of Dina and Scott’s life together by being in every possible situation. In the first scene, we see Dina ask the dental assistant if she could hold her hand because of her fear of the procedure. The dental assistant awkwardly says yes. We see from this exchange how Dina is overtly friendly and the happiness she constantly displays.

To me, one of the prevailing messages of the film was that even though these people were disabled they could still lead fulfilling lives. That was a touching acknowledgement. The several outdoor shots in the northeast where this documentary was filmed were conducive to the uplifting essence that one got from seeing it. Dina and Scott have memorable times going out on day trips to various places in that area. They have a good amount of fun together and as an audience we feel content for them.

Films that give strength to disabled individuals by depicting their lives are commendable and this is such a film. Dina gives voice to millions of Americans by illustrating the fact that she is living a beyond adequate life with her partner. (Spoiler alert) The previously mentioned scare that occurs in a painstaking segment involves a 911 recording of Dina’s former lover stating he’s just stabbed her. Those minutes of the film were hair-erecting and really brought the audience into Dina’s history. In sum, this was an enjoyable peak into the life of someone who is different and has gone through a ton of experiences. Dina is a valuable one to see.
(Review by Wyatt Head)






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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Movies Scheduled for the Week of April 9 - April 15



The Dallas International Film Festival ended tonight. I hope some of you had the chance to catch some of the great programming they offered. Our team of movie reviewers were on hand to report on the films that they have seen. Their reviews are posted on our website. Check them out and let us know what you think.

So back to our regular scheduled selections.


April 9 - April 15

Mon - April 10

How to Be a Latin Lover - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark

Tues - April 11

The Fate of the Furious - 7 pm - ?
The Promise = 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas

Wed - April 12

The Fate of the Furious - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark
Their Finest - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas

Thurs- April 13

Free Fire - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas


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DIFF2017: The Lost City of Z




The Lost City of Z
Director:
James Gray
Based on the Book by:
David Grann
Cast:
Charlie Hunnam
Robert Pattinson
Sienna Miller
Edward Ashley
Angus Macfadyen
Tom Holland
Ian McDiarmid
Clive Francis


The curious true story of the life of Percival Fawcett has been brought to the silver screen by director James Gray. Mr Fawcett is a man with something to prove, in doing so he becomes obsessed with the Amazonian jungle and the indigenous people that inhabit it. Percival H Fawcett was the epitome adventurers, he was a geographer, cartographer, archaeologist, and explorer that mysteriously disappeared with his son in the jungles of South America. The astonishing chronicles of his life are just as amazing to read let alone brought to life in technicolor. He began his adventures funded by The Royal Geographical Society to map borders for the rubber trade. For Fawcett and his crew they were more progressive than their counterparts at the time just wanting to observe and not destroy the people there. James Gray brings waves of big budget, old school Hollywood to this film.

Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson complement each other in this epic drama. Hunnam as Fawcett reaffirms how much range the "Sons of Anarchy" star has and Pattinson was unrecognizable as Henry Costin, definitely the part for him and far from "Twilight". Sienna Miller plays the doting wife of Fawcett that sadly was left at home waiting for her husband to return, the strength of the character is filled out perfectly by Miller. The one part that I loved was Angus Macfadyen as James Murray a financial supporter of Fawcett's expeditions was a bit of comedic relief for the tense drama. The jungle scenes were filmed in the beautiful Tayrona National Park of Magdalena, Colombia and mostly filmed in North Ireland for his home. They didn't shy away from the perils of going into a uncharted jungle. Infection, disease, parasites, insects, poisonous plants, and predatory animals are just a few of the things they depict in the film, so there is some stylized reality and done quite well. I did find it surprising and strange they did mention the 62 foot Anaconda he claimed he shot on one if his trips, I guess you can't ever tell the whole story.

I actually really liked this film, I always love a adventure story and a true story at that. Plus him disappearing after so many treks into the same jungles I guess his luck just ran out. I don't know, I kind of hope he did survive and found Z. I highly recommend this film it is quite the story and worth the ticket.
(Review by Samantha Leggio)


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DIFF2017: Forever Pure





Forever Pure
Director:
Maya Zinshtein

This revealing documentary of one season 2012-2013 on the soccer/football club Beitar Jerusalem and how racism is alive a well in the world of sports. The rabid fans of Beitar Jerusalem F.C. were not forgiving when the owner at the time Arcadi Gaydamak added two Chechen Muslim players to the team, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev. The controversial nationalist group "La Familia" are blatantly racist to the new players even though shockingly the team has had Muslim and non-Israeli players in the past. With very organized chants of hatred to especially Arabs they scream this putrid ideology from the stands like a militarized cheer squad. A division happened to the team and the fans with a "if your not with us, your aginst us" mentality began coming from "La Familia". With verbal attacks of chanting extremely horrific things, former chairman and player Itzik Korenfine relays a story of how a few feet from him was shouted "we will rape your daughter" and how he had to check his vehicle for bombs everyday just because he lost favor with the fans. The extreme violent behavior for just a game of sport shows how far the world has to go to stamp out prejudice.

The film was honest look into the lives of these players and for the fans it's more than just a game. It was shot beautifully, it was raw and gritty showing with how easily they can be loved one day and hated the next just for accepting people. The racist tirades coming from all sides is claustrophobic because of how many people are involved. The level of mass hysterical hatred is mind blowing, with Molotov cocktails used to burn down their own teams small museum over this fiasco.

The shocking thing I noticed is that the owner at the time brought in the new players knowing how fiercely racist the fans were. With signs stating "Our forefathers said never give up on principles, Beitar forever pure without Arabs" in 2008 years before the players were added. If their intent was show the real face of these certain fans then they were successful, give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves as I say. Definitely worth watching this fandom is a site that needs to be seen (if nobody talks about it nothing changes). I'm not exactly a sports fan but I did play soccer in school so this was too interesting to pass up absolutely worth the ticket.
(Review by Samantha Leggio)




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DIFF2017: Abacus: Small Enough To Jail






This story cultivated utter rage inside of me because of the stupidity that was perpetuated in this criminal case. The story follows Abacus, a smaller bank centered in the Chinatown community in New York City, and its massive trial where it was almost dissolved. The bank was accused of making phony loans to borrowers while all of the big boy banks paid fees and saw no criminal indictments.

I myself, being Chinese, was infuriated by the sick process of prosecution that the District Attorney in New York County embarked on. This was a monumental film as it tackled an anomalous situation in the worst economic period in our country since The Great Depression. It fantastically captured the injustices committed on the Chinese individuals implicated by this trial. Segments of the film such as when the many employees were paraded in a chain of handcuffs down the law enforcement buildings were sickening to watch.

The idea of racism being heavily prominent in our “post-racial” or modern society was increasingly prevalent with each scene going by. While I have studied and witnessed prejudice against black Americans, I had not seen a display of prejudice against Asians in the current time. The frightening notion that humongous bank organizations such as J.P. Morgan and Bank of America had destroyed the economy with minor repercussions percolated in my mind. Knowing that Abacus was a small bank with loans that were mostly resolved adequately stimulated my substantial questioning of the justice system.

The thoughts of the family who owned Abacus were permeating the screen as we could see them in emotional distress. Just thinking, as the film allowed us to, about how one could face so many charges and not know about their future freedom made me cringe. The documentation of how much evidence the family presented which supported their innocence by bounds was executed excellently. What Abacus was trying to do from its inception was to help the Chinese immigrants get needed financial services. The message imbued by this film of how the bank was helping out the residents was stellar.

Some scenes of the family being together reminded me personally of my own family reunions at the dim sum restaurant. How they shared their Chinese dishes allowed the audience to see their bonds in a pure form. I have absolute respect for this film and truly admire the incredible story-telling done by its creators. This needs to be seen by everyone!
(Review by Wyatt Head)




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DIFF2017: In Loco Parentis





This unique film journeys through the lives of John and Amanda, two elderly teachers at a boarding school in Ireland, as they conduct their love of teaching to the many younger students at the school. This film brought so many gifts where one of which was the peak into this vastly different reality in this school. The school was a scene to behold in itself as it resembled an aristocratic home with multiple paintings inside and stunningly beautiful greenery outside. This was, after all, located in the country.

The best gift of the peak inside allowed us to understand what these children were experiencing and also how they interacted with the others. The unfamiliar concept of being, as a child, sent to a living situation that is also one’s school was utilized in an incredible way with this piece. Some children were immediately homesick as one would imagine being that age in those circumstances. The comforting aspect was that in those early scenes there were middle-aged women staff members caring for the children. The utmost love and compassion that each staff member transferred to the students was remarkable.

The expertise that John and Amanda both possessed was immeasurable to say the least. They both had gone through decades of being the benevolent authorities within that school. The film brilliantly captured all of the facets working in a usual boarding school. Some of those were the playing outside with forts, the sneaking out of bed in the dormitories, and the extra-curricular activities that these children enjoyed so much.

There was a mind-blowing scene where the children were asked about their opinions on same-sex marriage. I instantly was surprised of the topic but simultaneously also understanding of the fact that in Europe especially students carry maturity in a sophisticated environment. It is funny to think of something like that occurring in a conservative southern state in the U.S. In my opinion, the choice to document that class in particular was stupendous.

The film also brought a certain amount of emotion that was communicated effectively. For instance, there is a girl who is completely quiet for most of the film who I wondered if she personally was bullied. The turning point for her is because of her academic diligence and performance she wins numerous awards where she subsequently becomes talkative. Altogether, In Loco Parentis is a superior cinematic experience that espouses culture and insight for all in the theater.
(Review by Wyatt Head)





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Saturday, April 8, 2017

DIFF2017 Announces the Film Festival Winners



THE RESULTS ARE IN, AND THE 2017 DALLAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WINNING FILMS ARE...


AUDIENCE AWARDS - PRESENTED BY THE ARTHUR E. BENJAMIN FOUNDATION

Audience Award Short Film: NO OTHER WAY TO SAY IT

Audience Award Documentary Feature: DEALT

Audience Award Narrative Feature: BOMB CITY

TEXAS FEATURE COMPETITION - PRESENTED BY PANAVISION
Texas Jury: Linda Eaddy, Rob Hunter, Keith Maitland

Special Jury Prize Winner: MUSTANG ISLAND

Grand Jury Prize Winner: MR. ROOSEVELT

ANIMATED SHORT - PRESENTED BY REEL FX


Grand Jury Prize Animated Shorts Competition: MR. MADILA

SHORTS COMPETITIONS
Shorts Jury: Margaret Brown, Leah Meyerhoff, Meghan Oretsky

Short Special Jury Prize, Performance:
Arin MacLaine, SPRING

Short Special Jury Prize:
HAIRAT

Short Grand Jury Prize:
WHAT HAPPENED TO HER

STUDIO MOVIE GRILL SILVER HEART AWARD - PRESENTED BY THE SCHULTZ FAMILY
Silver Heart Jury: Sallie Beck, Tearlach Hutcheson, Jenna Jackson

Silver Heart Award: CITY OF GHOSTS

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Documentary Jury: Jolene Pinder, Laura D. Smith, David Wilson

Special Jury Prize Winner, Artistry: SPETTACOLO

Grand Jury Prize Winner:
QUEST

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Narrative Jury: Meredith Alloway, Emily Carmichael, Tommy Oliver

Special Jury Prize Winner, Directing:
HEARTSTONE

Grand Jury Prize Winner:
THE RELATIONTRIP




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Queen of the Desert




QUEEN OF THE DESERT
zero stars (out of ****)

Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert ambles, utterly directionless, through the life of Gertrude Bell, who paved the way for cooperation between officials of Middle-Eastern governments and British colonialists by way of mapping out the regions of Arabia, Mesopotamia, Greater Syria, and Asia Minor. She was also a writer, a spy, and an archaeologist, living a full life for having had only 57 years of it before her death, two days before her 58th birthday, in July 1926. The film fails to provide any of this important context, which has been gleaned from encyclopedic accounts of her life that are more insightful than anything found onscreen.

Yes, this is one of those movies in which the written coda that leads into the credits tells us more about the movie’s subject (and, certainly, about the people she encountered) than the actual movie that proceeds it. What transpires amounts to a transparent doodle, a scribbled account of a few events that regard her life as having been lived between romances with two men and a flirtatious series of exchanges with a third. There is no sense of a life here, and the film is utterly impenetrable in its attempts to find some sort of central focus. Bell remains a cipher, and the figures of historical record whose paths she crosses are mere avatars within her vicinity.

Bell is played by Nicole Kidman in a performance that can be politely described as wooden, although one can detect that the actress is utterly lost in the weeds of Herzog’s screenplay, which provides a mixture of expository dialogue and whispered, ponderous narration. Joe Bini’s editing shifts between timelines with such abandon that it’s less a fluid progression than a random collage of moments without much in the way of context. We begin on her whirlwind romance with and marriage to Henry Cadogan (James Franco, sporting an awkward English accent on account of replacing the role’s original performer at the last minute), Viscount Chelsea and a British Army officer. His mysterious death, which has never been solved, would go on to haunt Bell for the rest of her life.

The film is too happy, though, to rush through the other pieces of Bell’s life to dwell on matters such as the death of the man she considered the love of her life. Soon, she has sworn off all other potential romances to wander the desert terrains of the Middle East, in which she aids in developing the borders between regions that are now known as the countries of Iraq and Jordan (An encounter with T.E. Lawrence, played by Robert Pattinson in a tired impression of Peter O’Toole, seems to be paying lip service to the real-life exchanges, making the scenes seem awkward and shoehorned-in). The development of this relationship was in collaboration with Winston Churchill (Christopher Fulford), but the collaboration is hardly the point, the film argues, when Bell has fostered another romance with Charles Doughty-Wylie (Damian Lewis), another Army officer.

The romances are apparently key for Herzog, whose film is restless but still sluggish, that features wide, panoramic vistas but is still strangely claustrophobic in its presentation of the imagery, and that purports to be the definitive account of Bell’s life yet does not take any time to observe the woman or to examine what drives her independent spirit. Her accomplishments are secondary to the romantic or political influence of the men
(Review by Joel Copling)





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