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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Coco






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.

GRADE: A+
(Review by Henry Pham)



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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Nov 19 - Nov 25


Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

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.





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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lady Bird





LADY BIRD
**** (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)





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Cook Off!




COOK OFF!
* (out of ****)

Cook Off! has the stench upon it of falling into the unfortunate trap of being improvised to death. Nothing about the screenplay (by Wendi McLendon-Covey, W. Bruce Cameron, and co-director Cathryn Michon and based on Michon’s book The Grrl Genius Guide to Life) feels as if it was written down or typed onto a document by human hands. The actors, a lot of whom are genuinely talented, simply mug for the camera for 98 minutes. Not one of the characters is sympathetic. The story is told in the mockumentary style of cooking-themed reality programs like “Chopped” or “Top Chef.” The behind-closed-doors baggage of a movie rarely matters, but let us say that it is not surprising that the film, shot in 2006 for a planned 2007 release, has been shelved for a decade.

The year is 2004, and the setting is the disproportionately popular “Million-Dollar Cook-Off” spearheaded by the Van Rookles, whose current patriarch (played by Stephen Root) merely video-conferences a message to the contestants before they begin cooking. The contestants must prepare a dessert of some sort, and what each one prepares apparently isn’t important to the movie. One dessert requires an endless supply of bite-size marshmallows, another one is a pie whose chef burns it at some point, and a third requires creamed corn. That’s about all one will be able to remember, because this is a movie whose priority is to give us a collection of wacky characters and let them loose to do their thing.

We get rival sisters in the form of the Solfests, Sharon (Michon) and Pauline (McLendon-Covey). The latter is a meek nurse whose only life until now has been caring for the elderly 14 hours a day, coming home, and going to bed, and McLendon-Covey’s chosen method of playing the part is to scowl at everything. The former is engaged to Lars (Gary Anthony Williams), and though the pair remains chaste, the way Williams plays the man makes his homosexuality so obvious that it’s a joke when it isn’t the punch line to a larger joke: that Sharon is engaged to a gay man. It’s because this is that kind of movie: Through the power of unbridled improvisation, the film sets up gags and, perhaps because of the combination of the style and a narrative that won’t allow for it, cannot follow through on them.

Patty (Romy Rosemont) is an overworked, very pregnant mother and wife whose marriage is dangling by a thread. Victoria (Cristine Rose) and Cassandra (Jennifer Elise Cox, giving the only performance that suggests effort) are a mother/daughter pair, the former exercising an insane, abusive amount of control over the latter. Daneel (June Edith Wilson) is a former contestant obsessed with winning who enlists Del (Diedrich Bader), the only male contestant in history, to cook her recipe for some sort of chocolate-covered thing. Ladybug Briggs (Niecy Nash), the lone black contestant, is a wise-cracking-Baptist stereotype.

There are others, too – such as Melissa McCarthy, prominently framed in the marketing but only present for 15 minutes as a latecomer whose sole characteristic is being constantly tearful and harried – but they are barely worth mentioning. Michon and co-director Guy Shalem certainly mimic the look and energy of a cooking program, but the result also means the film looks cheap and quickly, thoughtlessly produced. Even at a mere ninety minutes, sans the ridiculously extended closing credits (filled, of course, with bloopers), Cook Off! is padded quite beyond the point of return.
(Review by Joel Copling)

Opening Friday 11/17
Dallas-Ft. Worth
AMC Dine-In Mesquite 30 DOLBY IMAX
Mesquite, TX



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Lady Bird






Lady Bird is the story of Christine, a young woman who goes by the name “Lady Bird”, over the course of her senior year in high school. She has a concrete dream of attending university in New York City which she is determined to achieve. Her mother, Marion, is completely unconvinced that she will make it with her work ethic. She also is certain that their family’s financial circumstances will be inadequate for such an expensive tuition. On the contrary, Lady Bird’s father, Larry, is extremely loving and supportive of his daughter.

This film was an interesting and thoughtful story to say the least. The examination of a high school student growing to become an adult and the many obstacles that they face makes for an enjoyable time. I was pleased with how the many aspects of the conflict in the family and Lady Bird’s personal challenges were portrayed. However, this was not particularly a film that wowed me to an extent that possibly warrants me seeing it again.

There were definitely well-developed plot points that would appease a mature audience looking for a good narrative. Some of these included a boy being gay in a religious school where that sexual orientation would obviously encounter some backlash. There were also personal questions of Lady Bird such as who really cared for her and was she really loved by her mother. The life of high school students was captured well with the intersecting components of theater, academics, dances, sex, and popular students all permeating Christine’s life.

Saoirse Ronan played the role to a tee with the rebelliousness and not quite matured character of Lady Bird extending throughout the film. Tracy Letts, the actor who plays Larry, does a phenomenal job at portraying someone who clearly loves his daughter and just wants the family to be happy. He is depressed because he is laid off from his job and subsequently causes economic strain on his family. Letts played someone who was hurt but also had the capacity to do everything in his possible power to benefit his children and wife.

There is an outstanding scene in the film where Larry has just applied for a possible position that is really looking for someone who is younger. Not soon after his interview, he sees his son dressed up who obviously is interviewing for the same job. Larry instantly shows no sign of negative emotion and instead makes sure his son, a recent college graduate, looks good for his interview. Overall, the film was reasonably well done with a couple of golden factors in the script.
(Review by Wyatt Head)






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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Nov 12 - Nov 18



This is what I'm talking about...so many movies and they are playing on the same days. Makes it hard to decide which ones you want to stand in line for hours or which ones you are willing to pay for when they open.

As y'all know you can ask the group if they have passes they are not using. So if you have a conflict, or decide to attend another movie, please share with someone in need. And make sure you take the conversation directly to the person asking or offering. Not to the whole group. Of course the big ticket movies are going to be highly desired and their availability will most likely be scarce. So enter those contests, put your name on waiting lists, don't expect anyone to get those passes for you, you must do this on your own and good luck!

November 12 - November 18

Tue - Nov 14

Justice League - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Wonder - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - Nov 15

The Disaster Artist - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
The Man Who Invented Christmas - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas
Wonder - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17





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Friday, November 10, 2017

Novitiate







Screenplay writer and movie director Margaret Betts has given us the 2017 release, the Novitiate, a story line which covers 10 years from the 50's into the 60's and in an era where the Roman Catholic Church was under going great changes via Vatican II. It stars Melissa Leo as the overbearing and abusive Reverend Mother or "Mother" of The Order of the Sisters of the Blessed Rose, where several young girls have come to train for a while in order to become members of the Novitiate where the wheat is separated from the chaff, in the world of producing nuns for the order. Once accepted, the women will never leave the convent and will lead a life of prayer and military like discipline. It was beautifully filmed in Nashville, Tennessee and world premiered at Sundance, early in 2017.

Julianne Nicholson plays main character Novice Sister Cathleen's (Margaret Qualley) mother, Nora Harris, a divorced single mother. She did not raise her young daughter to be religious but Cathleen did get an opportunity to attend a Catholic school and it was there she felt the call, much to her mother's dismay. The story told in the film presents a wide variety of questions and viewpoints but not many definitive answers which is a good decision when involving a film about organized religion. Don't expect very many real answers to the storyline questions but do expect to think long and hard about what is right and proper in the indoctrination rituals of organized religions, especially when military like hazing rituals come to mind. And secrets.

Of primary prominence is Melissa's Leo's amazing and oft times frightening performance as the women responsible for all that happens, good and bad, with in the pristine stone walls of the gorgeous convent grounds. Everything is perfect looking in and on but we soon find out that things are definitely not as they seem. While those inside seek peace and to commune with God on a daily basis, there are conflicts around every sharp, hard and bleak corner. These young girls are mostly 17 and 18 and while they seem to know what the seek and want, to marry God and serve him, every day, through devotion and prayer, their young minds and bodies send them messages in conflict. All of them struggle with the imperfections and shortcomings that Reverend Mother continually points out to them. they doubt them selves and their decision, which flies in the face of the reasons they are there in the first place. Nothing is to come before God; friendships, distractions, shortcomings, outer trappings, the outer world, and even family are not allowed to come in real contact with them. It is as if Mother is trying her best to form them to be as old, unattractive and bitter inside as she is herself, as she battles authority within her own church and the edicts of Vatican II, which she is resisting with all of her might. The girls lose each other along the journey an they must feign friendships, budding sexual feelings, separation from friends and reality as well as the realization that convent life is not all that it is cracked up to be in their romantic young heads.

The emotional abuses are palpable as well as the physical abuses are visceral. Catherine in her quest grows gaunt and unwell as if she is truly giving her heart, body and soul to God. They are punished for speaking at the wrong times, emotionally humiliated as they examine any faults, taught how to inflict self pain to promote inner suffering and bring them closer to the One they love. It all comes across as a sick, sadistic ritual rite of passage and not all of them make it.

The film is about the girls and their journey, and the dedication it takes to make such a life long commitment. Dianna Agron portrays the trainer who empathizes with the women, as her own journey was completed in the last three years, and see the benefits of the changes that Vatican II will bring the changing church. The film is frequently difficult to watch, and cradle Catholics will not much like what they see, or accept that it might have once been a reality. But the film's value lies in its examination of the young women and their journey as well as the very fine acting performances found in all of the cast. People will talk about this one.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)


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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express






(Review by Chase Lee)




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Beats Per Minute






BEATS PER MINUTE
*** (out of ****)

The reality is set upon them from the beginning: No matter what their diagnosis, they will always be considered HIV-positive or, at the very least, associated with the diagnosis. It would be unbelievable that this is, indeed, the reality of those who have joined an activist group trying to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, but then we see the bigoted push-back from citizens who believe that the condition is limited to those who engage in the kind of sexual activity for which the bigots have reserved a crude epithet. That’s when the reality clenches: There are greater stakes than even the physical survival of an entire class of people. This is about existential survival, too.

Beats Per Minute isn’t exactly a biographical account of the early days of this particular group, called ACT UP, although the early segments of the film suggest something of a biographical nature. We are introduced to the de facto leaders of the group – or, at least, those elected to speak on its behalf, such as Sophie (Adèle Haenel), Eva (Aloïse Sauvage), Luc (Simon Bourgade), and others. We learn the radical methods by which they attempt either to educate the masses to lift the stigma on the HIV-positive (or the “poz” as a shorthand) or to disorientate the pharmaceutical companies withholding studies on a drug that could treat much of the ailments caused by the condition.

Much of the film’s surprisingly dense middle section is devoted to that cause, with the ACT UP members staging scenes of disruption within the offices of the pharma company: They fill balloons with “blood” (mostly watered-down, non-toxic paint or red food coloring) and send them flying into windows and onto the desks of the officials at the company. Their vague bleating of uncertainty regarding the release of the study because of a “lack of experts” leaves the ACT UP members unmoved. They don’t want a team of experts to double-check what they themselves have spent months learning to check by reading the science. They want answers, a treatment, and to live.

Eventually, the focus must narrow to a smaller handful of these people. In this case, that means the torrid love affair that sparks between Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart in a towering performance) and Nathan (Arnaud Valois), two like souls who discovered their sexuality through illicit acts by others in their teenage years and who, now, find that the act of intimacy is more important than ever. Sean is a “poz” himself. He could wither away and die the uncomfortable and elongated death of a person with AIDS. He needs the physical comfort of another human to survive emotionally.

The narrowing of the focus, despite Biscayart’s devastating portrayal of a man whose body is failing him and the refreshingly frank attitude toward sex (which is, indeed, explicit but never gratuitous), is the shakier element of Campillo’s screenplay. We gain a certain type of potency in its portrait of illness, but there is also the sense, forgotten in these later segments, of greater stakes beyond a single person or romance. Otherwise, we receive a sprawling account of activism in media res within Beats Per Minute. This is a thoughtfully performed study of the voices that power such activism.
(Review by Joel Copling)





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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Nov 5 - Nov 11


Wow!, lots of movies this week, then next week, they are all on the same day. Go figure.

Thanksgiving is coming up. Hope you are starting to make room for the bounty.

I'm offline at the moment. Probably won't be back on the grid until Wed. So if y'all can help out and post screenings to the group that you find it would gratefully appreciated

Nov 6 - Mon

The Long Road Home - 7:00 pm - Studio Movie Grill Northwest Hwy

Nov 7 - Tue

Lady Bird - 7:00 pm - Magnolia

Nov 8 - Wed

Mudbound - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Last Flag Flying - 7:30 pm - Alamo Drafthouse Cedars

Nov 9 - Thu

The Room - 7:00 pm - Alamo Drafthouse Cedars

Nov 11 - Sat

The Star - 11:00 am - AMC Northpark and AMC Grapevine
Alpha - 11:00 am - AMC Northpark









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Saturday, November 4, 2017

LBJ





It's unfortunate that most young people are unaware of the legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson with his Great Society legislation, Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid as well as his escalation of the Vietnam War and most importantly the Civil Rights Bill. Johnson was an old school southern politician when he was the Senate Majority Leader. He was smart, savvy, and knew how to maneuver the various factions of Congress. It was because of his influence that he was tapped by John F. Kennedy to be his vice president. This is despite the objections of JFK's brother, Robert Kennedy, who thought LBJ was too stuck in his ways and not ready for the new vision ushered in by JFK. Even LBJ, who highly respected Kennedy, felt his good looks and charisma outshone the old white southern boy from Texas. Woody Harrelson (in thick pasty makeup) looks close enough although he's not as tall. He's got the drawl and harsh language that LBJ used to get things done while in office.

Directed by Rob Reiner from a script Joey Hartstone which was on the 2014 Black List of scripts that were most promising, meanders the story from LBJ's work before his presidency, to the fateful day in Dallas, to what he has to do to appease the Southern Caucus who think they finally got one of their own in power. Robert Kennedy (Michael Stahl-David) wanted to impede Johnson't influence while he was JFK's second in command. JFK (Jeffrey Donovan, who got down the signature eye crinkle and smile), lets his brother keep a close eye on Johnson, and lets him be isolated. Jennifer Jason Lee is a remarkable double for Lady Bird Johnson, who supports her husbands' moments of insecurity by reminding him that this is what he wanted.

Everyone is familiar with the assassination that propelled LBJ to become the 36th President of the United States. LBJ, wife and Jackie Kennedy huddle on Air Force One while he is sworn in as president. He seems stunned and overwhelmed in grief, but quickly takes charge of the staff and secret service who seem just as stuck in place. Senator Richard Russell (Richard Jenkins), a close colleague of Johnson, thinks that now it's assured that the Civil Rights agenda that was supported by Kennedy will not progress. That their southern way of life will be forever kept in place. Johnson recalls how their African American maid who he considers part of the family has difficulty going out in the world ever wary of the looks and comments in her wake. Johnson doesn't think anyone has to endure this kind of prejudice. Considering the present state of the world with each factions digging in to their personal righteousness, it's fitting that the man who was able to support JFK's agenda and change the world. We don't really get that much of an insight to LBJ but we do get a satisfying bump when he calls his mentor Senator Russell a racist.
(Review by reesa)



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Thor Ragnarok






“Thor: Ragnarok” -- This third entry into the Thor series finds banished sister Hela persona laying claim to the throne of Asgard. She is played with a vicious stride by Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator,” “Elizabeth”). This entry is played for plenty of laughs. Star Chris Hemsworth is around for the majority of the movie. He does, however share plenty of scenes with Anthony Hopkins, Mark Ruffalo and Tessa Thompson. Also in it are Idris Elba, Karl Urban and Jeff Goldblum.

Hemsworth also shares plenty of time with adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in the movie. Although they are not flesh and blood identities, their closeness was supposed to seal a bond between the men.

For the first time Hemsworth’s Thor persona loses his blonde locks.

It also makes a past reference to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) referring to him as “Point Break.”

Gone are the days of introducing one off characters, wherein their existence will just be looked at as a futile attempt to keep them around for later chapters.

I think both “Captain America: The First Avenger” and the mediocre “Iron Man 2” were notorious for dabbling into this end of dissapointmentville, USA with these productions.

Tessa Thompson is worthwhile as Valkyrie, who once battled Hela years ago with Odin (Hopkins). These scenes are only just a few of the backstory inserted into the plot.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is all about comedic timing and the rapport the characters show with one another. The banter between Hulk and Thor makes for some amusing moments.

“Thor: Ragnarok” uses 3-D visuals, but they are limited and sparingly to just the right degree. I think ever since the abundance of visuals that were a part of James Cameron’s overrated “Avatar” (2009), the 3-D craze has been slightly overused.

Karl Urban is Skurge, a reluctant warrior who pledges himself to Hela, for the sake of saving his own life. He values his life, so he does what he can to make sure he stays in Hela’s good graces.

Director Taika Waititi knows how to present the comedic timing in “Thor: Ragnarok” Part of this goes back to his earlier work like the little-seen “What We Do in the Shadows,” (2014) a vampire satire that made fun of the undead and all of the nuances that occur when being part of the creatures of the night.

A New Zealand director, Waititi also did a credible job with “Hunt for The Wilderspeople,” the tale of an orphaned boy who struggles to find a family that will accept him.

I am one of the few writers in the film industry who does not mind the constant onslaught of superhero productions. Part of that rests in bigger production budgets and attention to detail that is played out in large scale productions.

I have not quite reached the point of superhero fatigue quite yet. The closest I got was Ryan Reynolds’s turn in Martin Campbell’s abysmal “Green Lantern” (2011).

The whole point is that “Thor: Ragnarok” does what it’s supposed to do and give viewers a good time. It runs slightly over two hours, and is worth every moment ones eyeballs are glued to the screen.

Grade: B+
(Review by Ricky Miller)


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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Thor Ragnarok




Screening: Thor: Ragnarok
Director: Taika Waititi Studio: Marvel Studios/Disney
Thor hammers down the action and humor!
“WARNING: This review may contain spoilers”

Looks like Chris Hemsworth is making on his way to his latest “Thor” entry: facing the power-hunger sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett) and the impending doom of Ragnarok that will conquer Asgard. The third film happens to be a whereabouts of Thor and Hulk, missing out on the events of Captain America: Civil War. Seems like a mystery. They been focusing on something different.

The main film tells about Thor, who was searching the Infinity Stones, got imprisoned into the devil’s demon, Surtur. Once he battles Surtur, he returned home with the Surtur’s crown and wants Loki to know where Odin is. Using directions from Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), they found Odin who was dying to allow Hela, a first-born daughter who is overambitious on ruling Asgard, to escape from prison. They battle and simply fled to Asgard. Hela arrives in Asgard and resurrects her army who fought with her. Meanwhile, Thor crash lands to Sakaar and was captured by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), under the ruler of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). This led Thor to battle his greatest opponent: Hulk. Together, Thor persuades Hulk and Valkyrie, along with Korg (voiced by Waititi), the rocky gladiator, to assist him to defeat Hela.

This film was a vast improvement over the first two “Thor” films. Much more comedy to add than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Wonderful cameos from Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Damon, Sam Neill, and Stan Lee. Director Waititi made the juiciest job and outlandish model to step forward into comical action. The Loki character made the actor Tom Hiddleston act like a “phony, sassy screw-up” on Thor. However, the most interesting part of the film is relationship of Thor and Hulk (he said, “He’s a friend from work”). Perfect time for Thor to shoot a greatest “laugh-out-loud” commotion to the audiences just as they saw the trailer. Cate Blanchett have done the feminist, meatier role for the supervillain. Mark Ruffalo brought a supporting role to Hemsworth. Even the cameo-king Stan Lee provide the marvelous laughs ever out of his stack of cameos. Also, music and songs playing in the background that definitely added more colorful texture and nostalgia to this piece. Very interesting to look back from viewing the paradise. Special effects and CGI are well-done perfectly. The background carried more climates from Pixar’s “WALL-E.”

Overall from the film, “Thor: Ragnarok” was one of the most viewed MCU films ever in the universe with a perfect need for the plot and perfect emotion to Thor and Loki. Great film for a Halloween /Thanksgiving treat and for Marvel fans out there. No complaints on this, better get this on DVD sometime in early 2018. You’ll be stunningly surprised from what Disney and Marvel Studios did. So, better save your energy on any movies you planning on seeing right before the film’s opening day. Remember the phrase from “Jurassic Park,” “Life will find a way” by Jeff Goldblum and John Hammond’s “We spared no expense” quote. Nuff said!

GRADE: A+
(Review by Henry Pham)

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