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!

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Life Itself

From some of the folks who brought us This Is Us and Crazy Stupid Love, this a film told in five distinct chapters. So as you can expect it's full of a wide range of emotions, drama, tragedy, highs and lows, and as the film summarizes, life itself. It's raw, at times very ugly, and it doesn't hold back in any way. I wouldn't call it a chick flick but emotions are very messy and the weight of the storylines in this film might possibly be for some.

The first is about a young couple's intense budding relationship from college (Olivia Wilde and Oscar Issac) through their eventual life together as a married couple, expecting their first child. The second is about a young child growing up under the care and watchful eye of her loving widower grandfather (Mandy Patinkin) and how her life begins to spin out of control as a young woman. The third is about a wealthy Spaniard (Antonio Banderas) who runs an olive orchard and how life evolves for him, his prized employee, and the employee's young family over time. The fourth is about a foreign student and his experiences at university at NYU, and the 5th is about a novelist.

They film begins interestingly enough narrated by Samuel L Jackson, as if he were the director on a movie set. In the beginning we feel that the film is going to be full of humor and although the script has its witty moments, this film becomes very dark and quite depressing. As a result, it takes us awhile to orient ourselves the how the stories in the film are going to unfold. Annette Bening plays a psychiatrist who is counseling a young man as mandated bye the terms of his release from a mental health hospital. And the stories unfold from there.

There are not the usual scene and prop clues to give us a solid feel for what time periods we are watching but we eventually learn that the stories are all connected in some way similar to the screenplays for Crash or Babel. What we take away is that all people experience pain, tragedy, illness, darkness and through the passage of time it is possible to emerge from those clouds and it better more positive place.

There are parts of the story line that weigh on the observer like a heavy weight on the brain or the heart and one keeps hoping that as the dots are connected that the end message is redeeming and positive. The full range of emotions and states is on display, in very intense colors and patterns, including intense love, loss, abuse, sacrifice, grief and mourning, misdirection, mental illness, connection and disconnection, the importance of family and twists of fate and serendipity. One just must keep going, no matter what one indoors or what life throws in your path because in the midst of darkness, the seeds might be being sown for someone else around the corner or down the road.

There's a fair amount of buzz that this is the worst movie of the year so far, which the writer/director defends as being because most reviewers are men and men can't handle heavy emotion, but I'm more inclined to allow each individual to make up their own mind for everyone is going to take something different away from it. The film had my attention the entire time, as I tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together, so that level of challenge was much appreciated. It's a fine line between feeling emotionally manipulated, cheaply and on purpose and the sense that the chapters were well thought-out and crafted as they were put down on paper.

I think each viewer will have their own opinion about it with reference to "Life Itself" because every individual will be bringing their past experiences, thoughts, and attitudes with them into the theater, so that the potential will be for everyone to take something different away from the exact same film. This is just not going to be the best first date film or a fun night out for a bunch of high schoolers. It's heavy, heady stuff.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)

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The Pick of the Litter

As anyone on social media is aware videos of animals is a way of escaping for a few minutes of cuteness overload. Dogs are probably some of the hardest working critters doing sled pulling, police work, herders and guide dogs. Directors Dana Nachman and Don Hardy follow what it takes for a dog to become a guide dog for the blind. There is a good chance there will be some teary eyed moments.

The film opens with testimonies from people whose lives have been saved by their trained companions from speeding cars, stairways and escaping the 78th floor of the twin towers. These dogs were raised from birth to become guide dogs. Of the 800 dogs born to this path, only 300 actually make it all the way through. The story follows the adventures of five new Labrador pups that are given the names of Potomac, Patriot, Phil, Primrose and Poppet. At 2 months old they leave the kennels and given to "raisers" who foster the dogs giving them basic training. Social skills, manners, exercise and exposure the real world. The raisers are from all over the country and have volunteered their time, patience and energy for various dogs. Some are new at it and were a bit upset when they were told their dog was being transferred to more experienced raisers. The dogs wear a harness stating they are puppies in training. At 9 months old they are taught to walk on a short leash and learn how not to be distracted. Hard to do when you are a puppy. The raisers fill out daily reports on how they are progressing and they are evaluated every 3 months. If issues are not resolved, the puppy is given a "career change". By the time they are 16 months they are returned to the kennel there they will be considered for continued training, to be a breeder or sent out for another program or for adoption.

The remaining pups are enrolled in an intense 10 week formal training. They are tested on preliminary road work and obedience. If they fail, they are given another chance to improve. The dogs must know how to navigate traffic, sidewalks or non sidewalks, buildings, escalators and elevators. If any of the dogs have made it though these tests, they will graduate and be assigned to a blind person who must come to the facility to be trained with their new guide dogs. About 1100 people apply for dogs a year, and it usually takes up to a year before they are given a dog. The raisers also come to the graduation ceremonies knowing through their hard work and devotion the dogs were able to do their job successfully. Not all dogs have the temperament to be a good guide dog. Out of the five puppies at the beginning only two were able to be the pick of the litter.
(Review by reesa)

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Fahrenheit 11/9

Michael Moore has produced another insightful film, this time about a very predictable subject. The title, Fahrenheit 11/9, is a play on words reference to the novel Fahrenheit 911, that is a clear reference to the day Donald Trump was elected and he quickly becomes the visible Target of Michael Moore's diatribe at the beginning of the film.

While going after Donald Trump and the current state of America, he asks us to examine closely and also realize that the worrisome issues are not entirely about our president but it is also about "us" and "ourselves". Moore implores the viewers to care, wake up and do something about it all before it's too late. The filmmaker truly fears that our democratic republic is at risk based on all the insanity and madness he sees everyday and about to show the viewers.

Presented in his typical humor- filled format, but with less than usual sarcasm and overt sensationalized drama, Moore examines several areas of hypocrisy and corruption in different parts of our country. The NRA and school shootings are closely examined via the Parkland Florida student advocates, as they are shown as great examples for how to get angry, take action and do something.

As he is a Flint Michigan product, of course the government corruption there that directly impacted his city's water supply and the health and well-being of thousands of children, primarily minority and poor children is examined in enough detail to make any viewer with a heart outraged. Power in numbers is demonstrated through an examination of the teacher strikes in West Virginia that snowballed into a red bandana movement all across the country, encouraging educators to band together, not only for pay but basic health care so that they can live above the poverty line.

He actually takes it fairly easy on President Trump for the portrayals and scenarios could have been much more embarrassing and damning, as Moore attempts to answer the question of how did he even get in the White House and how did we get into this current position. It's interesting to be reminded, as he points out, that he was one of the few that predicted that Trump could actually win the election, as the film begins with an in depth study as to how he actually won. Blames it all on Gwen Stefani. Go see the film to find out why.

The film itself is full of interesting information and talking points but it appears as Michael Moore ages he is going to be less caustic in his presentation methods. It is more than loaded with video clips, documentation, interviews and expert testimony to backup a multitude of claims and opinions. His earlier, more sensationalized films, have hopefully not put enough people off or affected his reputation adversely, so that they do not consider skipping this film.

There are plenty of important subjects to consider and pay attention to no matter what side of the political spectrum you align with. His point is well taken in that if you only think the problem is Trump then you are misguided because the president is a representation of who our society is today which is ultimately a reflection of who we are as a society and what we stand for as individuals. And if you don't like what you see in Washington DC, State governments or in your own mirror then it's time to make a change. Sooner than later.

What Michael Moore does best is to make his viewers feel something, anything. He also aspires to make them think and think hard. No matter what, go see the film and get out there and vote, with your heart and more importantly your brain.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)

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The Predator

I hate to sound clichéd, but this science-fiction action hybrid delivers in virtually every single department, with thanks to the kinetic in-your-face direction courtesy of writer-director Shane Black.

For those who might remember, Black had a small role in director John McTiernan’s 1987’s action opus “Predator.’ His identity was the part of Hawkins, who meets his demise early in the story. He was part of Dutch’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) team fighting a camouflaged alien in the jungle of a foreign land.

This one is just like the silly “Alien vs. Predator” entries in 2004 and 2007, in that death is taken with a grain of salt. Nothing more and nothing less.

With Black’s incarnation of “The Predator,’ any notions of being taken too seriously are thrown out the window early on.

In 2010, the studios, and more specifically filmmaker/producer Robert Rodriguez, tried to make a serious movie with director Nimród Antal taking the “Predator” franchise in a different direction. It didn’t work, so the idea of putting Oscar winner Adrien Brody as an action hero kind of blew up in the studios faces. The story took place on a foreign planet, one that existed in another reality altogether, not in the modern day America we know.

At the center of the story in “The Predator,” is returning soldier Boyd Holbrook’s Quinn McKenna who sent himself some alien artifacts he found overseas.

Cummings is paired with a bus full of misfit soldiers, including Thomas Jane’s Baxley, a soldier with a coarse vocabulary who suffers from Tourette syndrome. It is amusing, but highly inappropriate, but still amusing nonetheless.

Also on the bus are Keegan-Michael Key’s Coyle, a close friend of Baxley’s, Trevente Rhodes’ Nebraska, Alfie Allen’s Lynch, Augusto Aguilera’s Nettles along the way, they pick up Olivia Munn’s Casey Bracket, who witnessed firsthand what The Predator can do. She comments that calling it The Predator is a misnomer, because it is another entity altogether.

Jacob Tremblay is solid as Rory McKenna, a disabled child who opens up when anything to do with math is involved. His character is constantly bullied at school, but when he finally sticks up for himself on a trick-or-treat rendezvous, his encounter with bullies will be no more.

In a twist of irony, Jake Busey appears as a scientist investigating some “Predator” artifacts. His father, Gary, appeared in “Predator 2” as a scientist named Peter Keyes, who meets an untimely demise.

Black is an exceptional director as well, as well as writer, having dipped his hands in the Marvel universe with “Iron Man 3” in 2013. He also did a great job with 2016’s “Nice Guys” with the powerhouse teaming of Oscar winner Russell Crowe and Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling. The pair shared great on-screen chemistry that looked and felt genuine.

“The Predator” is a must for the big screen, because the entire aura and scope of the movie is larger than life. I would recommend this when it goes to the discount houses, because it’s not necessarily worth the ten dollar plus admission price of tickets nowadays.

Grade: B-
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Simple Favor

In “A Simple Favor,” the reason this one works is because the characters are so likable and intriguing. Anna Kendrick is Stephanie Sommers, a mommy blogger who befriends fellow mother Blake Lively’s Emily Nelson and gets wrapped up in a whodunit of sorts. The intrigue almost occurs at the beginning, wherein the favor of picking up Nelson’s son from day care turns into a giant spectacle for everyone involved.

The most recent thing I can compare “A Simple Favor” to is writer/director Shane Black’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (2005) wherein some good old mystery concocts with some murder and death. Lead Robert Downey Junior and Val Kilmer shared some great on-screen rapport and shared some great on-screen chemistry together.

“A Simple Favor” comes from director Paul Feig, who handled directing chores n the 2015 reboot of “Ghostbusters” as well as “Spy” with Melissa McCarthy. All of that is the past, since what he has done here contains one of the better plot twists of recent memory in that they are actually surprising and noteworthy.

Forget recent entries like filmmaker David Fincher’s 2014’s “Gone Girl” or anything from Brian De Palma has tackled recently because Feig, working from a non-fiction novel by Darcy Bell and writer Jessica Shazer, “A Simple Favor” does a great job of making a gem intriguing as all get out.

What is also amusing is the politics of signing up for anything at the school. Stephanie sometimes gets into trouble for too much volunteering. The other adult parents at the school look at her not so much with evil eyes rather “what now?” glances.

As the spouse, Henry Golding of “Crazy Rich Asians” is intriguing as Stuart Townsend, a teacher who gets mixed up in all the lies orchestrated by his wife Emily and Stephanie. He looks and appears baffled by the shenanigans that are thrown into his lap.

“A Simple Favor” does more left turns than a bonky twisted pretzel. The viewer almost gets settled in, but as aforementioned, Feig chooses another direction and road to take the viewers down.

The story threads and tales are in abundance here, always veering from one change and shift in story angle to another. The one thing Emily does not like is having her picture taken in any capacity. When Stephanie snaps a picture, Emily tells her to delete it. She complies, not questioning her, but does it for the shake of their friendship.

“A Simple Favor” does what it’s supposed to do in having viewers leave with a satisfied palate and smiles galore.

Grade: A-
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Movies Scheduled for the Week of Sept. 16 - Sept. 22

It's nice having several different movies to choose from during the week. It would be nice if they were not all on the same night!

Sept 16 - Sept 22

Mon - Sep 17

Small Foot - 2:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Night School - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Tue - Sep 18

The Oath - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
The House With the Clock in the Walls - 7:00 - Angelika Plano
The House With the Clock in the Walls - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17
Ben is Back - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - Sep 19

The Dawn Wall - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Life Itself - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

White Boy Rick

One thing 1984 Detroit conveys in this film is that it was horrible year for fashion. Filmed in dark tones to highlight the once booming city now on the decline with deteriorating neighborhoods, filled with unsympathetic characters who can't catch a break and more unpleasantly knowing it is all based on the true story. Directed by Yann Demange and written by Andy Weiss, and Logan and Noah Miller, it tells the unfortunate story of Richard Wershe Jr. who was given a life sentence for dealing cocaine and being an FBI informant at the age of 17.

Richie Merritt in his debut role plays White Boy Rick who at the age of 14 is asked by the FBI to make some "controlled" purchases of crack so they can obtain intel to make busts in exchange for not arresting his father. Rick Sr. (Matthew McConaughey) is a bit of a hustler selling guns from his home or the back of this car. He has big dreams of opening a video store. His older sister Dawn (Bel Powley) leaves home to move in with her no good boyfriend who beats her and gets hooked on crack. Rick's best friend Boo (RJ Cyler) is brother to the twins Johnny (Johnathan Majors) and Leo (YG) who deal in cocaine. Because of his friendship with Boo, they take him under their wing. Rick is seduced by the fancy clothes and lifestyle. With the money he's earning from the feds, he is soon buying gold chains and fancier clothes. His dad finds Rick's stash of ill gotten cash under his bed in a shoe box. Despite his trepidation the Rick Sr can't seem to stop his son.

It doesn't take long before greed takes over as alternatives in their loser lives offer no ready solutions. Rick earns his nickname by being the only white boy in the gang. The story glosses over the true life fact that high school drop out Rick was already exhibiting criminal behavior. The FBI's using him to sell cocaine to make their busts, while he pockets the profits seems disingenuous. Especially when he ultimately gets busted and then they get him to rope in bigger fish by letting him think he will get a lighter sentence. The feds using a minor to do all these drug sales and buys are most likely illegal. The real life Rick didn't get parole until 2017 when the movie was being made.

McConaughey is as committed to his role as the father who despite all his failed plans in life remains a guy who sees the glass as half full. Newcomer Richie Merritt looks remarkably like the real life Rick gives a more nuanced performance as a young man whose child like innocence is jaded by the flashy lifestyle of his friends. Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie as the grandparents who live next door offer lighthearted moments in the family dynamic. There are no heroes in this and the jumbled story doesn't really allow any real reason why we had to time travel to the 80's outside of the injustice of it all.
(Review by reesa)

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018


This revenge tale completely delivers the goods big time.

In “Peppermint,” Jennifer Garner is Riley North, is a distraught mother who returns to seek vengeance for her family whose entire family was wiped at the hands of a ruthless drug cartel five years ago. This is something that baffles me. Why do they pick five years as a significant earmark?

This tale marks actress Garner’s return to the action genre she knows all too well, following her stints on TV’s “Alias,” (2001-06) as well as turns as Elektra Natchios in the so-so “Daredevil” (2004) (Grade: C-) and the halfway decent “Elektra” (C+) in 2005. Garner was also cool in the underrated Peter Berg action-drama “The Kingdom” in 2007. Garner has a likable everywoman on screen presence.

The supporting cast all provide the right vim and vigor for their necessary roles. This includes Annie Ilonzeh as FBI agent Lisa Inman, who aids in the quest to bring Riley North in for questioning. Ilonzeh is a local girl, born in Grapevine, Tx. She has also appeared on “Arrow”as well as “Person of Interest” on newtwork TV.

Also important tom the story is John Ortiz as Detective Moises Beltran, who has a strong feeling of empathy for North’s battle with ridding evil from the world. Ortiz was great in the Oscar-winning “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2012. Ortiz shows off as a stern authoritarian figure who wants what is best for the city and its beloved residents within.

In the director’s chair for “Peppermint” is French director Pierre Morell, best known for 2008’s Liam Neeson-led “Taken.” Later, he would work with John Travolta in 2010’s “From Paris With Love” and the Sean Penn led tale with 2016’s “The Gunman.” The first in the bunch was a sheer piece of brilliance, but the latter two left a lot to be desired.

Going back to “Peppermint,” the revenge angle works because one actually sees what happens to her entire family and the entire audience is along for the ride. When she sits in front of the jury, Riley is as shocked as the audience is as the entire troupe of her families’ killers are set free. “Peppermint” does what it’s supposed to do and just provide viewers with an escape from the everyday.

I liked this movie because it is just a solid piece of riveting entertainment. Sure, it presses the buttons, but with purpose and meaning. This movie proves once again that a woman tale can deliver the goods big time. Garner shows off all the emotions, despair and animosity one takes with them in everyday life.

Also important to the storyline is “vigilante” status, since society paints vigilantes in a positive light, rather than a blight on society. That is why I liked this movie so much, because it portrays vigilantes with a purpose. I recommend this flick because it does exactly what it’’s supposed to do and just entertain and engage the audience for a brief 2-hour spell.

Grade B
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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The Predator

Reel Time with Joel and Chase

A Bloody Good Time!

Title: The Predator

Rating: Rated R for Strong Bloody Violence, Language Throughout, and Crude Sexual References

Run Time: 1hr & 47mins

Joel’s Review

*** (out of ****)

Like 1987’s Predator, this fourth film in the unlikely franchise – following the first sequel in 1990 and 2010’s Predators (both unseen by me), not to mention the two crossovers with the Alien series – works because it delivers what it promised us. Those promises are, to be fair, low-hanging fruit for anyone who might yearn for the relative simplicity of the first film, which was roughly as simple as high-concept action pictures from that era got: There was a quick introduction to the characters, a plot set-up, and a lot of gory, well-choreographed violence as the payoff.

For a movie about an alien hunting humans for sport, it worked pretty well within those simple guidelines, and The Predator works for the same reasons, though the screenplay does overextend in a couple of areas. First, there is a lot of exposition in this plot set-up, explaining the properties of the eponymous extraterrestrial, the reasons why a second, much bigger one might have shown up, and the science behind how their technology works. This is both expected and typical of the genre, but it is fun, at least, to see screenwriters Shane Black (who also directed) and Fred Dekker undercut those explanations with sarcasm.

The plot follows the Predator we have come to know, who has gone rogue and stolen a warship from its fellows in the opening moments, as it crash-lands on Earth, right in the middle of a sting operation in which McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), our protagonist, is the sniper. After the creature kills off all of McKenna’s unit, the soldier comes across its helmet and a high-tech arm band, both of which he sends off to the house where his ex-wife (played by Yvonne Strahovski) lives with their son Rory (Jacob Tremblay). Meanwhile, McKenna has been shunted off with a group of misanthropes to be “evaluated” (read: to have his memory wiped clean).

The second area in which the film overextends its welcome is in the sheer number of supporting characters who are present. There are the ones that matter, namely Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), a scientist called in because of the potential for contact, and Traeger (a slimy, cheerfully profane Sterling K. Brown), the head of the research lab who becomes something of a human antagonist. The heroes know too much, Traeger and his men need to eliminate them for that reason, and meanwhile, neither the original Predator nor the new and improved one, which arrives to eliminate the first and track the missing cargo, really cares about the petty, human squabbles.

Then again, there are the other prisoners, each of which has an arbitrary characteristic and, if lucky, a single bit of character history: One chain-smokes and was dismissed from the military for trying to shoot his commanding officer. Another has Tourette’s and disrupts the proceedings with his tics (a “joke” that seems at odds with the film’s attitude toward Rory’s high-functioning autism, a condition that eventually becomes a plot point). Another is Irish. The remaining two are sexist creeps. Respectively, they are played by Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Keegan Michael-Key, and Augusto Aguilera, and collectively, they are mincemeat.

This means that they are, indeed, problems but also that, at the end of the day, they mean less (and, thus, have less impact on the proceedings) than the presence of the dueling Predators, who are here to undercut the interpersonal drama that arises from these characters and to be participants in sequences of expertly choreographed sequences of brutal, gory, explosive violence, which imposes itself upon the heads, limbs, and viscera of the human chattel. When the exposition comes, the quips come as quickly as the violence, with one character introducing an idea and another character, having caught on quickly, boiling the idea down to its essence with a wink and a nudge. The Predator is a bit of a mess of contradictions, but for its attitude, its performances, and the grisly carnage it promises with the title, the movie, in its way, works.
(Review by Joel Copling)

Chase’s Review

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Sept 9 - Sept 15

Well there are a few movies to choose from this week. Hope everyone was able to obtain the pass you wanted. If you need help, you can ask the members of the group if they have an extra they are not using. Just remember to send your requests directly to the person offering or answering you.

It seems my logins to some of those ticket sites have been asking me to change my password, then it doesn't recognize my name. Anyone else having problems?

Sept 9 - Sept 15

Mon - Sept 10

The Predator - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
White Boy Rick - 7:30 pm = AMC Northpark

Tue - Sept 11

A Simple Favor - 7:30 pm - Alamo Lake Highlands
Night School - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - Sept 12

New Amsterdam - 7:00 pm - Studio Movie Grill Northwest Hwy
A Simple Favor - 7:00 - Cinemark 17
The Predator - 7:30 pm - AMC Mesquite

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Thursday, September 6, 2018


There's this trend of beautiful older actresses trying to break the mold of just being the dutiful girlfriend to take on action films like their male counterparts. At least Jennifer Garner has the Elecktra and Daredevil films to prove her action cred. This mindless intense film was directed by Pierre Morel French film director and cinematographer whose work include District 13, From Paris with Love and Taken. It's the kind of movie that will appeal to those who harbor secret fantasies of getting back at the bad guys. Judging from the reaction of the screening audience, there seems to be a lot.

Garner is Riley North, a typical working mother with her precious daughter and loving husband. She has a thankless job at the bank, her husband is in car maintenance, Riley and her daughter get bullied by the snobby scout mom for living on the wrong side of the boulevard. But that doesn't seem to bother Riley who lives and breathes for her family. Her happiness is shattered when a cartel gang gun down her family. Her efforts to identify the killers is show down by the judge who remands her to mental health facility, obviously having been bought out by the drug dealers. The action skips 5 years ahead near the anniversary of the tragedy. Only spotty background from all over the world is given the transformation of Riley. She is skilled in fighting, explosives, all manner of weaponry in which she single handed manages to take down all the gang members. It doesn't take long for the Police to figure out who is wreaking havoc and body count all over the city.

It would have been nice to understand where she got her training and the expenses. She lives in a van filled with guns in skid row, that for some reason has been crime free since she moved in. Her reputation has become a folk hero in the neighborhood and on social media. There is one scene where she bullies an alcoholic dad to spend time with is son. She grabs for his ID and was kind of expecting her to say "What's in yuur wallet". That aside, the action is relentless. Yet you root for her to extract justice from all who did her wrong. By then end, you can probably expect the skid row angel to be back for another story.
(Review by reesa)

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Hell hath no fury......or so we find out in abundance when Riley North (Jennifer Garner), scout mom and wife, loses her family to gang members on a mission, when out celebrating her daughter's birthday with her husband near the holidays. In an instance her life is forever changed as she recovers from her injuries and the emotional fallout. In five years time, she plots her revenge on every single soul that escaped legal vengeance. Her vigilante revenge feels palpable and any mother will understand the madness and rage. She chooses to hide out in the city's homeless area of Skid Row, becoming their protector, while living out of a van packed like an arsenal.

The story line is very predictable and while her successes are explicit and pretty unbelievable, they are no less satisfying. This is a great film if you are harboring resentments towards someone and want to imagine the gang members are your wrong doers and you are the assassin. Devoid of script and legit soundtrack, it's clear the budget was put into special effects and stunt doubles. The action is pretty great and satisfying. Not very probable but fun nonetheless in you are into that sort of smash em up, shoot em up, knife them in the eye sort of film. It will be no career saver for Jennifer Garner nor does it truly contribute to showing her "range" since it's pretty easy to be driven, angry and singularly focused. But it's a film that fills a space and serve a purpose for the niche audience that enjoys a long drawn out slaughter. It white possible it will qualify for some Razzies but consider what such a film is worth, in entertainment value.

Warning: lots of gratuitous violence. No young kids, please.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)

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We The Animals

Reel Time with Joel and Chase

A Surreal and Sometimes Harsh Navigation Through Childhood and Coming of Age Tale

Title: We the Animals

Rating: Rated R for Strong Sexual Content, Nudity, Language and Some Underage Drug and Alcohol Use

Run Time: 1hr & 34mins

Joel’s Review

*** (out of ****)

We the Animals has no plot. Do not take this as a criticism. It is, instead, an observation. Writer/director Jeremiah Zagar, making his narrative feature debut, wants to immerse us in the experiences of the film’s trio of children – brothers living with their parents in rural Upstate New York. The novel on which the film is based, written by Justin Torres and adapted by Zagar and co-screenwriter Dan Kitrosser, is a bildungsroman, after all. That literary style knows no established structure, so it would only make sense that the film adaptation adopts a similar attitude toward its characters.

And to be clear, these characters exist largely within their own heads. The brothers are Jonah (Evan Rosado), Joel (Josiah Gilbert), and Manny (Isaiah Kristian), and their parents are simply known to them as “Ma” (Sheila Vand) and “Paps” (Raúl Castillo). This is a series of volatile relationships, starting at the top when Paps punches Ma in the face during an argument and tries to pass it off as preparation for a visit to a dental hygienist. The detail is small but contains multitudes. In that moment, we understand how this household operates, with its violence kept secret with a series of white lies.

The film follows part of the family’s attempt to leave behind such an existence, with a series of speed bumps and one baffling reconciliation along the way. If nothing else, through the rhythms of the performances and the textures of the filmmaking, this family seems like a real one. Parents in an abusive relationship really do ebb and flow in and out of each other’s lives. After all, this man is the father of her children. Who can blame Ma for returning to Paps, even after the episode that leaves her bruised at the mouth and struggling to remember how she got in this state?

We know what the character should do, but Zagar’s film is all about current headspace, the decisions that inform the future, and the experiences that unite us. There is something elemental about that, both in the way the filmmaker strips the dramatic treatment to its bare essentials and in the way his attention to the atmosphere and landscape seems to drive the events of the movie. The performances from the child actors – two of whom (Rosado and Kristian) are newcomers altogether, with Gilbert having only two other credits to his name, both of which were released around the time of this movie – expertly mirror that formalistic tendency. All three are dependably naturalistic and unaffected.

When it comes to the parents of the piece, Castillo is quite good in a limited role as Paps, who has an anger issue and a problem with keeping a job. There’s a pitiful quality to the man that’s downright pathetic. Vand is superb as Ma, a woman who must swallow a lot of abuse and keep the peace for her children. The narrative, such as it is, eventually narrows its focus upon Jonah as he comes of age and connects to the wider world surrounding this tightknit family. A regular sojourn to a friend’s house, where an adult video channel opens a new avenue of feelings in young Jonah, is a chance for the trio to rebel.

Essentially, much of this film is truthful and honest in its portrayal of navigating childhood and the relationship from which childhood is possible in the first place. Even as the film never quite acknowledges a world outside of itself and slips into the routine of daily life, Zagar rarely slips in his focus on these characters and their worldview. We the Animals nails a very specific melding of tones – those of reverence to and rebellion from the strictures of a coming-of-age drama – and artfully deconstructs the very need to adhere to a definition of them. That is a significant achievement for such a modest, scrappy, surprisingly touching movie.
(Review by Joel Copling

Chase’s Review

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018


“Kin” has a few moments of brilliance, but as with all science fiction movies of late, it just runs out of steam somewhere along the way.
There is something very positive to say in that the brother duo of Josh and Jonathan Baker have crafted quite the intriguing tale of two brothers coming to terms with each other amidst a backdrop that knows no time or place. In looking back on each of their resumes, neither has done a stand-alone feature.

For comparisons sake, the easiest movie I can reference is Walter Hill’s little seen release of 1984’s “Streets of Fire.” It was a period wherein there is no direct reference to anything pop culture based, rather a period where taxis existed but cell phones did not.

Dennis Quaid is solid as the caring father of sons Jimmy (Jack Reynor) and Eli Sobinski (newcomer Myles Truitt). Jimmy is an ex-con trying to get back on the straight and narrow. Eli is a fourteen year old kid who finds a giant alien ray gun while looking for metal scraps to sell to buyers.

The trouble with the movie is it rests on the fact that his character perishes way too soon in the movie’s structure.

Leading the way as the antagonist of the story is James Franco as a drug dealer named Taylor Balk. I only bring this up because he’s played this kind of character before, namely the Sylvester Stallone-scripted “Homefront” with friend and colleague Jason Statham.

Eli receives a lecture from his father, Quaid’s Hal, about taking other people’s property. The fact the metal scraps came out of somebody else’s pocketbook.

Zoe Kravitz, who appeared from one of the best movies in the past decade, 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” stars in “Kin” as Milly, a mistreated exotic dancer. She strikes up a friendship with both Jimmy and Eli, who are some of the last customers she will ever dance for.

Going back to the acting appearances, Reynor has been around for years, with appearances in “Transformers: The Age of Extinction,” “Free Fire,” “ 2015’s “Macbeth” and one of the most underrated movies from the past couple of years, 2016’s “Sing Street.”

Although “Kin” is not necessarily a great movie, it does something that I want more of. Along with directors such as Brad Bird, Christopher Nolan and even Guillermo Del Toro, I’m very intrigued to see what the pair tackles next.

Grade: C+
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Operation Finale

To me personally, watching a movie is like picking out your nightly meal. You know you will be watching something, but you are not sure how it will turn out in the end.

That is why I know what I’m getting into when watching something about the Holocaust or anything related to either World War I or II. “Operation Finale” delves into the latter, wherein Oscar Isaac’s Peter Malkin must face one of the most despicable villains of World War II in Ben Kingsley’s Adolph Eichmann, one of the partial instigators of eradication of countless individuals of Jewish descent from the world.

Both Isaac and Kingsley have very strange resumes when looking back on their past work. With Isaac, it is him playing both the hero (“Star Wars: A New Hope,” “Inside Llewyn Davis”) as well as the despicable baddie (“Sucker Punch,” “Ex Machina”). The same can be said for Kingsley, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his work in director Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi” in 1982.

Since then, Kingsley has played in a plethora of flicks, namely Steven Spielberg’s multiple Oscar-winning 1993 release of “Schindler’s List,” “Sexy Beast,” “House of Sand and Fog” and Martin Scorsese’s multiple Oscar-winning “Hugo” in 2012. His send back to sender includes duds such as “BloodRayne,” “Species,” Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” and last year’s abysmal “Collide.”

“Operation Finale,” however, is about bringing justice to all of those individuals who were extinguished during the war itself. Like the aforementioned “Schindler’s List,” the movie is a tough watch. Although it is graphic in spots, director Chris Weitz knows where to place the camera and set ups for the perfect lingering detail.

Nick Kroll from FX’s “The League” takes an odd career shift since he does not spout one-liners or off color commentary. Also part of the varied ensemble is Mélanie Laurent, who was also in Quentin Tarantino’s gritty WWII action-drama “Inglorious Bastards” in 2009, provides the necessary support to bounce back friendly dialogue with Isaac’s Malkin, since earlier in their lives they had a shared history.

The shifts that occur within the story are a bit hard to digest since one sees images of his sister that was lost during the war. One almost feels like they are a double-take of what actually occurred.

What was nice to see is that promises made earlier in the story are actually kept. At one point in the structure, Malkin promised Eichmann that he would see his wife again before he passed.

A solidly acted ensemble all around, “Operation Finale” is worth the full price of admission, but be warned it is a tough watch in spots.

Sure, portions of the movie are predictable, but they are just used as earmarks for the entire ensemble. As much as I hate to say it, a copy of this movie will not be going into my collection at home.

I liked it and respected it, but I think if I owned a copy it would be collecting dust just like my unopened copy of “Schindler’s List.” Both are too heartbreaking to watch again.

Grade: B-
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Sept 2 - Sept 8

Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend, if you are lucky enough to have one, As usual with holiday weeks, there's only 2 screenings coming up, both on the same day.

Looks like it's going to rain anyway...

Sept 2 - Sept 8

Wed - Sept 5

Peppermint - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
The Nun - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
The Nun - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Big Brother

Hardcore fans of Donny Yen action movies may be a little confused with his new movie in which he plays an unconventional high school teacher. It's a bit formulaic story wise, but it's fun to watch while also addressing some serious social issues facing Hong Kong's educational system.
This is a passion project for co-producer Yen, directed by Ka-Wai Kam and written by Tai-lee Chan that pulls on the heart strings as it aims for inspiration.

Yen plays Chen Xia who is returning to his old school, a Hong Kong Band Three secondary school which is threatened with closure due to the low performance of it's student test scores. Despite his inexperience in teaching, he is given a liberal studies classroom where the unruly teens are cooking, listening to music, playing video games and sleeping. Anyone else would have been yelling for their attention, but Chen attends each of the students offering some common sense advise with knowledge is power information on the hazards of smoking. The students don't know what to think of him.

The story follows a group of misfits, twin brothers Bruce (Tong Kwan-chi) and Chris (Tong Kwan-yiu) with an alcoholic father; car fanatic tomboy Gladys (Li Ching-kwan) who feels unloved by her dad because she's not a boy; a poor boy Jack (Jack Lok) who lives with his grandmother and gets mixed up with gangsters; and an aspiring Pakistani singer Gordon (Lau Chiu-kin) whose dreams are stymied by social prejudice. They get expelled from school for a fight, but Chen manages to get them another chance. Jack alone does not come back, but instead gets involved with gangsters at the MMA gym run by Kane (Yu Kang). Chen manages to find solutions to everyone's problems including fighting his way out of the boxing gym to extract Jack from the gangster's clutches. When word of his fighting skills is reported on TV, suddenly everyone at school is seeing Chen in a different light. He becomes an object of hero worship including from fellow teacher Ms. Laing (Joe Chen) who is totally smitten.

The students discover that their teacher not only is an alumnus of their school, but was a U.S. Marine. There is plenty of Donny Yen fighting skills on display especially with Yu Kang who is an fight choreographer. For a school drama, it really doesn't show much of Chen's teaching methods. The students become more attentive and respectful after they discover that Chen is an unbeatable martial artist. The path from feeling like losers to suddenly wanting to ace their exams and think there may be life after they graduate is pretty quick. Despite how everything is conveniently resolved, it's still an enjoyable light tale. The stress faced by students while dealing with their family and financial problems that sometimes lead to suicide are addressed. It's too bad we can't all have Donny Yen as our teacher.
(Review by reesa)

Big Brother opens Aug 31 at Cinemark Legacy

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Juliet, Naked

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Aug 26 - Sep 1

Wow, end of August already. Hope everyone had a great summer!

As usual there's not a lot of movies coming up to bat before the fall movie madness takes over.

Question: Do all of you belong to our Facebook group? Don't respond to the group. Just email me.

Aug 26 - Sep 1

Mon- Aug 27

Operation Finale - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas

Tue - Aug 28

Kin - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - Aug 29

God Bless the Broken Road - 7:00 - Harkins Southlake

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Friday, August 24, 2018

The Happytime Murders

To be quite honest, this movie was a lot tamer than I expected. I expected lots of outrageous gags, toilet humor and reprehensible antics to occur. They did, but in a far less reaching tableau of time.

This reminds me of last year’s fun “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” wherein lead Samuel L. Jackson used colorful vocabulary sans the “F-bombs” from his usual cache of vocabulary.

The puppets and man co-exist in this world, something that is just looked at as commonplace in their society.

“The Happytime Murders” takes full advantage of the “R” rating, since bits of dialogue are a tad extreme in their delivery.

For comparisons sake, I choose “South Park” creators’ Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s puppet-laden 2004 release of “Team America: World Police” as a noteworthy companion piece to “The Happytime Murders.” That one carried an “R” rating as well.

The antics that occur are outrageous in spots, but the majority of the humor misses the mark. Lead actress Melissa McCarthy brings back friend and co-star Maya Rudolph (“Bridesmaids”) as a human known as Bubbles, who handles the day-to-day happenings of Phil Phillips, who is McCarthy’s ex-partner on the Los Angeles police force. Other humans in this tale include Elizabeth Banks (“The 40 Year Old Virgin,” “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”), Joel McHale (TV’s “Community”) and Leslie David Baker. Some people might remember Baker from TV’s “The Office” wherein he always shrugged at the ridiculous notions that came out of the idiot Michael Scott played by Oscar-nominee Steve Carell.

The directing chores were handled by Brian Henson, who did a great job with 1992’s “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” one of the few musicals I can actually tolerate. So the reader knows, I am not a fan of musicals at all. I can tolerate them to a certain point, but am not a fan of the genre as a whole.

He also handled the directing chores on “Muppet Treasure Island,” (1996). As of this moment in time he’s executive producing “The Power of the Dark Crystal,” a follow-up to 1982’s “The Dark Crystal,” which was directed by his dad, the late Jim Henson and Frank Oz. It was a strange concoction, since no human beings are in the movie, rather just puppets and fantasy elements galore. Brian Henson is also on board for executive producing an update of “Labyrinth,” a 1986 family fantasy which was also directed by his late father.

Some of the one-liners work, such as when Phil Phillips comments on McHale’s FBI’s agent status and sarcastically calls it an fn’ big idiot. The chemistry between Randolph’s Bubbles and cop Phil Phillips works. McHale’s part is that of FBI agent Campbell, who thinks mighty high of himself and his role in the City of Angels police department.

“The Happytime Murders” might find an audience here with the cinema selection appearing kind of lackluster, but there are worst choices out there.

The chemistry between McCarthy and the other characters work since the interaction between the humans and the puppets is taken as an everyday occurrence. There is a backstory involved, but that angle is only used to cover a portion of this tale. I wouldn’t call this movie a major dud, because some bright spots tickled my funny bone.

Grade: C
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Blaze with Q&A

(Review by Chase Lee)

Q&A with Ben Dickey and Ethan Hawke

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Mile 22

Peter Berg has amassed quite the career. First, with his acting gigs, which encompassed quite the resume with roles in “Very Bad Things,” (Which he also directed) “A Midnight Clear,” TV’s “Chicago Hope,” “Fire in the Sky,” James Mangold’s “Cop Land,” and Michael Mann’s Tom Cruise-led “Collateral.” He also helmed one of the dumbest yet fun guilty pleasures with the based-on-a board game “Battleship.”

But, we’re here to talk about his new action-drama “Mile 22,” which finds him re-teaming with Mark Wahlberg, (for the fourth time), a star he worked with most recently in “Lone Survivor,” a 2013 tale about the last man standing in an operation overseas. More recent pairings were with the true-life tale oil spill flick “Deepwater Horizon” and “Patriots Day,” about the Boston bombing which occurred in 2013.

“Mile 22” has a great cast with Lauren Cohan (TV’s “The Walking Dead”), Oscar nominee John Malkovich, (1993’s In the Line of Fire”), Ronda Rousey (“The Expendables 3”) and Iko Ulwas aka Tony Jaa.

Berg knows his prowess and it shows in his handling of the scenes where Li Nor takes on some nurses at the local hospital. It is significant because that is not where they have to take Jaa’s Li Nor, a prisoner and former cop they want for safe keeping. He also has some intel on an ongoing situation they want the keys for.

Berg knows how to handle the camera in these sequences, because it is a tight fit where all the action takes place. Just like his fine work in 2003’s “The Rundown,” where The Rock actually did a great job in the role and did not make his part a caricature, since his bounty hunter persona wanted to open a restaurant and get out of the bounty hunting life he was accustomed to. Berg knows when and where to just point and shoot.
“Mile 22” is gritty as all get out, since the movie does not follow normal traditions and parameters in storytelling technique. It is non-stop from the opening scene. The pacing is brisk, fast and only sets itself up for brief spells to just do some minor character development.

Wahlberg, like The Rock before him, proved he could single handedly carry a movie. For him, it was Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights,” the tale of a young dishwasher, Edie Adams, who eventually becomes porn sensation Dirk Diggler. It is one of Anderson’s earlier works, from 1997.
A lot of the viewing public was there to see Wahlberg, but for me it was seeing the often underrated Jaa, who like other martial arts maestros Donne Yen, Jet Li or even Jackie Chan has a very selective and discreet audience.

What was also of interest was the close knit operations that endured. Everyone involved does not carry any identification. The team, for all intents and purposes is a bunch of ghosts.

Not to ruin anything, but this one falls into “The Usual Suspects” and “The Game” pretzel-twisting thriller camp.

As aforementioned, the pacing on this well told tale is simply relentless. Berg always keeps viewers eyes transfixed on the screen.

Grade: B+
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Movies Scheduled for the Week of Aug 19 - Aug 25

Yes, school is finally back in session. Which means of course the lines will not be as crazy, but then the movies this week are not exactly for kids. If you are thinking of seeing Happytime Murders, please leave the kids at home. This will be not appropriate despite the appearance of puppets. So please, use common sense.

If you are going to the movie on Monday, please be aware that the theater has been changed from AMC Northpark to Cinemak 17. If you got a pass, they would have sent you an update.

Aug 19 - Aug 25

Mon - Aug 20

Ya Veremos - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17

Wed - Aug 22

Kin - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas

HappyTime Murders - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas

Thur - Aug 23

Searching - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mile 22

In their fourth collaboration, actor/producer Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, team up again to bring to the screen what they hope will be a franchise of hard action films. However, this first of the series doesn't bring much hope of this happening. The fighting scenes are pretty intense, the acting minimal from most of the players, the editing and pacing is jumbled, and Wahlberg's manic dialogue is distracting. Only
Iko Uwais as Li Noor keeps one glued to the screen.

The screenplay by Lea Carpenter, from a story by Carpenter and Graham Roland is a bit confusing, so to simply it, it's about a CIA special forces team called the Ground Branch who work off the grid guided by their operations leader called Mother (John Malkovich). Like a Mission Impossible team where the government can't officially acknowledge any of their activities, the Ground Branch wipes clean any nefarious plots. In this case, they must get an informant out of the country by moving him 22 miles from the United States Embassy to and awaiting plane within a window of time while terrorists thwart their movements. Li Noor (Iko Uwais) who claims to know the locations of stolen deadly explosives bargains his information for transport out of the country. He also attached some sort of electronic booby trap to their computers and he won't give the code til he's at the plane. So there is that.

The beginning of the movie shows how ruthless the team can be when they unearth a Russian operation in the middle of a suburb and they are forced to eliminate the occupants, including a 18 yaar old young man. Now they are in Southeast Asian looking for these contraband explosives. The exposition of the story is narrated by Silva (Mark Wahlberg) who is being debriefed after the the extraction. His character is rude, abrasive, everyone has nothing good to say about him, but he's supposed to be brilliant. He motor mouths his superiors and they put up with it because he can get the job done. Lauren Cohan plays Alice one of his team members who is fighting with her ex to see her daughter. Rhonda Rousey is Sam another kick-@ss member of the team. At least they don't have the women wearing tight outfits and high heels. They wear boots and are as competent and fearless as their male counterparts. The body counts are high and bloody making up much of the film with tense chase scenes. Iko Uwais who starred in The Raid is pretty amazing. If nothing else, he's worth going just to see him. If this is going to be a trilogy, hopefully it will include him.
(Review by reesa)

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians

Director: Jon M. Chu Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Crazy Rich Asians” brought the increasable joy!

Based on the novel of the same name by author Kevin Kwan, “Crazy Rich Asians” may not topped over the same style as Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is widely considered to be an exciting flick to see as a movie goer. Not only it’s film for American viewers, but it’s also for Asian people in general. It is the first Hollywood film to feature Asian Americans in leading roles since 1993’s “The Joy of Luck Club.”

This film centers the young woman named Rachel Chu (portrayed by Constance Wu) who is meeting her boyfriend (portrayed by Henry Golding) and his parents in Singapore. But when she finds out about their lives as the richest family in Singapore, she discovers her boyfriend’s family with the dark past and purpose to be revealed.

Actors Henry Golding (BBC's “The Travel Show”) and Constance Wu (“Fresh off the Boat”) are a loving couple and finding their place to satisfy themselves. Through the movie, they soon learned what’s more than just being rich: it’s about love and money never solves problems. Money is the enemy of love as it produces power and self-ambition, but with a dark purpose.

What’s more surprising is actress Michelle Yeoh stole the spotlight as a key witness and low-key villain to Wu’s character, similar to the performances of Michael Keaton from “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and Alec Baldwin from “The Cooler.”

The plot entirely seems like it is a mystery film when it comes to being rich or having lots of values based on family cultures. Even in the humble beginning of the film, the setting is alike from several casino films. The stereotypes are brought up surprisingly towards Asian men and women. Men are charming and attractive while women are open-minded and independent. Not only that, but also the plot and the main characters are as just as juicer as Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life.”

The direction and the scripting are good but not as perfect as Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Jon M. Chu’s direction is somewhat cliché while the script-writing isn’t well done at all like a flat iron steak being cooked properly. However, the film gets a gold star on two things: music and the supporting cast. The music is very artful and crafty compared to Pixar’s “Incredibles 2.” Supporting actors Gemma Chan (2019 “Captain Marvel”), Lisa Lu, Nico Santos, Ken Jeong, Ronny Chieng and Jimmy O. Yang also done a terrific job on their roles. My favorite apart about this film is the scenes involving Jimmy O Yang and Constance Wu as they both provide comedy in the background.

In conclusion, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a good movie. This film is filled with awesome adventures and sneaky surprises. I did not particularly dislike this film, but it’s a recommendation for Asian Americans as well as people hailing from Asia. I found my eyes and senses quite shivering with suspense. But if you interested in this flick, be my guest. This is typically the most diverse film I ever watched, not counting Disney films.

(Review by Henry Pham)

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Aug 12 - Aug 18

Love the rain, but I'm kinda over it right now. At least it's not as hot, just humid, sticky, nasty humid. And it stinks cause someone left a window open in the car.

Anyways, they are showing the same movies at two different theaters. So hopefully the theaters won't be annoyingly crowded.

Aug 12 - Aug 18

Mon - Aug 13

Crazy Rich Asians - 7:00 pm - Angelika
Crazy Rich Asians - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Tue - Aug 14

Alpha - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - Aug 15

Mile 22 - 7:00 pm - Angelika
Mile 22 - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

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Friday, August 10, 2018

The Meg

For all intents and purposes, Jon Turteltaub’s “The Meg” is just a fun ride. Action hero extraordinaire Jason Statham (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “The Transporter”) is Jonas Taylor, a deep sea rescue operative who encounters a megaladon, a once thought to be extinct creature living in the ocean blue. It is 75 feet long and has a plethora of teeth in its huge jaw line.

“The Meg” is very tongue-in-cheek, wherein the events that occur are not to be taken too seriously. Sure, some people you like die, but it is done with purpose to just advance the story.

Rainn Wilson is Morris, a wealthy industrialist whose operation is funding the giant laboratory in the middle of the ocean blue.

Aiding in this story is Bingbing Li’s Suyia, a single mother who also has her daughter Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai) on board the floating vessel that serves as a way station for the entire crew. Also on board the station is Suyia’s father, Zhang (Winston Chao). He is there as a scientist who knows the ins and outs of all the specialized marine life. Also involved is Cliff Curtis’s Mao, an old friend of Jonas from back in the day when the pair used to work together. Also included is Ruby Rose’s Jaxx, a wizard with technology and apps, who can make things work with the push of a button.

Meiying has a couple of faces that amuse since she knows they are goofy and just hams it up.

“The Meg,” like 1975’s Steven Spielberg-directed “Jaws,” is a complete work of fiction. It is based on the novel courtesy of writer Steve Alten. He also did a couple of follow-ups to the original story of “The Meg”, including “The Trench,” “Primal Waters” and “Hell’s Aquarium.”
This movie, like the fun rides and adventures that encompassed Stephen Sommers’ ocean liner yarn “Deep Rising” just leave you smiling at how ridiculous and stupid the events that just occurred. The same can be said of director Renny Harlin’s “Deep Blue Sea” wherin a giant crew is reduced to just a few by movie’s end. In the end game of things, it is just an escape from the everyday world.

What I also like and admire about Turteltaub is that he shoots for the big screen. Earlier in his career, he made smaller films, ”Three Ninjas,’ (1992), “Cool Runnings” (1993) and “While You Were Sleeping” (1995) that were not made for big screen treatment. Later on, with “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (2010) and a pair of “National Treasure” (2004 and 2007) movies under his belt, he shifted to the widescreen treatment in which his movies are meant for a theatre experience. I actually met Turteltaub in Dallas for “Instinct,” a movie he directed with Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. That one was also shot in the “scope” format as well.

I saw “The Meg” on the giant IMAX screen at the Northpark in Dallas. Despite the ludicrous shenanigans that occurred, it is still worth the theatre experience.

The perfect escape movie, “The Meg” does what it’s supposed to do and just entertain you for a couple of hours while trying to escape the real world outside.

Grade: B-
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Thursday, August 9, 2018


Jigsaw puzzles can be relaxing and meditative, especially when there is no TV, radio or internet to absorb your attention. Then your cat jumps on the table deciding to sleep on it scattering stuff all over the floor which ends up under the furniture and several pieces go missing. This new film in a directorial debut by Marc Turtletaub was written by Oren Moverman and Polly Mann based on the 2010 Argentine film of the same name. It's hard to imagine a movie about a woman who does puzzles would be interesting, but the amazing and sensitive portrayal by Kelly Macdonald makes this film a keeper.

Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) is sort of a throwback to a 50's stay at home mom who wears a dress and heels while vacuuming her home, decorating party decorations for her own birthday party. Married to car mechanic Lou (David Denman) they have two sons, Ziggy (Bubba Weiler) and Gabe (Austin Abrams). Ziggy works in his dad garage which makes him very unhappy. Gabe is applying for college, but is not exactly enthused having to write some essays on why he wants to go to college. Agnes spends her days doing the daily chores of fixing beds, laundry, food shopping and cooking for her family. During her off time, she works with the church women groups that service the community. Life is predictable but somehow comforting and of course unsatisfying. For her birthday she received a phone, which she says she doesn't need. She has the house phone, the radio and if something important is happening someone will tell her. She also received a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a world map. It's when she impulsively decides to open it up on her dining room table she discovers the puzzle is something she has been missing in her life. She was also good at math, and the focus the puzzle gives her help to organize her mind. She manages to complete it in a couple of hours.

It's when she takes the train into the city to purchase another puzzle, that she sees an ad for someone looking for a puzzle partner. Someone to compete in a puzzle championship. Life suddenly becomes more adventurous. She lies to her family about where she is going a couple days a week by saying she is taking care of her aunt who broke her foot. Instead she is practicing with Robert (Irrfan Khan), a reclusive inventor whose wife just left him. This step for Agnes begins to open a whole world to her, one that is unexpected and confusing for her clueless but devoted husband, and delightful for her sons who always suspected she was unhappy.

It's hard to imagine there are still women stuck in that mindset of domestic subservience. It makes her journey to self-discovery more poignant and believable as it affects the people around her as she becomes a person. As her world gets bigger and her confidence builds, she starts to think for herself and not what others expect. It's told very simplistically, but it's Macdonald's sensitive performance that enlightens the transformation.
(Review by reesa)

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