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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Logo art by Steve Cruz

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Death of Stalin

Reel Time with Joel and Chase

This Just Might Have You Die from Laughter. (We Are Not Responsible if You Die from Laughter)

Title: The Death of Stalin

Rating: R for language throughout, violence and some sexual references

Run Time: Ihr & 47min

Joel’s Review

*** (out of ****)

Now here is an idea for you: Take the transfer of power between tyrants and turn it into a scruffy comedy. That is the core idea of The Death of Stalin, a dry and pointed satire that somehow never downplays the ruthlessness of the eponymous dictator’s regime. Mind you, it still pokes fun at the absurdity of the system that put Joseph Stalin in place, but the balancing act performed by screenwriters Armando Iannucci (who also directed), David Schneider, and Ian Martin is upon a ridiculously thin wire. It means that, sometimes, the humor is so dry it ceases to resemble humor any longer.

Perhaps that is because of the adage that states a joke has its source in truth. In this case, the “truth” would be that, moving past all the horrifying stuff that accompanies it, a dictatorial regime is premised on the absurd notion that one man’s trivial concerns should be the bases of the rule of law. If you don’t find such a notion very funny, say the screenwriters, then perhaps this movie isn’t for you. Indeed, the filmmakers stretch the concept of what is funny for their audience, which, after all, is the function of comedy. In other words, it isn’t as straightforward as eliciting a couple of chuckles.

Here, the set-up to the comic premise is already a morbid one: Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) has suffered a stroke and collapsed in his office. This prompts his inner circle to convene. They include head of the Soviet Union’s secret police Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale, great as a casual monster who tried very hard to resemble the straight man of this group), head of Moscow’s Soviet Communist Party Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), Stalin’s deputy and assumed successor, should anything happen to the leader. The situation, obviously, is a sticky one.

They must find the right doctor, which potentially means calling upon the services of a doctor imprisoned by Stalin for an alleged conspiracy to poison him (The way that Malenkov averts anyone’s gaze upon being asked about the certainty of this conspiracy says quite a bit). They must be cautious about the transfer of power, as the party line commonly regarded Stalin as “irreplaceable” (a shortsighted view, of course). They must be equally careful in handling the affairs of his death upon the arrival of his children (played terrifically by Rupert Friend and Andrea Riseborough). And they must initially do all of this while kneeling in the puddle of urine that the leader’s body produced upon its ischemic event.

These are all terrific set-ups to a sharp dissection of tyranny and its actors. Khrushchev jokes about throwing live grenades into the footpaths of prisoners-of-war, then goes home to his wife with a list of what does and doesn’t make Stalin laugh. Malenkov breaks himself into the new position of leader of Russia by emulating his predecessor and insisting upon a lack of any embarrassment that would reflect poorly upon himself. As for Beria, the man may be a monster, but he’s a pathetic loser, too, right when the misplaced loyalty asked of him should be given those to whom he pledged that loyalty. These are brutal fools, sadistic sad-sacks, and cruel clowns at the center of a somber farce. The Death of Stalin ends on a stretch of storytelling that seeks only to reinforce our notions of these terrible men. That seems about right.
(Review by Joel Copling)

Chase’s Review

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Pacific Rim Uprising

(Review by Chase Lee

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Reel Time with Joel and Chase

An Unnecessary Dark Turn and a Forced and Unbelievable Romance has this One Scratching our Heads.

Title: Flower

Rating: R for crude sexual content & language throughout, graphic nude drawings, some drug content, and a brief violent image

Run Time: Ihr & 30min

Joel’s Review

*½ (out of ****)

The inciting incident of the plot of Flower is when the young woman propositions her soon-to-be-stepbrother for oral sex. She does it because he, having just been released from rehab for prescription drug abuse, looks “tense,” and when he understandably rejects this proposal because of their imminent sibling status, she laughs it off and emasculates him in the same breath. When, later, the two team up with her friends to exact a twisted form of justice upon his sexual predator, it comes across as peculiar, to say the least.

This is an odd movie with a strange sense of moral equivalence. It has no problem viewing its protagonist as a carefree agent of her own sexual politics, even as her proclivities have a certain pathology that suggests predation, and then thrusting her into a plot that has taken on an unintentional relevance due to recent cultural events. It isn’t the movie’s fault that it has opened in the fervor of that moment, but it proceeds to contradict itself at every turn. Indeed, it would be a crime to reveal a relationship that blossoms as a result of the events of its climax, but let us say that the nature of that relationship will not come as a surprise to anyone closely following the events detailed in the next paragraph.

The film opens with Erica (Zoey Deutch), the young woman in question, performing the same orally sexual act of gratification on a police officer, just before blindsiding him with threats of extortion alongside her best friends Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet). It is a way of making quick cash for these reckless teens, and it apparently pays well. Erica’s home life is a source of constant grief: Her father was incarcerated for an attempted robbery, her mother Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) is about to be remarried to Bob (Tim Heidecker), as blandly pleasant as his name, and she is about to gain Luke (Joey Morgan), Bob’s son from a previous marriage, as a stepbrother.

Luke has, indeed, just exited rehab after spending some time there for stockpiling pain pills and inheriting a dependence on them in the process. His post-rehab diet is so restrictive he usually just turns down food, shivering from the symptoms of withdrawal and the smell of food he cannot eat. Erica is understandably, at first, annoyed by his intrusion into her cosseted existence, but the two form a reluctant bond when she discovers another secret in his past: Will Jordan (Adam Scott), the “hot, old guy” whom the three girls have been ogling for weeks at the local bowling alley, is actually a sexual predator lurking in the shadows of a supposedly tranquil town.

These details do not hint at what occurs in the entire final act of the screenplay, written by Alex McAulay, Matt Spicer, and director Max Winkler, and out of respect, neither will this review. Let us only say that, following a first act lacking much conviction and a slightly sturdier middle that hints at compelling character growth, the climax of this movie takes one wrong turn after another. The performances from Deutch and Morgan easily elevate the material given to them, which is comprised almost entirely of cheap manipulation and a whole lot of ickiness. Flower reveals itself to be nothing more than a melodrama, offering what we expect and, mostly for the worse, what we do not.
(Review by Joel Copling)

Chase’s Review

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Midnight Sun

The plethora of teen movies released each year usually entails some wacky comedies, urban social issue seriousness, battle from the bottom sports and of course medical maladies. This year's "Love means never having to say you're sorry" film goes to Midnight Sun. Directed by Scott Speer and written by Eric Kirsten, it is based on the 2006 Japanese film of the same name. Featuring a rare genetic disorder called xeroderma pigmentosum which occurs six times more frequently in Japan, and one in a million in the U.S. Only 40% of people, depending on the severity, live beyond the age of 20.

Bella Thorne plays Katie Price lives like a vampire in her small town Washington home with her dad Jack(Rob Riggle), a photographer. Her mom passed away when she was younger, so he acts as both parents, home school teacher and best friend. Until one day one of the neighbor kids, Morgan (Quinn Shephard) invites herself over, not letting the neighbor gossip get in the way. Katie spends her time watching life from her sunlight protected windows. Especially stalking Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger), who was the star swimmer at the local high school. Having injured himself in a stupid accident he lost his scholarship to Berkeley, so he's been moping around. That is until he cute meets Katie, who has taken to busk her music at the railroad station. Babbling in typical awkward teen talk, she runs off leaving her song notebook behind. Which means it's a good reason why they would meet again, thanks to machinations of Morgan.

Katie who has never experienced life, enjoys the budding romance, with the handsome popular young man who has to reinvent himself since he had to stop swimming because of his accident. Katie can't bear to tell him of her illness not wanting to be pitied as the girl with the weird disease. Her father is apprehensive of the heartache that is sure to follow, and Morgan is doing everything she can to have her best friend enjoy some normal teenage fun. Katie tells him she is busy during the day, so she can only meet with her at night. He finally takes her on a special date to Seattle where she gets to hear live music, and he gets her to busk on the Seattle streets for an appreciative audience. Of course this perfect night was stymied, by the sunrise.

This movie is filled with very pretty people and perfect romantic gestures. Charlie has got to be the most perfect boyfriend. Katie just glows as the newly in love GF. Filmmakers were not afraid to make her look more ill as time goes by. There are plenty of tear jerking poignant moments as they all deal with this bright light getting snuffed out. But it also addresses they need to believe the best in each other and try to help those who won't help themselves. At the screening everyone was given a box of tissues that were very much needed.
(Review by reesa)

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Pacific Rim Uprising

The 2013 film Pacific Rim by Guillermo del Toro had left the world in ruins. The sequel, this time produced by del Toro, looks at how the survivors are rebuilding from the devastation after they had won the war. Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and written by DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin, introduce us to Jake Pentecost, the son of the first movie's hero (idris Elba), who wants to be far away from his father's reputation. if you were a fan of the CGI monsters and robot fest of the first film, you will get plenty of the same this time around. Lots of mindless action and destruction and some humorous character development.

Boyega fresh off Star Wars is Jake, the cynical party boy and scavenger. He has no ambitions to follow in his father's footsteps. Instead he earns his ill gotten gains from selling parts of old Jaegers, the robots that saved the world, to illegal gangs creating their own machines. He meets Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) during one of his heists who built a scraper, a smaller version of a Jaeger. She firmly believes the Kaiju will be back from The Breach where they rose from another dimension. They are eventually captured by the Jaeger Ajax after a futile by glorious chase and thanks to Jake's adopted sister Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), they are sent to the Jaeger base where Jake will help train the new recruits. Amara who is like a Jaeger groupie, fangirls all the Jaegers on the base. She is equally blown away that Jake is the son of the man who saved the world in the last war.

We are reminded on how the whole robot pilot thing works, by having two drivers who are connected by the drift. Their brains are interconnected so they work in tandem to control the humongous metal machine. Burn Gorman as Dr. Hermann Gottlieb is developing a new tech that would rocket the Jaegers using the blood of the Kaiju's. But he's not getting support since the Shao Corporation is pushing for Jaeger drones who will elimninate the needs for human pilots. Liwen Shao (Jing Tian) has devoted her life to this project. Unfortunately Shao Corp's scientist Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), Gottlieb's old lab partner, has other plans.

The last third of the film involves some CGI heavy improbable battles with large robots causing massive mayhem to save the world. Jake is able to come to terms with his legacy and find his own. Amara finally gets revenge for her parents death in the last war. Scott Eastwood as Nate, Jake's drift partner just basically grits his teeth and acts heroic. The fact that most manage to survive with some scratches on their faces is pretty amazing. But that's O.K. because they will all be back for the next movie.
(Review by reesa)

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Mar 18 - Mar 24

Well, it looks like there is a full week ahead as we are anticipating the big Avenger movie coming out next month. It's gonna be crazy. Just remember if you don't get a pass, you can skip the line and get your self a ticket.

Weather is getting warm. Spring Break is over. If I missed anything on the calendar, please email me before the calendar comes out on Sunday so it can be included. Don't forget to include the source of the passes. Thanks.

March 18 - March 24

Sun - Mar 18

SIREN Series Premiere + Mermaid Party - 6:45 pm - Alamo Drafthouse Richardson and Cedars

Mon - Mar 19

Unsane - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas

Tue - Mar 20

Death of Stalin - 7:00 pm - Magnolia
Pacific Rim Uprising - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - Mar 21

Blockers - 7:00 pm - UA Fossil Creek
Midnight Sun - 7:00 pm - Studio Movie Grill Northwest Hwy

Thu - Mar 22

Sherlock Gnomes - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Sherlock Gnomes - 7:00 pm - Cinemark 17

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Leisure Seeker

(Review by Chase Lee)

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I Can Only Imagine

Religious based films are often as subtle as a 2x4 across the back of the head in their cinematic message of forgiveness, redemption and accepting Jesus in one's life. This story is about the making of the contemporary Christian song by MercyMe which became the most played song of the genre, even crossing over to pop and country charts. Directors Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin , with a script by Alex Cramer, Jon Erwin, and Brent McCorkle, centers around the lead singer, Bart Millard, who wrote the song about his relationship with his father. It's a feel good film, with a strong message that doesn't, fortunately, feel heavy handed and manipulative.

Broadway actor/singer J. Michael Finley plays Bart Millard who after years of abuse by his father Arthur (Dennis Quaid), finds the strength to leave home where he joins the band. The movie begins of him telling the story about how his iconic song which may have been written in a couple minutes, but it encapsulates the years of trauma and rediscovery of his early life. As a child, Bart's mother left the family having had enough of her abusive husband, leaving Bart alone with his dad. Brody Rose plays the young Bart who finds support and love from his Meemaw (Cloris Leachman) and from his friends. Discovering he can sing Mrs. Fincher (Priscilla Shirer) the choir director asks Bart to be the lead in the high school musical of Oklahoma. When he leaves home he joins the band MercyMe when one of their members leave them in a lurch. They play churches, and small venues hoping to be discovered. Trace Adkins is Scott Brickell, who becomes their manager, sees something in them but tells them they are not quite there yet. They need to find their voice. Even after to cutting their own self produced album, music producers weigh in heavily that they don't quite cut it. Frustrated Bart decides to take a break from the band and go home to take care of his dad who is dying of cancer.

It's amazing that Bart was able to break the cycle of abuse considering how he was treated as child. He faced life with self deprecating humor and tried to look at the positive. But that unresolved trauma in his live leads him to break up with his long time girlfriend Shannon (Madeline Carroll). Coming home, his father, who has found God, and is remorseful for the way he treated his son. Bart finally comes to terms with his father before he passes. When he comes back to the band, the song "I Can Only Imagine" comes to him from his notebooks that have that phrase written all over them. It was a song that apparently touched everyone's life in a meaningful way to become the all time best selling contemporary Christian single to this day.
(Review by reesa)

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The Leisure Seeker

Director Paolo Virzi in his first English-language film, working from a script he co-wrote with Stephen Amidon, Francesca Archibugi and Francesco Piccolo (based on Michael Zadoorian’s novel) is a gentle and affectionate travel log of an elderly couple's last vacation in their beloved RV. The loving couple dealing with health issues embark on adventures that are full of improbable gag set ups and misunderstandings as they travel from their home in Massachusetts to Florida.

Helen Mirren as Ella embraces a touch and go southern accent as the devoted wife of 50 years to her husband John played by Donald Sutherland. John was a well loved English professor who now suffers from dementia. His moments of lucidity are getting few and far between. Ella spends a lot of time trying to keep the memories alive. The pressure grows on her as she is also suffering from some aliment which causes her nausea and she is popping lots of pills. She also drinks a lot of her favorite Canadian whiskey. The RV dubbed the Leisure Seeker was their family get-a-way. Their children Jane and Will (Janel Moloney and Christian McKay) are all grown up and are freaked that their parents have suddenly taken off in the clunky old Winnebago without a word. At each campsite, Ella screens a slide show for John playing their lives, their children, neighbors and his students. Despite John's memory lapses, he is still able to drive the RV as Ella claims she can't handle it on her own. But that doesn't stop him from taking off after a pit stop leaving Ella behind. A motorcyclist gives her a ride to catch up with her clueless husband, who only berates her for riding a bike without a helmet.

John's memory glitches sometimes questions Ella as to who she is and where is his young beautiful wife. Other times, he displays moments of insecurity about one of Ella's old boyfriends that he suspects her of keeping contact. At one point she gets so frustrated, she tells him they will go find Dan (Dick Gregory) who is currently residing in a nursing home and doesn't know them. Ella also finds out by manipulating her husband's into discovering his own indiscretions which angers her so much, she drops him off at a nursing home. When her anger subsides, she realizes that she can't live without him, and he can't live without her. As their physical maladies become apparent, Ella realizes their trip only has one solution.

Mirren who was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role, is delightful as the gregarious Ella. She is personable, friendly and is able to talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Her academic husband is more apt to school waitstaff and others with Hemingway which bores Ella to tears. Yet despite their differences they remain so totally in love. Even their son Will felt left out over their attention paid only to each other. One wonders how old age will treat us when our time comes. Will we be able watch the one we love fade and forget?
(Review by reesa)

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Love, Simon

Reel Time with Joel and Chase

Dear World,

Come Out and See My Movie. It’s Pretty Great. This is a New Classic in the Making.

Love, Simon

Rating: PG-13 for Thematic Elements, Sexual References, Language and Teen Partying

Run Time: Ihr & 49min

Joel’s Review

***½ (out of ****)
Only those who have experienced this phenomenon can understand it on an experiential level, but Love, Simon comes close to visualizing the coming-out process as the threshold event that it is. The concept of its difficulties isn’t hard to grasp, though: Not only does one come to understand the way one’s hormones work after years of feeling a disconnect from the way they “should” work, but one comes to such an understanding that the feeling then flowers into a need to tell someone. Everything, though, must be right: the time to say it, the person (or people) to tell, the courage to tell them, and the extenuating circumstances of everything leading up to that moment.

It seems that such a moment is likely improbable, if not completely impossible. Something, by the law of averages, must go wrong with every coming-out moment for those who fit some initial within the LGBTQ community (and, of course, the other letters in that shorthand). If everything is right, simply because of the chaotic way the world works, that is probably going to be the exception, rather than the rule. For the protagonist of director Greg Berlanti’s film, the only right thing when the moment comes is the understanding of the person he tells. That person is the last he expected to be on the receiving end of such a revelation, the timing is far from ideal, and the place is in his car while at a stop sign.

Love, Simon is about every aspect of coming out, including the unfortunate ones. When the eponymous Simon (Nick Robinson) later reveals that he is gay to three of the most important people in his life, it is only by choice if “choice” is technically the same thing as “duress.” It’s a desperate move to get on the same page as those people he cares about before word gets out in a different, more embarrassing way. I’m getting ahead of myself, though no one should be completely surprised by the development that occurs. Given that I have already established that the unwanted acts of cruelty that often follow such a revelation are a subject of the movie, expect a character who is both cruel and callow to show up.

For the purposes of fairness to readers, I will not mention that character explicitly, though I will mention in passing that it involves a blackmail scheme for the character in question to get in the good graces of the person to whom Simon first tells his secret. Abby (Alexandra Shipp) has only been a part of a quartet of friends, who also include Leah (Katherine Langford) and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), for a few months at the start of our story. Simon, Leah, and Nick have all known each other “since the beginning of time,” according to Simon. None of them knows Simon’s secret, and meanwhile, Leah pines for him and Nick for Abby.

An anonymous student comes out as gay at Simon’s school, whose headmaster (played by Tony Hale) pretends way too hard to be his pupils’ friend while also confiscating their smartphones in the hallway with too much glee, and Simon begins a series of email threads with the person in question, calling himself “Blue” and empathizing with Simon’s closeted existence. That’s when the blackmail scheme begins, and it is here where the screenplay could have spun wildly off-course, marketing in every tired trope of the coming-of-age comedy while trying to operate within the current social climate (Indeed, our President is theirs, and the older generation’s passive attitude toward a certain sexual predator when he was more famous for being a comedian is referenced).

It is a testament, then, that Berlanti and screenwriters Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker (adapting a novel by Becky Albertalli) avoid all these trappings for a more honest and compassionate view of everyone (except that pesky blackmailer, who might play too big a role for being a device to rile up the emotions) who is an active presence in Simon’s life. When the revelation occurs more immediately and publicly than Simon wants, other consequences – some of them reflecting upon him poorly – occur but not in a way that seems to punish Simon for his sexuality. Instead, it exists to illustrate the spider-web of consequences that can come from such acts of cruel opportunism.

The film also pays careful attention to Simon’s home life. His father (played by Josh Duhamel) cracks casually homophobic jokes in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t mean or understand a word of them. His mother (played by Jennifer Garner, who gets to reaffirm her love for her son at a crucial, cautiously performed moment) is proudly liberal, refusing to shelter her kids for the sake of arbitrary family values. His sister (played by Talitha Bateman) cooks meals of questionable quality on her way to becoming the next top chef who will not be chopped. Once the revelation hits home, the filmmakers take advantage of the opportunity to see a decent family processing a huge truth with rare honesty.

Robinson’s performance more than simply anchors the film. This is a compelling portrayal of internalization that explodes into deserved angst only when necessary. It’s a great performance from an actor who is likely to have (if we are lucky to be blessed this way) a storied career on the evidence of this role. Love, Simon is a heartfelt surprise, a coming-of-age tale that doesn’t coast on the clichés of its genre but embraces them, melding drama with some genuinely funny high-school comedy into a special thing, indeed.
(Review by Joel Copling)

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Mar 11 - Mar 17

Hope y'all changed your clocks today.

It looked like there wasn't going to be much going on this week, but it filled out quickly. Hope you got the passes you needed.

Is it just me, but if you are part of our Facebook group, how is it that you don't know about the Yahoo Group so you can get passes? Just wondering.

Mar 11 - Mar 17

Mon - Mar 12

Leisure Seeker - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Blockers - 7:30 pm - Cinemark West

Tue - Mar 13

Tomb Raider - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - Mar 14

Midnight Sun - 7:00 pm - AMC Valley View
Love, Simon - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Strangers: Prey at Night

(review by Chase Lee)

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Director Nash Edgerton's Gringo is a wild and surprising crime caper written by Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone. There is so much going on with twists and turns it certainly holds your attention. But there is almost too much happenstance and excess characters that muddle the story. Fortunately there are some class actors who carry the proceedings effectively.

David Oyelowo gets to show off some comedy licks as Harold Soyinka, a mild mannered operations manager for a pharmaceutical company run by his friend Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton - brother of Nash Edgerton). Rusk and Elaine Markinson (Charlize Theron) are the bosses of questionable moral and ethical character. The company makes a marijuana pill that they manufacture in Mexico. Harold notices some shortfalls in their Mexican inventory so Rusk and Elaine decide to go to Mexico to talk with the plant manager. Actually they want to tell the plant manager to stop selling their product to the cartel since they are trying to clean up their books so they can sell the company. But as everyone else in the world knows, you don't say "no" to the cartel. Harold who found out earlier that he will lose his job soon, despite Rusk's insistence that everything is alright, also finds out his wife (Thandie Newton) is having an affair and leaving him. Despondent over his life, he decides to stay in Mexico and tell his bosses he's been kidnapped for the insurance money. Except his company let the kidnapping policy lapse, so there is no ransom to be paid.

Rusk is truly a selfish, mean and despicable character. He may have sounded like he wanted to help Harold, but then maybe its good to get him out of the way because he's having an affair with Harold's wife. This doesn't sit well with Elaine, who is also having a fling with Rusk. Elaine is the typical hardcore bitch on wheels, who uses her sexuality to get what she wants. She's rude and crass and will sell anyone down the river, even Rusk, if it means she lands on top. There is also the Black Panther who runs the cartel, who wants to get a hold of Harold who can open the safe that has the formula. Plus there are the brothers who own the hotel where Harold is hiding who think they can use him for ransom. Across the hall from Harold is Miles (Harry Treadaway) and Sunny (Amanda Seyfried) who work in a California music store. Miles was asked to smuggle out some of the pot pills by another nefarious operator. If this wasn't enough, Rusk asks his ex-mercenary brother Mitch (Sharlto Copley) who is now reformed and helping with humanitarian relief in Haiti, to find Harold to take him out for the life insurance.

Everyone is way over the top and the action is often bloody slapstick. Harold maybe a bit naive and often clueless, but he has a strong survival instinct that get him through the insanity around him. The film seems bloated and flimsy in the middle, but the last section is action packed and satisfying.
(Review by reesa)

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A Wrinkle in Time

Director: Ava DuVernay
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

“Wrinkle in Time” dazzles to children!

Heavily mistook this for a Disney remake, but it’s not, in fact it was based on a true story written by Madeleine L'Engle in 1962.

Director Ava DuVernay, known for her greatest film Selma (produced in 2014 and nominated for Best Picture Oscar), have crafted an interesting science-fantasy film that would embark children and young adults to seek adventure through the tunnel and into the dark. DeVernay shifts from the human world to the fantasized worlds to make this film more colorful and intense to adapt.

Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon made their way to the scene, providing their satisfying, supportive roles to the actress Storm Reid, who previously flew from the film, 12 Years of Slave (Winner for Best Picture Oscar in 2012). To top it off, only Reese Witherspoon was very serious on her role just like her performance in Pleasantville (1998) and Oprah Winfrey just lectures from the first half of the film.

Storm Reid did a great job on providing a rebellious, yet very icy-role to break in order to solve the conspiracy like Scooby-Doo and Marlin from Finding Nemo.

Chris Pine, after working on 2017’s Wonder Woman, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw both provided the hearty-healthy role as parents of Reid’s character. Chris Pine was truly outstanding on his role as a missing father, which was a nod to his Steve Trevor character in Wonder Woman. Let’s forget about Zach Galifianakis and Michael Peña’s terrific performances.

The visual effects and background are well done just like Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Twister, The Chronicles of Narnia series, and Bridge to Terabithia.

Despite me enjoying the film, the first ten minutes of this film left me nowhere (and slightly off) when it comes to storytelling and script-writing. Same reaction to Deric McCabe’s character, who isn’t helping at the very beginning and almost the very end. Don’t know why they cast him, but it’s because McCabe is the easiest choice for the role. Also, they are camera shakings there in one scene.

Though the film was good, I didn’t say it was a horrible film when it involves plot twists and the concerns on the children characters. In addition, this film would be a hit and a miss (50/50). I don’t mind watching again, but this film may be a downfall to older adults. This film fits for scientists and science enthusiasts, but for anyone, it’s a tough decision to choose. For younger moviegoers, they have a good taste for this. It’s an “Evel Knievel” type of film for eight-year-olds. I would not obligate children under the age of 7 or younger to watch this. Love it or don’t, watch something else like Marvel’s Black Panther.

For one extra point, a pat-in-the-back for the eye-lashing Disney logo of the tesseract.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Mar 4 - Mar 10

Wow! Did you just watch the awards show? Did your favorites win? It was fun watching them go to an advanced screening across the street from the venue. Too bad we don't get surprised like that during our screenings. And they handed out food too! Oh well...

We will have some talent coming to the screening at AMC Northpark for the Midnight Sun screening:

From Allied:
Actors Bella Thorne & Patrick Schwarzenegger, plus Director Scott Speer, will be on-site for a fun and interactive Q&A, as well as photo opportunities. J-Si of KiddNation will host!

This FREE 2-hour event also includes sweet treats from Paciugo Gelato Caffè ice cream, mini manicures from MiniLuxe NorthPark Center and MAKE UP FOR EVER artists providing glam touch-ups.

Also, be sure to join us for a free screening of Midnight Sun the night before at AMC Northpark at 7 PM! Get your screening passes here --->

Mon - Mar 5

Thoroughbred - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
A Wrinkle in Time - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Tue - Mar 6

Love, Simon - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
A Wrinkle in Time - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
The Strangers: Prey at NIght - 7:30 pm - Coyote Drive In Lewisville

Wed - Mar 7

Midnight Sun - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Gringo - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
The Strangers: Prey at NIght - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

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The Red Sparrow

She can do almost no wrong.

I, of course am talking about Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, whose only minor blunders were the ridiculous teen suspenser “House at the End of the Street” (grade: D-) as well as the very mediocre “Passengers” (C-) from 2016.

In “Red Sparrow,” she is ballerina Dominika Egorova, an elite ballet dancer whose career is cut short due to an understudy’s jealousy streak.

Because of this, the Russian government really has no use for her, but under her uncle’s (Matthias Schoernats) tutelage, she still has value. She goes undercover as a sparrow, an assassin without a conscience or memory of what is right or wrong.

This shift sets up the majority of the two hour plus running time. The exact running time is 2 hours, 19 minutes, which is about the running time of Lawrence’s previous flicks, since all “The Hunger Games” entries ran over 2 hours.

The supporting cast all give the necessary turns. This includes Joel Edgerton’s foreign spy Nate Nash, who is working undercover for the C.I.A.

Also important in the storyline are Charlotte Rampling and Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons. Rumpling’s part is that of a Soviet higher-up simply referred to as Headmistress. Her part is that she has no real emotion, just an observer sans concern.

Irons plays another understated turn as General Korchnoi, who claims to be a key asset in determining Egorova’s fate. It is not a showy performance like “Live Free or Die Hard,” but it does what it needs to in setting up the storyline.

In a small supporting role is Mary-Louise Parker. She plays an American diplomat who has a drinking predicament.

My only problem was that the majority of the time, Lawrence has the Russian accent down pat. I noticed, however, that a couple of times it faltered and her native Kentuckian accent slipped through.

Edgerton gives another great turn as Nash, always displaying and emoting the care he has for Lawrence’s Dominika Egorova.

As with either director David O. Russell, Lawrence seems to know where to steer Jennifer Lawrence and her performance. She knows her characters and motivations within, and it shows in every single frame of her performance.

It is hard to say, but I did not dislike this movie too much. It worked as a good old modern pretzel-twisting tale that contains a decent twist ending.

Grade: B+
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Death Wish

“Death Wish” -- This new updated and refashioned “Death Wish” takes some liberties and updates it quite a bit to modern times.

The original “Death Wish” (1974) was a Michael Winner-directed version with Charles Bronson headlining as Paul Kersey, a Big Apple architect who encounters some nayer-do wells that bring harm to his family in various ways. With the newer Bruce Willis-led incarnation, he is doctor at a hospital in Chicago. His Kersey comes and rinds out that his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college bound daughter, Jordana (Camilla Morrone) were brutally attacked one night while he was on a call at the local hospital he was working at.

This action-drama comes courtesy of Eli Roth, who previously directed the hardcore and twisted "Cabin Fever,” “Hostel” and “Hostel 2” entries as well as the little-seen horror-drama 2013’s “Green Infeno.”

Roth finds a nice balance between the gritty revenge melodrama as well as the distinction of finding much needed justice to our ever growing cynical world.

Besides Willis and Shue, some great support also comes courtesy of Vincent D’Onofrio as his brother Frank.

Also decent in their small but memorable parts are Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise. The pair play Chicago detectives investigating Paul’s case.
Willis is an odd cat when it comes to his leading man roles in the Hollywood industry. For every big budget “Die Hard” entry he segues to direct-to-video melodramas like 2012’s “The Cold Light of Day,” “First Kill”” and “Once Upon a Time in Venice.” The latter 2 were released in 2017.
He is also odd in that directors like Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino who like working with him. One person that does not is Kevin Smith. He helmed in 2010’s “Cop Out,” which arrived in American cinemas with a D.O.A. tag on it. To be fair, however, it was one pf Smith’s biggest hits.
Honesly, I have no idea how this thing will play to a middle America audience. The trouble is rests in the fact audiences are still going to see other titles, Marvel’s “Black Panther” included.

We also have the fact that everyone will probably be going to see the recent Oscar winners as a way of catching up and becoming in the know.
Willis has done just mediocre stuff as of late. With “Death Wish” he has regained his movie star status for the moment.
Don’t forget, he has already signed on to be a part of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass,” which is kind of a long awaited sequel and follow up to both “Split” as well as 2000’s four-star masterpiece “Unbreakable.”

Grade: B-
(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Red Sparrow

Why do all spy movies seem to be made during the winter, when it's cold and dark? This new spy thriller directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe, is based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. The novel won two literary awards and was praised for it's insight into the way that espionage is conducted. The movie will doubt bring up comparison's to The Atomic Blonde which was more action packed with a strong female empowerment stance. This film has already drawn criticism for it's sexually demeaning exploitation. However Jennifer Lawrence who plays the tough and resilient Dominika Egorova really sells her survival skills that she has honed in The Hunger Games also directed by Francis Lawrence.

Dominika is a prima ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet which provides her with an apartment and the medical care her mother (Joely Richardson) desperately needs. So when an unfortunate accident causes her to lose her lively hood, her Uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts), who happens to work for the Russian Intelligence Agency offers her a proposal that she cannot turn down. He sends her out on a mission that gets her raped and almost killed just to see if she could handle herself. Then sends her to a state school run by The Matron (Charlotte Rampling) who trains attractive young men and women to become "sparrows". They are stripped of all pride, to use their bodies to manipulate information out of their targets. Dominkia rightfully calls it "whore school".

She is soon sent to Bulgaria on an assignment to cozy up to CIA operative Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) whose cover was blown at the beginning of the movie while trying to protect his Russian asset who was passing on intelligence information. The Russians also wants to find the mole, who will only communicate with Nash. Dominika's newbie skills gets her made right away by Nash, who tells his bosses that he wants to try and turn her into a double spy. Dominika's handler meanwhile is pressuring her with making progress and have sex with him. Her sparrow roommate is also working on an asset (Mary-Louise Parker) who is an alcoholic chief of staff to a U.S. Senator who wants to sell some documents for big money. This little subplot is a bit of a diversion so you don't think about who is using who.

Jennifer Lawrence always sells what every role she is doing. Despite the fluctuating accent, you feel for the young ex-dancer trying to find a way to keep herself and her mother alive in her repressed homeland. Ciaran Hinds and Jeremy Irons play Russian military leaders who are pulling the strings on her operation, demanding Uncle Vanya to get his niece to get the name of the mole or else. if you haven't figured out who the mole is, then you were not paying attention. The lack of chemistry between Dominika and Nash is no big thing. Because that is not what her end game is all about. Dominika wants to be the last one standing.
(Review by reesa)

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Loveless is a contemporary tragedy filmed in Moscow with international support after director Andrey Zvyagintsev lost support of the Russian government due to his critically acclaimed 2014 film Leviathan. Loveless won the Jury Prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and it is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. It is a dark and seriously uncomfortable film of divorcing parents of a lost child who must unite to find him.

Twelve year old Alexey (Matvey Novikov) is a quiet solitary child who comes home from school through the forested area in front of his apartment complex. His mother Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) tells him to clean his room as people are coming over to check out the space. She is met with a sullen attitude. Zhenya and his father Boris (Aleksey Rozin) are getting divorced and their relationship is contentious as they discuss who will take Alexey when they go their separate ways. The mom doesn't want him, she can't ask her mother, and the dad's girlfriend is having a baby. Alexey overhears their loud discussion and if obviously freaked out. Zhenya last see's Alexey at breakfast before he goes to school. That day, she spends it at the spa getting ready to see her older boyfriend Anton (Andris Keiss), a successful business man. Dad is spending the night with his girlfriend Masha (Marina Vasilyeva). Mom who returns in the early morning hours doesn't even notice her son is not home until the school calls reporting he hasn't been there in two days.

Zhenya calls to the police, and what seems like typical Russian bureaucracy, the police can't really do anything about it and chalks it up to another runaway situation. They suggest contacting the search and rescue volunteer organization who do a thorough search of the woods, print out flyers, question the neighbors and the hospitals. While trying to gather information from the parents they are dismayed when the mom has no real insight of her son. At least the father paid attention and knows Alexey's computer passwords and the name of his only friend. They are sent to check out the grandmother (Natalya Potapova) in case he went to hide out with her. And we see the reason why Zhenya is the way she is with such a combative and unhappy woman. Zhenya got pregnant when she was 18, didn't want to marry Boris, but did it anyways because he really wanted a child. Zhenya's frustrations and discontent is apparent in her relationship with her son. She spends all her time checking her phone than engaging his life or that of her husband. Meanwhile Boris is involved with a needy young woman who wants him to spend time with her even though she knows he is searching for his missing child.

The is a great deal of dark wintry foreboding in this film. Does the sun every shine in Russia? It's a relentless and frustrating look at lives that have lost all hope and compassion for each other. Maybe the message is to too deep for the normal movie goer. One thing for sure, it will not help their tourism industry.
(Review by reesa)

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Feb 25 - Mar 3

Gee, last week there was lots of movies to choose, but this week, eh...not so much. Plus, the monsoon didn't help. Olympics are over, but next Sunday is the Academy Awards! The movie lover's super bowl. So last chance to catch up on some of the nominations if you haven't seen them all.

Feb 25 - Mar 3

Tue - Feb 27

Love, Simon - 7:00 pm - AMC's Northpark, Highland Village, Stonebriar and Firewheel

Wed - Feb 28

Death Wish - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Fantastic Woman

The Chilean film directed by Sebastián Lelio who wrote the script with Gonzalo Maza has garnered numerous awards and nominations around the world, including The Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards. This is mostly due to the fierce and sensitive powerhouse performance by Daniela Vega as Marina Vidal. She dominates the film with a truly amazing portrayal of love, loss and discovery that will stay with you after the credits roll.

Marina is a night club singer in the evening and a waitress during the day. She is involved with Orlando (Francisco Reyes), who is about 30 years older. But they are totally enamored with each other and she just moved in with him. For her birthday, he promised her to take her on a trip to Iguazu Falls, but he may have left the tickets at the sauna. The beginning of the film embraces their free and non-judgmental relationship. After a night of celebrating, Orlando wakes up in the night saying he doesn't feel well before collapsing. Marina rushes him to the hospital but he doesn't make it. The doctors question her about her status to Orlando. Is she family? Is she his partner? Is her name a nickname? She calls Orlando's brother Gabo (Luis Gnecco) who tells her he will take care of everything. It would be awkward for the family if she is involved. Grief stricken she runs from the hospital only to have the police drag her back. Apparently they have some questions since Orlando was covered in bruises (he fell down the stairs). They demand her ID, and ask why she wants to be called Marina. A detective who specializes in sexual abuse contacts her wondering if there was something going on. She forces Marina to have a physical exam to check for anything untoward, but it's only humiliating. On top of all this, Orlando's ex-wife calls and wants Marina to drop off Orlando's car at her office. Meeting for the first time, Sonia (Aline Küppenheim), in a typical passive/aggressive move, understands her grief, and tells her don't worry about moving out of his apartment right away. Then tells her she cannot attend the wake or funeral because how it would look to their young daughter. Orlando's older son, Bruno (Nicolás Saavedra), makes it clear to Marina that she has to vacate ASAP and she can't keep Orlando's dog, that he had given her.

Rutter-less, Marina, goes to work in a fog. Orlando's family treats her like a freak. She is not allowed to mourn the loss of her lover, the one person who treated her like a human being. She tries to go to the funeral service, but is kicked out. She moves in with her sister and husband, who try to encourage Marina to let it go. Move on with life. But Marina needs closure. She finds the cemetery, and confronts the family by jumping on their car demanding them to return the dog. In the wake of Orlando's death, Marina struggles and endures the prejudice, and the resistance of being accepted in Chilean society. She turns to her mentor, her singing teacher, who encourages her to find her voice again.

It's truly about time that trans characters are played by actual trans actors. They should no longer be regulated to be sidekicks, secondary background, and the butt of jokes. The story makes one assess your attitude of a person's gender identity. The challenges that Marina faces are universal whether it be race, gender, or religion. In the end, you can only find strength in oneself, then ideally love and acceptance will follow.
(Review by reesa)

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Feb 18 - Feb 24

We actually have a few screenings this week. As usual they are crowded into one night. But it looks like it's going to be raining all week. Y'all keep safe out there.

Just a note to all our Facebook group members. If you add your friends to the group, please make sure they live in the DFW area, and they WANT to be added. If they don't live around here, then why would they want to get messages of screenings here?

If you have any info about screenings not listed here. Please share with the group. If you are too shy to post, just email me and I'll share. But really, I can't tell the players without the program. Appreciate it.

Feb 18 - Feb 24

Tues - Feb 20

Game Night - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Love, Simon - 7:00 pm - Cinemark West

Wed - Feb 21

Every Day - 5:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Annihilation - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark
Annihilation - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17
Game Night - 7:30 pm - Studio Movie Grill Northwest Hwy

Thu - Feb 22

Red Sparrow - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark

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The Female Brain

This excellent comedy with a touch of drama follows the life of Julia, a neurologist who seeks to prove that women are just as good as men in the brain. She does this by tackling the flaws perceived of women by society. The story begins with her continuous efforts to prove that men and women basically have all of the same starting components in their brain.

We see her as scared of love and we also see a few other couples as they are navigating their relationships. The film had some strong points of hilarity within the couples’ interactions. In one scene, one of the couples, Lisa and Steven, ingest Molly which has them subsequently behaving in extremely strange fashions in front of their child. Another scene is when Blake Griffin’s character, Greg, walks in on his wife masturbating to porn.

The film definitely walked the line well with its mix of comedy and serious notes. It did a brilliant job in illustrating how Julia’s obsession with the brain rendered her almost incapable of just being in a normal loving relationship. There were several fantastic performances by James Marsden, Whitney Cummings, Cecily Strong, the aforementioned Blake Griffin, Sofia Vergara and many others.

Whitney Cummings co-wrote and directed the film. She did an incredible job by bringing a feel good comedy that wasn’t fluffy as to ignore reality. In probably the most melancholy scene, Cecily Strong’s character, Zoe, has just quit her job and has to ask her husband, Greg, for starting capital for a business. We see that she is a strong woman against the discrimination of her sex and that her previous boss infused her work with discrimination. That was a good piece of the script that made one feel empathy for Zoe and a sense of sadness that she had to do what she did.

Julia develops a love interest with Jimmy, a participant in her neurological study, as she constantly combats his natural feeling of loving her. This relationship is basically the turning point for her. The way the script was written in relation to this connection was well executed to point out Julia’s flaws. How her passion and career overcame her ability to just feel loved was well illustrated.

Cummings brilliantly communicated for her role a sense of orderliness and constant focus. She transferred the message of her character being so straightforward that it was constricting her perfectly. This was a highly enjoyable film that consisted of a myriad of superb performances in a story of how complicated love and the brain is.
(Review by Wyatt Head)

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Black Panther

“Marvel Studios Black Panther”

Despite all the shortcomings and nuances, Marvel Studios “Black Panther,” like the myriad of other Marvel based superhero tales is a full-on otigin story to the title character who lives in the fictional country of Wakanda, a third world country that has tech and assets beyond its means. America was first introduced to this character and persona in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.”

Like the colorful “Thor: Ragnarok,” the studios have finally realized this stuff is mainly geared for the kids, since the humor and sarcasm are geared for the audience its meant for. Gone are the days of brooding characters with endless back stories filled with stifling tales galore. Instead, director Ryan Coogler fashions a tale that is equal parts fun thrill ride coupled with a minor dose of straight emjoyment and fun banter galore.

This tale finds T’Challa aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returning to his home of the fictional Wakanda after the death of his father. Involved in his life are his mom, Ramona (Angela Bassett), his uncle Zuri (Forest Whitaker), sister Nakia
Top 50(Lupita Nyong'o), as well as American colleagues in Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), who works for the FBI and villain Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis).

I like what Marvel has done with their product. Gone are the days of so-so flicks being produced just for the sake of retaining the rights to said properties. It all changed with Jon Favreau’s
“Iron Man” in 2008. But that is another story altogether.

With “Black Panther,” Coogler has crafted a fun thrill ride that should appeal to all the masses. Be warned that it clocks in slightly over two hours, actually 2 hrs. 14 min., but one will not notice it since they are having such a good time.

Grade: A-

(Review By Ricky Miller)

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Black Panther

Director: Ryan Coogler Studio: Marvel Studios

Hands down to “Black Panther”

I’m having some “What are you up to?” thoughts for this film when it comes to superhero films and comic-to-life adaptations.

Marvel’s eighteenth film is entering the worlds and the minds of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Gives a highly-anticipating, yet expensive look on the face to see Cooley and Chadwick Boseman working together to create this awesome scenery after Chadwick’s minor role in “Captain America: Civil War.” The cast and Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios and a man with great visionary to MCU films, done an outstanding job on keeping the Marvel superheroes and families easily energetic to the audiences.

The movie itself is extremely (and expensively) important on what was happening to the focus on the black lead character and the supporting characters. Every Marvel film, except for Iron Man 2, which I gave this film a D, all started out with a nice, soft tone for the character, the setting, detailed-backgrounds, and the action-packed performances. It was a smart move just like Iron Man and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange. Also, extra credit for the Easter eggs from previous Marvel media (a similar manner from Pixar films) and Stan Lee’s cameo, which made him big extra bucks.

The cast is easily-compared to the cast from Pixar’s Coco when Lee Unkrich have found the majority of the cast to be Latino/Mexican, which was the similar ingredient to Black Panther, using African Americans on a high-budget production. Disney always keeps the tradition of diversity films and score composing. The score and music background was a same stunt gig from Michael Giacchino (Coco) and Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther). My experiences for the score and the future diverse-films is somewhat problematic, but of course, easily overwhelming with excitement. Comic book writers, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, created this non-white hero that would lead this character making an impact on shining the light on the characters’ eyes of Marvel Comics like Captain America, Iron Man, and Hulk.

The movie is a better [and suitable] choice for a February movie outing. This goes for Valentine’s Day, Black History Month, Lunar New Year, and people’s birthdays on February. I highly recommend this as an historic address to Black History Month. Of course, you minus will wait for a DVD release as take-home for your family. If you planning on seeing this film, then go straight to the movie theater rather than going out to dinner nor watch the Olympics (if you have time though). “Black Panther” is considered a Valentine’s Day treat for you. So, always save room for dessert and if you don’t like this film, don’t hesitate to ask.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Feb 11 - Feb 17

Well the big movie of the season is this week. Passes will appear and disappear just as quickly. Please be patient. There may be some last minute postings by sponsors. Don't flood the list with requests just yet.

At least the Olympics are on this week. And there's Valentine's Day.

Feb 11 - Feb 17

Mon - Feb 12

Black Panther - 7:00 pm - Cinemark 17

Tue - Feb 13

Every Day - 7:00 pm - Cinemark West
Black Panther - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark
Black Panther - 7:30 pm - AMC Grapevine

Wed - Feb 14

Midnight Sun - 6:00 pm - Cinemark Grapevine.

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Feb 4 - Feb 10

Wow, what a Super Bowl game. But now we get back to normal, that is until the Oscars which is March 4. Looks like a few interesting features are heading our way, but it seems few and far between. Then before you know it, it's time for the Dallas International Film Festival. You may start thinking of volunteering this year, if you have not before.

Just a note, if you sign up your friends to our Facebook page, please make sure they want to be included beforehand. AND they live the DFW area.

As usual, the studios have decided to compete for us promo audiences by having all the movies one day. Choose wisely.

Feb 4 - Feb 10

Wed - Feb 7

The 15:28 to Paris - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas
Game Night - 7:00 pm - AMC Stonebriar and AMC Mesquite
Fifty Shades of Freed - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17 and Angelika Dallas
La Boda de Valentana - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17

Sat - Feb 10

Early Man - 10:30 am - AMC Northpark

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Insult

**** (out of ****)

In The Insult, a religious and geopolitical conflict is examined on a microcosmic scale: A Christian of Lebanese descent and a Palestinian Muslim enter into a heated battle of egos that spider-webs into an event whose stakes are far greater than any one participant in an argument. Through careful observation of human and behavioral impulses, screenwriters Ziad Doueiri (who also directed) and Joelle Touma have crafted a cautionary and urgent fable about the biases, both unconscious and learned, that drive all of us and how violence trickles up through the roots of those biases to cultivate and grow. Eventually, the dividing lines are drawn, and no matter how we try, we cannot escape our shared histories.

The argument starts simply enough, as most arguments do: Tony (Adel Karam), the Christian, is watering the plants that reside on his outside porch, which exists about a floor above ground level. The water splashes through the broken drain, at times onto the people who might walk underneath his porch. It’s an easy thing to do, too, as that side of his apartment building faces a sidewalk that divides the residences in half. Obviously, it would be up to Tony to have the drain fixed, but stubbornness and, perhaps, more than a bit of pride have factored into the decision not to fix it. If it comes to that, in any case, he’ll do it himself. He won’t have an unknown man in his house alone with his pregnant wife, Shirine (Rita Hayek).

The reality of the water splashing from above is exactly what causes Tony to cross paths with Yasser (Kamel El Basha), the Muslim. He is a handyman for such occasions as fixing a broken drain, and when he notices the problem, he offers to fix it. Tony, of course, refuses. Yasser, still wanting to remain cordial but also remind Tony of the local safety codes, fixes the drain anyway. Tony, with his pride in full view of everyone, callously destroys the newly repaired drain as a way of flaunting his disdain for Yasser and everything for which he assumes Yasser stands. Yasser’s response is to use a compound vulgarity (one part of which is a seven-letter adjective that acts as a redundant modifier for the noun of the phrase, which is one of the three stand-ins for male genitalia), for which Tony demands an apology.

Yasser, who himself has a bit of the old pride in him, takes a long time to work up to feeling apologetic. It’s understandable, too: He performed a service for Tony, and even if the other party did not consent to the service, it seems unworthy of the destruction of property. When it finally seems ready to occur, Tony returns the vulgarity with a different kind (the invocation of tyrannical violence from a specific source), which turns the situation into a physical one. A legal situation develops, with lawyers (played by Camille Salameh and Diamand Bou Abboud) hired to defend and prosecute, respectively.

Revelations, some expected and others enough to bowl over viewers, occur during the litigation of the event. Neither has been totally forthcoming about their shared, relative experiences with Christians and Muslims. Shirine’s pregnancy is put into jeopardy by the stress of the events. The lawyers are connected in an unanticipated way, entering their own battle of wits informed by longstanding insecurities. The legal question becomes two-sided: The argument should not have turned physical, as that is a literal assault, but Tony’s comment regarding the wish for genocide is an assault of a different kind. The answers in The Insult do not come easily, and Doueiri never has delusions of subtlety regarding this material. The nuance in its arguments remains, though, and through expert filmmaking and superb performances, the film fights the good fight.
(Review by Joel Copling)

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Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Reel Time with Joel and Chase

A Solid Romance that is Equally Charming and Heartbreaking. Jamie Bell and Annette Bening Make for a Great Duo.

Title: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Rating: R for Language, Some Sexual Content and Brief Nudity
Run Time: Ihr & 45min

Joel’s Review
*** (out of ****)

The young man with promise has his entire career ahead of him. The aging star has seen her spotlight readjust elsewhere upon the younger stars of the man’s newer generation. By the end of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, the title surely has adopted philosophical and psychological qualities atop its literal one. Neither party in this eventual romance ever expected to be involved romantically with the other. Each found himself or herself in a place of emotional vulnerability that the other strengthened in some way. For the young man, it was a maturity beyond his years that proved formative. For the older woman, it was a newfound attention that she had lacked in others for years.

For a while, Matt Greenhalgh’s screenplay (adapted from the memoir by Peter Turner) spends a lot of energy on the will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic that seems to be cultivated in a lot of such romantic melodramas. The fact that this story is at least based on a true one (to what degree would need to be discovered by further research than merely watching this movie) obviously doesn’t change that fact. Real life is real life, and cinema that aspires to reflect it directly is, to almost any degree, an exaggeration of it that involves a specific perspective. The telling of the story from either perspective will certainly color the story in some way that the reality of it is a bit warped.

Greenhalgh does a fascinating thing with one’s concept of perspective here, and it means that the frustration of the film’s melodramatic elements is decisively squelched at precisely the moment it counts. Until then, the story follows Peter Turner (Jamie Bell), the young stage actor with some talent but also a struggle for his “big break,” and Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening), a troubled startlet despite a surprise Academy Award victory some years ago. They meet and fall quickly into a physical attraction that becomes something more.

The drama oscillates between their families’ responses to the romance in the past (particularly given his naivete in such matters and her past proclivities involving romances with younger men) and Gloria’s declining health in the present. The back-and-forth energy between Peter and Gloria grows tiresome, but then the film clues us in when it shifts from Peter’s perspective of certain events to Gloria’s. That transforms Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool from a romantic melodrama to a melancholic meditation on mortality that ultimately delivers.
(Review by Joel Copling)

Chase’s Review

(Review by Chase Lee)

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