The Dallas Movie Screening Group

This is the homepage of the Dallas Movie Screening Group. To join our mailing list you must sign up at our group page on Yahoo. You will then be connected to receive notices on how to find passes to the local screenings in the DFW area. It's up to you to pickup or sign up for passes. You can also barter, trade or just giveaway passes you don't want, need or share with other members of the group. Please read the instructions on the Yahoo page very carefully before posting. This group is closely moderated so that your mail box is not full of spam or other unnecessary mail. We appreciate everyone's consideration and cooperation.

You can use this homepage for posting comments, reviews, and other things that cannot be posted to the group. Of course spam is not allowed. Thanks!

To join the Dallas Movie Screening Yahoo Group:
dallasmoviescreenings-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Reesa's Reviews can also be found at:
http://www.moviegeekfeed.com

Logo art by Steve Cruz http://www.mfagallery.com

Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ready Player One





Director: Steven Spielberg Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Ready Player One” takes it all!

Trouble in paradise when you have second thoughts about this film. Well, my point is you should take a ride to the see the big screen.

This film marks the return of Director Steven Spielberg who, after helming 2017’s The Post, creates an over-the-top, anticipating film of the decade and serve as a grabber from the book, Ready Player One, written by Ernest Cline. What better ways to make a very hard science-fiction film the greatest film in history (I would say this film is the best Spielberg-directing film since Jurassic Park, produced in 1993). Nothing could ever punch that film with awesome balance compared to Indiana Jones series, Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds, The Adventures of Tintin, and his executively-produced film, Back to The Future. Spielberg gave a fast-track offering to adult and teenage audiences that would get their eyes peeled for memories from the 1980s and 1990s.

The film, inspired from the book, have gone so many levels that trails upon the crossover worlds of pop culture (this is like 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit style, but in the virtual reality) and the plot as an advantage for science-fiction genres. The stunning background, the characters, the Easter eggs, some special effects, and the direction are nicely done for the film’s performance. Temple Run games and James Cameron’s Avatar heavily influence the film’s background. As a moviegoer, I was heavily intrigued by the usages of pop culture and inside jokes as these things flew over my head to study what values this film have brought up in decades. Due to extensive use of pop culture, Ready Player One tops their priorities just like Marvel films (Stan Lee’s cameos), Pixar films (A113, Pizza Planet truck, Pixar ball, and John Ratzenberger), and other films (take Wreck-It Ralph for example). Believe me, I seen every films Marvel and Pixar have done in the past and present.

The entire cast did a bang-up job on their adventurous roles. This includes Texas-born actor Tye Sheridan, playing his avatar Parzival, and Olivia Cooke who served as the main attention getters of this film while Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance served as supporting characters. Mark Rylance recently collaborated with Spielberg in The Bridge of Spies, for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and Disney’s The BFG.

The music is well done and is composed by Alan Silvestri, who rarely worked with Spielberg. Spielberg collaborated with John Williams on most of his movies, but for this film, he made a different choice to choose Silvestri, who famously worked on The Avengers films and Robert Zemekis films (includes Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). Reason number one was I mistook William’s scoring somewhat (my percentage for this is 15 percent).

However, I was a bit annoyed when the film overused a little too much special effects and not providing the good, thoughtful character development. It was a shame that actors could not keep up with their parts seriously under Spielberg’s direction. Every actor has to have a solid head start before taking over the course of action. My main answer is that action sequences are the main roots to digest throughout the film instead creating ideas for character development. Looks like Spielberg need to fill the gas in the car (or the DeLorean) before something bad happens.

For my experiences, this film is like going to comic conventions (or Comic Con for short) and anime conventions where many people and fans cosplay their favorite characters from any fictional shows, movies, and other media that brings the 1980s or 1990s fashion to public’s presence. I only went there just to meet-and-greet celebrities in town. I’m not a party-pooper for cosplaying, but as a film critic or press, I took my role seriously. The rail tracks have switched!

Anyways, this is a pretty good film, though not topping over Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones, as the film brought some interesting viewpoints to the style and the parodies from other films you have enjoyed the most. I have a feeling this film can be considered the best films of 2018. Kids, however, would have some disagreements on this but for teens; they just simply run into the movie theater and watch this bad boy. Think about “Out with the Old, In with the New” meaning, you can watch this to reimagine your memories from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. For any films to watch, avoid the choices: A Wrinkle in Time, Pacific Rim Uprising, and Peter Rabbit. Although, you need to save your money (and energy) for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War coming up in a month. To make this a fair game, I highly recommend watching this twice and wait for the DVD release.

If can’t decide on this film, take my words “Old is the new new!” Running time: 140 minutes

Grade: B+
(Review by Henry Pham)




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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ready Player One






I hate to admit it, but I know I am a geek. The new Steven Spielberg movie “Ready Player One,” based on the fiction novel by writer Ernest Cline was tailor made for me.

Pop culture references run abound in this well-crafted flick. What was really cool was seeing our hero, Percevil (Tye Sheridan) make an avatar that references the character of Buckaroo Banzai, a character Peter Weller played in 1994’s “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.” It is significant because it had Weller, John Lithgow and Jeff Goldblum (who worked on Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” and its sequel “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”).

Even further claim to my geek dome is the fact I was a member of The Blue Blaze Irregulars, the official fan club of all things Team Buckaroo.

I am such a dork that I remember going to comic book conventions when I was a kid in the 1980s. These were not star driven events, rather more subdued places where one just purchased comic books and magazines covering everything and anything for the comic book world.

This movie also finds Spielberg re-teaming with actor Mark Rylance, who was in his Oscar-winning “Bridge of Spies,” “The BFG” and more recently in Christopher Nolan’s multiple Oscar-winning “Dunkirk.”

The plot for “Ready Player One” concerns the ability the winner possesses to get the three keys to inherit Halliday’s ’s stake in the Oasis, the virtual world present in the “Ready Player One” worth an inordinate sum of money.

The list of other inside jokes is ludicrous, including a nod to Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining” wherein even the writer of the book it is based on did not even like Kubrick’s interpretation of his acclaimed novel.

Also present are nods to friend and colleague Robert Zemeckis, when a Rubik’s cube is now a Zemeckis’s cube. And in a rare departure for Spielberg, his composer for “Ready Player One” is composer Alan Silverstri, who provided the score on Zemeckis’s “Back to the Future” trilogy. I only bring this up, because for years Spielberg has worked exclusively with John Williams for most of his movies.

Also present in the script are various nods to everything based in the past 50-plus years, including nods to “Saturday Night Fever,” games for the Atari 2600, a reference to Rosebud from 1941’s Orson Welles masterpiece “Citizen Kane” a “Ladyhawke” poster, various references to John Hughes’ movies, as well as “The Beastmaster,” an actual “Iron Giant,” (actor Vin Diesel was in Spielberg’s Oscar-winning “Saving Private Ryan”), the holy hand grenade from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”), Chucky from “Child’s Play,” wherein the characters just exclaim mother bleeping’ “Chucky” and a little poster for “Joust,” a 1980’s era video game.

Like 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” imagination is the key to remembering one’s childhood, as well as the luxury of just sitting down and playing a video game. That is what the movie deals with. One’s ability to just sit down and interact with the small screen in front of them.

The supporting cast all have fun with their roles and parts. This includes Olivia Cooke, sporting a birthmark on her face as both Artamis (her avatar character) and Samantha, who aids Tyler Sheridan’s Wade Watts on his journey. The pair share great onscreen chemistry together

Like I said earlier in my review, this one was totally geared for my love of everything pop culture based in my life. I enjoyed “Ready Player One” from the first frame, resulting in one of the best movies I have seen all year.

Grade: A
(Review by Ricky Miller)





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Monday, March 26, 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising






This is what it is all about. Giant robots punching giant monsters in the face. Is it silly? Of course, but that is the whole point that makes it a whole lot of fun.

The rundown is kaiju; (subterranean monsters from beneath the ocean floor) wreak havoc on the entire globe. So, in turn, the governments of the world create jaegers (giant robots) to combat these adversaries. It is, for all intents and purposes, just a silly time waster worth the investment for sheer escapism. I gave the original one a grade of a B- when I saw it in 2013.

These machines also take into count these monsters have acid-spilling blood, so their equipment is used to cauterize any said wounds.

Members of the original cast return, but in slight variations and alterations in the storyline.

Returning are Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Burn Gorman. Kikuchi was one of the individuals handling the jaegers (the giant robots of the story), while Day and Gorman are a pair of associates who have drifted apart through the years.

In the leads are John Boyega (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”). And Scott Eastwood (“Suicide Squad”). The former is an ex-soldier who washed out at some point in time. Boyega’s tie-in is that his character was the son of Idris Elba’s persona from the first film.

The original “Pacific Rim,” released in 2013, was a fun ride and ridiculous yarn engineered by one of my favorite directors in the industry today, Guillermo Del Toro. This was way before he became Oscar-winning director for “The Shape of Water” in 2017.

Del Toro also helmed a pair of my favorites from the past decade with the comic book sequel “Blade II” (2002) as well as the original based-on-a comic “Hellboy” (2004). Of note is they both had an appearance by his go-to actor Ron Perlman. Perlman has appeared in Del Toro’s arsenal of movies, including “Cronos,” (1993), the aforementioned “Blade II,” (2002), “Hellboy” and its sequel, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008).

I have a predicament to bring up because it looks like “Stranger Things” star David Harbour looks to take the reins from Perlman in an all-new incarnation of the “Hellboy” persona. I think Harbour, better known as Sheriff Jim Hopper on NetFlix’s “Stranger Things” will bring an all-new ideology to the character.

The plot twists are woven into the storyline to just the right degree. Some are a bit too obvious, but one knows that are not going into this flick to watch Shakespeare or anything too dramatic.

What I have to say is this is a must see at the theatre. Forget watching it on your computer at home, because this one is a must at the theatre for an all-immersive experience. The soundtrack also adds to the heightened delight of seeing this in the theatre.

Just so the reader knows, I saw this on the giant IMAX screen at the AMC Northpark here in the Dallas area.

A fun flick that delivers in every single department, “Pacific Rim: Uprising”” is worth the surcharge of the theater experience.

Grade: C+

(Review by Ricky Miller)




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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Mar 25 - Mar 31



Last week of March. Sure went fast. They are predicting 100% chance of rain Tuesday. So please drive safely. Earth Day is coming up next month. You may want to consider volunteering for it. https://earthx.org/volunteer/ We all have to support the natural world around us as our government protections are being woefully eliminated in favor of corporate greed. Keeping this planet clean and safe for future generations is no small thing. We've seen many apocalyptic cinematic scenarios to know that it can't end well.


Mar 25 - Mar 31

Mon - Mar 26

Isle of Dogs - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas

Tue - Mar 27

Ready Player One - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas

Thu - Mar 29

The Miracle Season - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas





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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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Flower




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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Gringo






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.

GRADE: B-

(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 ---> http://www.gofobo.com/tTyCO99297


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





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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