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 http://www.mfagallery.com

Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Unstoppable





The debut of director/writer Kim Min-ho is a crime drama starring the formidable Don Lee aka Ma Dong-Seok (Train to Busan, Champion) and popular actress Song Ji-Hyo (A Frozen Flower) in a nonstop romp involving King Crabs, crime syndicates, human trafficking, friendship, and love. The Korean literal title is Angry Bull and Don Lee embodies that image and woe to those who cross his path.

Dong-Chul (Don Lee) and his partner Choon-Sik work various jobs like delivering fish at the fish market. Dong-Chul used to be a gangster but since marrying Ji-Soo (Song Ji-Hyo) he's been walking a straight path. Even though he's prone to getting involved in quick rich schemes like selling hot buns in Africa. Some former friends tell him that he can make huge money in investing in a ship load of King Crabs coming from China. He tries to keep it from his wife because she will freak out when she learns how much he put in on the crabs. Meanwhile some gangsters beat up someone for not paying on his loan, then take his daughter in lieu. On the way back from their kidnapping they run into the back of Dong-Chul's car. The gangsters are acting fishy, and Ji-Soo goes out and adds her two cents. The boss Ki-Tae (Kim Sung-Oh) compliments Dong-Chul on his pretty wife. He beats up his driver and makes him apologize. Then later he breaks into their house and kidnaps Ji-Soo.

Dong-Chul goes to the cops, but they don't have much to go on. At the police station he sees a wall filled with young women who have recently disappeared. Later he gets a call from Ki-Tae who tells him to meet him a restaurant. When Dong-Chul is seated at a table that has a suitcase on a chair and a phone. After waiting an hour with food delivered, the phone rings and Ki-Tae tells him the bag of money is in payment for his wife. It's been Ki-Tae's perverse perspective that most people eagerly take the money. Instead, Dong=Chul takes the suitcase to the cops, who make him feel guilty for walking out with the cash. He goes to the crab investors wanting his money, but they said the crabs got seized by the Chinese and they have no idea on how long they will have to wait. Then we finally experience the rage of the bull.

Enlisting the help of a private detective the smarmy master of disguise Gomsagang (Kim Min-Jae), they are able to track down the license plate of a vehicle used in the kidnapping. But the plate was sold by the head of a secret gambling house that deals in nefarious transactions. Eventually they manage to get the information they need thanks to the "Bull". Ki-Tae tells him that he wants his money back and he will give him his wife. The bag of course is at the police station.

Don Lee is very engaging as the ex-gangster who is totally in love with his wife. He really wants to do the best thing, but life is tough and the police and business guys just disappoint. He takes action on his own and the righteous justice that he serves is satisfying. His two sidekicks offer the comic relief at the well meaning by totally inept attempts in help out. Song Ji-Hyo gives her character some grit and backbone worthy of being the wife of a ex-gangster. Kim Sung-Oh is so deliciously over the top wickedly crazy. This is definitely worth the popcorn.
(Review by reesa)

Unstoppable opens November 30 at AMC Grapevine Mills 30 and Bluebonnet Cinema



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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald




I like it when sequels can continue with the same story without forgetting why people enjoyed the first one so much. That is why I relished every moment of the all-new “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald,” a follow-up to the 2016 release I gave the coveted A+ to in my original review.

The story picks up a couple of years later, following the events of the original story, wherein even after a love potion spell was put on baker Dan Fogler’s Jacob Kowalski, he awakens with the exact same feelings and sentiments as before. They were orchestrated by Alison Sudol’s Queenie persona to ensure their compatibility as a couple. The pair enjoy each other’s company , but he cannot be with her because he is considered a “No Mag,” which also means a real life relationship is out of the question.

The story in “Crimes of Grindlewald” focuses on Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander facing off against Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald. Scamander does not usually get involved in matters and dilemmas, since he prefers to be more of the observer type who stays out of the way and avoids predicaments that occur in life.

Jude Law’s Albus Dumbledore plans for him with the duo, since he cannot interfere with their quarrel. It is an unwritten rule and dilemma since Dumbledore cannot have a hands on association with this so-called situation.

Also involved in this tale is Newt’s relationship with Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). The pair shared a great on-screen chemistry that still sizzles in this one as well.

Director David Yates returns with “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” for yet another well-shot made for the big screen tale that looks simply amazing on the IMAX screen. Like the last chapter, Oscar-winning cinematographer Philippe Rousselot also returns as cinematographer. He won an Oscar for shooting director Robert Redford’s familial slice-of-life fly fishing tale “A River Runs Through It” in 1992.

Those who know of the Harry Potter universe will feel right at home here, since it makes direct references to some of the past characters and identities. One actually sees the vistas of Hogwart’s Academy throughout this fun and involving flick.

As far as modern sequels go, I would actually put this one closer to the top. To me, anytime anything happens of significance in the fantasy genre, filmmakers have to bring their best foot forward and create something of notoriety or significance.

The one that I did enjoy was Guillermo Del Toro’s “Blade II” from 2002. It perfectly blended the bloodsucker lore from the comic book and implemented it into the modern day world of modern day Los Angeles. Another one was Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” with robots punching giant monsters in the face.

Next up is something I have waited a long time for, a follow up to Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal,” a fantasy tale sans real life performers.

I respected and admired what Yates did with the material here and look forward to seeing what he and writer J.K. Rowling can bring to future chapters in these tales.

Grade: A-
(Review by Ricky Miller)



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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Nov 25 to Dec 1


Hope everyone had a good holiday and survived the shopping madness. Not too many movies so far this week and the upcoming month as we slide into December. Just remember that parking will be very difficult especially at Northpark.


And as always if something is missing from this schedule, please let us know and the source of the passes. Thank you!


November 25 to December 1

Monday Nov 26

EarthX's Bear Trek - 7:00 pm - Cinepolis Victory Square

Tuesday Nov 27

Favourite - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas

Saturday - Dec 1

Spider Man Into the Spider Verse - 5:00 pm - AMC Northpark.






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Friday, November 23, 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet



Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, and Alfred Molina.

Director: Rich Moore and Phil Johnston Studio: Disney

Ralph Breaks the Internet adds a whole lot of laughs and references in the film!

As far as sequels go, Ralph Breaks the Internet knocks out of the arcade with glee and laughter. The film marks the 57th film from Walt Disney Animation Studios after two years.Ralph Breaks the Internet is the first Disney animated sequel since 1990 to be released based on the original film. Directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston bring another adventure-filled video-game film that will take the audience on the trip to another world of pop culture.

In the film, I get to see the titular character Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) return as their main roles in the sequel. The supporting cast of Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, and Ed O’Neill also return. Other than the returning cast, new actors are included as well.

The main actor who steals the show is Wonder Women star Gal Gadot who voices Shank, the racer of her game Slaughter Race. The other two new actors appear in the film: Taraji P. Henson plays the role as Yesss and Alfred Molina voices Double Dan.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is a great film with diversity actors and numerous plotlines. With the direction coming from Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, the story and the animation is well done. The music from composer Henry Jackman is outstanding.

What I found very amusing and funnier throughout the film is a big bucket of Disney pop culture that includes Disney Princesses, Pixar films, Star Wars, and the Marvel superheroes to make the film more entertaining just like the first film. The notion of Disney pop culture really gathers the audience’s attention, especially children. To top it all off, a cameo from comic-book writer Stan Lee is shown which gives the film bonus points.

Compared to 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the directors have done a similar job of obtaining the rights from several studios and artists who created such beloved characters in Ralph Breaks the Internet. However, the usage of Internet culture, including Google and YouTube, isn’t the best idea for the film’s structure and the film did not include the famous videogame character, Mario, as promised.

As I aforementioned, Ralph Breaks the Internet is exciting, surprising, and worth the watch as a Thanksgiving treat. It’s great to see the characters back on the big screen from any Disney properties. I have no complaints on the film regardless of the massive use of pop culture. Ralph Breaks the Internet is a fun-filled 112-minute adventure that will take you out of this world.

Just the readers know, the film marks the passing of the legendary Stan Lee on November 12, 2018 as well as the 90th Anniversary of the creation of Mickey Mouse. Ralph Breaks the Internet will be released on November 21st, 2018.



GRADE: A
(Review by Henry Pham)


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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Green Book






Joel’s Review

*** (out of ****)

Something under the hood of the car has given up, and the two men must pull off to the side of the road so that the driver can fix it. The passenger steps out, too, after a particularly long stretch of road, and to the car’s left is a field, full of workers harvesting crops. The passenger’s realization is immediate, but he takes in the scene, just as we do: The field is a plantation, and the workers are black. The passenger, a concert pianist being driven along his tour route, is black, too. His driver is white, and the part-bemused, part-baffled looks from the workers when they see this arrangement in the middle of their labor say it all.

This is the key moment in Green Book, a dramatization of the time a black concert pianist was transported between tour venues by a white jazz-club bouncer, and it says more about the film’s priorities than any moment of realization made by the white half of this pairing. For the black man, it is a realization of the privilege he has on account of living in the North, to have amassed a fair amount of wealth, and to have been given enough respect in the Tri-State area to interview white men for the driving job. This is still the Deep South in the early 1960s, he is still black, and that fact still comes with certain complications.

The pianist is Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali), and the driver, who acts as the chief protagonist in this story, is Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen). The arrangement is made after Frank’s club is shut down for “maintenance” reasons (It’s actually because of a rowdy patron whom the bouncer ejects, then punches a few too many times to send a message). Frank is to drive Shirley through the Deep South, using a book to stop at the various hotels and motels, where folks of color must stay segregated from white visitors. Of course, the casually racist Frank will inevitably learn from and come to respect his boss.

This is not a subtle film, of course, but these were not subtle times. We learn a little about the men otherwise – Shirley has an estranged brother whom he has not seen in years, and Frank has a wife (played by Linda Cardellini) and two sons (one of whom, Nick Vallelonga, co-wrote the screenplay with Brian Hayes Currie and director Peter Farrelly) – but the film is mainly a straightforward dramatization of the concert tour, with stops along the way illustrating the deep-seated prejudice met by Shirley, who is beaten by racist thugs in a bar, forbidden to eat among his white audience members at a country club on Christmas evening, and is arrested alongside Frank during a routine traffic stop on the wrong road in the wrong town.

Such experiences also inevitably chip away at Frank’s set-in-his-ways view of the world. Again, this isn’t a subtle. It is, though, a surprisingly compassionate one, particularly because the performances by and chemistry between Mortensen and Ali, both very good here, are so attuned to the complex dynamic between the two men. Their relationship is what anchors and elevates a simple story of racism, pushing back against prejudice, and coming to grasp the small things that widen one’s perspective. Green Book is the very definition of old-fashioned, but it is a surprisingly worthy examination of a formative relationship.
(Review by Joel Copling)

Chase’s Review



(Review by Chase Lee)



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At Eternity's Gate






In At Eternity’s Gate, the new movie about the final years of Vincent Van Gogh’s life, director Julian Schnabel, working from a script he co-wrote with Jean-Claude Carrière and Louise Kugelberg, chooses to go for an unconventional take on the artists’ life. As stated in interviews, instead of focusing on a fact based sequence of events Schnabel decided to give viewers a peak into the creative process through a fictionalized account of the events, though this intention doesn’t come across clearly in the final work.

The film begins with an entirely black screen while Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) speaks. Similar moments of nothing but dialogue are scattered throughout the movie giving breaks to the flow of what little narrative there is on screen or as a segue into the next vignette. It’s as if Schnabel wants to give the audience a chance to hear Van Gogh’s internal dialogue but these moments, instead of leading to the subject in thought or speaking to himself, lead to scenes where characters are in conversation.

In general, odd editorial choices and filming techniques are the storytelling device of choice for this non-biography. The camera starts to feel like its own character as it is used to try to insert the viewer into Van Gogh’s world – whether it’s by way of his point of view, as a part of the conversation, or in an attempt to give insight into his state of mind. An exchange between Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac) toward the beginning is photographed using a handheld camera, veering between the two as if viewers are walking down the street with them. This shaky handheld look is used throughout the movie - Dafoe is even given the camera at times to get shots from Van Gogh’s point of view.

Whenever the handheld conceit isn’t used, other unusual techniques are. There is another sequence where Gauguin and Van Gogh are walking and talking during a break from painting. Throughout the scene, it is edited to new shots at times that seem out of sync with the flow of the conversation and the actor's delivery of the dialogue. Some scenes are shot with a lens that causes the top half of the image to be in focus while the bottom half is not and at one point a fisheye lens is used to film a walk through a field of dead sunflowers. Other scenes look like they are hastily shot in order to quickly capture the actors or objects being photographed. I can see what the director was going for, but it doesn’t work. These techniques that should help connect viewers with this world instead call attention to its unreality and further remove them from the movie. The hasty appearance can be explained as an attempt to mimic Van Gogh’s painting style as suggested by a scene where Gauguin reproaches Van Gogh for painting too quickly.

A lot is done to attempt to show Van Gogh’s mentality, the already mentioned camerawork being only one of the chosen stylistic choices. Scenes are occasionally shot through filters to show his pain and sound is used to show his frustration. At times dialogue is repeated immediately after it is said and sometimes even repeated as it is being spoken by a character. The first usage of this comes after Gauguin tells Van Gogh that he is leaving Arles to emphasize the distress Van Gogh feels about this news. Ultimately, all of these devices serve as nothing more than a distraction rather than enhancing the delivery of the narrative.

The physical introduction of Theo (Rupert Friend) into the story is also poorly handled. After a bad encounter with some school children Van Gogh ends up in the hospital. Theo arrives while he is there recovering and upon entering his hospital room quickly climbs into bed with him, where they lay like lovers. More accurately implying an incestuous relationship since Theo is his brother. Van Gogh’s sexual habits and identity are hardly ever mentioned (besides an earlier scene involving him suddenly offering to do a portrait for a man instead of the woman he was originally speaking to), making this scene even odder.

There is a sequence about halfway through the movie where Van Gogh sits talking with a doctor (Mathieu Amalric). A shot of a gaunt Van Gogh, bandage wrapped around his head to cover his recently cut off ear, sitting in front of a garish yellow wall is followed by a shot of the doctor sitting in front of wood paneling, alternating between the two throughout the scene. The doctor is asking Van Gogh about his decision to cut off his ear and his plans for the severed appendage while Van Gogh, seeming calm and rational despite his actions, gives his reasons. Both men and their surroundings are given a slightly jaundiced look from the sun reflecting off the walls. This is one of the few conventionally handled scenes and one of the few moments where everything clicks together – clearly showing Van Gogh as a tortured individual.

If Schnabel’s intent was to make a movie about the creative process why use such a famous figure as the film’s central focus? Wouldn’t it have been better to instead use a fictional person? To be perfectly honest I was not expecting much from this movie, besides hoping to see an excellent performance from Willem Dafoe, which wasn’t delivered. Dafoe never became Van Gogh on screen in my eyes. Instead, I was all too aware that I was watching someone play a part. As it stands, At Eternity's Gate comes across like some pretentious student's experimental art project.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Green Book







After spending much of his career co-directing alongside his brother Bobby, Peter Farrelly has decided to branch out on his own. The brothers have a few hits, mainly Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, but are mainly known for directing silly, insipid comedies. So the name Farrelly attached to a dramedy about the budding friendship between an Italian-American and a Jamaican-American driving through the 1960s south doesn’t seem like a promising match for this director’s first solo outing.

Tony Vallelonga, aka Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), works as a bouncer for the Copacabana nightclub in New York City. After spending his nights keeping the peace at the club, he heads home to his wife Delores (Linda Cardellini) and their two kids where he spends his days sleeping. One morning, he’s brusquely awakened by a commotion in his den where he finds his family watching TV, keeping his wife company while two African American men fix the plumbing. Although Delores isn’t bothered by this, the rest of the family is. This scene is used to show Tony’s racist tendencies. After the men leave, he throws away the glasses that Delores has given them to drink from (she later finds them and returns them to the sink).

Farrelly spends a good portion of the opening act establishing the characters of Tony and his family before introducing Dr. Don Shirley. They are loud and crass bunch. Tony is shown to be a smooth talker who always manages to get people to do his bidding. In one scene, he pays the coat check girl for a tough guy’s hat so that he can later return it, pretending like he found who stole it, to get on the guy’s good side – even going so far as to refuse his reward money. In spite of all this, Tony and his family are shown to be warm and loving.

With the Copacabana closing for the season, Tony finds himself in need of a new job. Enter Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a Jamaican American pianist planning a tour with his trio in the Deep South. Don is in need of a driver / bodyguard and chooses Tony to accompany him and his cellist, Oleg (Dimiter D. Marinov), and bassist, George (Mike Hatton), on their eight week tour. The record label gives Tony the Green Book, a travel aid listing all of the African-American friendly establishments in the south, to aide him on the journey.

Don is worldly, educated, well composed, well-spoken, and implied to be a bit of an oddball; the exact opposite of Tony. His lavish apartment, adorned by items such as a large pair of tusks, is located above Carnegie Hall. These two unlikely companions find themselves predictably butting heads.

The performances in Green Book are fantastic. Cardellini is great as Tony’s wife, giving a genuine warmth and heart to the character. But the real draws here are Mortensen and Ali. The dynamic between the two leads is one of the main reasons the movie works so well. Mortensen’s crass, short-fused but friendly Tony is perfectly offset by Ali’s controlled and observant Don. It is unfortunate that Ali’s Don feels more like a supporting part unlike Mortensen’s Tony, who is a more fleshed out character, since Don is the more interesting of the two men.

When the two are driving through Kentucky, Tony gets excited about the idea of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken while actually being in Kentucky and stops for a bucket. He soon finds out that Don has never eaten fried chicken and becomes insistent he try a piece. When Don asks what they do with the bone, Tony demonstrates by throwing his out the window. Don soon joins in but is horrified when Tony also throws his drink out the window. Ali’s facial responses as he reacts to Mortensen’s antics are perfect; the look on his face goes from one of enjoyment to stone-faced dismay. You know where this scene is going next but the delivery still leads to a good laugh as Don makes Tony back up to pick up his trash.

The timing and look of Green Book is also excellent. Shots aren’t held for longer than necessary (a common occurrence in a lot of modern movies) and the dialogue has a good rhythm and flow. This is one of the better edited movies to come out this year. The production design is likewise impressive, giving an authentic look to the time period.

Unsurprisingly, given the film’s title, the color green is a recurring sight throughout. Tony steals a green rock from a roadside stop (Don makes him return it but Tony’s got some deft sticky fingers), rooms and buildings are often in shades of green, and even the car the two ride in is a turquoise color. Why is green significant within the movie? The most likely reason - green represents growth, reinforcing the two men’s change of attitude toward each other over the course of the film.

Much like the recent Hidden Figures, Green Book takes a lighter tone with its subject matter instead of the darker tone that would probably be more appropriate. That isn’t to say that Green Book doesn’t take its subject seriously. Writers Nick Vallelonga (Tony’s son), Brian Hayes Currie, and Peter Farrelly manage to swing the tone effectively between the comedic moments and the more serious ones without ever feeling like two different movies are competing for screen time. Some viewers will more than likely find the movie too pat for their tastes, but if the preview audience is any indication, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. While the material might not be anything new, the delivery is top notch.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Creed II





The passing of the torch is a tough thing to watch. On one hand it’s a generation thing, but also a new path for those facing their own struggles and challenges.

What is interesting in “Creed II” is the storyline that starts with the past in having Dolph Lundrgren’s Ivan Drago on the streets of Russia with his son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu). This is a major turning point in the story since his character is just there for a major shift in the overall tone and structure.

Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is now the heavyweight champion of the world. He looks to and still sees Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa as a father figure. After the success of 2015’s “Creed,” you know the studios were clamoring for a follow up. After all, it even acknowledged it by having Stallone Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor. So readers know, he lost to Mark Rylance in Steven Spielberg’s equally amazing spy tale “Bridge of Spies.”

Something I find so amusing is that the Academy does not like Spielberg, except when it just makes them look good. That is why he won Best Director for “Saving Private Ryan,” in a year where “Shakespeare in Love” was cleaning up at the Oscars.

In great supporting turns are Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad. Thompson is with Adonis and is on the verge of hitting it big on the music scene. Rashad is the widow of Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed, who passed away in Stallone’s “Rocky IV,” one of the biggest hits in the 1985 year of American cinema.

Going back to “Creed II,” Russell Hornsby plays a kind of Don King-like promoter who stages the fights and looks to give the boxers their big pay day. If he looks familiar that is because he spent the better part of a decade on the underrated NBC show “Grimm” as Portland cop Hank Griffin.
Also making a very brief appearance is Brigitte Nielsen as Ludmilla Drago, Ivan’s ex and Viktor’s mom. She is no longer with Ivan, rather with someone who just takes care of her and satisfies her own ego and self-worth.

The trouble is that at the end of “Rocky IV,” Drago was looked down upon by the masses as an outright failure and second-class citizen. When his son starts beating other champions, Drago finds a way to be looked at with honor and pride again.

If one looks closely at the credits they will see that Stallone also contributed to the screenplay as well as producing credit along with colleague producers David Winkler, Irwin Winkler, William Chartoff, Charles Winkler and Kevin King Templeton.

Directing credit goes to Steven Caple Jr., who won a couple of Black Reel awards for his 2016 “The Land.” He was also nominated in 2014 for a short film as well. It was titled “A Different Tree.”

“Creed II” knows its pace and limitations, so it never settles into doldrums or a dry spell. There are a few hokey spots, but it comes with the territory.

Grade: B
(Review by Ricky Miller)




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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Nov 18 - Nov 24



Happy Thanksgiving Week Y'all!!!

Only one day of movies, the rest of the week you can play catch up with what you missed. But considering it's going to be a little chilly and busy cooking, cleaning, and Black Friday shopping, you may just want to Netflix it.

Everyone have a safe and thankful holiday week.

November 18 - November 24

Mon - Nov 19

Ralph Breaks the Internet - 7:00 pm - AMC Grapevine, AMC Northpark and the Angelika Dallas
Creed II - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark
Green Book - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas




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Friday, November 16, 2018

Time Trap






The camera rests facing out of a dirty window. Approaching through the grime is a man and his dog. The man wipes the window with his hand and peers inside. It is revealed to be a van, flourished with psychedelic designs, in an overgrown clearing. He rummages around, picks up a few items, seems satisfied, and closes the door. They approach a cave entrance. Inside is a figure walking toward the interior, a gun holstered at the waist. The man has second thoughts about entering and leaves. A No Trespassing sign is visible as he drives off.

The man is Hopper (Andrew Wilson), an archeology professor from an unspecified Texas university searching for some hippies that went missing years before. As he drives back, he phones one of his teaching assistants (TA for short) for help. Arriving back at his home he finds the TA, Jackie (Brianne Howey), waiting outside with his other TA, Taylor (Reiley McClendon). Since his phone call he has decided that he no longer wants help and tells them to stay. He returns to the cave to find the figure still in the entryway. This time he decides to enter. As he walks further into the mouth, a liquidy force field becomes visible and the figure suddenly speeds up and disappears from view.

Cut to a few days later, the TAs have heard nothing from their professor and decide to go searching for him. Since neither has a car appropriate for the road conditions, they call fellow student Cara (Cassidy Gifford), much to Taylor’s discomfort, because she can borrow her father’s Jeep. Cara brings along her thirteen-year-old sister, Veeves (Olivia Draguicevich), who in turn insists on including her friend Furby (Max Wright). The five go off in search of Hopper. Did I mention that they told no one where they were going? Nothing could go wrong here, right? Of course, it does.

Once inside the cave, Taylor, Jackie, Cara, and Veeves (Furby is left above in case anything happens) find themselves stuck after the rope they use to climb down breaks (or was it cut?) leaving them stuck. To make matters worse, the four soon find out that time passes quite differently inside the cave.

Time Trap is a sci-fi movie with a few horror-like elements thrown in. There are others that the group encounters in the cave, the before mentioned man with the gun is only one of the many, who pose a possible threat. This is not an action heavy movie though, instead, it focuses on the dialogue among the leads and the group’s reaction to their predicament – as they first see it – and their plans for escape until they discover they are in over their heads more so than they previously thought.

Co-directors Ben Foster and Mark Dennis (Dennis also wrote the screenplay) keep things simple. The majority of the movie takes place in a few caverns within the cave and some exteriors outside of it with a couple additional locations making up the remainder of the sets. There are some effect heavy sequences, the ending uses quite a bit, but they are handled well and don’t detract from the narrative. Pacing is excellent, though there could have been some trimming during the final 10 or 15 minutes to keep the film’s momentum going. It really is remarkable how intriguing Foster and Dennis manage to make the movie with so little.

Dennis does write himself into a few plot holes. Furby is left above in case they run into trouble below but it’s never clear if he has the car keys or not. In one scene he says he left the radio on all night causing the car to die before saying that he’d been alone for a few days. If he had the keys shouldn’t he have tried to go get help instead of listening to the radio all night? The amount of time actually going by while they are in the cave doesn’t seem to match up with what happens outside (I won’t say more to avoid spoilers but the movie doesn’t seem to follow its own rules). Sound also doesn’t seem to play by the rules. They loudly speak to each other yet none of the other people in the cave come to inspect although they appear to be in chambers close by to where the group initially entered. One of the students is shown using her phone in the cave before finally getting a no signal message. Shouldn’t it have not worked at all? Then the cave is well lit as the actors walk through it. Where is all this light coming from? I guess it could be argued that this was done for cinematic purposes.

Despite its problems, Time Trap is a movie that works. It may not be the most original science fiction movie but it keeps the viewer engaged. At a scant 83 minutes, 87 minutes including credits, the movie is worth the time invested in viewing it.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Widows








(Review by Chase Lee)






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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs




The Coen brothers are known for some quirky and iconic characters in their films. So it is with great anticipation that their newest feature that will be shown on Netflix after a limited theatrical run will offer the same. It premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2018, where it won the Golden Osella Award for Best Screenplay. There are six chapters with different stories and cast. On the streaming service you can view each chapter which stands on their own. As one long feature, it's not quite as engaging and somewhat depressing.

The first chapter is The Ballad of Buster Scrugss with Tim Blake Nelson as the singing gunman. He's forever in a pleasant mood while shooting down folks who want to take him out. James Franco is the lead in the next story Near Algodones who gets accused of a crime and set to hang a couple of times. Liam Neeson and Henry Melling are in a traveling show in Meal Ticket where the limbless artist recites Shakespeare and Lincoln to local towns. All Gold Canyon has Tom Waits as a prospector who comes upon a peaceful valley looking for gold. The Girl That Got Rattled has Zoe Kazan as part of a wagon train who finds love and Indians. Tyne Daly stands out in Mortal Remains in what may be a stage coach to the dark side.

The performances and the stories are all unique in their own ways. Buster Scruggs is the standout of the chapters and despite the body count it's funny and what one would expect from a Coen brothers tale. Near Algodones is full of colorful denizens especially Stephen Root as the bank teller in the middle of nowhere. Meal Ticket gives you the feeling of never ending darkness that gets even darker. The appearance of a prospector in a beautiful valley has all the wild life leaving until their peace is restored. There seems to be a bigger story on the wagon train as the young woman left alone when her brother dies and finds companionship and maybe love with the wagon leader (Bill Heck). The last story has Brendan Gleeson, Jonjo O’Neill as bounty hunters, a Frenchman (Saul Rubinek), a trapper (Chelcie Ross) and Tyne Daly telling tales crammed together on a stage coach. Their final destination seems like a relief.

The landscape of the west is a great pallet for the Coen brothers story telling. Although these six stories are a bit of a downer, it would be interesting to see it expanded to additional chapters.
(Review by reesa)





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Widows





When anyone mentions a heist movie with women it brings up an image of the slick Oceans Eight. But now, the genre will bring Widows to top that field as a well tuned exciting ride directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) written with Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl). Taken from an ITV series from 1983 and 1985 of the same name this film is set in 2008. McQueen juggles the excitement of a heist story with issues of raceism, sexism, police brutality, political shenanigans and interracial marriage with a tight ensemble of actors.

Viola Davis plays Veronica Rawlings who is married to Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson). They seem to have a loving relationship but underneath they are grieving the death of their son who was shot by a cop. Veronica and Harry live a good upscale life so when he dies in a robbery gone wrong she is left adrift. Not really aware or maybe taking a blind eye to what Harry was involved with she finds herself being threatened by Jamal Manning (Bryan Tyree Henry) a politician running for alderman of a South Side precinct, against Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) the son of the incumbent Tome Mulligan (Robert Duvall). Jamal tells her that Harry owes him two million dollars that he stole from him. She has a few weeks to get it back to him.

Veronica finds a notebook left by Harry that lists all his jobs with plans in detail of every operation. There is one still to do that promises a five million dollar payout. She looks up the widows of Harry's crew: Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) who ran a dress shop which she lost after her husband had given it in payment for his debts to gangsters and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) who was abused by her husband and her mother Agnieska (Jacki Weaver). The third widow Amanda (Carrie Coons) does not come to their gathering as she has a new born child so she is not told of Veronica's plans. Since the women are at their financial ends, the promise of million dollars is an incentive. They later bring in Belle (Cynthia Erivo), Linda's babysitter and salon worker, as the driver when the Rawlings driver is killed by Mannings brother and enforcer Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya).

There are so many layers to this story. Each reveal keeps one intrigued. The way the women are challenged from their norms to work together to finding strength in themselves. The women are very real and fierce in their own ways. All of the pieces seem to be out there on their own but it all comes together at the end for a satisfying conclusion. There are surprising twists and turns, gunplay, car chases, and righteous justice. This is one movie that is worth seeing again, even when you know how it ends. It's just THAT good.
(Review by reesa)





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Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald






Director David Yates returns with another movie in J. K. Rowling's Wizarding World, Rowling also returns as the screenwriter for this movie. Yates has directed six of the ten movies released so far starting with 2007’s Order of the Phoenix. It should come as little surprise that, by this point, the director has slid into a groove with these movies. Or perhaps Warner Brothers is taking the Marvel approach and trying to make sure their universe works as a whole and doesn't feel like several completely different movies. Rowling has already stated that the Fantastic Beasts series will consist of five films. Grindelwald feels like part of a work that is still in the set up phases so it should be interesting to see where she takes the story, though viewers already have a general idea of the direction things will go since this is a prequel.

Following the events of the first Fantastic Beasts movie, the titular Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has been locked in prison. While being moved, Grindelwald manages to escape and begins to look for followers and to search for Credence (Ezra Miller). Meanwhile, the Ministry of Magic attempts to convince Newt (Eddie Redmayne) to join his brother, Theseus (Callum Turner), as an Auror. Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists Newt's help in finding Credence in Paris. Tina (Katerine Waterston), already in Paris in search of Credence, is joined by Yusuf (William Nadylam) who is also looking for Credence.

As with the first movie, the acting ensemble is excellent. While no performances here stand-out, there are none that stick out like someone is trying to steal the show though some of the characters are still more appealing and interesting than others. The relationship between Alison Sudol’s Queenie and Dan Fogler’s Jacob, whose unexpected visit to Newt leads to them being caught up in the events of this movie, still seems to resonant best amongst the cast. The two actors have good chemistry, giving their on-screen relationship an honest and realistic feel. Redmayne does well at portraying a man who is humble, a bit shy, and lovesick, still pining for Tina who thinks he is engaged to another woman - Leta Lestrange played by Zoe Kravitz.

The Crimes of Grindelwald, like most fantasy movies, heavily relies on CGI to tell its story and like most other fantasy movies some of these elements work and others do not. As in the first Fantastic Beasts movie and the Harry Potter series, there are multiple magical creatures that appear on the screen. Several of the creatures really do look fantastic in this movie - the best looking to me is a lion / Chinese dragon. Then there are those that have not been well integrated into their surroundings and call attention to the fact that the actors are not actually interacting with them - some cat like creatures that show up later in the movie.

By now movie goers know whether or not they are going to enjoy a movie in the Wizarding World and can probably gauge for themselves whether or not they want to spend the time and money watching one. While Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald offers nothing new in this fantasy series, those wanting to find an escape for a few hours will find they will enjoy the return to this universe.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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Bohemian Rhapsody





For the first time in a long while, I actually got Goosebumps. Not that mediocre Jack Black flick from a couple of years back, rather that feeling when something just goes through your body and one feels at tune for just being.

As I’ve said in the past I am not fond of too many musicals, so I was actually looking forward to see what director Bryan Singer would do with the Queen biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Like my feeling with horror flicks and my love for anything related to John Carpenter, this one gets a pass in my book, since I’m a devotee of Queen and their amazing music.

For starters, lead Rami Malek emulates the real Freddie Mercury through and through. If you think you’ve seen Malek before, you’re probably right. He was on the Golden Globe winning “Mr. Robot” for the past couple of seasons. Supporter Christian Slater receiving an Emmy win for his role as friend and confidant, the “Mr. Robot” of the title.

I trust the director here in Bryan Singer, since he has not made too many bad movies. Early on in his career, he helmed one of the greatest pretzel-twisting mystery suspense with Christopher McQuarrie’s “The Usual Suspects,” which also saw the movie receiving a Best Supporting Oscar for co-star Kevin Spacey. That was early on in his career, 1995 to be exact.

With “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Singer delves head on into their creation, with Malek’s persona even changing his name legally to Freddie Mercury to get more noticed by the press and mass media. One also has to realize this was in the pre cell phone days, where even being on the newly created MTV was considered a really big deal.

The one thing I really noticed was the absence of going back to past soundtracks Queen contributed to. The first was 1980’s “Flash Gordon,” directed by British auteur Mike Hodges. The group also contributed to Sidney J. Furie’s “Iron Eagle” in 1985. The group would gain more notoriety the following year for doing the soundtrack to director Russell Mulcahy and the action fantasy hybrid “Highlander,” an that dealt with knights on the tagline “There can be only one.”

In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” there is a brief scene that uses a track from “Highlander,” the one that includes the song “Who wants to Live Forever?” from the movie.

Irony is thrown into the movie big time with the appearance of Mike Myers. In the early 1990's, he was in a movie titled “Wayne’s World” that dealt with his character of Wayne hosting a public access TV show titled “Wayne’s World.” His friend Garth (Dana Carvey) was his best friend and confidant and in the movie there is an entire sequence where the duo rock out to a track of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Myers plays record producer Ray Foster, who scoffs at the idea of the even recording “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a stand alone track.

He would later regret it, because even with a song that runs over six minutes in length plays through to this day.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” delivers in every single department, even with a back story that does not take too much away.

Grade: A
(Review by Ricky Miller)




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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Best of the Fests Film Festival






North Texas Film Festivals Announce
BEST OF FESTS
Film Festival Event
(January 10-13, 2019)

First of its kind event celebrates film
with special selections representing 21 film festivals
in Dallas, Fort Worth, and North Texas

Dallas, TX (November 14, 2018) – Film festivals based in Dallas, Forth Worth, and North Texas have joined forces for the first time to present a Best of Fests film festival on January 10-13, 2019. Twenty-one different film festivals will present films that either were popular with their audiences or represent their programming esthetic. The films will be screened at venues across Dallas that include Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, Studio Movie Grill, and the Texas Theatre,

Participating film festivals include; 3 Stars Jewish Cinema, Asian Film Festival of Dallas, Czech That Film, Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF), Dallas Jewish Film Festival, Dallas Video Fest, Deep in the Heart Film Festival, Denton Black Film Festival, EarthxFilm, Festival de Cine Latino Americano, Flicks By Chicks, Forth Worth Independent Film Showcase, Frame4Frame, Lone Star Film Festival, Oak Cliff Film Festival, Pegasus Film Festival, Q Cinema, Sons of the Flag Film Festival, South Asian Film Festival, Thin Line Film Festival, and Women Texas Film Festival.

EarthxFilm Festival Producer Emily Hargrove (one of the organizers who made Best of Fests happen), said, “The film festival community in Dallas, Fort Worth and North Texas has long been an unsung hero for film lovers locally, bringing films to audiences that they likely would never have had an opportunity to see on a big screen or even be aware of, otherwise. These films come from different sources, different cultures, and countries, yet demonstrate the universal magic and power of storytelling though cinema. We wanted to do something that has never been done before: bring all of these unique film fests together and offer this sampling of these incredible festivals as a gift to film lovers across our region.”

Best of Fests will open on Thursday, January 10, at the Texas Theatre with DIFF’s offering of David Blue Garcia’s thriller TEJANO, about a South Texas farmhand, who attempts to smuggle cocaine across the Mexican border in order to help his ailing Grandfather. The film will be preceded by one of the Flicks by Chick’s short film selections, Liz Cardenas’s IMAGO, about a 15-year-old gay teen’s decision to fully embrace his true identity.

Variety is the theme (as it naturally would be) throughout the festival, including; the Asian Film Festival of Dallas’s screening of Sung-hoon Kim’s RAMPANT, a fresh take on the zombie film sub-genre; Deep in the Heart Film Festival’s screening of Christopher J. Hansen’s BLUR CIRCLE, a drama about a woman still struggling to come to terms with her son’s death two years prior when she meets a mysterious stranger who may change everything; the Lone Star Film Festival’s offering of Rob Smat’s drama The Last WHISTLE, about a high school football coach facing protests from the town when he keeps pushing his team toward a championship despite one of his star players collapsing during a practice; and Q Cinema’s screening of Matthew Montgomery’s DEVIL’S PATH, which follows two gay men as they are attacked and then pursued by murderous thugs looking to finish the job.

Best of Fests will also offer some entertaining and compelling documentaries, including; 3 Stars Jewish Cinema’s screening of Ferne Pealstein’s THE LAST LAUGH, which looks at the use of the Holocaust as comedy and movie material; Dallas Video Fest’s offering of Mark Birnbaum’s THE BIG BUY: TOM DELAY’S STOLEN CONGRESS, about the infamous, criminally convicted former Texas Congressman’s dealings which led to him being put in jail; EarthxFilm’s screening of Matthew Testa’s THE HUMAN ELEMENT, which follows photographer James Balog (CHASING ICE) as he explores how environmental change is affecting the lives of everyday Americans; Festival de Cine Latino Americano’s screening of Jose Manuel Davila’s 1950: THE NATIONALIST UPRISING, about the experiences of Puerto Ricans who participated in the Nationalist Uprising of 1950 to free Puerto Rico from the United States of America; and Women Texas Film Festival’s presentation of Skye Borgman’s film festival hit, ABDUCTED IN PLAIN SIGHT, a true crime documentary about a naïve, church going Idaho family that were “groomed” by a sociopathic neighbor to hand over their 12-year-old daughter to him.

EarthxFilm is the 501c3 fiscal sponsor of Best of Fests. Sponsors and partners include EarthX, Prekindle, Selig Polyscope, Arts OnePass, Alamo Drafthouse, Texas Theatre, Studio Movie Grill, Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, Kelly Kitchens PR and Wildworks PR.

Film festival passes and tickets are on-sale now. For more information, go to: www.bestoffests.org.




The Best of Fests Film Festival official selections:

3 STARS JEWISH CINEMA
THE LAST LAUGH

Director: Ferne Pearlstein
Country: USA, Running Time: 88 min
In this outrageously funny and thought-provoking film, director Ferne Pearlstein puts the question about comedy’s ultimate taboo (the Holocaust) to legends including Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Gilbert Gottfried, Alan Zweibel, Harry Shearer, Jeff Ross, Judy Gold, Susie Essman, Larry Charles, Jake Ehrenreich, and many other critical thinkers, as well as Holocaust survivors themselves. These interviews are woven together with a vast array of material ranging from THE PRODUCERS and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” to clips of comics such as Louis CK, Joan Rivers, and Chris Rock, to newly discovered footage of Jerry Lewis’ never-released film Holocaust comedy THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED, to rare footage of cabarets inside the concentration camps themselves. In so doing, THE LAST LAUGH offers fresh insights into the Holocaust, our own psyches, and what else—9/11, AIDS, racism—is or isn’t off-limits in a society that prizes freedom of speech.

ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF DALLAS
RAMPANT

Director: Sung-hoon Kim
Country: USA, Running Time: 129 min
A darkness looms over ancient Korea: murderous creatures known as Night Demons have overrun the country. Returning from a long imprisonment abroad, Prince Ganglim discovers that it will take the strength of his entire kingdom to stop the bloody rampage spreading across the nation in this fresh new take on zombie horror from the studios that brought you TRAIN TO BUSAN.

CZECH THAT FILM
8 HEADS OF MADNESS

Director: Marta Nováková
Country: USA, Running Time: 105 min
Story of the talented Russian poet, Anna Barkova (1906-1976), who spent twenty-two years of her life in the Gulags. She survived with a help of her poems, owing it to hope for better days and to her passionate love for a woman named Valentina.

DALLAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
TEJANO

Director: David Blue Garcia
Country: USA, Running Time: 88 min
Desperate for cash to save his sick Grandfather, a South Texas farmhand resorts to the extreme: he breaks his own arm to smuggle a cast made of cocaine across the Mexican border.

DALLAS JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL
THE BODY COLLECTOR

Director: Tim Oliehoek
Country: USA, Running Time: 143 min
An investigative journalist fights to unmask a prominent art collector as a murderous Nazi war criminal, in the gripping true-life drama THE BODY COLLECTOR. When multimillionaire Pieter Menten (Aus Greidanus) decides to auction off a portion of his prized art holdings, Dutch newspaper editor Hans Knoop (Guy Clemens) receives a tip from an Israeli colleague about Menten’s hidden wartime past. As the mild-mannered but steely and idealistic journalist sets out to uncover the elusive facts, he is warned off the story by fellow reporters, stonewalled by bureaucrats, and threatened by the untouchable Menten and his wife (Carine Crutzen).

DALLAS VIDEO FEST (PAWFEST/DOCUFEST/ALTFICTION)
THE BIG BUY: TOM DELAY’S STOLEN CONGRESS

Director: Mark Birnbaum
Country: USA, Running Time: 75 min
A look at the criminal investigation of Texas Congressman Tom DeLay on campaign fundraising charges and his efforts to redraw the state’s Congressional districts.

Preceded by
MOSCA
Director: Lizette Barrera
Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min
A wayward teen revisits her hometown to reconnect with her cousin, despite her aunt’s wishes.

DEEP IN THE HEART FILM FESTIVAL
BLUR CIRCLE

Director: Christopher J. Hansen
Country: USA, Running Time: 92 min
Jill Temple is a single mother still grieving the loss of her young son after he disappeared two years ago. Unable to face the possibility that she has lost him forever, she pursues every lead and meets Burton Rose, a man with a shrouded past. The details of that past - and how Burton has responded to it - force Jill to look at her life in a completely new way.

DENTON BLACK FILM FESTIVAL
9 STEPS

Directors: Jay Rodriguez, Rock Davis
Country: USA, Running Time: 110 min
9 STEPS is the dramatic story about the shortcomings of a man, Brian Coleman, whom after being robbed and shot fourteen years earlier, succumbs to a life of addiction and ultimately loses the love of his life and the gift of knowing his only child. It's a story of recovery, redemption, love, and forgiveness and the steps people must take in their lives to get to these places.

EARTHXFILM
THE HUMAN ELEMENT

Director: Matthew Testa
Country: USA, Running Time: 76 min
Renowned photographer James Balog (CHASING ICE) uses his camera to reveal how environmental change is affecting the lives of everyday Americans. Following the four classical elements— air, earth, fire and water— to frame his journey, Balog explores wildfires, hurricanes, sea level rise, coal mining, and the changes in the air we breathe. With compassion and heart, THE HUMAN ELEMENT tells an urgent story while giving inspiration for a more balanced relationship between humanity and nature.

FESTIVAL DE CINE LATINO AMERICANO
1950: THE NATIONALIST UPRISING
Director: Jose Manuel Davila
Country: USA, Running Time: 105 min
Five Puerto Ricans who participated in the Nationalist Uprising of 1950 to free Puerto Rico from the United States of America, speaks about the history of this forgotten struggle and the consequences in their lives.

FLICKS BY CHICKS
AFTER WORDS: THE OPPOSITE OF FOREPLAY

Director: Maria Bunai
Country: USA, Running Time: 11:45 min
Claire searches for love in a story told entirely by what happens after sex.

IMAGO
Director: Liz Cardenas
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min
The courageous, life-altering decision to never let anyone bully him again – not even his own father – leads a 15-year-old gay teen to fully embrace his true identity. Based on a true story.

TIGHTLY WOUND

Director: Shelby Hadden
Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min
A woman recounts her experience living with chronic pelvic pain – how health professionals have failed her, men have rejected her, and shame, anger, and hatred have plagued her body.

FORT WORTH INDEPENDENT FILM SHOWCASE & FRAME4FRAME FILM FESTIVAL
APACHE WARRIOR

Director: David Salzberg
Country: USA, Running Time: 93 min
APACHE WARRIOR is a feature film made with 100% unprecedented real footage, actual attack pilot gun tapes, multiple cameras and interviews. The film takes the audience into the cockpit of a squadron of Apache Attack Helicopters during the opening salvo of what would be one of the largest invasions in US and World History.

LONE STAR FILM FESTIVAL
THE LAST WHISTLE

Director: Rob Smat
Country: USA, Running Time: 88 min
When the all-star player of the local high school football team collapses during practice, all eyes turn to the storied head coach. Instead of mollifying the situation, the coach tries to maintain the team's winning streak. The town turns against him, leading to a lawsuit from the player's mother.

OAK CLIFF FILM FESTIVAL
RELAXER

Director: Joel Potrykus
Country: USA, Running Time:
With the impending Y2K apocalypse fast approaching, Abbie is faced with the ultimate challenge -- the unbeatable level 256 on Pac-Man -- and he can't get off the couch until he conquers it.

Preceded by
END TIMES
Director: Bobby Miller
Country: USA, Running Time: 9:06 min
A man finds a dying squirrel in a park and has as existential crisis in this surreal, absurd, live-action short film about death.

PEGASUS FILM FESTIVAL
AMERICA

Director: Crislyn Fayson
Country: USA, Running Time: 3:36 min
A song written by Erica Burkett that touches on the realism of what America has become.

FIELD TRIP
Director: Bob Cummins
Country: USA, Running Time: 6:06 min

THE LAST SPRING
Director: Montana Brock
Country: US, Running Time: 4:42 min
A subtle perspective on nature and how distant it can feel due to the sometimes overwhelming industrial industry.

LOUISE
Director: Emily Miller
Country: USA, Running Time: 5:04 min
Louise, and the mysterious events leading up to her funeral.

NO NAME
Director: Alex Poscente
Country: USA, Running Time: 2:13 min
Based off of a poem by Alex Poscente about negative self-image. It is narrative in its story, but avant-garde in its visuals.

ONLY CHILD
Director: Arianna Cadeddu
Country: USA, Running Time: 4:45 min
A classic “monster under my bed” telltale forces a father to confront a traumatic memory.
Winner of the Best Narrative award at the 2016 Pegasus Film Festival.
2017 National Young Arts Foundation Merit winner in Cinematic Arts.

THE PEGASUS FILM FESTIVAL

Director: Niloo Jalilvand
Country: USA, Running Time: 2:46 min
Bursting with rising talent, Texas holds a wealth of inspiring and innovative films made by high school filmmakers. At the Pegasus Film Festival, we bring that talent to you.

PHONIES
Director: Alexa May
Country: USA, Running Time: 4:17 min
This film explores the effects and dangers of technology on the current society through the lens of a seventy-year-old grandmother. This film was written, directed, filmed, and edited by one woman wishing to make a difference and inspire other women to become filmmakers.

QUEEN KEVIN UIL
Director: Jessi Stegall
Country: USA, Running Time: 7:46 min

TRANSCENDING POLITICS
Director: Ellery Marshall
Country: USA, Running Time: 2:34 min
The “bathroom bill” is a policy debated in sixteen states that would require all people to use the Restrooms and other facilities of their assigned sex at birth. If it were to pass, how would this bill affect a transgender child in school?

Q CINEMA
DEVIL’S PATH

Director: Matthew Montgomery
Country: USA, Running Time: 87 min
While searching for his missing brother in a remote gay cruising park, Noah (Stephen Twardokus) sets his sights on a handsome stranger (JD Scalzo). When Noah is viciously attacked, he and his new companion escape through the woods with two menacing thugs in hot pursuit. Lost and frightened, they begin to turn on each other and slowly unravel the truth of what’s really going on around them.

SONS OF THE FLAG FILM FESTIVAL
ACT OF VALOR (2012)

Directors: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Country: USA, Running Time: 110 min
Inspired by true events, ACT OF VALOR combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the minute battlefield technology and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure. When the rescue of a kidnapped CIA operative leads to the discovery of a deadly terrorist plot against the U.S., a team of SEALs is dispatched on a worldwide manhunt. As the valiant men of Bandito Platoon race to stop a coordinated attack that could kill and wound thousands of American civilians, they must balance their commitment to country, team and their families back home. Each time they accomplish their mission, a new piece of intelligence reveals another shocking twist to the deadly terror plot, which stretches from Chechnya to the Philippines and from Ukraine to Somalia.

SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL
THE JOURNEY WITHIN

Director: Mian Adnan Ahmad
Country: USA, Running Time: 78 min
In a post 9/11 Pakistan faced with challenges of war and conflict, a quest for self-identity leads the inspirational journey of a music show to help reclaim the rich and vast musical heritage of this region. In doing so it has become one of the biggest music initiatives from this side of the world, bringing together unique cultural experiences and genres, including but not limited to folk, sufi, rock, pop and rap music. We experience this important period in music by discovering the show from its humble beginnings, living through its spirit to reach the heart of the experience, as artists unify eastern and western sounds to make music that will resonate across the globe; impacting all involved and planting the seeds for an ongoing inward reflection towards who we are as individuals and as a people.

THIN LINE FILM FESTIVAL
THE MODERN JUNGLE

Directors: Charles Fairbanks, Saul Kak
Country: USA, Running Time: 71 min
THE MODERN JUNGLE is a portrait of globalization filtered through the fever dream of a Mexican shaman, Don Juan, who falls under the spell of a pyramid-scheme-marketed nutritional supplement. Juan’s neighbor Carmen lives simply, in harmony with the land her martyred husband paid for with his life. The film documents their struggles and encounters with outside forces: from capitalism and commodity fetish, to the culture of cinema, and the directors of this film.

Preceded by
BIG PARADISE
Directors: JP Olsen, Kristen Nutile
Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min
Robert Kidney has been a musical force since the 1970s. His group, The Numbers Band, celebrating its 47th year, has been praised by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke and Greil Marcus and called “the greatest band I’ve ever seen” by Pere Ubu’s David Thomas. Despite years of praise by peers, the band remains obscure.

WOMEN TEXAS FILM FESTIVAL
ABDUCTED IN PLAIN SIGHT
Director: Skye Borgman
Country: USA, Running Time: 91 min
ABDUCTED IN PLAIN SIGHT is a true crime documentary that tells the twisting, turning story of the Broberg’s, a naïve, church going Idaho family that fall under the spell of a sociopathic neighbor who will stop at nothing to be with their 12-year-old daughter.




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Monday, November 12, 2018

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Nov 11 - Nov 17



Sorry for not posting this yesterday. Been struggling with my yearly cold. Should have gotten that flu shot. Anyways, the weather guys are teasing snow so please drive carefully and stay warm.

Didn't seem like there would be any movies because it usually dries up close to a holiday. But there are multiple screenings and locations. Hope everyone managed to get what they wanted. And you do know that you can help each other if you get a pass, change your mind and go with something else. You can either turn the pass back, or offer it to someone who may need it, or trade for another location. In any case please keep your transactions off the list. Post your query, then negotiate with each other not with the list.

November 11 - November 17

Sun - Nov 11

Veterans Day - Thank you for your service

Mon - Nov 12

The Sun is Also a Star - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark (note venue change)

Tue - Nov 13

Front Runner - 7:30 pm - Angelika Dallas
Instant Family - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17

Wed - Nov 14

Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark and Cinemark 17
Green Book - 7:30 pm - Regal MacArther and UA Fossil
Widows - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark



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Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms







I am as cultured as the next guy standing in line at the bus stop, but despite my dislike and lack of interest towards movie musicals, I actually had some semblance of hope for “Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” another in the cookie cutter line of a Disney product containing high production values marketed for the masses.

“Inerstellar’s” McKenzie Foy’s family is invited by uncle Morgan Freeman for a holiday gathering on the mountainside where some misadventures unfold and where Foy’s Clara has to tell everyone she knows about her mom’s untimely departure from this earth. Freeman’s character, Drosselmeyer is a godfather to Clara and her family.

An almost unrecognizable Keira Knightley is Sugarplum, one of Clara’s mom’s creations. Further involvement includes protagonists Shiver (Richard E. Grant) and Hawtorne (Eugenio Derbez). They all come from the imagination of Clara’s deceased mother, who oversaw all of the realm.
Also involved is Helen Mirren’s Mother Ginger, an ominous and foreboding character who turns into an asset after a few predicaments. Like most of her roles as of late, she obviously wanted something that was challenging and a bit demanding since her character’s change in switching sides before film’s end.

“Nutcracker and the Four Realms” was co directed by both Lasse Hallström (“Chocolat,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”) and Joe Johnston (“The Mask of Zorro,” “Captain America: The First Avenger”), who each bring their own oversized version of the original re-telling of “The Nutcracker Prince” to the silver screen.

It’s like the duo were not sure in which direction to take this movie, but for some unknown reason it just treaded in mediocrity. Sure, some of the set pieces were a touch overblown, but when it comes to the realm of fantasy, I’ll take it with a slight grain and pinch of salt.
Also woven into the storyline are a few key scenes with Misty Copeland credited as the ballerina princess. Her appearance, although brief propels the fantasy elements into the storyline.

As I’ve said in the past, I go into movies with a blank slate on my mind, but unfortunately the overblown antics that presided here were just run-of-the mill, lacking any of the verve or spunk that went into the productions for the enjoyable re-telling of C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” (2005) directed by Andrew Adamson.

All of those particular tales, including “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010) and “Prince Caspian” (2008” had something to admire or cherish. Neither one exploded onto the screen, but they were each nicely told stories that finished with a satisfactory palate by film’s end.

I also admired Kenneth Branagh’s direction of “Cinderella,” in 2015. There were no hokey song and dance numbers to be found. Branagh just took the tale and told the story simply and cleanly.

To be quite honest, I just wanted more from “Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” even though I can deal with the creepy clowns, the ridiculous McGuffins and the sincerity of this so-so family tale. So the readers know, the screening I attended was in 2-D, not that annoying and pretentious 3-D they charge for an upgrade.

Alas, my thoughts are at a standstill and at an end.

Grade: C
(Review by Ricky Miller)





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Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Girl in the Spiders Web







(Review by Chase Lee)





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Outlaw King








Robert the Bruce, more specifically Robert the Bruce VIII, was a distant relative to the royal family of Scotland. His grandfather, Robert the Bruce VI, claimed the Scottish throne in 1290 but English king Edward I claimed superiority and gave the crown to John de Balliol, also of relation to the Scottish royal family. When the relationship between John and Edward turned, the Bruces supported Edward I. In response to rebellion from Scottish forces led by John Comyn, Edward I invaded Scotland, still with the support of the Bruces. Eventually, the Bruces joined the Scottish rebellion led by William Wallace.

Following brief title cards outlining the tension between Scotland and England, Outlaw King opens with the Scottish lords surrendering to Edward I (Stephen Dillane) after his campaign in the year 1304. Robert the Bruce VIII (Chris Pine) returns to his family home where he marries Elizabeth (Florence Pugh). After seeing that Edward I’s forces have slain and dismembered William Wallace and hung his severed arm up for display, Robert decides to break his vow to Edward I (also convincing his brothers to break theirs) and start his own rebellion against him. When attempting to get John Comyn (Callan Mulvey) to join forces with him, Comyn, who has come to see rebellion as pointless, threatens to report Robert’s plans to Edward I, resulting in Robert killing Comyn. Robert then declares himself King of Scotland, leading to open war against Edward I.

The first feature made by director David Mackenzie following his Oscar nominated critical hit Hell or High Water, Outlaw King arrives with some high expectations. Unfortunately, the film is a disappointment. Outlaw King, written by Mackenzie along with Bathsheba Doran, James MacInnes, David Harrower, and Mark Bomback, does little to help insert the viewer into the situation or to keep them engaged. There is a lot of information to process in this movie, especially with the amount of characters who come in and out of the picture. A few times Robert or Elizabeth got upset over someone dying and I could not remember who the character was or why their death mattered. A pre-final battle speech is included for Pine which brought to mind Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, purposefully perhaps since that movie was about William Wallace, though don't expect anything too riveting from Outlaw King. The speech is brief and doesn't add much.

The film also isn't clear on the passage of time. Other than the year stated at the beginning, 1304, no other dates are given. The events depicted in the movie took place over many years yet Mackenzie's film makes it appear as if the events happened in quick succession, over a much shorter length of time.

There is some fine camera work here. The opening sequence is a long unbroken shot of the lords surrendering to Edward I, following them outside where Edward’s son, also named Edward (Billy Howle), challenges Robert to a sword fight, the camera then returns with the prince (referring to Edward I's son Edward to avoid confusion) back into the tent to be reprimanded by his father for starting the fight before ending by following the group out the back of the tent to watch Edward I launch a flaming rock to destroy a nearby castle. The movie is full of long unbroken takes like this, though none as long as this first scene.

Many of the effects give the feature a cheap appearance. Fire often looks like something from a video game instead of actual flames and the bloody battles are full of artificial blood splatter clearly added later. It was never convincing that these actors were actually in Medieval Scotland.

While performances are mostly fine, none are really worthy of discussion. Pine and Pugh both seem comfortable in their roles, though Pugh gives a more spirited and convincing performance than Pine. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, playing James Douglas (a lord whose land has also been taken by Edward I), teeters so close to over-the-top that his antics and facial expressions come across as comedic at times - which I’m sure was not the intention.

Of the few Netflix original movies that I’ve seen Outlaw King is by far the worst. It didn’t hold my interest and was confusing at times. History buffs who know something about the situation might get some enjoyment out of seeing the story of Robert the Bruce enacted but this is not a movie I’d recommend to most.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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The Girl in the Spider's Web




Author Stieg Larsson wrote the trilogy The Girl With the Dragon's Tattoo which was made into a 2005 Swedish film series starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace. The American version followed in 2011 with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara directed by David Finchner. After Larsson's passing a new trilogy was written by David Lagercrantz with The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye being up next. Directed by Fede Álvarez and written by Jay Basu, Fede Álvarez, and Steven Knight this film which follows the American series reboots the cast with Claire Foy as the tough hacker Lisbeth Salander. Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist for Millennium magazine is played by Sverrir Gudnason. Unlike the former films, Blomkvist plays a crucial part of the mysteries with the help of Salander's hacking skills. In this one, he becomes a more secondary character.

Lisbeth Salander has become a super avenger for women who suffer from sexual and physical abuse. The opening scenes she is handing out some merciless judgement on a rich husband and redistributed his bank account to his victims. The news outlet and police consider her among the top suspects. She gets a mysterious call asking for help. She is told a computer scientist Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) developed a program called Firewall which accesses the world’s nuclear codes. With the help of her fellow hacker Plague (Cameron Britton) they bust into the NSA computers and steal the program. This alerts Special Agent Edwin Neeham (LaKeith Stanfield) who is not only a brilliant computer scientist, but he has scary martial arts skills too. He traces the source and is soon off to Sweden. There he is stopped by the deputy director of the Swedish Secret Service Gabriella Grane (Synnøve Macody Lund) who tells him to mind his own business.

Lisbeth soon realizes she is caught up in some heavy duty international intrigue when the bad guys break in her house and steal her computer wih the program in it. The bad guys are part of a Spider organization that happened to be run my her psychopathic sister who she abandoned when their father wanted to sexually abuse them. After they blow up her house, she knows that Balder and his autistic son August (Christopher Convery) are the next targets. The program can't be opened unless the cryptic password prompt is answered.

Apparently it snows all the time in Sweden because most of the action Lisbeth's escape from the police over a frozen river on a motorcycle would not have worked. It seems every step she takes the spiders are close behind. The action is pretty fast, lots of fighting, lots of dead bodies left behind. Blomkvist who was pretty integral to the original stories is regulated on the back burner in a more supporting role of researching the Spider Society. And Neeham who was determined to catch Lisbeth becomes a better partner than the magazine guy. By the time the sisters finally become face to face you are too exhausted to care. Claire Foy does capture that androgynous image from the books and gives Lisbeth some needed emotional turmoil. Hopefully the next movie will not be so confusing.
(Review by reesa)


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Burning






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

The mystery at the center of Burning develops gradually and deliberately, so that the outburst of violence at its end feels utterly inevitable. At just less than two-and-a-half hours, co-writer/director Lee Chang-dong’s film might seem an act of overkill with respect to its significant length, but it is instead a work of building tension so quietly that one might only realize his or her breath has been held until the moment of exhaling. That only comes at the end, when the journey has revealed itself to be as exhausting as it is hypnotic. It is important to begin with the deliberation with which Lee weaves this tale.

This is because the inciting incident of the plot comes well more than an hour into the film, an adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s short story "Barn Burning" by Lee and co-screenwriter Oh Jung-mi. It will take me some time to arrive there, as well, because even as Lee and Oh move deliberately toward this moment, they use the preceding time to burrow us deeply into the headspace of a truly original and unpredictable protagonist. By the time we get to that final scene, Lee Jong-su’s (Yoo Ah-in) myriad of vices and psychological issues will have revealed themselves. Until just before that point, though, the film entirely sympathizes us with him.

It is left up to the viewer to determine on his or her own time whether such sympathy for Jong-su is either warranted or earned, but to this point, Lee and Oh have seemingly worked backward. The film begins with its most intimate close-ups of Jong-su while he remains something of a cypher, and as we learn more about his troubled past and begin to see him as a figure of tremendous sadness, the film slowly pulls back from that intimate vantage point to keep itself and its audience at a careful distance. This would be a problem if Lee didn’t have such a firm handle on this character before that distancing act. This is a tragic story, and it isn’t only tragic for Jong-su.

For half the film, we get a delicate semi-romance between Jong-su and Shin Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), an acquaintance from childhood whom he struggles to remember but who remembers him quite well (particularly for an act that, she says, saved her life). They meet when he wins a watch at a raffle in a shopping district, where Hae-mi works on call. The two share a simple but sweet coffee date, at the end of which she asks Jong-su to do her a favor: He will look after and feed her cat while she is in Africa, her first stop on an eventual series of trips around the world for which she has gradually saved some money. Jong-su agrees, and to complicate things for everyone, they sleep together on the eve of her trip.

Immediately, things seem to be off about Hae-mi, about her trip to Africa, and even about the existence of the cat Jong-su is supposed to be watching. When Hae-mi returns from her jaunt, she arrives with a mysterious fellow named Ben (Yeun Sang-yeop), whose presence makes Jong-su jealous and whose smile is just a little plastic and doesn’t quite seem to reach his eyes. After some time spent in each other’s company, Jong-su still never quite feels comfortable, and then Ben reveals his most curious hobby: He likes to burn greenhouses. He simply picks one, sets it ablaze, and gets away with a crime left alone by uninterested police.

This all only brings us to a certain point in this story, at which a character disappears, another investigates the disappearance, and the third has something to hide. The performances are exceptional at compartmentalizing: Yoo plays Jong-su as a man of few words or expressions in a performance that masterfully weighs paradigm shifts with stone-faced austerity. Jeon, in an auspicious debut, is a bright, natural talent in a complex, deceptively sad role, and Yeun is also quite good as a total mystery with a winning smile. Burning moves deliberately, yes, and by the end, the mystery proves unshakable.
(Review by Joel Copling)



OPENING ANGELIKA FILM CENTERS DALLAS + PLANO ON 11/9


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