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

Monday, April 29, 2019

This Week at Alamo Drafthouse North Texas (4/29 - 5/5)






Calling all movie lovers… Here’s what’s happening this week at Alamo Drafthouse North Texas!

In addition to The Avengers on-screen domination, Alamo Drafthouse North Texas has some great specialty programming for cinephiles across DFW to enjoy! Prepare for ROCKETMAN’s upcoming release with Alamo Drafthouse’s epic Elton John Video Dance Party, kicking off this week at Denton! And grab your best amigos and enjoy a special menu with tacos and cocktails, plus maracas and other props for everyone in the audience, at Alamo Drafthouse’s ¡Three Amigos! Quote-Along at North Richland Hills, Denton and Richardson!


This Week's Highlights…

WELCOME…Alamo Drafthouse North Richland Hills!
- This week we continue to celebrate the opening of Alamo's newest DFW location - North Richland Hills. Enjoy special discounts on food and non-alcoholic beverages through May 9!

Elton John Video Dance Party
- Calling all dancers, tiny and otherwise to this week's exclusive Elton John video dance party! No glasses are too big to watch this screening, as the Rocketman is celebrated with an exciting new biopic. To all the dancers, the entire theater is you platform!

¡Three Amigos! Quote Along
- This is the perfect quote along to attend with your amigos, with the legendary cast Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase. A special menu of tacos and cocktails pair brilliantly with a true Amigo salute!


MONDAY | APRIL 29

Richardson
Bar Event: Tiki Bingo - Glass Half Full at 7:00PM


TUESDAY | APRIL 30


Richardson
Bar Event: Tiki Bingo - Glass Half Full at 7:00PM


WEDNESDAY | MAY 01


Las Colinas
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink - Vetted Well at 8:00PM


SATURDAY | MAY 04

Denton
Screening: Elton John Video Dance Party at 7:00PM

Lake Highland
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink Brunch - Vetted Well at 2:00PM


SUNDAY | MAY 05


Denton
Screening: ¡Three Amigos! Quote Along at 7:00PM
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink - Vetted Well at 7:00PM

North Richland Hills
Screening: ¡Three Amigos! Quote Along at 4:00PM=

Richardson
Screening: ¡Three Amigos! Quote Along at 4:00PM; Code Geass:Lelouch of the Resurrection [Subtitled] at 1:00PM



First Run Movies Now Playing...

2D Avengers: Endgame
Captain Marvel
Shazam!
The Curse of La Llorona
Dumbo
Little
Breakthrough
Missing Link


Premiering This Week...

Long Shot
The Intruder
Uglydolls



























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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Apr 28 - May 4


Hope everyone had a good week. Last week nothing was scheduled at first, then they popped up unexpected like.

Did y'all get a chance to catch some EarthXFilms? Plus the USA Film Festival was happening. Busy, busy. At least we have some movies this week and of course they are mostly on the same day.

I'm not sure about that Poms screening on Monday at the Angelika. Couldn't get it to work.

Apr 28 - May 4

Mon - Mar 29

Poms - 7:00 pm - Angelika
The Intruder - 7:30 pm - Alamo Lake Highlands

Tue - Mar 30

Long Shots - 7:30 pm - AMC Northpark

Wed - May 1

Booksmart - 7:00 pm - UA Galaxy and UA Fossil Creek
Ugly Dolls - 7:00 pm - Angelika and AMC Northpark
Long Shot - 7:00 pm - Cinemark 17
El Chicano - 7:30 pm - Studio Movie Grill Northwest Hwy.





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Friday, April 26, 2019

Avengers: Endgame






Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo Studio: Disney

Avengers: Endgame ends with a final bang!

At last, after 10 years of Marvel’s unforgettable adventures, Avengers: Endgame marks the closing chapter of the book. Endgame is Marvelous Wrap to conclude the MCU’s Phase Three (though, there is a speculation that Spider-Man: Far From Home serves as the last). The Russo brothers, the directors, provide a continuation that picks up where Infinity War left off. To avoid any troubles, I can’t give out any spoilers away as Marvel Studios and Disney forbid the fans, critics, and moviegoers to post or mention any spoilers to people, especially on social media as the moments will be ruin as this is a no-peeking challenge sort of thing.

Just to let the viewers know, the film is three hours long, so I highly recommend you make a trip to the bathroom before the film starts as well as not eating or drinking for the entire time while watching Endgame. It’s a warning (and a pro-tip) if you don’t want to miss the good stuff for you own amusement.

First off, it’s incredible to see Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man and all the others popping up on one ginormous crossover where they teamed up with the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Really puts all the hardworking effort and equal time frame on the characters for the film’s structure from going back to the start all the way to the end, but despite this film being the end of Phase Three, I’m looking forward to look ahead at Phase Four of the MCU with Spider-Man: Far From Home and other solo/new sequels coming up.

Five years after the events of Infinity War, the remaining superheroes and half of all life are the only ones left in the universe and tried desperately (at best) to move on with their lives. They, along with Stark and Nebula, must team up for one last fight, reverse the irreversible using the time-heist methods to travel back in time, and restore life on Earth.

The Russo brothers and the ensemble cast from MCU and the films before Endgame had made their return to the big screen for one final chapter of the Avengers. They both splatter the sense of humor into the multiple narratives, but the whole fabric really stands out steadily just as the tone and the CGI really sparkles through for both Infinity War and Endgame.

While I admired the performances from Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and all the others, what I found very touching is family-and-friendly relationship that never dies down on a number of levels, starting from one of the heroes’ family to a repairing friendship between a trust-building Iron Man and idea-making Captain America (just like you saw on the movie trailer and TV spots). Interestingly, the supporting actors from MCU appear as handy-dandy helpers to guide through the protagonists over the course of the film.

I really enjoyed how the pop culture on time-traveling films, including Back to The Future, is being used for the characters’ dynamics (as well as adding comedy more likely) to the film. Really gives me a warm-fuzzy feel that a person is missing his/her wonderful childhood back in the day as well as simply going back to watch the older MCU films from before. I also believe that the music score from Alan Sivestri, the CGI, and the visual effects become a strong finish for the characters and villains to appear equally. It really adds up to the conclusion of how the superheroes assemble in one big happy family/team to defeat Thanos (portrayed by Josh Brolin). Not to mention the funny dialogue and humorous amounts of die-hard action sequences that tickles the audiences on the edge of their seats.

Out of everything else I see, Avengers Endgame is great film with emotional plot twist. I will put this as one of the best Marvel films I ever watched. However, I cannot say anything more when it involves watching a superhero film with exciting things that will blow your mind. You’ll have to see it for yourself if you want to find out more. Since this is an anticipating film, I will guess that Endgame has a higher chance of being the king of the box office worldwide [-ly], but we’ll see how Endgame turn out to be. With that being said, Endgame manages to tie the entire MCU up with a beautiful, emotional, hopeful conclusion.

For one last tribute, this is Stan Lee's final cameo in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)




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Stockholm








(Review by Chase Lee)





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Avengers: Endgame





This one is it.

For all those who have delved into the cinematic universe of everything Marvel related, this is the appropriate conclusion to everything Marvel infused since director Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man” in 2008.

I can’t really touch into anything too specific, since there are people in the world who will hunt me down and take me out if I give away any of the slightest tidbit or nugget. Safe to say, one will not be disappointed in the very least. That is why I was not surprised to see all of those who perished in “Infinity War” a couple of years back, since I knew they were not gone for good.

What is also cool was seeing Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel save both Tony Stark and Nebula from their time floating endlessly in space. That is how she is introduced and brought into the Marvel fold. Her part is slated for seven more appearances in her contract.

She is a powerful hero, one that knows how to fight and stand her ground in battle.

I did like this movie, but was more impressed by both the stand alone sagas involving “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in 2014 “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016. Both of those titles were helmed by the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe.

The duo knows how to facilitate action sequences that are appealing and intriguing. The camera contemplates the greatness of eye appealing eye candy.

When it comes down to it, the entire Marvel cinematic universe stands on its own two feet. Gone are the days of directors like David Lean (“Lawrence of Arabia,“ (1962) “Bridge on the River Kwai” (1952) or even an auteur like Stanley Kubrick (“2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)” and “A Clockwork Orange” (1971).

What is also cool to see is the last official scene of Stan Lee in a Marvel-related film. His part is just that of a passenger shouting with glee and excitement in a convertible.

The “Avengers” theme comes back into play with the Alan Silvestri score. Although not as dynamic as those of John Williams and his “Star Wars” score, they are very recognizable.

So readers know, “Avengers: Endgame” is not the end of the Marvel cinematic universe. It is actually the finale of phase three, of which there are numerous chapters.

The actual official end to phase three occurs with “Spider-Man: Far From Home” which his theatres in early June of this year. Further Marvel titles occur with the upcoming entries “Dark Phoenix” as well as “New Mutants,” which has been sitting on the shelf since the middle of last year. It has been finished, but both moviegoers and the studio are waiting for the appropriate time to release it.

“Avengers: Endgame” clocks in at three hours of length. Also, be warned there is no Easter egg for the end credits sequence. Nada, Zip zero. So readers know, the official time is three hours, one minute.


Grade: B+

(Review by Ricky Miller)





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Thursday, April 25, 2019

DallasIFF2019: International Falls







For a movie labeled as a comedy, “International Falls” is surprisingly unfunny. Although its two lead characters are comedians, the lackluster Tim (Rob Huebel) and wannabe Dee (Rachael Harris), their featured stand-up routines do little to elicit laughs from the audience. It’s best to think of the film as a drama, a character study more than anything. Adapted from a play, “International Falls,” directed by Amber McGinnis, follows the duo’s brief affair. Their relationship, originally a one-night stand in Thomas Ward’s stage version (Ward also wrote the movie’s script), is expanded into a weekend fling for the film.

Dee works in a small hotel in International Falls, Minnesota. Bored with her current work and life, she dreams of someday changing careers and becoming a stand-up comic, held back by her demands as a wife and mother. She surprisingly finds herself drawn to the grouchy comic Tim, checking into the hotel as their weekly featured guest. After preparing and eating dinner with her family, Dee returns to the hotel for Tim’s set. After his set, she pretends to be drunk and flirts her way into his room. Their initial, unsatisfactory, intimate encounter ends with Dee beginning to drive home before deciding to turn around and stay the night.

What begins as an awkward meeting ends up with the two forming a natural bond. Dee declares her desire to become a stand-up comedian, eagerly eating up any advice Tim is willing to give her, while further divulging her dissatisfaction with her current life between her dead-end job and faltering relationship with her husband, Gary (Matthew Glave). Meanwhile, Tim reveals his true feelings about his career choice, blaming the constant travel and his lack of talent making him miserable and ultimately destroying his marriage due to a previous affair while on the road, and informing Dee that his next show will be his last. As their affair continues, it becomes apparent that through different circumstances they have come to be in similar psychological situations, allowing their bond to grow on an emotional level over a physical one.

Harris and Huebel have a natural ease that causes their relationship to feel believable. Their unhappiness is apparent through their portrayal of their characters, with each seeming to find a similar hint of hope in their connection with the other person. While the performances are good, “International Falls” ends up feeling like just another indie movie. The cinematography features a loose, shaky look frequently found in low-budget films of this nature. And, for the most part, the script follows the expected story arc – an event toward the end will probably surprise most viewers.

Dee and Tim’s relationship may be believable but it isn’t enough to make this movie an entirely engaging or entertaining one. Tim’s few stand-up routines are, understandably, unfunny. They wind up coming across as filler, attempting to elongate an already short movie with material whose message could have just as easily been conveyed in a shorter scene. Although it’s not an altogether terrible movie, “International Falls” begins to feel about as unwanted as one of Tim’s stand-up routines.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

DallasIFF2019 - Freaks




Seven-year-old Chloe (Lexy Kolker) lives alone with her father (a scruffy man known only as Dad, played by Emile Hirsch). The house they live in (a dilapidated, chaotic mess with newspapers taped over the windows) makes the father-daughter duo appear to be living in a post-apocalyptic scenario. Dad seems on edge and paranoid, reprimanding Chloe for wanting to go outside. He warns her of the bad people out there who want to kill them, reminds her to let him know if she ever cries tears of blood, and rehearses a backstory for her if she’s ever asked any questions.

The opening segment of “Freaks” is packed with things that don’t quite make sense. When Dad falls asleep the reality around him seems to alter, his body unleashing a wave that causes the room to appear suddenly brighter. Chloe sleeps in the house’s dark, creepy attic in which Dad has set-up a hidden, lockable closet, which Chloe is supposed to hide herself in if they are ever in danger. Chloe’s closet isn’t the safe, secure place her dad intended. Inside, she often sees a screaming ghost (Amanda Crew), whose presence sends her fleeing from the closet while covering her ears and crying out for it to go away. Though this ghost isn’t the only thing to appear to her in there.

Outside the house is a pleasant looking street, suggesting that a bright, cheery world lurks just out of Chloe’s reach. From a window, Chloe observes a mysterious ice cream truck driver, Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern), selling treats to children on the street. While no one else seems to pay attention to their house, he seems aware of Chloe’s gaze. Even taking into account Mr. Snowcone, this view of the outside world doesn’t mesh with the world Dad is painting for his daughter. Why doesn’t he want her to go outside? “Freaks” slowly fleshes out its story as its naïve star begins to discover the truth of the world around her.

Kolker, making her acting debut, plays her part well. Her portrayal of Chloe is convincing, showing the young girl’s growth away from innocence throughout the movie. Though her performance does become grating at times. Writing / directing duo Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein manage to do a lot with a limited budget. They create a mostly realistic, believable world for their characters. Lipovsky and Stein take the time to ground their film’s reality before fully revealing its supernatural aspects, allowing the film’s final act to feel like a natural extension of what’s come before.

“Freaks” is the sort of film that works better the less first-time viewers know about it. In a way, the movie feels similar to Jeff Nichols recent sci-fi mystery “Midnight Special.” Except, “Freaks” isn’t as frustratingly dense or infuriatingly opaque as Nichols’s movie. Lipovsky and Stein keep the audience in the dark as much as they can without pushing them away, walking the fine line between captivation and lost interest.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Saturday, April 20, 2019

DallasIFF2019 - Shoot the Moon Right Between the Eyes





Elderly con-artists Jerry (David Kendrick) and Carl (Sonny Carl Davis) have worked their way across Texas, tricking multiple women out of their money. The two have begun working on their supposed final job when Jerry falls in love with the target, the waitress Maureen (Morgana Shaw). Unknown to the two, their previous target’s ex-boyfriend, Les (Frank Mosley), is a private investigator, hired to track down Jerry (who apparently does the wooing while Carl - whose existence is unknown to Les and his ex – sits on the sidelines) and her stolen money. The alcoholic Les slowly closes in on the two men as they work on the unsuspecting Maureen.

“Shoot the Moon Right Between the Eyes” is an odd piece of cinema – a low budget country / folk musical western based on a short story by James Joyce (“Two Gallants”), featuring the music of John Prine, and starring mostly older actors. While first time writer / director Graham Carter has an intriguing concept for his feature debut, it’s one that never works.

The cinematography, shot in the now almost entirely unused Academy ratio (think television screens before everything went to widescreen HDTV), looks cheap – a forgivable distraction given the film’s extremely low budget. Carter opens the film by listing four directors. Only one name – Edgar G. Ulmer – stuck in my brain due to being somewhat familiar with a few of his movies. Ulmer’s mention is suitable since he spent his career making mostly low budget affairs.

Carter builds his cast with actors who have long resumes but aren’t instantly recognizable faces, bit time players getting a chance at bigger roles in a smaller production. Unfortunately, Carter isn’t able to get good performances from his cast. Davis and Kendrick’s performances often come across as forced, with Davis becoming particularly goofy in some of his scenes. Frank Mosley doesn’t even win you over with his portrayal of the bumbling P.I., who fortuitously manages to stumble his way across the con-artists trail.

Shaw and Kendrick romantic relationship, arguably the central focus of the movie, doesn’t have any spark. Earlier in the movie, before Jerry starts courting her, Maureen catches Jerry and Carl spying on her, the inept pair barely hiding behind a truck parked outside her house. She already suspected these guys were up to no good, why does she still agree for a date? It’s a relationship you know won’t end well and, in all honesty, don’t in the least bit care about.

This all leads to the film’s cringe-worthy musical numbers. None of the cast members can carry a tune, yowling their way through the arrangements of Prine’s music. While most of the numbers feature the performers just standing there, one lamely makes a failed attempt at more interesting choreography.

As bad as the musical sequences are, a couple scenes do show some promise for Carter. In these scenes, Carter opts to film the actor or actress standing in a darkened space, lit so that their face and front side are easily visible but leaving the background dark while also stylishly lighting them from behind, creating a sparkling outline against the inky blackness. These are brief moments of appeal in a feature that slogs through its run time.

Besides the aforementioned positives, nothing in “Shoot the Moon Right Between the Eyes” cohesively comes together. Running only a scant 75 minutes (according to the festival schedule), it’s a movie that is more of a punishing chore to sit through than anything.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Peterloo





Mike Leigh's new feature tackles the tragedy in 1819 when a crowd of some 60,000 people from Manchester and surrounding towns gathered in St Peter’s Fields to demand Parliamentary reform and an extension of voting rights. The release of the film marks the 200th anniversary of what has become known as the Peterloo Massacre. The peaceful gathering to listen to an activist speaker turned deadly when the militia charged the crowd in an attempt to arrest the organizers.

The story begins with a young soldier, Joseph, who has returned from the Battle of Waterloo suffering from PTSD and still wearing his uniform. He comes from a poor family in Manchester. His parents Joshua and Nellie. Joshua, son Robert, daughter Mary, and daughter-in-law Esther live together and toil in the local cotton mill seven days of the week. In the depressed economy the traumatized Joseph cannot find work. The men attend meetings where local agitators discuss radical campaigns for equal civil and political rights. The magistrates sends spies to these meeting to gather evidence to arrest the leaders and speakers. Obviously everyone having equal rights will put a crimp in the status quo. Some of the magistrates are of the notion that there should be a separation of have's and have not's.

It's a very wordy script and with the heavy accents it's sometimes difficult to understand some of the dialogue. The story doesn't focus on a major protagonist but gives insight on divergent groups. From Joseph's family on how his mother bakes hand pies and sells them for a penny each at the local market, to magistrates giving outrageous prison sentences to the poor for small infractions. There are the local merchants discussing the needed reforms, they gather at the local newspaper that is printing and supporting the reforms. There are scenes with the dandy Prince Regent who is more concerned with his personal comforts than the concerns of his subjects. He's easily manipulated to see the coming gathering to hear the famous radical Henry 'Orator' Hunt speak. There is also some conflict with some of the organizers who are put off with Hunt's demand that he would be the only one to speak. Attendants are encouraged not to bring any weapons less the powers that be see it as a hostile intent. Ultimately it doesn't matter to those pulling the strings.

The film is clocks at 2 hours and 34 mins. The small details of their lives, the costumes, the set decorations, is very immersive. It maybe more difficult to follow the characters, but the issues of what these people are experiencing are very universal and can be related to what we are going through today. The incident was christened Peterloo by the reporters covering the event. Shocked and shaken, 15 people were killed and 700 wounded when the mounted cavalry charged the crowd wielding sabers. The massacre played a significant role in the passage through Parliament of the Great Reform Act 13 years later.
(Review by reesa)




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Friday, April 19, 2019

Fast Color




In the near future-ish, the world is under an extreme drought. Water is a precious commodity. The landscape is dry, most businesses and buildings have long been abandoned. It's as if everyone has hunkered down somewhere unseen. We meet Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who may be running away from something. She seems to have a strange ability to cause earthquakes. A man speaks to her in a cafe. He says he knows what she can do and wants to help. He's a scientist and had been looking for her for a long time.

So begins this quiet, intriguing woman-centric, part sci-fi, part family drama directed by Julia Hart who wrote the script with Jordan Horowitz. It's a tight quiet film that doesn't waste time on explaining everything and lets the viewer immerse them selves into the lives of Ruth, her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and Ruth's daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney). Ruth's power was different from her mother so she ran away. Got into drugs and alcohol finding herself pregnant. Knowing that her "episodes" was not safe she left Lila in her mother's care. They live in an isolated farmhouse. Nina Simone's "New World Coming" is playing on a turntable while Bo is smoking a cigarette on the porch. Suddenly she manipulates the smoke in a colorful array before it falls to the ground. This is the first inkling that maybe Ruth's seizures are not singular. Her daughter Lila is a gifted mechanic, is able to make her cup disintegrate and come back together. The colorful effects she is able to experience afterwards is what makes her smile, blissful in the beauty that only she can see. Ruth was never able to see those colors. Nor could she use her powers like her mother and her daughter.

While Ruth is trying to resolve her relationship with her family, the guy from the cafe Bill (Christopher Denham) tries to get the government agents to not take Ruth by force. After all they don't understand what she can do to them. The police chief Ellis (David Strathairn) who has a personal connection to the women warns Bo that they are on to them. The male characters in this are very secondary to the female leads. They use their force and single minded authority to threaten and bully. The issues of climate, female empowerment, and creativity are all woven in to the story. Ruth discovers a book that was written by several generations of women of their family. All having the same kind of powers. Ruth realizes that she is gifted by something that is extraordinary.

This may seem slow at first, but you really feel for the characters involved. As Bo tells Ruth, "This is only the beginning". The ending really begs for a continuation of what they can accomplish in the future.
(Review by reesa)




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DallasIFF2019 - The Biggest Little Farm




Director: John Chester Studio: Neon

Review: The Biggest Little Farm (DIFF)

I wasn’t into documentary films based on educational discoveries, histories, or one’s own experiences on encountering any events or situations, but needless to say, this documentary really hits high on this year's Dallas International Film Festival as well for other film festivals around the country. Director John Chester really put much commitment on helming and explaining each events that takes the audience to the wonders of farming. I mean, to those who don’t know, it’s a documentary about two city dreamers and a dog unleashes a farming dream to own a many acres of land and operate a farm there with trees, animals, and soil.

Here in “The Biggest Little Farm,” John Chester and Molly Chester, along with their dog named Todd, develop an inspiration that chronicles the 8-year story of Apricot Lane Farms as a farmers and caretakers for the farm animals and fruit trees. Throughout their history with farming, the farmers are able to clean and plant thousands of trees using manure and gather many animals to the farm by seeking assistance from the public as support. However, as the farming continues, they made it through several horrible twists of events including drought, coyotes, and others. As a result of these events, they come to realize that they must survive to reach greater heights for the sakes of their farm and animals and to understand the wisdom of nature, and of life itself.

The film itself gives a warm, fuzzy feelings based on their personal experiences on farming where dreams can come true. John Chester and Molly Chester made a choice on owning a hundreds of acres that will lead to the audience to know about the environment, the need of bees for fruit and honey, and the dangers of these farm animals. The farm also serves as a friendly, educational location to study nature, microorganisms, biology on animals and plants, and long periods of drought.

Though, the hardest things to watch are the animals’ endangerment from carnivores, wild drifting weathers, and small bugs that ate fruit from the planted trees. These can become quite a predicament when it comes to farming as well as taking care of them along with their babies and chicks as families and mammals become the center of the film’s dynamics.

There isn’t much from the entire plot here, “The Biggest Little Farm” is really light, fun-filled adventure to explore the valleys of nature and humankind all around. With a sharp eye with a careful glance of the setting and the characters, the plot and the story really fit well and falls to the category for both audiences and environmentalists. Even the dog serves as an advice and inspiration to both farmers. “The Biggest Little Farm” is a great film, but there’s nothing more to add to increase attention and see what the outside of the farm’s circle is. I loved it, but I can’t give a higher grade for this.



GRADE: B+

(Review by Henry Pham)



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Hellboy





Neil Marshall’s rendition of “Hellboy,” takes full advantage of the MPAA’s R-rating in that he relishes the violence factor throughout the running time.

This one does not have Ron Perlman, rather David Harbour of Netflix’s Emmy-winning “Stranger Things” as the title character, who lives in a place all his own.

Ian McShane of TV’s awesome “Deadwood” as well as “John Wick” is Hellboy’s father, professor Boom. He essentially oversees the Bureau for Paranormal Research Defense of which Hellboy is involved with in some capacity. Like the very inventive “Men in Black” franchise they are just a fictional part of the federal government.

Early on in the movie, a giant indiscriminately rips off the lower jaw of one of the priests on the grounds of the church in the middle of the countryside

Milla Jovovich of countless “Resident Evil” entries is the villain of the tale, an evil sorceress known as Nimue, aka The Blood Queen. Early on in the movie, she is dismembered and cut into various pieces and spread across the land during the reign of King Arthur.

Mark Stanley provides the necessary support as King Arthur earlier in the tale. Same goes for Brian Gleeson as Merlin, who knows about the various tricks of the trade

She thinks that being with Hellboy would be the perfect match, but Hellboy completely disagrees with that notion. He says that he is a “Capricorn,” and she is just fn’ nuts.”

Also involved in the storytelling tale are various ghouls, ugly entities and disfigured witches galore. One scene also involves a witch eating parts of a child in a stew.

Her identity is that of a creepy disfigured peg-legged old woman who just lives for the moment.

Marshall has done some great films, notably his sophomore effort, 2005’s “The Descent.” Although that was a horror entry, it had some dynamic storytelling techniques involving a group of friends encountering some netherworld blind zombies. He also was Emmy nominated for a couple of episodes of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” in 2012 and 2014.

Besides Marshall, another writer comes into the fold with Mike Mingola, who created Hellboy many years ago in a Dark Horse comic book of the same name. His writing captures the inventive fantasy dynamics that encapsulate the planet this new incarnation of Hellboy and the world it currently inhabits.

The rest of the cast, including Daniel Dae Kim (“TV’s “Hawaii-Five-O,”) Penelope Mitchell, Sophie Okonedo (Oscar nominee for “Hotel Rwanda”(2005) and Sasha Lane (“Hearts Beat Loud”). All fit the bill and are suited for the complete storyline.

I had such a good time watching these denizens fully embrace all of the characters and their identities. I just smiled all the way until the last frame of celluloid ended this engaging story.

When it comes down to it, “Hellboy” does what it’s supposed to do and just entertain the audience for a solid 2 hour spell. The $50 million budget shows up on the big screen, since one witnesses giants storming down the river Thames.
(Review by Ricky Miller)





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DallasIFF2019 - Midnight Family






MIDNIGHT FAMILY
*** (out of ****)

In Mexico City, a metropolis of nine million people is only served by 45 functioning government ambulance. This is the startling fact that begins Midnight Family, and indeed, the text continues to startle. In the wake of such an institutional or economic failure to serve the people, privately operated ambulance services spring up out of nowhere. Luke Lorentzen’s film follows the activities of one family that operates such a service, but while the calls they respond to are the central purpose of the film (providing what can only be described as “set pieces,” given the way the director captures the action), this is a movie that is more valuable for the things it has to say about this family.

A curious thing to notice from the beginning is the feeling of seeing staged moments within and involving this family. Some of this cannot be faked, such as the exhaustion felt by Fernando, the current patriarch of the Ochoa family, who takes medicine for and constantly checks his heart rate. This job is a source of enormous stress for the man, who must worry equally about the success of his business and the well-being of his family. The survival rate of his patients is certainly a concern, but of equal or greater concern for Fernando is the ability to pay for the equipment that is the vessel for that medical care.

The operation seems to have been manhandled by Fernando’s son Juan, a 16-year-old paramedic, wise beyond his years but also a bit conniving. As an example of this, take his treatment of an 18-year-old patient who has been viciously headbutted by a boyfriend: As willing as he is to call her mother, he also keeps in mind the necessity to send them to a private hospital. We do not come to understand the depths of this decision until the late in the film, when the full portrait of the capitalistic model of this ambulance is painted. It comes into full view with a remarkable sense of honesty and compassion. It also reveals a darker heart to these subjects. Josué, the youngest child, is an exception, but nearly everyone else here seems to be playing to the room.

Conversations, both on the phone and between people face-to-face, have an oddly staged feeling. The feeling is a wrong one: These are genuine people, but they also are trying to represent their business to a cameraman. The calls are genuinely terrifying, particularly the way Lorentzen (who was cinematographer and editor) sets the camera on the dashboard of the ambulance, amplifying the tension. The filmmaker could have gone a bit deeper into this aspect of the film, particularly its toll on this family (It also immediately lends itself to being serialized in television form). But Midnight Family is a curious and quite effective examination of economic straits.
(Review by Joel Copling)




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DallasIFF2019 - The Death of Dick Long







(Review by Chase Lee)




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DallasIFF2019 - Shadow







(Review by Chase Lee)




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Thursday, April 18, 2019

DallasIFF2019 - Midnight Family






(Review by Chase Lee)




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DallasIFF2019 - Brian Banks








(Review by Chase Lee)




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DallasIFF2019 - Girls of the Sun







(Review by Chase Lee)




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DallasIFF2019 - Girls of the Sun




GIRLS OF THE SUN
** (out of ****)

Girls of the Sun is not explicitly based on true events, though one can imagine that the story could be based in truth. Perhaps it is only wish fulfillment, but the existence of a group of Kurdish women, who were formerly captives of ISIL, forming a battalion to fight back against the forces who imprisoned them would be extraordinarily empowering. Surely, a group like this one does exist somewhere, and Husson has made a serviceable attempt to pay tribute to such a group.Those achievements are all in the broad strokes, of course. Assessing the film on its specific merits is a bit less rewarding, and that’s a shame.

Husson’s screenplay (in collaboration with Jacques Akchoti) starts as the story of Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot), a combat journalist whose appearance and demeanor seem specifically based on Marie Colvin (from the eyepatch to rumors of a major event in Homs, Syria). She arrives somewhere in Northern Kurdistan, intending to follow a group of women who have escaped captivity with ISIL, trained as soldiers, and formed a squad of militant vigilantes with minor support of the local military.We learn a little about Mathilde over the course of the story, such as the fate of her husband a few months before the beginning of this tale and the custody of her daughter at the hands of her parents.

The film is so devoted to telling Mathilde’s story that it is bookended by extended sequences from her perspective. Everything between that, though, is dominated by group leader Bahar, played by Golshifteh Farahani in a performance of breathtaking endurance (Note the way, in one scene, she dispatches a faceless enemy and keeps yelling for just a second-and-a-half longer than the act necessitates). We learn a bit more about Bahar, whose family has been ripped apart by ISIL in front of her eyes. Extended flashbacks reveal the breadth of the character’s endurance, too, in particular the maternal and militant roles she plays.

The film, though, seems indecisive about which of these stories it wants to tell in the beginning, and in the process, it does neither of those stories any favors. Mathilde remains something of a cypher, having only a single scene devoted to why she has become a war correspondent. Bahar comes out a little better, but her story is consistently used as a narrative device, with those flashbacks (which are quite extended, indeed) providing all the information but not really establishing a useful or insightful perspective. The singular point of Girls of the Sun is the horror of its story, and although that doesn’t mean the film is empty in any real way, it does only provide a single layer with which to work.
(Review by Joel Copling)



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DallasIFF2019 - American Factory




AMERICAN FACTORY
***½ (out of ****)

In 2008, General Motors shuttered its Dayton plant, leaving the residents of the Ohioan city in a scramble to find some foothold for itself. The year is not a coincidence, by the way: This was, indeed, on the tail end of the worst of the economic recession following the devastating housing bubble of 2007. We hear stories of what happened to some of the plant’s employees in the wake of its closing, and they are tragically predictable: One woman lost her home when she lost her job, forced to live in a single-room set-up in her sister’s basement. That, of course, is just one story. We do hear others, and the connecting point is the same: For a town like Dayton, the GM plant was a lifeline.

This is only the prologue of American Factory, a documentary equally as inquisitive as it is heartbreaking, which chronicles an attempt to put Dayton and its residents back on their feet. Potential salvation comes, not from an American company, but Fuyao, a Chinese glass manufacturing company. Its chairman, Cao Dewang, has decided to invest in American business. To that end, he has formed Fuyao Glass America, a Stateside division that will manufacture the glass found in windows and rearview mirrors of cars. It is a can’t-miss proposition, and by setting the business within the husk of the old GM plant, Cao has aimed directly at the heart of this town in dire economic straits.

What follows is a fascinating exploration of a series of dichotomies and contradictions within these opposing economic cultures. In China, workers live at their place of business, seeing their families only a handful of times per year and generally being run like work is basic training for the military. The attitude, of course, is one of productivity ahead of livelihood, and the Communistic structure is a huge part of this. In the long term, then, the result is exceptional productivity and incredible isolation. Wong, a worker in the furnace, has come to the United States and been separated from his family in the process. Once one realizes that he wouldn’t be around them much to begin with, it’s a bit of a kick in the gut.

In America, workers have more freedom. Weekends are a thing, the shifts are only eight hours (not including the paid, thirty-minute lunch break but including the two 15-minute breaks allowed on each side of lunch), and they get to see their family nearly every evening. Through the observational approach taken by directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, we see that such comfort and complacency have gotten in the way of efficiency in the workplace. Glass cracks or, because of a problem with the cooling temperature, explode. Once Chinese workers come in, the disparate styles of working slow production nearly to a halt.

Some of the early segments are amusing in a genuine, then cringeworthy, way, with workers on both sides of the cultural divide acting with bemusement at the differences (In the film’s funniest moment, Cao worries about the decorative purpose of an emergency fire alarm when its placement is mandated by law). When the central conflict – of a union threatening to form, following complaints of treatment and workplace injuries, and of Cao threatening the shuttering of a business in response – arises, though, American Factory earns all the feelings it elicits.
(Review by Joel Copling)



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DallasIFF2019 - Sister Aimee




SISTER AIMEE
*** (out of ****)

Sister Aimee weaves a complex, stranger-than-fiction tale, set against the dusty backdrops of California and Mexico in 1926, that, according to a title card, is about 95% fiction. The set-up here is based in truth: A famous evangelist once faked her death to escape the spotlight, then resurfaced after some time and a lot of tabloid-level rumors of infidelity and fraud. By all accounts, Sister Aimee Semple McPherson was a fraud, out to do this for money, and an entertainer, incorporating something of a concert/showboating element to her miraculous “healings” and sermons.

In their approach, writers/directors Samantha Buck and Marie Schlingman blend an ambitious mixture of nihilism and comedy. This is a self-contained world in the same way the worlds of the Coen brothers’ films are, and that also means it’s a pretty bleak one. Because of that, perhaps the screenplay relegates Sister Aimee (Anna Margaret Hollyman), at least for a while, to the role of passive protagonist. We don’t know much about the woman’s background, which is imparted mostly through quick flashbacks to a reverent crowd and a mother (played by Julie White) entranced by the income of her daughter’s services.

Aimee, though, despises the spotlight, drowning herself in promiscuity in response to it, and meets Kenny (Michael Mosley), a stranger who has a plan that whisks them both off to Mexico. All Aimee needs to do is fake her death and establish a new identity. They will be the Ormistons – Steven and Dot – and in order to make their way through Mexico, they hire a mysterious guide named Rey (Andrea Suarez Paz), whose mysterious past keeps time with a local legend. What follows is a twisted tale of murder, revenge, and imprisonment that the directors cut through with the relatively light comic touch.

It takes a little while to get into that rhythm and atmosphere, with the early parts of the film awkwardly introducing a lot of information through flashbacks as clunky narrative devices. The cinematography, provided by Carlos Valdes-Lora, is appropriate to the dusty-chestnut feel of a Western, except this one consistently subverts the tropes commonly connected to any film in the genre. A point is made to switch the gender roles of Aimee and Kenny, at least with regard to their place in the car being driven: Aimee eventually takes the wheel, after having been in the backseat for a time, and Kenny makes the same movement in the opposite direction.

The most intriguing character, though, is Rey, whose tragic past catches up to the present in unpredictable ways, and Suarez Paz is quite good at keeping much of the character’s emotion potential rather than active. She grounds the film and keeps its quirk energy from taking over entirely. The film almost crumples under the weight of its own strangeness, especially with a last-minute musical number that rather sticks out when it should bring the house down. Sister Aimee works, though, because it’s an odd duck. That alone should be enough to give it some credit.
(Review by Joel Copling)




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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

DallasIFF2019 - Before You Know It





Actress turned writer / director Hannah Pearl Utt opens her film, “Before You Know It,” with a long tracking shot following two women, Rachel (Utt) and Celia (Ayden Mayeri), as they walk down the street. Their conversation gives no indication of their relationship. It has a nice flow and seems like the two are comfortable with each other. That is until we find out that Rachel and Celia are on a date and that Rachel lives in an apartment with her father Mel (Mandy Patinkin), sister Jackie (Jen Tullock), and Jackie’s pre-teen daughter Dodge (Oona Yaffe) above a run-down theater. Celia seems uncomfortable with this fact and isn’t heard from again.

This opening scene highlights one of the strengths of Utt’s writing. Her characters are diverse but she doesn’t feel it necessary to shove the fact down the audience’s throat – a welcome change from movies where characters’ defining characteristics derive from what makes them different. In “Before You Know It,” Rachel is a woman who just happens to be a lesbian, a fact that doesn’t become her defining characteristic and isn’t mentioned again for most of the film.

Mel is a playwright, who is working on finishing his latest play – set to co-star actress daughter Jackie with Rachel working as stage manager. Mel has been chosen by a fellowship to receive an award in a ceremony he attends with his daughters. The ceremony does not go well. Mel rejects reading the speech he has written in favor of taunting the audience and the fellowship in an un-jovially childish act. Rachel and Jackie don’t have long to feel appalled by their father’s showmanship. Upon returning home that night, Mel, who has had too much to drink, slumps to his death on Jackie’s shoulder.

Through the reading of their father’s will, the sisters find that their once thought to be deceased mother is alive and well. She’s an actress on a popular daytime soap – and now the sole owner of the theater and apartment in which the sisters live.

Prior to their father’s death, an accountant – Charles (Mike Colter) – was hired to help the family sort out the theater’s finances. Charles finds that Mel has left his daughters with massive debt, causing Rachel to worry that once their mother learns this news she’ll sell the building, leaving her daughters and granddaughter homeless. Rachel also learns that Sherrell’s signature is required on a form in order for the women to continue holding performances in the venue, leaving her conflicted on their next course of action. Jackie becomes convinced that the best idea is to meet the woman, Sherrell (Judith Light), while Rachel remains reluctant.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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DallasIFF2019 - Deadtectives






In “Deadtectives,” a group of paranormal investigators, led by Sam (Chris Geere), with their own TV series, also called Deadtectives, go to a woman’s bakery to help her catch a “ghost” that is haunting her establishment. It doesn’t take long to realize that Sam and his crew – friend Javier (José María de Tavira), brother Lloyd (David Newman), and wife Kate (Tina Ivlev) – are a bunch of hacks, resorting to cheap parlor tricks to prove to bakery owner Ethel (Cecelia Antoinette) that they have rid her restaurant of the assumed spectral pest.

While Lloyd truly does believe in the paranormal (designing several contraptions reminiscent of objects used in other ghost themed movies – ghost seeing glasses ala William Castle’s “13 Ghosts” and, later, devices similar to the proton packs worn by the “Ghostbusters”), Sam, Javier, and Kate – Kate has grown more than a little uncomfortable with their shtick – do not. Kate reveals her concerns to Sam, hoping to get him to debunk Ethel’s haunting and ease the woman’s nerves. Ignoring Kate’s advice, Sam finishes the case by telling Ethel that her grandmother’s ghost is mad that she stole her recipe and claimed it for her own.

Director Tony West sets the goofy, tongue-in-cheek tone of “Deadtectives” from the opening scene. The guys, who do the “ghost” hunting while Kate watches on some monitors with their client, overact for their cameras, attempting to draw in viewers with their hysterics and raise their ratings. Kate seems the sole voice of reason and the only level-headed member of the group.

Producer Konrad (Cris Rice) is unhappy with the show, giving the group one more episode to turn things around before being canceled – also informing Sam that his wife plans on leaving the show and moving to another. Konrad forces a new producer, Abril (Martha Higareda), and effects supervisor, the creepy Bob (Mark Riley), onto the show with the intention of upping the scare quotient with more believable effects and tons of blood. He sends the group to Mexico where they are set to investigate a reported haunted house. In the face of cancellation, the Deadtectives find themselves with a new dilemma – ridding a truly haunted house of its ghosts when they have no clue what they are doing.

“Deadtectives” script, written by director Tony West and David Clayton Rogers, is a clever one. Haunted house, as well as slasher, tropes are worked in to the movie, played up with a comedic slant. The audience finds themselves in on the joke before the cast discovers the truth. The Deadtectives initially believe that effects master Bob is behind the strange events happening in the house.

The ham-fisted acting keeps the viewer from caring about the characters and causes the jokes to feel forced. Even when his character isn’t hamming it up for his show, Geere still plays his character too over-the-top. The other actors find themselves guilty of this as well. Again, Ivlev’s Kate is the most level-headed and believable of the group but her acting isn’t strong enough to carry the film.

Most of the comedic moments in “Deadtectives” feel forced, resulting in a movie that never finds it’s footing. “Deadtectives” works as neither a comedy nor a horror movie. It’s not particularly funny and it most definitely isn’t the least bit frightening. It’s a film that could have worked (and, to be honest, might still play well for the late-night crowds). Unfortunately, director West isn’t able to skillfully combine the two genres, resulting in another failed attempt at creating a cult movie.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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DallasIFF2019 - Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window






LEAVE THE BUS THROUGH THE BROKEN WINDOW
**½ (out of ****)

Having recently broken up with his girlfriend, Andrew Hevia embarked on a project to explore the Hong Kong art scene. Arriving there with little money and less preparation, he found himself ill-equipped to explore such a scene: He had never learned Chinese history or to speak the language of the region, and the apartment he was able to afford was comprised of two small cubbies (the living area on the bottom and a bed positioned on top) for a total living space of forty square feet. Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window is as much an exposé of the local art world as it is about his experiences trying to find an entryway into it.

The first thing one notices is that the writer/director refuses to adhere to the traditional rules of documentary filmmaking. The narration, which complements the imagery instead of leading it or simply relaying what we are seeing, is delivered via the automated voice of a dictation program. The voice that Hevia adopts is second-person, placing the viewer in the shoes of the filmmaker and intentionally causing the unnerving feeling of being the one to and with whom everyone is talking. We hear Hevia’s actual voices only once here, and it isn’t in the context of narration but in the background of a scene late in the film.

That choice of narration, then, is a bit of a joke, and it is pretty funny, especially when Hevia gives the robotic voice a few choice curse words to speak. The gimmick, though, wears a bit thin as the filmmaker proceeds to rely entirely upon it to tell this story of exploration, discovery, and the cultural divide between filmmaker and subject. The result is that he feels more than a little bit out of his depth. As potentially fascinating as these ideas are, the director hasn’t quite honed his craft to convey it convincingly. The camera is quite clearly of the digital-home-video variety, and the images are subsequently lo-fi and almost voyeuristic in nature.

As for those ideas, they arrive inherently with the kind of experience Hevia has here. He stumbles through the streets of Hong Kong, meeting various artists but sometimes unable to capture their art on video in the way he would like. We get names and faces here, but because of Hevia’s rush to record everything, they rather blur together eventually. One man paints images from popular Chinese movies of the past. Another uses plantlife to enhance a work of landscape art. An installation piece involves statues looming from atop buildings, which is rather creepy in the night sky. The art is interesting, and Hevia has made his own installation piece of sorts. With its unique approach to documenting an experience, Leave the Bus Through the Window nearly elevates itself. Then there is the undeniable feeling that it only scratches the surface of Hevia’s own ideas.
(Review by Joel Copling)





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DallasIFF2019 - American Factory






(Review by Chase Lee)



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DallasIFF2019 - Sister Aimee








(Review by Chase Lee)



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