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

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Jun 30 - Jul 6



We made it through June! On to July and the heat!

According to Mind on Movies they won't be doing a promo screening for Lion King. That's disappointing but no long crowded lines. We will have to shell out some $$ to see it.

Y'all are still responding to the list when someone offers passes. You MUST reply to the person offering the pass and not to the whole group.

It's a holiday weekend so only one screening this week.

Jun 30 - Jul 6

Tue - Jul 2

Stuber - 7:00 pm = Angelika





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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Yesterday






(Review by Chase Lee)




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Yesterday





Who doesn't love the Beatles? The English pop group exploded on the scene in the early 60's and took over the music world with their huge catalog of unforgettable music as a group and their solo projects. But what if the world didn't know they even existed and their tunes where lost to the the void. That's the premise of the film directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and written with Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually). Curtis infuses the story with his unique talent for quirky romances. While this movie is sort of about the music, it's really the unrequited romance brewing.

Himesh Patel is brilliant as Jack Malik, a struggling singer/songwriter who has yet to find any type of success outside of his handful of faithful friends. He's managed by long time best friend Ellie (Lily Collins), a school teacher, who finds him gigs in all sorts of places with unfortunately very small and uninterested audiences. Jack has basically decided to give it all up when he's hit by a bus during a world wide black out that lasts 12 seconds. Ellie gives him a new guitar since he lost it in the accident so he plays his friends Paul McCarthy's Yesterday as a thank you. His friends are gobsmacked and wonder when he wrote it. Insisting it was Paul...of George, Paul, John and Ringo...the Beatles, they have no idea what he is talking about. Googling the Beatles brings a search for bugs. Looking through his record albums, all his Beatle albums are gone. He begins to try and remember every Beatle songs, littering his wall with post it's while trying to recall the lyrics. It all begins to cascade from there. He finds a local studio where he cuts a CD of Beatles hits and hands them out to customers where he works at wholesale warehouse. The local TV show feature's him as the singing warehouse worker. Ed Sheeran sees the show and comes by his house and asks him to open his tour of Europe.

The fame and success that he's worked for most of his life is finally happening, but Jack feels guilty because he didn't actually write these songs. He falls in with Ed's smarmy music industry agent Debra Hammer (Kate McKinnon who is wonderfully wicked) who brings him to California to record and remake his image into a proper product. Jack finds himself in a complicated mess of the music world overkill, fans chasing him everywhere and longing for the simple life with his pals and his best friend Ellie. It's a sweet and sometimes predictable story of you don't know what you got til it's gone. Then there's these mysterious people waving a Yellow Submarine at him feeding his paranoia. The best part is the Beatles are re-introduced to this new generation with fresh arrangements. His rendition of Help! is full of urgent angst that almost outshines the original. It's easily the feel good movie of the year an Ed Sheeran is in it.
(Review by reesa)




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ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE DFW EXTENDS TEACHER APPRECIATION WEDNESDAYS THROUGH AUGUST!





ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE DFW EXTENDS
TEACHER APPRECIATION WEDNESDAYS
THROUGH AUGUST!


Teacher-themed Special Menu available to teachers (and everyone!)
all day long on Wednesdays through August 28!

Dallas, TX - June 27, 2019 - Alamo Drafthouse DFW is excited to announce that Teacher Appreciation Wednesdays are extending through the rest of the summer at all Alamo Drafthouse DFW locations!

Teachers, faculty and school staff can enjoy a FREE ticket every Wednesday before 5:00pm until August 28, 2019. Bring your valid faculty or school employee ID to the box office and choose from any regular show before 5:00pm on any Wednesday in July and August. Homeschooling parents, you're included too. Just bring along documentation that shows that you are also a teacher.

Additionally, Alamo Drafthouse DFW has created a teacher-themed special menu that will only be available on Teacher Appreciation Wednesdays in July and August. Featuring Chalk Dusted Popcorn (popcorn dusted with white cheddar seasoning), the Professor Pie Shake (an apple pie shake topped with caramel sauce, whip cream and graham cracker crumbles), Principal Pretzel & Coach Beer Cheese (salted pretzel bites with a side of beer cheese), and other delights, the special menu will be available to ALL guests throughout the entire day each Wednesday through August 28.


The Teacher Appreciation Wednesday offer is only valid in person at the box office at the six DFW-area locations: Alamo Drafthouse Cedars, Denton, Lake Highlands, Las Colinas, North Richland Hills, and Richardson. Offer excludes special events (Movie Parties, Video Dance Parties, Feasts, etc.).

Alamo Drafthouse DFW social media:
Facebook: facebook.com/AlamoDrafthouseDFW
Twitter: twitter.com/AlamoDFW
Instagram: instagram.com/alamodfw
Website: drafthouse.com/dfw



About Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was founded in 1997 as a single-screen mom and pop repertory theater in Austin, TX. Twenty-two years later, with 38 locations and counting, Alamo Drafthouse has been called "the best theater in America" by Entertainment Weekly and "the best theater in the world" by Wired. Alamo Drafthouse has built a reputation as a movie lover's oasis not only by combining food and drink service with the movie-going experience, but also introducing unique programming and high-profile, star-studded special events. Alamo Drafthouse created Fantastic Fest, a world renowned film festival dubbed "The Geek Telluride" by Variety. Fantastic Fest showcases eight days of genre cinema from independents, international filmmakers and major Hollywood studios. Alamo Drafthouse's collectible art gallery, Mondo, offers breathtaking, original products featuring designs from world-famous artists based on licenses for popular TV and Movie properties including Star Wars, Star Trek & Universal Monsters. Alamo Drafthouse continues to expand its brand in new and exciting ways, including Birth.Movies.Death., an entertainment content platform for movie lovers, and the American Genre Film Archive, a nonprofit film archive dedicated to preserving, restoring and sharing film.


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ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE PRESENTS A “KING-SIZE SUMMER” CELEBRATING MASTER OF HORROR STEPHEN KING




ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE PRESENTS A
“KING-SIZE SUMMER”
CELEBRATING MASTER OF HORROR
STEPHEN KING

Austin, TX – June 27, 2019 – Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is celebrating the master of horror Stephen King with a curated selection of cult and classic adaptations, beginning in July through the highly anticipated release of IT: CHAPTER TWO. Kicking off with a month of Terror Tuesday programming in Austin and culminating in nationwide screenings of four films in all Alamo Drafthouse cities, audiences will be able to experience a “King-Size Summer” of terror on the big screen once again.

The lineup includes an Alamo Drafthouse-wide re-release of CREEPSHOW, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, THE RUNNING MAN, and STAND BY ME starting in August, along with select screenings of additional classics like CARRIE, PET SEMATARY, THE MIST, and more!

“We’re crazy with anticipation for IT: CHAPTER TWO, so to ease the wait, we’re revisiting some of our favorite Stephen King adaptations,” said Sarah Pitre, senior director of programming and promotions. “These screenings will provide a chilling countdown to the final chapter of one of his most beloved works of fiction. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to build up our fear tolerance before we’re scared out of our minds by IT: CHAPTER TWO!!”

From terrifying classics (CARRIE) to anthologies (CREEPSHOW), coming of age dramas (STAND BY ME) and sci-fi dystopias (THE RUNNING MAN) Stephen King adaptations have captivated audiences for decades.

“Stephen King loves genre movies as much as we do,” said Joe Ziemba, director of genre programming. “From gushing about horror in the non-fiction book DANSE MACABRE to directing MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, King’s passion for film is infectious. That feeling is represented in every movie that we’ve chosen in this celebration of his cinematic legacy.”

CREEPSHOW
(Alamo Drafthouse-wide)
The seminal 1980s horror anthology to end all seminal 1980s horror anthologies, CREEPSHOW is pop-art splatterfest that’s oozing with senior citizen zombies, bad dads, furry beasties, disco dance-offs, cockroach war-zones, and Stephen King turning into a plant.

MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (Alamo Drafthouse-wide)
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE is the ultimate Stephen King retreat into total excess, a savage glimpse into the horror maestro’s deepest id and weirdest whims. King directs King! A plastic Green Goblin steals the show! Prepare to be THUNDERSTRUCK! Wheeling between high-octane action, gruesome bloodletting, and goofball humor, this is an explosive oil pyre of F-U-N.

THE RUNNING MAN (Alamo Drafthouse-wide)
Based on a novella by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman), this violent and legitimately funny sci-fi action romp is an underrated classic of the ‘80s.

STAND BY ME (Alamo Drafthouse-wide)
Based on Stephen King’s novella, Rob Reiner’s film about the sadness that comes with the end of childhood innocence still maintains an emotional resonance decades later. Entertaining, moving, beautifully shot and naturally acted STAND BY ME is one of the most unpretentious looks at that too-often used buzz term of "coming of age."

CARRIE (Brooklyn, Yonkers)
Thanks to Stephen King and Brian DePalma, prom was transformed from a symbol of happiness to a violent hellscape of death. With DePalma’s bag of stylized tricks and King’s knack for pulpy shocks, CARRIE is a special kind of horror masterpiece that only comes along once every two-thousand years.

CHRISTINE (Austin, Brooklyn)
CHRISTINE is John Carpenter's go-for-broke assault on coming-of-age sentimentality in the form of a killer car movie. Adapted from Stephen King's novel and feeling like it’s set one town over from Haddonfield in HALLOWEEN, this brooding hellraiser plays out like a greatest hits compilation from Carpenter and King's respective careers.

THE DARK HALF (Austin)
Based on King’s meta-fueled novel and directed by horror legend Romero (DAWN OF THE DEAD), THE DARK HALF is a smart and overlooked creeper from the pre-SCREAM era.

THE DEAD ZONE (Austin)
A super-powers team-up between director David Cronenberg (THE FLY) and Stephen King seems like an impossible dream. But it happened. And it’s GREAT.

FIRESTARTER
(Austin)
No matter what script you start with, any film with the star of PATTON, the star of APOCALYPSE NOW, and the star of E.T. – all directed by the guy who did CLASS OF 1984 – is gonna turn out pretty wonderful. What a bonus, then, to have it be a whackadoo Stephen King adaptation.

THE GREEN MILE (Austin)
Based upon the Stephen King serial novel, the Academy Award nominated THE GREEN MILE is a dense and enthralling film that'll lead to introspection and the thought of what it means to lead a truly fulfilling life.

THE MIST (Austin)
A wonderful blend of slimy creature-feature horror, paranoia, and commentary on the inherent terror of just being inside a grocery store. It’s also a total gem, and one of the meanest Stephen King adaptations ever put to film. Featuring scenery-chomping performances by the likes of Tom Jane and Marcia Gay Harden – as well as acid-spiders, a giant squid, and spindle-legged beasties that would have made Salvador Dali scream with delight – THE MIST never shies away being a nasty little piece of nightmare-fuel.

PET SEMATARY
(Austin, Brooklyn)
The original adaptation of Stephen King's meditation on grief, scripted by King himself and directed by Mary Lambert, is heartbreaking, horrific, and a touch campy. Complete with a theme song from the Ramones, PET SEMATARY sums up how we all really feel about death – it's "no fair."

SLEEPWALKERS (Austin, San Francisco)
Filled with gory carnage, jaw-dropping special effects, and a constant barrage of insanity, SLEEPWALKERS is the ultimate WTF party in Stephen King’s filmography. It’s a blast.


Alamo Drafthouse DFW social media:
Facebook: facebook.com/AlamoDrafthouseDFW
Twitter: twitter.com/AlamoDFW
Instagram: instagram.com/alamodfw
Website: drafthouse.com/dfw



About Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was founded in 1997 as a single-screen mom and pop repertory theater in Austin, TX. Twenty-two years later, with 38 locations and counting, Alamo Drafthouse has been called "the best theater in America" by Entertainment Weekly and "the best theater in the world" by Wired. Alamo Drafthouse has built a reputation as a movie lover's oasis not only by combining food and drink service with the movie-going experience, but also introducing unique programming and high-profile, star-studded special events. Alamo Drafthouse created Fantastic Fest, a world renowned film festival dubbed "The Geek Telluride" by Variety. Fantastic Fest showcases eight days of genre cinema from independents, international filmmakers and major Hollywood studios. Alamo Drafthouse's collectible art gallery, Mondo, offers breathtaking, original products featuring designs from world-famous artists based on licenses for popular TV and Movie properties including Star Wars, Star Trek & Universal Monsters. Alamo Drafthouse continues to expand its brand in new and exciting ways, including Birth.Movies.Death., an entertainment content platform for movie lovers, and the American Genre Film Archive, a non-profit film archive dedicated to preserving, restoring and sharing film.





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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Jun 23 - Jun 29



Wow...its almost July. This past month has moved quickly. Lots of humidity and rain. I guess we can look forward to triple digits for next month. Yuk.

We still have Lion King to look forward to soon. Remember if you see something please share with group. PLEASE make sure you write directly to the person offering passes. If it comes to the group mail it will be rejected.



June 23 - June 27

Mon - Jun 24

Yesterday - 7:00 pm - Cinemark Northeast Mall Hurst
Annebelle Comes Home - 7:30 pm - Cinemark 17

Tue - Jun 25

Yesterday - 7:00 pm - Angelika

Wed - Jun 26

Spiderman Comes Home - 7:30 pm - Alamo Drafthouse Lake HIghlands and AMC Northpark






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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Oak Cliff Film Festival - Daniel Isn't Real






A man enters a diner and starts shooting at everyone inside. A small boy, Luke (Griffin Robert Faulkner), flees his parent’s New York City apartment to get away from their constant bickering. The two unconnected events become a turning point in Luke’s life when he happens upon the crime scene, now taped off and in the process of being investigated by police, the shooter’s bullet-ridden body hanging out the diner’s open door. As he observes this disturbing tableau, Luke meets a new friend, Daniel (Nathan Chandler Reid). His friendship with his new friend, who only Luke can see, leads to trouble resulting in his mother (Mary Stuart Masterson) forcing him to lock his troublesome imaginary friend up in her mother’s old dollhouse.

Years later, Luke (Miles Robbins) moves out of his mother’s home and across the city into a college dorm. Her mental health, stable while she was caring for her son, takes a sharp decline following his move causing Luke to worry that he may someday inherit her schizophrenia symptoms. Luke’s psychologist (Chukwudi Iwuji) suggests facing his childhood demons head-on and encourages him to release his imaginary friend from his holding cell, the dollhouse. Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) is fully grown now too and his demented streak has only gotten worse.

Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer and based on a novel, “In This Way I Was Saved,” by Brian DeLeeuw, who co-wrote the screenplay with Mortimer, “Daniel Isn’t Real” is a horror film that plays with the audience’s expectations. Daniel attempts to enforce his personality on Luke. At first, helping him out by introducing him to a pair of potential romantic interests – Cassie (Sasha Lane) and Sophie (Hannah Marks) – before delving once again into his darker personality traits. Is Daniel a symptom of an emerging mental illness or is he something else?

Robbins and Schwarzenegger play off each other nicely. Schwarzenegger plays a Tyler Durden-esque character (complete with the character’s stylishly loud outfits) to Robbins meeker Narrator-like one. Not that “Fight Club” is a film that is completely comparable to this one but the dynamic between Daniel and Luke has a similar feel to the one between Tyler Durden and the Narrator. Schwarzenegger’s Daniel domineers over the screen as Robbins’s Luke attempts to remove his imaginary friend from his life once and for all.

By this movie’s finale, things may not go in the direction you expect. Mortimer puts the film together well – finely acted, well shot, and compellingly told. “Daniel Isn’t Real” isn’t a perfect movie but the right audience will have a lot of fun with it. Hopefully, they won’t end up surrounded by people whose cell phones continually go off during the film like I did, making me wonder if I’d have a slightly higher opinion of this without the many distractions.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Movies Scheduled for the Week of June 16 - June 22


Happy Father's Day!!! Major love and hugs to all the dad's or dad substitutes out there.

Sorry for not posting the schedule last week. Had some "issues" Thanks to Aly for posting it to Facebook.

Y'all know we have a Facebook group, we are on Twitter, and YouTube. We also have a website where our movie reviews are posted from our writers who diligently cover the screenings, film festivals and screeners. Check out some of their work.

Reminder: Before adding all your friends to our Facebook group, please make sure they live in the DFW area. Because if their profile says they live elsewhere they will be declined. Thanks.

Also if you are having problems with those websites where you redeem those passes, please write to them and not to our Yahoo Group. We just provide the information we get to share with y'all. There is nothing we can do to make it work.


June 16 - June 22

Tue - June 18

Annebelle Comes Home - 7:00 pm - AMC Northpark
Toy Story 4 - 7:00 pm - Angelika Dallas and AMC Grapevine

Thu - June 20

Stuber - 7:00 pm - Angelika




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Oak Cliff Film Festival - Ham on Rye





Tyler Taormina’s “Ham on Rye” is like a dystopian take on Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused.” Taormina’s film focuses on a group of teens preparing for an event. The exact nature of this event is never made entirely clear until it finally occurs mid-way through the movie. The film has a kaleidoscopic feel due to the way Taormina weaves in and out of social groups, capturing these awkward teen’s interactions within their cliques and among their peers. There’s no clear-cut narrative or lead character in this film, at least not one that is instantly recognizable.

“Ham on Rye,” written and directed by Taormina with Eric Berger co-writing the script, seems like an extension of Taormina’s earlier short, “Wild Flies.” The short, also absent of a clear narrative as the camera weaves through multiple groups of people in a pizza parlor, has a similar feel to the one created here. Taormina’s goal seems to be leaving his viewers with an impression of his characters like they are sitting in a crowded area people watching instead of allowing them to grow connected to any one character.

Opening with shots, constantly switching to new subjects, of boys and girls putting on dress clothes, the first guess would be they are preparing for a school dance. Possibly prom? Whatever it is, there’s a sense of excitement – the kids seem eager and their parents (at least the ones we see) seem rapturous. The teens take various routes to their destination. Some of them choose to walk, others to ride with older siblings, while a handful are abandoned, left on the side of the road as the rest of their peers move forward.

Taormina’s film is a metaphor for coming-of-age. The first half is optimistic with the bright and cheerful photography suggesting a promising future, though there is a slight undercurrent of malaise present in a couple of the characters. It’s enigmatic while hinting that some answers will come. There is a lot left for the audience to decipher themselves, something that can more often than not begin to produce irritation. The second half changes gears following the teen’s party. Taormina suggests through his character’s moods and behavior what happens to those who stick around in a small town after high school. It’s depressing and, in a way, insulting in its implications that those who stay behind are losers or lost in some way, though he does attempt to give one character a hopeful future in the film’s concluding moments.

“Ham on Rye” is at first intriguing before becoming frustrating. The second act drags out longer than it should. Although this movie is brief, 85 minutes, it might have been stronger with a shorter length. This film’s point is made long before it’s final shot.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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Friday, June 14, 2019

Oak Cliff Film Festival - Satanic Panic






It's Sam’s (Hayley Griffith) first day as a pizza delivery girl. As the new employee, she’s given the worst customers to deliver to – those who don’t tip. Hearing her boss call out a new delivery for a party happening in a ritzy part of town outside the restaurant’s delivery area, she quickly volunteers in hopes of receiving a large tip. Her boss has demanded a five-dollar deposit for her to use the delivery bags, leaving her desperate for tips to use as gas money. Sam arrives at the large house only to have the man who accepts the order silently close the door in her face without leaving her a tip. Discovering that her scooter won’t start, the already enraged Sam finds her way into the mansion to demand a tip, never a smart idea but an especially poor one this time. The party-goers are a group of Satanists who have just found out that their sacrificial virgin isn’t one and quickly find out that Sam is.

Danica (Rebecca Romijn) – sleek, stylish, commanding – is the leader of this cult, which seems to include everyone living in the immediate area. After unsuccessfully attempting to hold Sam until they are ready to perform the ritual, she and her cohorts do everything in their power to find her.

“Satanic Panic,” directed by Chelsea Stardust and written by popular horror author Grady Hendrix, is a cheeky horror-comedy. The film, produced by Fangoria, attempts to take a tone similar to something Sam Raimi (“Drag Me to Hell”) would make, combining humor with over-the-top horror elements. The snappy dialogue, mostly from the cult’s ex-virgin Judi (Ruby Modine) and Danica’s right-hand Gypsy (Arden Myrin), creates a lot of the movie’s humorous moments.

Fangoria’s preference for practical effects over computer wizardry gives the movie an edge. Stardust allows all hell to break loose in her movie – cast members are attacked by inanimate objects, organs are turned into monsters, etc. There’s plenty of gunk flying around the screen. As a whole, the effects used look great, even if they occasionally don’t look completely believable. This mostly applies to the monster make-up which leans toward goofiness.

Although “Satanic Panic” has a lot of the ingredients horror fans seek out, it still came across as lacking. The humor often didn’t work and the sense of “fun” (fun is only in quotation marks because some people will surely scoff at the idea of a horror movie being fun) the filmmakers were going for didn’t totally come through. Stardust’s movie is entertaining enough, it just never rises up into something stellar. It’s likely to become a cult hit with some horror fans and is worth seeking out later in the year when it’s released (September 6) in theaters.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Oak Cliff Film Festival - Veslemøy's Song / The Grand Bizarre




The first of Sunday’s screenings at the Oak Cliff Film Festival was a double-header of sorts, two short films. One a brief short that didn’t end up fitting into its original block of shorts and the other a longer short that isn’t long enough to be considered a feature.



This block opened with “Veslemøy's Song” directed by Sofia Bohdanowicz. In the short, a young woman, Audrey (Deragh Campbell), discovers that her grandfather’s violin teacher, Kathleen Parlow (somewhat famous during her lifetime but since faded into obscurity), had an orchestral piece dedicated to her. Audrey’s quest to hear the piece takes her to the New York Public Library where an appointment has to be made to listen to the rare recording. Apparently, Bohdanowicz’s film combines documentary with fictional drama, something I didn’t pick up on while watching it. There really wasn’t anything special about this short, told mostly through voiceover supplied by Campbell. It’s not a particularly interesting story and nothing much happens before it abruptly ends.


The second selection, “The Grand Bizarre,” is more experimental in nature. Directed by Jodie Mack, “The Grand Bizarre” doesn’t attempt to tell a story. Instead, Mack creates a mood, established via a series of photographs featuring multiple pieces of fabric. Her film has a visual style reminiscent of the stop-motion some musicians used for their music videos in the 1980s, think Peter Gabriel’s video for “Sledgehammer” or Nu Shooz’s video for “Point of No Return,” or animator Norman McLaren used in shorts like “Neighbours” and “Dots.” The imagery is driven by a soundtrack that also veers towards the experimental. The lack of a traditional narrative may sound daunting but if you allow yourself to go with the flow and get absorbed in the mood she’s creating you might like what you see. I’d be lying if I said I completely enjoyed Mack’s film, it does feel like it goes on a little too long. There were several moments I found myself wondering how much longer it would last.

Neither short is something I’d recommend to casual viewers but if you’re curious I’d check out “The Grand Bizarre” over “Veslemøy’s Song.” While both lack a good narrative, Mack’s film feels more purposeful than Bohdanowicz’s.
(Review by Bret Oswald)


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5B






5B
*** (out of ****)

5B is expertly, if deliberately, balanced between the personal and the political. The first half of Paul Haggis and Dan Krauss’s documentary archives the lives and, in some cases, deaths of the earliest survivors and victims in the AIDS crisis, and upon a clearly delineated shift in tone and pacing, the second half examines the wrongful perceptions of the disease and the political response to it, at least in the United States. There is something a bit clinical in the film’s approach, which must inevitably include some surprises at the end of a couple of the stories it tells. Perhaps framing those developments as surprises is a bit of a cheat.

Perhaps, though, the impulse is a different one. After all, this is a documentary that seeks to break down the misconceptions of the fatal syndrome that swept through vulnerable parts of the world most intensely in the late 1970s and the first half of the 1980s, until a type of protease inhibitor made contracting AIDS, following a diagnosis of HIV, thankfully less likely. The documentary is constantly a kick in the stomach by the realities of this disease. Many of the interview subjects, for instance, must be the doctors and nurses who attempted to treat the disease in patients with that fateful prognosis.

The reason, of course, is its own, somber reality check: Most of the interview subjects who would be in a position to talk about the effects of the disease have long since succumbed to it. Only half of Haggis and Krauss’s intentions lie with an account of those effects, however. The main subjects were once healthcare workers on the eponymous ward, dedicated to AIDS patients after an excruciating period of misinformation and paranoia about the disease, of the San Francisco General Hospital. The ward closed in 2003, twenty years after being established by a few handfuls of rebellious doctors.

The need for the ward rose from the prevailing and incorrect belief that mere touch, then the swapping of mucus or other fluids, spread the disease that would kill tens of thousands of people by the time it was addressed by those in a Presidential administration. It would be several years before the realization of its being a bloodborne illness occurred, and by then, an old prejudice had already set in. Doctors and nurses in what would become ward 5B had a radical solution: Physical touch was sympathetically nurturing to these wounded and weathered souls.

The outrage came from that old prejudice: It was believed that the illness, which first and most seriously affected gay men, sprung up out of the ether of, what was considered to be, a delinquent lifestyle. Bathhouses were seen as massive orgies and grounds-zero for the epidemic (and news reports, specifically calibrated to underline this fear, are eye-opening to that effect). Medical professionals sent away those suffering the disease to die in agony and solitude. A nurse, infected with the disease after an accidental needle prick, was then ushered into anonymity when it was believed that mere exposure to the disease was synonymous with sexual deviancy.

One of the great coups of this achievement, by the way, is the revelation of who that nurse, labeled “Jane Doe” in the wake of the incident, really is and the perspective of the person who went through that initial fright of contracting an incurable disease. Facts and the names of people come and go quickly, which may be why this review hasn’t mentioned any. Haggis and Krauss are more interested in the broad story of the ward’s opening and, through a brief examination of President Ronald Reagan’s weak response, political impact. 5B could do to go deeper, but as a document and act of political activism, it’s quite affecting.
(Review by Joel Copling)






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The Last Black Man in San Francisco






(Review by Chase Lee)



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Late Night







(Review by Chase Lee)



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5B





Although it’s a well-known topic, the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s is hard to grasp for those of us who were not alive during that time period (or old enough to comprehend - or care about - the then happening current events). It’s a topic that has occasionally popped up when talking with older generations but hearing (or reading) about an issue isn't as impactful as seeing it.

"5B" focuses on the nation's first ward, located in San Francisco General Hospital, designed specifically for the purpose of treating people with the disease. As with any new epidemic, victims were often met with fear and open hostility. Things weren't helped by the fact that this was happening solely in the homosexual community, a demographic already met with derision and condescension.

Even those who worked in the medical field dreaded interacting with the exponentially increasing number of patients. Some nurses and doctors flat out refused to work with them, resulting in patients being left without food and lying in soiled sheets. While their fear is understandable, something needed to change. Enter Cliff Morrison, a young nurse who worked for San Francisco General Hospital, the mastermind behind ward 5B.

In their documentary, co-directors Paul Haggis and Dan Krauss unfold the story of the AIDS virus, originally known as "gay cancer." The time period, 1970s San Francisco, is established via a montage of footage as rock-star Blondie's "Dreaming" plays in the background, showing the mood of the city before shifting into the documentary's main focus - the sudden appearance of the disease in the early 1980s and the alarmingly quick rate at which those who contracted it passed.

"5B" follows Morrison and a handful of his nurses as they are interviewed about their time working in the ward. Through their interviews and selected footage found from that time period the horror of the situation is made clear. The footage will surely upset most audience members (several of the viewers in the auditorium were sniffling by the time the documentary finished). Haggis and Krauss don't shy away from showing the nastiness of the disease head-on, focusing at times on footage showing the intense suffering the disease causes in those infected.

One of the strengths of Haggis and Krauss's documentary is that they allow people from both sides of the argument to discuss their points. Morrison and his crew discuss treating their patients with compassion including interacting with patients without the use of protective gear. This is one topic I thought wasn't explained too clearly. Did they mean no gloves at all or no gloves for casual contact? Also interviewed are doctors and politicians who were more conservative with their approach to treating the disease. Some of the points they bring up do make sense. Unfortunately, Haggis and Krauss don't do a good job of explaining why their opinions/solutions were not the best options to solve the problem.

"5B" is an enlightening documentary. It will be hard for some people to watch, but it's definitely worth the effort to watch despite some problems.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Oak Cliff Film Festival - Knives and Skin






Jennifer Reeder’s “Knives and Skin” opens with a mother standing outside her daughter’s bedroom. She’s holding a knife and giving the impression that she intends to harm her child. The scene’s lighting and music giving off the sense of malicious intent – not to mention the fact that she’s furtively holding the knife behind her back as if she plans to surprise her daughter with it once she opens the door. There’s malice present in Reeder’s film, but this woman, Lisa Harper (Marika Engelhardt), whose daughter, Carolyn (Raven Whitley), is about to go missing, is not the harbinger of it.

Lisa uses the knife to pick the lock to her daughter’s bedroom, illuminated in neon blues and reds and bringing to mind the work of some Italian directors, to find her daughter not there. The missing Carolyn is out with a boy, Andy (Ty Olwin), one of the school’s star athletes. Finding that Carolyn isn’t going to put out, Andy abandons her in their isolated make-out spot. It’s a bad decision that comes back to haunt him when Carolyn doesn’t return.

“Knives and Skin,” written and directed by Reeder, focuses on the fallout from Carolyn’s disappearance. How it affects the townspeople, her mother, and her classmates. Reeder’s film covers multiple themes, including subjects like adultery and bullying, in its subplots involving the film’s many peculiar characters. Initially starting strong, the movie begins to lose itself with its multiple storylines. Reeder focuses on so many characters that at times it’s difficult to remember who is who, especially when the focus returns to a character who was only briefly introduced in a previous scene.

Characters often break out into dirge-like covers of 80s pop songs. Since Lisa is the school’s choir teacher, most of these take place while she’s conducting her class. These scenes are also used to illustrate her continually declining mental health in light of her daughter’s disappearance. Other songs occur in ways that make the characters seem as if they are part of some demented version of “Glee.” It’s a quirk shared among the film’s many odd characters, though not used frequently enough to classify this film as a musical. The songs don’t help move the story along either, often acting only as filler.

Oddity for oddities sake seems to rule the world of “Knives and Skin.” From glowing glasses and shining, continually bleeding cuts to an unemployed adult deciding his next career move should be working as a clown, Reeder includes all manner of strangeness in her film. The movie is stylistic enough to be visually interesting but the content starts to get tiresome by the movie’s second half. Eventually, “Knives and Skin” becomes an endurance exercise. Her film takes its time wrapping things up, focusing on the characters while ignoring all the supernatural nonsense brought up throughout, causing the movie’s final impression to be one of frustration.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Monday, June 10, 2019

Oak Cliff Film Festival - Greener Grass





“Greener Grass” opens with a shot focused on a small boy, Julian (Julian Hilliard), yawning in the middle of a field as a game of soccer is played around him. Eventually, the boy having no desire to participate, he’s struck (barely) by another child and, after a delayed reaction, falls to the field, screaming and carrying on like he’s been severely injured. For “Greener Grass,” Julian’s behavior is just the start of the oddities.

Julian’s mother, Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer), and her friend, Lisa (Dawn Luebbe), are sitting on the bleachers watching the game. Both women are dressed in bright colors, their immediate surroundings just as bright, cheerful, and welcoming. But, as evidenced by Julian’s recent meltdown, the lives of the people in “Greener Grass” are anything but normal. While the women have been sitting and chatting, Jill’s been holding on to her newborn baby. Suddenly, in the midst of the conversation, Lisa acknowledges the presence of the “new” child. Jill responds by randomly offering her child to her, which Lisa accepts. The camera then zooms in on Jill’s grotesque, forced, and wavering grin, braces shining in her saliva-filled mouth (all the adults in “Greener Grass” wear braces), as the movie’s opening credits play.

Stuck in a country club-like community where everyone drives a golf cart and dresses like they are ready for a round of golf, the film’s characters compete amongst themselves, frantically trying to make sure it’s known they are just as good (or, hopefully, better) than their neighbors. Lisa announces her son Bob (Asher Miles Fallica) is now in an advanced after-school math program, prompting Jill to quickly proclaim that Julian needs to be tested to join this too. Her husband, Nick (Beck Bennett), nonchalantly states that admittance was based on previously done standardized testing and that their dud of a son didn’t score high enough. This absurdist comedy only gets sillier as it progresses. Its co-stars (DeBoer and Luebbe) are also the film’s co-writers and co-directors. The duo has a firm grasp on what they want to present to viewers with their bubble-gum coated, weirdo version of hell, solely focused on demolishing Jill’s happy façade.

The photography from cinematographer Lowell A. Meyer looks fantastic. The set’s vibrant colors pop off the screen and scenes are excellently framed. Performances from the cast, who somehow manage to keep a straight face throughout each bizarre situation, are equally strong. Yet, in spite of this film’s production values, “Greener Grass” just doesn’t work. It often feels like DeBoer and Luebbe are being weird just to be weird. At one point a character shoves a soccer ball up her dress and pretends to be pregnant. Her make-believe pregnancy is kept up until she gives birth to the soccer ball (named Twilson because “Wilson was Tom Hank’s baby’s name”), which she then carries around and coddles like a newborn the rest of the movie.

In “Greener Grass” stupidity reigns. While it will surely have late-night (or drunken) comedy appeal for some, others will be exasperated by its content, which quickly wears thin. “Greener Grass” originated as a fifteen-minute short released in 2015, perhaps it should have kept that brevity. Running at approximately one-hundred minutes, “Greener Grass” feels like it lasts an eternity. It’s never as funny as it thinks it is and just as frequently annoying.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Oak Cliff Film Festival - The Mountain






Andy (Tye Sheridan) works at his father’s (Udo Kier) ice skating rink, smoothing the ice with the Zamboni and sharpening blades while his father teaches skating. After his father suddenly drops dead, his life memorialized by a Busby Burkeley-esque shot performance from his students, Andy is left alone. His mother’s former doctor, Dr. Wallace Fiennes (Jeff Goldblum), drops by and offers him work as a photographer. The doctor is a lobotomist who travels to psychiatric hospitals around the country performing the procedure.



The best thing that can be said about writer/director Rick Alverson’s new film “The Mountain,” a morosely picturesque feature bathed in a dull palette by cinematographer Lorenzo Hagerman, is that it looks nice. Hagerman’s photography, using the defunct Academy ratio that seems to be making a small comeback in recent movies, is striking. Landscapes are beautifully captured and the actors and stark sets are excellently framed within the shots. Everything intensified via moody lighting that helps to create a melancholic tone for the film.



Alverson’s movie, co-written with Dustin Guy Defa and Colm O’Leary, is a listless work. There is no obvious drive to its characters, thanks to the scripts lack of dialogue and its character’s expressionless performances. It’s safe to assume that Andy (Sheridan) is depressed, an impression reinforced by the film’s downtrodden settings and drained colors, but his exact moods are never clear. Sheridan spends the majority of the movie wandering around in a dazed stupor. There is no hint given as to what is going on in this character’s mind and, besides an angry outburst toward the film’s concluding moment, he could be the victim of a lobotomy himself. Goldblum’s does a better job playing the eccentric doctor, though it’s not enough to save this movie.



“The Mountain” moves along at a lethargic pace, never clear on its intentions. Some additional characters are thrown into the mix later in the film. A man, Jack (Denis Lavant), and his daughter, Susan (Hannah Gross), who becomes a patient of Fiennes. Neither character adds much substance. Jack has a proclivity for nonsensical rants devoid of any meaning. If they were meant to add some depth, they do not.



What is the purpose behind this story? If there was one, it’s not apparent. By the time the movie comes to its conclusion it feels like no answers have been given. The ending is sudden and jarring. It offers no sense of closure and doesn’t attempt to tie anything together, leaving the audience as cold as the final scene’s frigid backdrop.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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Halston





There’s really nothing special about Frédéric Tcheng’s documentary on fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, publicly known by his middle name Halston (which is also the name of this documentary). Tcheng’s formatting, typical of the documentary film, uses a mixture of present-day interviews of co-workers, friends, and family mixed with archival footage, previously recorded on camera and audio interviews, and photographs and ties them together via an unnecessary (and for extended periods of time forgotten) scripted framing device featuring a fictional narrator.

Beginning with the end of the story, Tcheng starts “Halston” as the narrator (Tavi Gevinson) begins the task of viewing and erasing the designer’s videotapes (a personal archive of his career), the photography showcasing the man’s empty office as she narrates. Those who already know the story of Halston’s career will know what’s happened. For the rest of us, it’s left a mystery to be uncovered by Tcheng’s film. The year is 1984, to understand how things came to this point, Tcheng takes viewers back to the start of the fashion designer’s career.

Halston began his career as a milliner for Bergdorf Goodman, initially making a name for himself for his work on Jackie Kennedy’s outfit for JFK’s inauguration. By the late 70s, he had opened his own store and taken the fashion world by storm, a man who knew how to take a single piece of fabric and beautifully shape it to his model’s bodies. However, Tcheng doesn’t take to “hero-worshiping” his subject. The documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the fashionista. Halston is shown as likable, friendly, and talented while also being revealed as a controlling, picky, demanding boss – one who goes too far, bullying results out of his employees. The archival footage does an excellent job of showing his dual nature and how a photograph (or film) can tell a thousand lies.

Though Halston died in 1990, one of the many casualties of the AIDS epidemic, those being interviewed still have very strong feelings about their time with him. Unlike many documentaries where emotions and actions come across as staged, the ones on display here look authentic.

Through his documentary, Tcheng shows how Halston’s drive for success ultimately wound up getting the better of him at the end. It’s an informative yet dry documentary despite Tcheng’s attempt to spice things up via some scripted material. By the time it’s over, it feels like it’s gone on longer than it should have.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil





The movie opens by saying that it's based on a true story. Don't know how much of it is true, but the action packed thriller written and directed by Lee Won-tae played at Midnight Screenings section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It opened in South Korea in May. The slick crime film has been picked up by Sylvester Stallone's production company for an American re-make keeping the lead Korean-American actor Don Lee a.k.a. Ma Dong-seok who had the break out performance in Train to Busan.

It's the summer of 2005 police detective Jung Tae-suk (Kim Moo-yeol) investigating a stabbing death finds a pattern matching a couple of other previous murders. He brings his theory to his boss who wants him to leave it to another crime unit. Jung is a bit of a loose cannon (think Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon). He wants to follow up his ideas. When crime boss Jang Dong-soo (Don Lee) is rear ended and attacked by the serial killer (Kim Sung-kyu) he doesn't realize that he picked the wrong victim. The muscular Dong-soo, despite the multiple stab wounds inflicted by the killer manages to fight him off. Jung comes to question Dong-soo in the hospital telling him that the killer's M.O. is to rear end the victims before he does them in. Dong-su has his reputation to uphold. His gang attack the rival gangs as they are circling for a take over, so he must seek and destroy the killer. The cop and gangster make an unlikely alliance to work together. Whoever finds him first gets to do him in or take him to jail. To keep Jung in line and not betray him, he records their agreement. Meanwhile the killer is leaving a wake of bodies behind as the the gangster and the cop are in pursuit. The cops use their technical resources to analyze the hair, fingerprints and blood.

Most of the characters are fairly stereotypical for this kind of movie. The insubordinate cop, the motiveless killer that they sort of say was abused as a child, and the gangster who uses a punching bag with a person inside is pretty over the top. It's Don Lee who pulls the interest as he internalizes the character while trying to maintain his image against being the victim of a random attack. In his world he's the top guy. He's got an army of gangsters at his fingertips. It's bad for business as investors are worried that he's become vulnerable. It's imperative to take this guy out and if that means he's got to work with this wild card cop, then so be it. There are car chases, foot chases, two guys battling multiple bad guys. The action is endless and satisfying. It will be interesting to see where the American version will take this movie. At least we will get to see him as he has recently joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Eternals
(Review by reesa)

Movie opens June 7 at AMC DINE-IN Grapevine Mills 30







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Echo in the Canyon




Laurel Canyon in the mid to late 1960's was the location of the musical explosion that resonates even today. The documentary directed by Andrew Slater looks at the roots of the collaboration of various artists as interviewed by Jakob Dylan who served as the executive director. The film features contributions from Brian Wilson, Michelle Phillips, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Roger McGuinn, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, John Sebastian and the late Tom Petty in his last interview. It also features a 2015 concert with Jakob Dylan, Regina Specktor, Cat Power, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones and Beck as they perform some of the best tunes of the times.

Roger McQuinn of the Byrds talked about how he tried to mix folks sounds with rock but the audiences in New York were not receptive. He went to L.A. to try it out, but they were not enthusiastic. When he united with David Crosby and some other musicians to form the Byrds, they happened on the sound that got some attention. Rock music used to be about simple concepts like love and cars, but they were bringing in the poetry of some folk and traditional music while using electronic sounds. Crosby says he may have been the first to live in Laurel Canyon. At the time these creative song writers would gather at each other's house with guitars in hand working with each other and sharing what they had.

The Beach Boys were a local popular group. Then Brian Wilson heard Rubber Soul which influenced him to do Pet Sounds. When the Beatles heard Pet Sounds they were inspired to do Sgt. Pepper. The Mama's and the Papa's were trying to make it in NY, but Michelle wanted to go back to California. Her husband John wrote California Dreaming because of that. He also wrote Go Where You Want to Go because Michelle was having affairs. Such were the times. Buffalo Springfield became an influential band that wrote tunes that reflected the life and times of the Vietnam War years. So many of the musicians who were spawned from those Laurel Canyon jam sessions all went on to bigger and better things. Some still standing. It's worth listening to the music they created, then reinterpreted by younger musicians. We grow old but the music stays the same. is there anything written lately that can stand the test of time.
(Review by reesa)



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The Secret Life of Pets 2







(Review by Chase Lee)




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