The Dallas Movie Screening Group

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

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

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

Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Thursday, July 18, 2019

This Changes Everything







(Review by Chase Lee)



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Stuber





The film Stuber showcases Kumail Nanjiani as a rather chill easy-going Uber driver ( Stu) whole by chance becones caught up in a rather bloody and violent police/ criminal car chase across LA, tracking a really bad drug dealer.

LAPD detective Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) hires Stu when his car is destroyed because he wrecked it while trying to drive after LASIX surgery against Dr orders. Both are a study in personality contrasts and intensity levels, especially because Stu is desperately trying to make a good impression and earn a coveted five star passenger rating, after several rides hilariously leave him with one star or worse ratings. Vic is extremely desperate and blindly driven in getting this guy, who escaped him many years earlier.

Stu and his fastidiously maintained Uber car find themselves in for the ride and experience of their lives. Stu isn't exactly the bravest branch on the tree, a rather innocent and peace living guy. We are often pleasantly entertained by his shocked and panicked reactions as things unfold in an odd combination of violence and comedy.

Be forewarned. The film is quite violent. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it just feels off. A few innocent bystanders are taken out in the process of the pursuit and that's just frustrating. Evil drug dealers you know. The casting is all there and they do the best they can with a rather predictable story line. It is certainly amusing in parts.

Happily, Mira Sorvino makes a return to the screen but her talents seem somewhat wasted. Joining her are Betty Gilpin and Karen Gillan in additional minor roles. One being the friend/ hook up Stu has been trying to get to all day and night long as he begins to realize he's going to be busy driving and ultimately aiding Vic until his goal is realized. No matter how long it takes.

Opinions appear mixed. Critics are not enthused but audiences are throwing their interest into this pairing.
(Review by Cheryl Wurtz)






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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Farewell






Writer/director Lulu Wang shared the story of her grandmother's illness on This American Life. Wang expanded it into a semi-autobiographical feature film that will linger in your heart for a long time to come as it addresses the nature of immigrants dealing with two cultures. Starring rapper and actress Awkwafina (a.k.a. Nora Lum) who was the scene stealer in Crazy Rich Asians plays Billi whose parents brought her to the U.S. as a child. The film premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

The beginning of the film declares that the story is "based on an actual lie". Billi discovers that her beloved grandmother Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) has been diagnosed with lung cancer and only has a few months to live. Apparently it is common in families not to tell the sick person they are going to die, so her parents (Tzi Ma and Diana Lin) didn't tell Billi that they were going back to China because Billi who wears her heart on her sleeve would not be able to keep the secret. Billi goes anyways. The pretext of the whole family visiting is her paternal cousin is getting married to his Japanese girlfriend of only a three months. Her Nai Nai is thrilled for the reunion and is organizing a huge wedding party wanting lobster but can only get crab. Nai Nai is a force in which her two sons, their wives and children, various aunts and uncles revolve.

One would think such a somber subject would be a tearjerker. It is, but in a good way. Wang immerses the viewer into the personal dynamics of the family. The universality of family gatherings especially when dealing with those who left for another country versus those who stayed is quite understandable even if it's just people who moved to another city coming back to the homestead. You may not see them for years, but you step into the same rhythm enjoying the differences. Plus it's the big dinners when the family gathers and everyone is talking, catching up with their lives. Food is the translator woven together with love. Billi can't seem to stop the tears pooling in her eyes thinking that she is losing her grandmother who she calls fairly often from New York. But she manages to keep the information inside while enjoying each and every minute she can share with her Nai Nai. Awkwafina shows that she is more than a comedic distraction in a plot. She makes us remember it's important to appreciate one's family ties and hug the one your with.
(Review by reesa)





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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Jul 14 - Jul 20



If you haven't noticed, the Asian Film Festival of Dallas is starting this week at the Angelika Dallas. Seeing as our usual promo's for the week aren't popping, you should check out the AFFD programming which offers some interesting selections that you don't often see at your local theaterplex. Check them out at www.asianfilmdallas.com

Jul 14 - Jul 20

Tues - Jul 16

Farewell - 7:00 pm - Angelika

Thu - Jul 18

Pennyworth - 7:30 pm - Angelika





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che

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Kanarie






“Kanarie” (“Canary” in English) takes place in mid-1980s South Africa during Apartheid (a fact that viewers will either know or not know at the film’s start). Writer/director Christiaan Olwagen and his co-writer Charl-Johan Lingenfelder don’t mention anything related to the country’s history as the movie starts, allowing viewers to become aware of South Africa’s social/political climate through the eyes of the film’s lead character Johan (Schalk Bezuidenhout).

Johan is a high school student living with his parents in a small town. On a dare from two friends (both female), Johan walks down the street wearing a wedding dress. Out on the street, the dress’s veil covering Johan’s face, Olwagen shifts the characters into a fantasy dance number featuring Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy,” a seemingly odd choice given that Bezuidenhout is made up to look like Boy George – Johan’s obsession/idol – during the scene. This sequence sets the tone for a movie that doesn’t follow. Shortly after this dare, Johan is drafted into the army. Attempting to make his service more palatable, he auditions for (and is accepted to) the South African Defence Force Choir and Concert Group, a small choir within the army whose 23 members are known as Kanaries.

Armed with his collection of records, Johan heads to training. On the train, he meets Ludolf (Germandt Geldenhuys), a fellow member of the Kanaries. The closeted Johan is off put by the behavior of the effeminate Ludolf, whose antics he worries will draw unwanted attention. At training, he finds a kindred spirit in Wolfgang (Hannes Otto), who shares his taste in music. Under the direction of Reverend Engelbrecht (Jacques Bessenger), the boys begin to practice for their eventual concert tour. The terror of discovery and its repercussions in a time and country where homosexuality is a punishable crime mount on top of the stress of military service requiring Johan to come to terms with himself.

Olwagen chooses to film the movie with mostly long takes, creating a visual and rhythmic disparity to the inner stress put upon the film’s characters. The soundtrack, mostly made up of religious hymns heard during the rehearsals and performances of the choir, is serene, aurally complimenting the film’s imagery. The camera at times languishes as if attempting to capture still photographs. A technique first used as the boys get their haircut and later used when they are at the border. The early sequence fits within the movie but the later one feels slightly disjointed, showing images of violence amongst its portraits when the exact purpose of the youth’s enlistment hasn’t been made entirely clear.

Performances are fine with Bezuidenhout, Otto, and Geldenhuys standing-out among the cast. Their on-screen relationship with each other helps to make their characters feel real. Bezuidenhout makes Johan’s insecurities apparent in contrast to the self-assuredness displayed by Otto and Geldenhuys.

Olwagen’s film is advertised as a coming-of-age war musical. The only questionable part of this description is the word “musical.” Yes, there is singing in Olwagen’s movie but it isn’t included in a way (besides the opening scene and a sequence that takes place in a night club) that makes one think of a musical.

There are pacing issues (some scenes go on just a bit too long) but, as a whole, Olwagen’s film works. “Kanarie” is an intriguing coming-of-age film, using a backdrop quite different than what’s usually seen in the genre.

On DVD and Video on Demand on June 18.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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Maiden






Through the use of archive footage and one-on-one interviews, director Alex Holmes tells the story of Tracy Edwards, her crew, and her ship Maiden. Edwards name, perhaps not instantly recognizable to most potential viewers, is famous in the world of competitive sailing for being the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race.

“Maiden,” the name of her boat taken for the title of this documentary, begins with Holmes briefly chronicling Edwards’ early life. Holmes, using voice-over taken from his own interviews with Edwards, tells of her happy early childhood before revealing that it abruptly ended with the sudden death of her father. Her mother, unable to keep her husband’s business running, eventually decided to remarry. Unfortunately, her stepfather turned out to be an abusive alcoholic, which caused Edwards to grow into an angry and rebellious teenager and resulted in her running away from home.

Edwards found solace among the misfits and burn-outs found in the boating crews around island resorts. In 1985, she managed to get a role as cook (the only position she could get in the male-dominated sport of sailing) for a crew entering the fourth Whitbread Round the World Race. Her time on the crew, which she spent learning and absorbing as much as she could, led to the fruition of an idea – entering an all-female crew in the next Whitbread Round the World Race, which competes every three years.

What’s obvious to modern audiences, since this is a documentary, and we are watching interviews with all of the crew members, wasn’t so obvious to the world in the late-80s. Holmes’s documentary spends the majority of its length telling of Edwards’ willpower and determination in getting herself and her crew into the race. She struggled with funding, acquiring a boat, and getting a crew ready for a grueling, nearly year-long, water-bound race.

Edwards’ crew didn’t follow the trajectory many journalists and sports fans anticipated. They expected the group of women to be irritable and moody, incapable of working together or even completing the first leg of the race. Instead, Edwards and her crew revealed themselves to be a unified team more than capable of competing among the best in the unforgiving ocean waters.

The archival footage is rough looking. However, while the footage isn’t as visually appealing as modern audiences have come to expect, it’s more than adequate to give viewers a sense of what these women went through. This footage, in combination with the interviews conducted by Holmes, tells a compelling story. Editor Katie Bryer arranges the footage, both new and old, into a well-organized narrative. Unlike some documentaries which take a stream-of-consciousness approach to their topics, subjects are only introduced as they become relevant (and vanish when they become irrelevant) to the story. Although the documentary is a little dry at times, it manages to remain intriguing thanks to the passion these women show, even thirty years after the event, for their time preparing for and competing in the Whitbread Race Round the World.

There are some elements of the race that Holmes could have explained better. When your purpose is to inform, it’s best to assume your viewers know nothing. It’s mentioned that the boats are divided into classes but never made entirely clear how many are in each class. At one point, it’s stated that Maiden came in third place on one of the six legs of the competition (the leg aspect is mostly made clear by Holmes) but never clarified if this was last place or if other boats came in behind them. The mechanics of the race aren’t clearly communicated to viewers either. Is there a specific course each boat must take from point A to point B? Holmes also never specifies how long they are given a land furlough before returning to sea. A count of days at sea is also shown throughout that is a bit misleading since it doesn’t start over after they’ve had a period on dry land.

Nonetheless, “Maiden” is an intriguing and inspiring documentary about hard-work and determination.
(Review by Bret Oswald)





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Stuber






(Review by Chase Lee)




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Monday, July 8, 2019

This Week at the Alamo Drafthouse





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

Alamo DFW presents 2 exciting programming series this month - Strange Things and Hollywood 1969. Strange Things invites you to take a trip back to 1985 with 5 films that were released in July 1985, and journey even further back with Hollywood 1969 and catch 4 classic films from the era that inspired ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. Plus, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the theater, Alamo Drafthouse DFW presents the JAWS Movie Party! For a full calendar listing, please visit drafthouse.com/dfw/calendar.

See y’all at the Alamo Drafthouse!




This Week's Highlights…


July Series: Strange Things
- In celebration of the release of STRANGER THINGS Season 3, Alamo Drafthouse DFW's presents the return of the Strange Things programming series! Flashback to the ‘80s and relive July 1985 with five hits released that month. This week’s films include MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME at Lake Highlands and Denton, BACK TO THE FUTURE at Las Colinas, and PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE at North Richland Hills.

July Series: Hollywood 1969
- This July, celebrate Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD with 4 classic films from Hollywood 1969! This week’s films include TRUE GRIT at Cedars and Denton, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID at Denton, and THE WILD BUNCH at Richardson and North Richland Hills.

JAWS Movie Party at Cedars, Richardson, North Richland Hills and Denton
- It’s the most fourth-wall busting-fun you can have on dry land as JAWS gets the Movie Party treatment with interactive props and surprises at each screening!


MONDAY | JULY 8

Cedars
Screening: Kids Camp: The Neverending Story at 10:00AM
Screening: Jaws Movie Party at 7:00PM

Denton
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM
Screening: Strange Things: Mad Max Beyond Thuderdome at 6:50PM

Lake Highlands
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM
Screening: Strange Things: Mad Max Beyond Thuderdome at 7:00PM
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink - Vetted Well at 8:00PM

Las Colinas
Screening: Kids Camp: Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit at 10:00AM
Screening: Strange Things: Back To The Future at 7:15PM

North Richland Hills
Screening: Strange Things: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure at 7:00PM
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM

Richardson
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM
Screening: Hollywood 1969: The Wild Bunch at 6:30PM
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink - Glass Half Full at 8:00PM



TUESDAY | JULY 9

Cedars
Screening: Kids Camp: The Neverending Story at 10:00AM
Screening: Fist City: To Live And Die In L.A. at 7:00PM

Denton
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM
Screening: Piranha (1978) at 6:50PM

Lake Highlands
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM
Screening: UHF Movie Party at 7:00PM

Las Colinas
Screening: Kids Camp: Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit at 9:55AM
Screening: The Last Starfighter at 7:15PM

North Richland Hills
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM
Screening: Video Vortex: The Neon Slime Mixtape at 8:30PM

Richardson
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM
Bar Event: Tiki Bingo - Glass Half Full at 7:00PM



WEDNESDAY | JULY 10

All Locations: Teacher Appreciation Wednesdays: a FREE movie ticket for teachers and school faculty/staff at screenings that start before 5:00pm. Teacher-themed special menu available ALL DAY for everyone!

Cedars
Screening: Kids Camp: The Neverending Story at 10:00AM
Screening: Hollywood 1969: True Grit at 7:40PM
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink - Vetted Well at 8:00PM

Denton
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM
Screening: Jaws Movie Party at 6:55PM

Lake Highlands
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM
Screening: Kung Fu Jungle: Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow (1978) at 7:00PM

Las Colinas
Screening: Kids Camp: Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit at 9:55AM
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink - Vetted Well at 8:00PM

North Richland Hills
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM
Screening: Jaws Movie Party at 7:00PM

Richardson
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM
Screening: Jaws Movie Party at 6:50PM
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink - Glass Half Full at 8:00PM



THURSDAY | JULY 11

Cedars
Screening: Kids Camp: The Neverending Story at 10:00AM

Denton
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM

Lake Highlands
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM

Las Colinas
Screening: Kids Camp: Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit at 9:55AM

North Richland Hills
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM

Richardson
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM



FRIDAY | JULY 12

Cedars
Screening: Kids Camp: The Neverending Story at 10:00AM

Denton
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM
Screening: Hollywood 1969: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid at 7:00PM

Lake Highlands
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM

Las Colinas
Screening: Kids Camp: Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit at 10:00AM

North Richland Hills
Screening: Kids Camp: Kung Fu Panda at 10:00AM

Richardson
Screening: Kids Camp: Madagascar at 10:00AM
Screening: Piranha (1978) at 12:45PM



SATURDAY | JULY 13
Cedars
Screening: KUUMBA Presents Bad Luck Joe at 7:30PM

Denton
Screening: KUUMBA Presents Bad Luck Joe at 9:15PM
Screening: Rocky Horror Picture Show w/ Los Bastardos Shadow Cast at 10:00PM

Lake Highlands
Screening: PBS Kids at the Alamo: Wild Kratts Alaska: Hero’s Journey at 10:00AM
Screening: Champagne Cinema: When Harry Met Sally at 6:45PM
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink Brunch - Vetted Well at 2:00PM

North Richland Hills
Screening: Ft. Worth Child: Minions Cereal Party at 10:00AM
Screening: Hollywood 1969: The Wild Bunch at 12:45PM

Richardson
Screening:


SUNDAY | JULY 14

Cedars
Screening: Dallas Child: Secret Life Of Pets Cereal Party at 10:00AM

Denton
Screening: North Texas Child: Sing Cereal Party a 10:00AM
Screening: Hollywood 1969: True Grit at 12:30PM
Bar Event: Geeks Who Drink - Vetted Well at 7:00PM

Lake Highlands
Screening: PBS Kids at the Alamo: Wild Kratts Alaska: Hero’s Journey at 10:00AM

Las Colinas
Screening: Jaws Movie Party at 4:00PM

Richardson
Screening: The Last Starfighter at 12:45PM
Screening: BONDthology: Quantum Of Solace (2008) at 7:00PM



First Run Movies Now Playing...

Aladdin (2019)
Annabelle Comes Home
Avengers: Endgame Re-Release
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Toy Story 4
Yesterday

Premiering This Week...

The Art Of Self Defense


Stay Connected...
www.drafthouse.com/dfw
www.facebook.com/alamodrafthousedfw
www.twitter.com/alamodfw
www.instagram.com/alamodfw
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | www.drafthouse.com




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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Movies Scheduled for the Week of Jul 7 - Jul 13


Did you all have a great 4th of July? Didn't get a chance to check out real fireworks up close and personal since once more my car is down for the count. Plus it's not safe to venture out when foolish folks are shooting guns in the air. Don't people realize that what goes up...comes down?

Not too many movies this week. But do y'all know the Asian Film Festival of Dallas will be featuring some really great films as usual. Films that you probably would not be able to see any where else especially the major theaters that just show blockbusters. If you have time please come to the volunteer orientation Monday night at the Angelika and show support from our movie community.

July 7 - July 13

Mon - Jul 8

The Girl Who Believed in Miracles - 7:00 pm - Cinemark Legacy Plano
AFFD Volunteer Orientation - 7:00 pm - Angelika

Wed - Jul 10

Stuber - 7:00 pm - Harkins Southlake
Good Boys - 7:30 pm - Studio Movie Grill Northwest Hwy.





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Monday, July 1, 2019

Spiderman Far From Home





Director: Jon Watts Studio: Sony/Columbia Pictures

“MCU’s Spider-Man: Far From Home becomes the closing door to Phase Three.”

Marvel Studios have much more commitment and integrity on releasing two-to-three films per year, earning as much revenue from the box-office.

While Far From Home supposed to serve as the first of the Phase Four, it became the official conclusion of Phase 3 according to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. While the setting of the film takes after Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home gets another drive with Peter Parker’s super-suit for a new role after Tony Stark. Please be warned that if you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet, then do not watch Spider-Man: Far From Home nor read the reviews from the film if you want to avoid any spoilers from Avengers: Endgame.

In the film, Peter (Tom Holland), now 16 years old is travelling to Europe with his classmates on a summer class trip where he has a chance to woo Michelle "MJ" Jones (portrayed by Zendaya). However, he is then recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Quentin Beck/Mysterio (portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal) to battle the Elementals who are attacking parts of Europe.

Parts of the cast, including Marisa Tomei, from Spider-Man: Homecoming returned with Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders appeared as supporting characters and Parker’s mentors after Tony Stark. Jake Gyllenhaal also joins in as Quentin Beck/Mysterio, setting up a slow, gentle chemistry between him and Holland, a reminiscent of Spider-Man’s relationship with Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Jon Watts returns to the director’s chair of helming his second Spider-Man film. He did not just rehash the Peter Parker’s sticky-web flying techniques, but this time, he teach the character about the basic life as an ordinary human being and not focusing on Spider-Man ego too much, a recall from Tony Stark’s words from Homecoming. Watts, taking much influence from the original Spider-Man trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man reboots, keeps his steady focus on character developments and less-messier, but meatier outlooks to both Spider-Man, Nick Fury, and Mysterio based on how he did with other heroic and villainy characters in Homecoming.

The styles, action sequences, and the battle scenes are all done by series of humongous FX creatures and strong visual-effects that serve as main element for the entire film, the plot twist, new outlooks for the actions sequences, and the Jake Gyllenhaal ‘s Mysterio character. The FX consumption and the massive usages of visual effects are bit too much that would make the movie to earn piles of money and they really bring up the whole spidey-thing down to the ground. It’s like too many eggs in the basket or too much stuff to carry. Not as enjoyable to consume much more CGI than Homecoming nor the original Spider-Man trilogy.

Each of the characters’ performances are outstanding with numerous funny dialogue, elements of surprise, and wishy-washy personalities, including those from Tony Revolori, Remy Hii, and Jon Favreau. Also, what is a big surprise is that J.K. Simmons returns to his role as J. Jonah Jameson from the original Spider-Man trilogy, co-starring with Tobey Maguire. However, what I did not like about this film is when several characters reveal and discover Spider-Man’s true identity, which is very untraditional to these Spider-Man films as this serves a biggest climax of the film’s plot and my personal biggest takeaway from this film.

Out of all the colors in the film, if you ask where does Far From Home fall on the scale of one to ten? My main answer is that the good movie with richer taste of malevolence and Peter Parker’s character as an ordinary human with valuable consequences to be summoned. Although, it wasn’t as enjoyable as the last one and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, for which it won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It is a superhero film, but it’s actually placed in the romance section for that matter. I like it, but my higher expectations seem to drop down lower than I expected. That’s all I going to say, I can’t give out any spoilers away on the film, but as a final warning, do not watch this film if you haven’t seen Endgame yet. Running time: 129 minutes

Don’t forget, please stick around after the movie for the post-credits scenes.



GRADE: B

(Review by Henry Pham)






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Midsommar






(Review by Chase Lee)



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Spiderman Far From Home








(Review by Chase Lee)




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MIdsommar






Last year Ari Aster’s debut feature film “Hereditary” was released. The film – chilling, hypnotic, and oozing with dread (not to mention an incredible lead performance from Toni Collette) – instantly became a hit with both horror fans and the art-house crowd, leaving viewers ravenous for more from the director. His sophomore feature, “Midsommar,” is finally upon us.



Florence Pugh plays Dani, a young woman whose close-knit family is currently experiencing some familial problems. Dani’s boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), has grown tired of dealing with her but doesn’t have the guts to break off their relationship, something his friends – Josh (William Jackson Harper), Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), and Mark (Will Poulter) – encourage him to do.



The film’s prologue plays out in the desolate, dead of winter as the film’s ominous soundtrack (the orchestral score by The Haxan Cloak is perhaps the best part of the movie) envelops the viewer in Dani’s sense of dread as she worries about her bipolar sister. The casting is spot on, Pugh is fantastic as usual and Reynor does a great job playing her wishy-washy, spineless boyfriend. Aster builds up the dynamic between the characters, laying a layer of insecurity for Dani and Christian’s strained relationship (something the already stressed Dani knows nothing about) that comes into play later on, as Dani experiences a devastating emotional blow, something that leaves her in a deep depression and causes the reluctant Christian to continue their relationship. Unbeknownst to Dani, Christian and his friends are going to Sweden. The trio – Christian, Josh, and Mark – has been invited by Pelle to visit his commune while they perform their Midsommar festivities, an event that occurs every ninety years. Shocked to learn of their trip right before it happens, Dani is invited to tagalong by Christian.



The wide-open, green, and sunny Swedish countryside that Dani now finds herself in is a stark juxtaposition to the claustrophobic, bleak, and snow-filled prologue. But the touring Americans don’t find themselves in a leisurely getaway. Instead, stuck in a locale where they don’t know the customs or the language, the cheery landscape starts to entrap them.



Cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski does an excellent job of shooting the film. The prologue is dark and confined and shadow-filled before the story is shifted to Sweden. There, the photography is often overblown, the cast shot in wide shots that allow the viewer to soak in the greenery of the commune and its odd architectural structures.



Many will note the similarities of Aster’s “Midsommar” to Robin Hardy’s 1973 horror hit “The Wicker Man,” recently remade in 2006 starring Nicolas Cage. Though their specifics are different, it’s obvious that Aster was inspired by Hardy for his newest film. As a result, “Midsommar” is a movie that ultimately feels like one you’ve already seen despite Aster’s insertion of some slightly xenophobic commentary. Its character arcs and storyline are predictable with its end result all too transparent.



Like “Hereditary,” “Midsommar” goes for a slow-moving approach to its terror. The narrative, purposefully paced (to its own detriment) and overly long, crawls its way to its inevitable and predictable conclusion. At a runtime of nearly two and a half hours, Aster’s movie edges on the side of self-indulgence. The same story could have been told in a shorter timeframe, though part of this reaction could be the result of having to deal with rude viewers who couldn’t sit quietly through the movie.



“Midsommar” is a film that general audiences are going to have a hard time sitting through. It’s best to think of it like a drama with horror elements rather than an outright horror movie. It’s definitely worth seeing but perhaps best to hold off for a home viewing without distractions. Aster is creating a mood here and the mood can be easily broken by the wrong audience.
(Review by Bret Oswald)






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Spiderman Far From Home





Marvel’s final film in their third Phase, “Spider-Man: Far from Home” arrives with some big expectations. “Far from Home,” the third film released this year in Marvel’s cinematic universe, returns the series to a smaller scale despite its international locales. Where “Endgame” was vast in scope and somber, “Far from Home” goes in the opposite direction, presenting a zippy, fast-paced blockbuster.



In Mexico, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) investigate a suspicious “natural disaster” where they meet a new hero Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), later to be known as Mysterio. The scene, so short it feels like you could blink and miss it, does little more than offer a hint of what’s to come and give viewers a brief introduction to a new character before shifting the focus to the titular hero.



Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, as the world continues to attempt to recover from the mess created by Thanos. Peter wants nothing more than to kick-back, relax, and enjoy his European school trip with his classmates – including his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), romantic interest MJ (Zendaya), and class bully Flash (Tony Revolori) – but as usual for a superhero, duty calls. Instead of getting to focus on getting together with MJ, who’s also getting advances from classmate Brad (Remy Hii), Peter finds himself partnered up with Mysterio to save the world from a new threat.



Jon Watts, director of the web-slingers last solo movie, “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” is once again in the director’s chair. Working off a script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, Watts presents a film that’s light-hearted and funny without ignoring or belittling the emotional baggage, which is obviously taking its toll on Peter, the characters carry over from previous events. The film’s many action scenes are well handled. Watts shoots them in a manner that makes them easy to follow without being dull.



The cast delivers fine performances. Holland does an excellent job showing Peter as he attempts to deal with the issues he’s confronted with, both those that teens are typically exposed to and those they are not. The relationships between the cast members also works well. The rapport between Peter and Ned is sharp, his awkward interactions with MJ (this new darker take on the character is still hard to swallow but Zendaya plays the part well) feel natural, and he’s able to hold his own against his professional acquaintances, like Beck and Fury. Gyllenhaal continues to show off his acting range with his first role in a superhero movie. The writers use the characters’ romantic relationships for comedic fodder. Ned unexpectedly falls for one of their classmates and Aunt May and Happy Hogan, Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau respectively, are engaged in a suggested romantic fling. Both couples’ interactions are used in humorous ways to lighten the mood.



“Far from Home,” is a tighter paced movie than “Endgame,” which felt like it could have used some trimming in more than a few places. While “Far from Home” also has a few of these moments, they are less noticeable with the narrative moving the story along almost as soon as a stagnation in pacing is felt. The film would have left a much better impression had it not been for one of the credit scenes, which may rub more than a few viewers the wrong way. Still, “Far from Home” is a lot of fun.
(Review by Bret Oswald)




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