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.

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Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Friday, September 25, 2020

Rouge





This Megan Fox headlined action-suspense tale comes from an accomplished director in female M.J. Bassett, who spent time helming various TV shows befoere delving into features like this one as well as “Solomon Kane,” a 2009 entry that dealt with unsavory entities and the like set back a couple of hundreds of years ago. She also helmed the intriguing sequel “Silent Hill: Revelation” in 2012.

Now, with “Rogue,” she enters the action phase of Megan Fox’s solo career phase.

Fox brought in the teen male crowd with her turn as Shia LeBeouf’s girlfriend in the Michael Bay-directed “Transformers” in 2007, with “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.”

She then went on to do movie as well as the “meh” live action Michael Bay produced “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (2014) a couple of years later Turtles,” once again teaming her up with producer/director Michael Bay.

In a system that currently has nothing but male headlining all the stories and franchises, it is nice to see the girls taking over for once. America embraced Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Eveerdine for “The Hunger Games” tales a few years ago, but studios can’t seem to find hat niche for well written tales and stories.

Earlier this summer I was looking forward to “Black Widow,” with Scarlett Johansson returning as Natasha Romanoff, one of the various members of “The Avengers,” but all this COVID stuff has put a giant monkey wrench into the grinder.

But I digress, since we’re here to talk about “Rogue,” a Lionsgate title that has essentially replaced all the small studios in the mass to give the American public a wider viewing library to look at all things mainstream.

So the plot here essentially deals with a group of baddies who kidnap girls travelling abroad and uses said girls aa bargaining chips (re: ransom).

Fox, like James Franco a few years back was part of that system that felt America should embrace this star. Sure, she is talented and easy on the eyes, but one just has to ask why I should invest my time with this star who has had more misses than hits in recent years. “Jonah Hex” (2010) with Josh Brolin comes to mind when discussing her career path. Even the star power of Brolin could not even save this tale.

I would recommend “Rogue” as a fun time-waster, but digress, since there are too many other titles I can recommend.

Namely “The Old Guard,” “6 Underground” and “Enola Holmes,” recently added to the Netflix line-up as a fun family flick.

“Rogue” is worth a watch, but as I recently pointed out there are too many other movies and tales I would recommend over this so-so flick.

Grade: C+
(Review by Ricky Miller)






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The Nest




(Review by Chase Lee)



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Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles




(Review by Chase Lee)



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Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Broken Hearts Gallery





Director: Natalie Krinsky Studio: Tristar Pictures

Love finds a way in The Broken Hearts Gallery!

By recalling Ron Swanson’s quote, “If you don’t believe in love, what’s the point of living?” Most movies don't have to be as romantic as other Disney films. People asked if movies reflect relationships. To answer that question, sometimes it does, but not all the time. The real definition of a movie is a cultural product that centers on the person or people working and living in a certain point of time. Television writer Natalie Krinsky takes her first movie-directing job out through the streets of New York with actress Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers) as an aspiring art curator named Lucy Gulliver while actors Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Life of the Party), and Phillipa Soo (Disney+ Hamilton) both received supporting roles.

The Broken Hearts Gallery follows a 20-something New Yorker and art gallery assistant named Lucy Gulliver who gets dumped by her latest boyfriend and creates a pop-up space for the items of previous relationships. While doing so, she meets and befriends a new hotel owner named Nick who agrees to open up a small pop-up gallery in his hotel.

The Broken Hearts Gallery serves as Natalie Krinsky’s first feature film to work on as well as her first time doing the screenwriting duty on a feature film. Before that, she worked on television shows Gossip Girl and Grey’s Anatomy as a writer on a small number of episodes, which became a starting point to her career. Her direction in the film really increases much velocity on the story and the characters with the picture quality and color palette are an improvement for the 1980s or 1990’s groovy era, making this film look fresh, new and improved as if people are going back through time to see their treasured memories they have as children or younger teens. Actress Selena Gomez is also involved in the film as an executive producer.

The comedy, the references, and the jokes being featured in the film are what makes the film easy to handle with such huge laughs to pop up for that affair. This one receives bonus points for witty writing, adding a touch of humor to it. The camera shots and angles coming from cinematographer Alar Kivilo really put some nice soft spots on the scenes, capturing the perfect balance for that main focus on Geraldine Viswanathan and Dacre Montgomery together.

The chemistry between Geraldine Viswanathan and Dacre Montgomery makes this film easy to watch and follow as they really bring up a good, diversified relationship the director really wants to study how any romantic films and television shows weaves in every scene to scene based on her influences on romantic, comedy films and any films that feature complicated, dysfunctional relationships with friends and families in real life.

Actor Utkarsh Ambudkar portrays Lucy's recent 30-something ex-boyfriend while Molly Gordon and Phillipa Soo portrayed Amasnda and Nadine, Lucy’s roommates.

Also appearing are Arturo Castro as Marcos, Suki Waterhouse as Nick’s girlfriend named Chloe whom he names the hotel after, and the legendary actress and Broadway star Bernadette Peters as Eva Wolff with the special guest appearance Roy Choi who had a cameo in this one.

On the bright side, The Broken Hearts Gallery is absolutely one of the greatest films I ever watched, which clocks over to 109 minutes. The director, Geraldine Viswanathan, and the rest of the crew have done an amazing job on working on such a fine piece of artwork that meets its gold standards and requirements for the motion picture studios. Basically, this film goes right up in my alley when it comes to social relationships. If you’re going to win a bet to see which film to choose that is greater, my best bet is that I highly recommend this film for both adults and parents who have been struggling with relationships throughout their lives.

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)



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Paper Spiders






(Review by Chase Lee)



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All In: The Fight for Democracy






(Review by Chase Lee)




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The Broken Hearts Gallery






(Review by Chase Lee)



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Paper Spiders





Director: Inon Shampanier Studio: Cranium Entertainment, Idiot Savant Pictures.

Review: Paper Spiders

Movies can be fun outings for both families and friends out there who want to take a load off from work or class at a school, but this film, Paper Spiders, brings a mother-and-daughter adventure to its new heights and levels in many directions. Inon Shampanier steps in as the director with his wife, Natalie Shampanier, as the writer and Ash Christian as a producer for the film. The film mainly stars Lili Taylor (American Crime) and Stefania LaVie Owen (Running Wilde) as a mother-and-daughter leads.

Paper Spiders primarily centers on the widowed mother named Dawn who experiences growing anxiety as her daughter Melanie departs for college, but after an altercation with a hostile new neighbor, Dawn’s mental condition becomes a primary concern as she begins to show signs of paranoid delusions. With that, Melanie’s task is to find many ways to help her mom with her delusions. Due to her facing difficult challenges with Dawn’s reality of persecution that ultimately tears them and their relationship apart, Melanie is forced to make the toughest decisions as she struggles to keep her mother afloat.

Inon and Natalie Shampanier are tasked to make a film that brings messages about the moral lessons about life situations and family issues that had an huge impact on human life and normality towards critics and audiences, especially when it comes to characters or people making tough decisions that endured their well-being, freedom of right, and new chapters on their adventures. His ways of telling the story prove to be suitable for the unmessy materials he and the crew had to work. Not only the Shampaniers made the film uniquely fascinating to watch with the storyline being filled with drama, but also adds a nice touching humor on those two main characters, adding some character developments, placing some good quality editing and script-writing for them, and directly smell the soothing sounds of tender love and heartful cinematic scenes that are easy to watch.

Lili Taylor portrays Dawn, a struggling mother whose husband passed away and suffers a paranoia after a scuffle with her new next-door neighbor while Stefania LaVie Owen portrays Dawn's daughter Melanie, who is on the verge of departing for college at USC after graduating high school, who attempts to help and cure her mother from her delusions.

Also appearing is Ian Nelson as the rich boy who dates Melanie in the film as well as Max Casella, David Rasche, and Micahel Cyril Creighton as the detective, Dawn’s attorney, and the school counselor respectively.

Although the second half of the film seems to darken the amusement as the joy and happiness is cut short. There are some heartbreaking moments based on the camera angles and the swirls the cinematographers have put up to produce more drama-effect flavors that my eyes and minds have tweaked up nervously. The film and its editing feels like, despite the strong, powerful story being told, it is going to be a Forrest Gump-flavored (or maybe a A Dog’s Purpose-nature) movie outing for both kids and adults.

On the side note, Paper Spiders is an okay film. It really gave me lots of shivers of emotion coming from these characters. Taylor and Owen really did a great job as a mother-and-daughter team. It does have a soft spot on films about family relationships when telling a bedtime story for kids. Paper Spiders may not be the best or worst, but I can’t say more, there’s nothing to be simplistic about this film that brings hope and glory to those who understand the types of dilemma the studios offer.

GRADE: B-
(Review by Henry Pham)




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Monday, September 7, 2020

Mulan





Director: Niki Caro Studio: Disney

Mulan may bring honor and glory but falls flat.

After several theatrical-releasing delays due to the ongoing virus, Disney finally decided to release this feature film on Disney+. As people, including the fans of animated Mulan, first see the trailer, they begin expressing their dislike for this live-action remake of Mulan, which brought up some negative publicity and thoughts about how this film will turn out to be. However, when they finally see the entire film, they slowly start to warm this film up, which is very hard to believe. The film is directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider) and stars Liu Yifei as the titular character whilst actors Donnie Yen, Tzi Ha, Yoson An, Jason Scott Lee, Gong Li, and Jet Li served as the supportive actors to Yifei.

In the film, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of the honored warrior, takes her ailing father’s place to serve the Imperial Army and defend the country from the group of invading armies taking over the country. Disguised as a man, she must train herself in every step and direction as well as learning the values of inner-strength that can increase her potential.

The plot and Niki Caro’s direction have put every ounce of hard work on Yifei’s character to match the original, animated incarnation from the 1998 animated-version of the film. Caro, along with producer Jason T. Reed also had her filming crews watch and study the influences from several martial arts films in order to make the storyline and the action sequences more relevant with Jackie Chan-style moves and Kill Bill-packaged visual effects being added for structural integrity. Additionally, the orchestration from the camera angles worked simultaneously and tirelessly well on Yifei’s action sequences and the battle throughout the film and at the very end. Not only the director and the cast have done all the scenes and cuts painstakingly, but they also brought music composer Harry Gregson-Williams on the set who utilizes the songs and compositions from the 1998 version with no musical numbers being featured or added in this remake, which kinda upset the fans out there.

While listening to some nice, clean dialogue being given to the characters from the screenwriting team of Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin, parts of the writings given for the actors and actresses are somewhat hard and pointless to follow. The main reason is due to the director wanting to make the characters and the story to be more realistic and fairly complex in several scenes. Nevertheless, the plot seems to be pleasurable to guide through.

Here we have Donnie Yen who is portrayed as the leader of the Imperial Army and serving as a mentor to Mulan while Yoson An appears as a soldier ailing with Mulan. Tzi Ma also appears as the father of the titular character who was a famed warrior and was recalled to join the army despite his failing health. Jason Scott Lee and Gong Li as the ruthless warrior and the female witch who sides with him. And lastly, despite the small screentime, Jet Li shows up as the Emperor of China.

And what can be surprising to give bonus points is the cameo appearance from actress Ming-Na Wen, the voice of Mulan from the animated version.

Overall, Mulan is a very good two-hour delight. Caro’s direction, Liu Yifei, and the cast really did an amazing job on making this film. It’s not what it looks like compared to the 1998 animated film, but it looks like the story has been well told in a different direction. Love it or hate, I promised you this may be the best remake on the top of its levels to watch on Disney+.

GRADE: B+
(Review by Henry Pham)


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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Tenet





Director: Christopher Nolan Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

Word of the Day: TENET!

After several speed bumps of theatrical delays and with the theaters being slowly reopened, Warner Bros. finally selected a perfect date for the film to be released after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dark Knight alumnus Christopher Nolan returns to the director’s chair after helming 2017’s Dunkirk with Emma Thomas climbing onboard as a film’s producer. Tenet stars John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) as a main lead role as the no-name CIA agent while Robert Pattison, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kenneth Branagh got Washington’s back as supportive role-playing game characters in the film.

Tenet follows the unnamed CIA agent, or The Protagonist, who is on a secret mission to prevent World War III by manipulating through time or utilizing his time-reversal motion to find out about the past and the future.

Tenet is actually a palindrome which is a number, word, or phrase that can be read backwards and forwards. Nolan has been long-waiting to come up with the story for this film for decades. He really wanted to do a fine piece of work on a spy film after his experience with action, science-fiction films, taking his ordinary experience and professionalism from his Dark Knight duties and Inception assignment. Nolan also has cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema used the mixtures of 70 mm and IMAX high-resolution cameras on the action-pack sequences simultaneously forwards and also filling scenes backwards (briefly known as the “reversal motion” in the filming cuts and scenes).

Nolan’s direction moves pretty straight forward on centering and camera-angling on Washington’s scenes in order to provide a sophisticated “spy” scene, even when involving adding visual effects and a little, fiery CGI on his dangerous-packed moments predominantly on the film’s second half on behalf of Nolan’s visual and special effects team. Even when Nolan has to go through different measures on having Hans Zimmer onboard, he instead brings the musical talents from composer Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther) who not only composes for the film but also produces a Hans Zimmer-flavored orchestra structures on several parts of the film and the climaxes for proper boost for an Nolan-Zimmer project and to fit the Nolanian tradition for all his works from the past.

Here we also have Robert Pattison who portrays the CIA agent’s handler who reveals about the time heist Washington's past and future while Elizabeth Dibicki plays as the ex-wife of Kenneth Branagh’s self-tempered Andrei Sator, a Russian oligarch. On and off-screen, Tenet also stars Indian actress Dimple Kapadia as Priya, the arms trafficker who is a hidden supportive character-turned-antagonist.

And with the surprise twist of being top-billed for the movie marketing, English actor and Nolan’s frequent collaborator Michael Caine also appears in the film despite receiving a small screen time.

While Tenet is highly-strung with excitement and explosive, the main things that the filmmakers made Tenet much more confusing and a bit un-enjoyable to look and listen: the screenwriting from Nolan and Emma Thomas didn’t provide much more integrity on the both Washington, Debicki, and Pattison’s characters throughout the film to have hard spot on any scenes hardcore as well as usages of sound mixing that didn’t sound too spy-ish and fit the genre for both spy films and action-packed adventure films, especially when it all comes down to Spaghetti Western films and War films for that ludicrous feel. Overall, the parts of the plot seem flawless and easy to guide forward, much like the comparison of Guy Ritche’s Sherlock Holmes tonely work.

As my calculations are correct, Tenet is actually a good 150-minute feature film. I couldn’t say more or less, Christopher Nolan really outshines his role as a director, guiding the rules and procedures for the cast and crew like he did with his tone-depth matterful Inception despite putting too many things in one basket regardless. Washington and Pattison really fit the bill on this one just to make this film more interesting to watch and digest. If you have the option for choosing a film, I say this, Tenet is worth your time and money.


GRADE: B

(Review by Henry Pham)




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Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Personal History of David Copperfield






(Review by Chase Lee)




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Centigrade





(Review by Chase Lee)




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Get Duked!






(Review by Chase Lee)



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The Personal History of David Copperfield




Charles Dickens 1850 novel of David Copperfield has been remade multiple times but never quite like this comedy-drama film written with co-writer Simon Blackwell and directed by Armando Iannucci. This lighthearted take on the classic tale brings a fresh and color blind approach to the larger than life characters and the interpretation of Copperfield trials of growing up. Although there are a few missing elements of the story, most important points are retained as the ensemble of Copperfield's supporters run wild feeding his imagination.

Jairaj Varsani plays young David who is brought up with love from his widowed mother Clara (Morfydd Clark) and the housekeeper/nanny Peggoty (played brilliantly by Daisy May Cooper). Young David is so amused by Peggoty that he writes down the things she says on small bits of paper that he keep in a box. He goes to Yarmouth to visit her family by the sea that lives in an upside down capsized boat. Peggoty's son Ham and his girlfriend Emily (Anthony Welsh and Aimee Kelly) become his best friends. When David returns he finds his mother has remarried with Edward Murdstone (Darren Boyd) who brought his stern sister Jane (Gwendoline Christie) to be their housekeeper. His stepfather is abusive and unyielding sends David to London to work in his bottling factory where he boards with the ever growing family of Mr Micawber (Peter Capaldi) who is constantly running from debtors. Later on the family ends up and debtors prison, although The Micawber's remain ever optimistic. David grows up (now played by Dev Patel) and is told by Murdstone that is mother has died and already buried. He runs off to his only known relative Betsey Trotwood (the amazing Tilda Swinton) who is constantly running off donkeys from her yard and her lodger the eccentric Mr. Dick (Hugh Laurie). She decides to call David by Trotwood and sends him off to school run by Mr. Wickfield (Benedict Wong) and his daughter Agnes (Rosalind Eleazar). The creepy Uriah Heep (Ben Whishaw) works as a servant at the school is uncomfortably enchanted by David's good nature. Aneurin Barnard plays James Steerforth who challenges his new friend who he has dubbed Daisy. David regales his boy school friends with the stories he has collected from his box of phrases that he has collected. It's really the first time that David has felt happy.

After he's out of school he goes to work for Mr. Spendlow (Matthew Cottle) and is totally smitten by his daughter Dora (Morfydd Clark), a pretty but shallow young woman who talks though her dog. David who has been living as a gentleman with the help of an allowance from his aunt prepares to propose to Dora. Then he discovers his aunt has become bankrupt. Aunt Betsey and Mr. Dick has to move in with David in a tiny run down flat provided by Uriah Heep who was named a partner with Mr. Wickfield and had managed his aunts affairs. He later runs into Mr. Micawber and his family living on the street and soon they are all crammed in to his little place. David takes his friend James to visit Peggoty in the boat house. He steals the heart of Emily who runs off with him hoping to become a lady. Heartbreaking tragedy ensues. When he returns, his Aunt and Mr. Dick create a writing nook for David.

The movie starts with David speaking to an audience about the story of is life. Each of the segments are divided into chapters with David narrating the movie. Previous versions of David Copperfield have been blandly only white, even though the English empire at the time was global. The diversity of the casting is like the Star Trek federation where people are not judged by the color of their skin and only the characterizations remain. This is delightful and satisfying take on the perennial Dickens hero is one that will leave you smiling when you leave the theater.
(Review by reesa)





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Cenitgrade







Director: Brendan Walsh Studio: IFC Films

Review: Centigrade

People have a soft spot when it comes to survival films or films that feature characters with near-death experiences on the way. This thriller was based on the true story based on the events and features the director Brendan Walsh in his directorial debut and the stars of Genesis Rodriguez (Big Hero 6) and Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire) in their main leading roles.

The story starts with the married couple traveling through the arctic mountains in Norway for the book-signing event, but after pulling the car over during the snowstorm, they are both trapped in their car, which was buried under the layers of frosty snow and ice. With that, they must find a way to survive amid ice-cold weathery temperatures and the hallucinations without freezing themselves to death.

Director Brendan Walsh and the writer Daley Nixon have put their survival skills of storytelling to the test on crafting this wintry thriller that brings the audience down for the trip to the winter wonder/waste-land. The film gives the feel of how most films took influence from most of the wintry, survival films (including Ice Age, The Day After Tomorrow, etc.). Walsh not only wants to make a comparison to any films that have been placed on a thriller section, but also on the disaster-film genre.

Without any hard questions, the characters, some parts of the story, and scenes are very hard to digest since the director overdid the second half of the film with dangerous, scary obstacles without CGI usages to be inserted simultaneously as if a puzzle piece that needs to be placed on the right spot based on the images that matches the cover box. Especially when a piano forte-fingering movements being played in the background that gives the film a putrid feel of a dark-alley scary movie, which was composed by Trey Toy and Matthew Wang And what can be utterly confusing and surprising is that there aren’t many locations onscreen since the director and the writer have spent much of the time treating the film as a dangerous, adventurous survival guide for thirteen-year-olds as well as paying solely attention to the scenes being filmed inside and outside the car in the middle of nowhere.

Over the top, Centigrade is not bad, but not enjoyable. I just really wish there’s a lot more locations and more challenging obstacles to fully digest and be satisfied with, mostly focusing on the second half of the film for more amusement. Only Genesis Rodriguez and Vincent Piazza are what makes this film very interesting to see. I’m not sure what to tell, but it would be a difficult decision to choose which film to watch.


GRADE: C-
(Review by Henry Pham)




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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Chemical Hearts






(Review by Chase Lee)



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Tesla




Director: Michael Almereyda Studio: IFC Films

Ethan Hawke’s Tesla is a well-oiled machine!

There was another film called The Current War, released in 2017, with similar structures on the story and the characters, but my mind is like a steel trap when Tesla can be often mistaken for a car film, for instance Ford v. Ferrari but for that answer, Tesla is actually a biographical, drama film based on the life of the visionary inventor Nikola Tesla, the founder of Tesla, explaining the premise of his history and career as an electrical engineer. Director Michael Almereyda (2000’s Hamlet) calls the shotgun to helm this fascinating film while actor Ethan Hawke stars as Nikola Tesla. The cast also includes Eve Hewson, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Jim Gaffigan, and Kyle MacLachlan in their supporting roles.

The film centers on the electrical engineer and freewheeling inventor Nikola Tesla who has had a history with Thomas Edison and JP Morgan’s daughter, Anne Morgan, unveils his breakthrough and his prestigious vision on discovering the electrical power and the light from the thunder in the late 1800s.

Director and writer Michael Almereyda has his team to put all the pieces to the puzzle on every single spot and scene nonstop. Almereyda overworks the cast and crew to make sure that everything is perfect and well told accurately based on Tesla's life and career, as well as how the action goes without the massive usage of CGI. Though, special effects being used can be seen and heard which gives the film more proper depth and much more structural integrity for that film’s well-oiled machine flavor, a similarly facsimile stunt coming from 1996’s Twister featuring the late Bill Paxton. The filmmakers also used another film called The Current War, released in 2017, for inspiration for the film’s storyline down the line.

Here in the film, Ethan Hawke portrays Nikola Tesla, providing the voices being mixed with Willem Dafoe and Keanu Reeves altogether for strong character in the background, the endurance of Matt Damon from Ford v. Ferrari, and the personality traits from any real-life visionary inventors like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and others being named. Hawke have previously collaborated with Almereyda since 2014 with their recent film Cymbeline. The film also has Eve Hewson as Anne Morgan who becomes a supportive guide to Hawke’s character throughout the film that can expand Tesla’s persona for the audiences to know more when it comes to character developments. While that's been going, actor Kyle MacLachlan (ABC’s Twin Peaks, Dune, Inside Out) receives an on-and-off screen time as Thomas Edison.

Lastly, the film ends with Eve Hewson’s Anne Morgan breaking character by revealing her fourth-wall breaking narration which gives a fine, structural appeal for the audiences and critics. Also appearing in the film are Hannah Gross (Joker, Netlfix’s Mindhunter) and Donnie Keshawarz (Ad Astra) who plays the role of the business chief JP Morgan.

Overall, Tesla is a great film, if not better. Ethan Hawke, whom I met in person in Dallas a few years back, really did an outstanding job on nailing his role on every scene to scene while the director Michael Almereyda fulfills his destiny on producing this prestigious feature film that questions the audiences and viewers on what goes around comes around. I would say Tesla is a must-see if you’re planning on selecting a digitized film at home. What decisions of any films can be made or to choose from is beyond me. Tesla is a well-oiled machine!


GRADE: B+
(Review by Henry Pham)





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Unhinged







(Review by Chase Lee)





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Words on Bathroom Walls




Director: Thor Freudenthal Studio: LD Entertainment/Roadside Attractions

Words on Bathroom Walls is a hope-and-glory treat for teens and young adults.

The world needs a film that motivates and inspires them to be themselves regardless of their differences and difficulties all around while growing up, whether it was school or college-related or other things that troubles them the most. Words on Bathroom Walls is a teenage, coming-of-age drama film for both teens and younger adults out there. It is heavily based on the story written by Julia Walton with the screenwriting duties coming from Nick Naveda. Words on Bathroom Walls is directed by Thor Freudenthal (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) and features the leading star of Charlie Plummer (HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, All the Money in the World) as the main character Adam Petrazelli, while Taylor Russell (Escape Room), AnnaSophia Robb (2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Andy García, Molly Parker, and Walton Goggins came forward as the film’s supportive characters to Adam Petrazelli.

The film starts with Adam Petrazelli, a disabled teenager diagnosed with schizophrenia who dreams of becoming a chef, though his main problem is that his condition with schizophrenia forced him into expulsion from school and he learns that he must face certain, difficult challenges he comes across in order to learn how to be honest and brave after going through lots of struggles.

The plot line has a facsimile texture compared to any films involving a disabled character like Forrest Gump in the titular film, Rain Man, and Pixar’s Loop short film which was shown on Disney+. It brings to a certain kind of story based on one’s personal life who is diagnosed with a learning disability like autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and other disorders. The study of those disabilities shown in the film became a direct principal dynamic to Charlie Plummer’s character's entire journey throughout the film. It’s a ticket-to-inevitable when it comes to adapting normality and school life as both a student and a visual learner.

Directing chores for Thor Freudenthal based on his creative work on Hotel For Dogs and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, he does know how to operate heavy machinery not only on the camera, but also on those foggy computer graphics in various scenes featured in the film as well as providing a stingy visual and special effects mixed together in such lubrication. Even when it means to take some time collaborating on screenwriting with writer Nick Naveda into getting the right consistency on the chemistry between Charlie’s and Taylor’s character, the scenes involving Adam’s troubles and issues, and the story altogether without stress. Even by means of orchestrating the composers, the Chainsmokers, on placing the music and the horrific sound effects from each of the homogeneous CGI-graphical climactic scenes.

Though one of the biggest complaints on the film is the action of abuse towards the main character, which became a main threat for both the Adam character and the film as a whole. Abuse is something that overpowers the authority of one's main superior in education and fulfilling one’s dreams. It becomes somewhat a recipe-for-disaster moment when schools and colleges are widely considered dangerous places to be all around for safety reasons for children and adults.

When it all comes down to it, Words on Bathroom Walls is a great movie. This film is heavily based on my alley on how I can deal with these situations like this. Same applies to those who have learning disorders who have suffered hard times with families and friends as you grow up in different parts of the world, at schools, and at workplaces. With that being said, the director and the cast did an outstanding job and I dear say, whether you like it or not, Words on Bathroom Walls is worth every penny at the movie theater and at home for your convenience.


GRADE: A-
(Review by Henry Pham)



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Tesla







(Review by Chase Lee)



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Chemical Hearts






Director: Richard Tanne Studio: Amazon Studios

Chemical Hearts is a scientific method but falls short for the chemical experiment.

By recalling the “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets the girl” lecture from books and movies, Chemical Hearts is a teenage, romantic film that primarily centers the concern on their relationship between a young boy and a young girl. The film is heavily based on the novel Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland and it is written and directed by Richard Tanne. The film also consists of the main lead-acting duets of Lili Reinhert (The CW’s Riverdale) and Austin Abrams (The Walking Dead) who portrayed their respective roles as Grace Town and Henry Page, the two high school newspaper-editing students.

Chemical Hearts follows a high-school student named Henry Page who pursues his role as an aspiring writer and editor in a high school newspaper organization as well as having high hopes of being admitted to a four-year college with his happier life of studying. There, he meets and befriends a new girl, Grace Town, who also joins the club as his assistant editor.

After overseeing and reading Sutherland’s story, aspiring director and writer Richard Tanne has decided to craft a film that takes the teen audiences and adults to an imaginary high school life with the duo of high school journalists. He really knows how to demonstrate the behavior between those two high school characters and produced much more character developments than any other romantic movie for that matter, utilizing the old High School Musical film, dated back in 2006, as well as any teenage films involving a relationship between a teen boy and a teen girl for inspiration. Though, he went far for making the characters drop some small F-bombs throughout the film.

Tanne also directed Southside with You, a film that centers on a young relationship between young Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson (both portrayed by Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter respectively) that was dated back in the late 1980s.

Part of the story’s dynamics involve the struggling, yet slow-and-steady relationship between Henry Page and Grace Town. Henry Page is a normal student while Grace Town is a life-struggling, sadistic student whose boyfriend passed away from a tragic accident. Their chemistry never dies down when a person deals with horrific past memories. It's a romantic interest that never goes anywhere and never leaves anywhere. Somewhere along the way, the sparks sputter homogeneously and fall somewhat flat. Lili Reinhert and Austin Abrams’s characters both provided some mental recalls from Parks and Recreation that features Ron Swanson’s character towards his love interests in the show and Forrest Gump that focuses on the chemistry of Forrest and Jenny.

This is a kind of film not to be taken too seriously for a romantic-genre getaway, even though part of the storyline involves Reinhert’s teary character who shreds her feelings into darkness that triggers the emotions towards the audience, maybe quite a few people or moviegoers per day.

Despite the language and stringiness to the characters’ affairs being shown, one could do worse than taking this enjoyable ride on the train-of-thoughts to guilty pleasureland. Chemical Hearts is a 90-minute ok-movie, but not entirely enjoyable when it comes to selecting a romantic movie for anyone’s personal viewing pleasures out there. Lili Reinhert and Austin Abrams’s performance are what makes Chemical Hearts fun to watch. I say this, I really don’t hate it, but I really don’t love it altogether, but if you’re interested in seeing this film, be my guest.


GRADE: C-

(Review by Henry Pham)





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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Sputnik






(Review by Chase Lee)



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Sputnik






Director: Egor Abramenko Studio: IFC Films

Review: Sputnik!

The film was originally going to be released in theaters as part of the Tribeca Film Festival until COVID-19 prevented it.

Originally and supposingly, Sputnik is thought to be an epic space film based on the title compared to any science fiction films that are set in outer space (compared to the massive successes from Star Wars, Star Trek, Sandra Bullock’s Gravity, WALL-E, and others you named), it is actually a Russian science fiction horror, B-category film directed by Egor Abramenko in his directorial feature film debut. The film features the cast of Oksana Akinshina (The Bourne Supremacy) as Dr. Tatiana Yurievna, Pyotr Fyodorov as cosmonaut Konstantin Sergeyevich, and the Russian actor Fyodor Bondarchuk (The Inhabited Island, 2008–2009).

The film centers on the young Russian doctor Tatiana Yurievna who is on the precipice of losing her medical license. After she’s recruited by the military, Tatiana is brought to a secure science research facility to assess a very special case, that of Konstantin Sergeyevich, a cosmonaut who survived a mysterious space accident and has returned to Earth with a unique condition: a mysterious creature living inside of him that only shows itself during the late evening. The military has nefarious plans for it. Tatiana wants to stop it from killing Konstantin. And the creature itself thrives on destruction.

First-time Director Egor Abramenko has taken much inspiration and influences from several of the following science fiction films, including James Cameron’s Avatar, Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, and Ridley Scott’s Aliens, to build up the endurance for the smooth, pacing plot down the line. He does know how to handle the camera for fluid situations involving monstrous creature’s scenes, giving the fact that he treats this film as a monster-movie like Godzilla. Even if it means working hard with the visual and special effects crew to achieve a subtle, yet powerful conflicting exposures all around.

The plot and the characters move along at a nice clean pace, but when they all come down, the film is like another E.T. or Aliens direct sequel.

And that’s it, Sputnik is an nearly-two-hour average film, kinda decent in my brutal honest opinion. It’s not a horrible movie nor a good movie at the same time, it’s just extremely uncomplicated and not very complexible to watch. And that is all I have to say, I can’t give away too much. I believed the director over done it as if there’s too many things to put all in one box without throwing things away. I hate to say this, but I think you should reconsider selecting another movie at home, that is, depending on who you are.


GRADE: D+






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