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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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

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 GarcĂ­a, 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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