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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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Uncle Frank



Director: Alan Ball

Studio: Amazon Studios

Review: Uncle Frank


Uncle Frank is not just a drama film, but it’s also a road-trip movie that strolls down into memory lane. The film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival just before the virus hits the earth. Director Alan Ball, known for writing a screenplay for 1999’s American Beauty that later granted him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as well as creating huge-hit television sitcoms Six Feet Under and True Blood, takes the lead as the director of this film, featuring the main stars of Paul Bethany, Sophie Lillis and Peter Macdissi.

Uncle Frank focuses on Frank Bledsoe and his 18-year-old niece Beth whom they take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina for the family patriarch's funeral, they are unexpectedly joined by Frank's lover Wally. After hearing the news about the death of his father, Frank is forced to reluctantly return home for the funeral to finally face a long-buried trauma that he has spent his entire adult life running away from.

Paul Bethany, the fame in Marvel Cinematic Universe films, portrays the titular character Uncle Frank, the literature professor living in New York while actress Sophie Lillis appears as his niece Beth. Actor Peter Macdissi comes in as Frank’s longtime partner Walid "Wally" Nadeem, an arrangement that he has kept secret for years to avoid revealing the truth to his entire family.

Bethany really gives a truly memorable performance and it is really emotional, the film focuses on how living this secret life has affected him and how even though he is intelligent, it doesn't change the fact that he is scared about living his life. He is very charismatic and charming and just leads the screen very well here. Same words go for Sophie Lillis and Peter Macdissi who serve as his past memories that deeply affected him.

The cast of actors portraying Frank’s family also appear in the film: Steve Zahn as Frank’s brother Mike Bledsoe, Judy Greer as Kitty Bledsoe, Mike’s wife and Frank’s sister-in-law, Margo Martindale and Stephen Root as Frank’s mother and as Frank’s father with the latter disapproving Frank's relationship with another person in the same gender, and Lois Smith as Frank’s aunt. The cast of the actors did an amazing job and gave them something to add on the film’s structure components.

Ball’s direction really tones the voices based on how well his story of this film is well-put together, even when some writings coming from him have some good dialogue, it has a lot of drama and emotion and actually produces some pretty funny moments which helped the flow of the film, but as mentioned there are some forced moments that pretty much comes by weaker writing, that disrupts the flow of the film at times. Ball really makes the film so unique to watch as this deals with many important subjects and themes, it is a film about acceptance and understanding people which is very well done. Ball and his team really know how humans can be dark and depressing at anytimes when it comes to learning and accepting one’s way, which is why humans live in a cold, cruel world today.

Overall, Uncle Frank is a very good, interesting movie to see. I really enjoyed the film as much as anyone else could, it tells some important messages that makes people understand a little better and makes the acting and the story pace so worthy to see both at home and in theaters. This film is worth a watch for anyone, whether you’re a fan or not, this is a film anybody is interested in when it comes to good, moral stories being told by someone.

GRADE: B

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Sound of Metal



Director: Darius Marder

Studio: Amazon Studios

The Sound of Metal delivers a loud, flawless performance


My viewing pleasures have a soft spot on music films and drama films, but sometimes they can be both at the same time like Whiplash, La La Land, and the upcoming Pixar’s animated film, Soul, the latter of which will be the most exciting film to see despite not being given a theatrical release due to the virus still spreading around the world. The Sound of Metal is a drama film that features a character with a disability called hearing loss. It had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival before making its way to theaters for the general public. The film is directed and co-written by Darius Marder, in his directorial debut of a feature film, and publicly features the consisting cast of Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, and Paul Raci.

The Sound of Metal centers on a drummer named Ruben Stone who suffers a hearing loss after four years of sobriety following his drug addict. Because of that, he is forced to meet a counselor named Joe who leads a deaf community for people with hearing losses and severe deafness.

Riz Ahmed portrays Ruben, the drummer with a hearing loss disability in the film. Ahmed is one of those actors people cannot take their eyes off. He basically and simply plays any character he likes. He's always intense and, most importantly, he always makes people care about the characters he's portraying, but deep down he looks like he’s enjoying himself. His acting credits also includes HBO’s The Night Of, for which he has earned a few Emmy nominations, Star Wars’ Rogue One, and Jason Bourne, with the latter two being released in 2016.

Actress Olivia Cooke (2014’s Ouija, A&E’s Bates Motel, Vanity Fair, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One) appears as Ruben’s girlfriend and his manager named Lou who supports and tries to help him overcome his situation of deafness at any cost while Paul Raci, with a Dennis Hopper impression, stands in as Counselor Joe who leads a deaf community for people with hearing losses.

As a feature film director, Marius really puts all the camera angles towards Ahmed’s character in order to give the character some stronger characteral developments compared to the main characters from the first two films mentioned above. Marius not only makes the story seem promising to digest, but also makes the film as enjoyable and filled with concerns about people with disabilities and real-life situations just to make the film more appealing to audiences, predominately the audiences with impaired hearings. Not only Marius' direction, but the usages of sound effects add a nice touching effect on several characters with hearing losses. Aside from being a director of this, he is also an editor, writer, and director of Loot, a documentary film dated back in 2008.

Also appearing in the film are Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead, Marvel’s upcoming Eternals) and Mathieu Amalric (James Bond’s Quantum of Solace, Steven Spielberg's Munich, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).

In conclusion, Sound of Metal is a great movie, more like an Oscar-worthy type of thing despite all the language being used in the film. I really enjoy every aspect of every scene given to the characters in the film, mainly the cinematic focus on Ahmed’s character. I think this film will stand on my top ten lists for 2020, but I’m not too sure. I have to wait till I have reached New Year’s Day. This film is definitely a “must” and it clocks in around two hours. The cast and crew did an outstanding job of delivering a flawless performance, especially that ending right there which is extremely effective, but there’s no surprises at all. Another excellent performance coming from Riz Ahmed himself. A few more films like this and he will finally have earned his Oscar.

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Friday, November 13, 2020

The Nest



Director: Sean Durkin

Studio: IFC Films/Elevation Pictures

Review: The Nest


For starters, the title of the film brings a good definition of a “bird leaving their nest” symbol, giving me time to think about how anyone moving to another city or country would change and impact their entire life when it comes to learning about “out with the old, in with the new” meaning. It’s a similar structure like seeing their own grown children go off to college or seeing a man move to another city or state for a new career role. This film is directed and produced by the second-timer Sean Durkin who recently helmed Martha Marcy May Marlene starring Elizabeth Olsen. The Nest stars Jude Law (Warner Bros.’ Sherlock Holmes, Marvel’s Captain Marvel) and Carrie Coon (HBO's The Leftovers, FX’s Fargo) in their leading roles while Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche, and Adeel Akhtar (Murdered by My Father) have been casted as supportive actors in the film.

The Nest centers on a man named Rory O’Hara whose plans on moving his family to England for his new job role over there, though the biggest problem for his family is that they have concerns on how to accumulate themselves with the England lifestyle as their uncertainty upon relocation from America to England has lead them to the intense isolation of their new home that affects them differently and entirely.

Here in the film, Jude Law plays as Rory O’Hara, an English entrepreneur while Carrie Coon portrays his wife and a farmer named Allison. Child actors Charlie Shotwell (Captain Fantastic) and Oona Roche both appeared as Benjamin and Samantha, Rory’s children.

Taking up his directing tips and tricks up his sleeves, Durkin captures the enduring family scenes that makes an impactful film that brings the entirely unsettling story that can be easily centered and resolved on a dysfunctional family with the most difficult choices and emotions that affects their behavior with huge amounts of struggles and dealing with darker times as they are forced to live a new life from going to that “same-old, same-old” nature, giving a feel of an empty-nest syndrome, which is something that carries the film and the characters’ structure dynamics. Durkin and the crew have worked the cast simultaneously on handing things properly on how to adapt a new and different life and perspective from place to place.

Aside from the direction and the pace of the story, the music sounds very flattering on that England setting, compared to the American settings in the film at the very start. Even when the actor Jude Law has done a smartful job on keeping in character as both a father and a husband, which deals with real-life situations on how any father or husband would do anything for their family, even when it means getting jobs just to get paid handsomely. Jude Law and Carrie Coon really know the basics of being a husband and wife to each other.

Though, my huge disappointments are the lack of laughs and comedy being missing in the background as well as children using bad language as an rewarding opportunity for that R-Rating film. My viewing pleasures don’t find it very pleasing and enhancing. Though, the plot is very manageable to follow.

Also appearing in the film are Adeel Akhtar as Steve, Rory’s co-worker while Michael Culkin as Arthur Davis, Rory’s boss and supervisor. And for that short onscreen appearance, actress Anne Reid (BBC’s The Mother, Wallace and Gromit’s A Close Shave!) appears as Rory's mother.

With that being said, The Nest is a really good movie, if not better. The director and the crew really outdone it. Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, and Oona Roche did a great job of keeping the pace of the story and their characters in the palm of their hands. I say this film is great for any families out there who have been struggling a lot of times, but deep down, there’s hope to come if you choose this. I really like this film, but I can’t go higher than that regardless.

GRADE: B+

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Friday, November 6, 2020

Let Him Go



Director: Thomas Bezucha

Studio: Focus Features

Let Him Go is the rightful choice to have!


At first, Let Him Go is heavily believed to be a Western, modern film, but it’s actually a crime thriller and sorta like a coming-of-age movie for grownups and adults who expect such greater things after reviewing the trailer and the poster itself. Thomas Bezucha takes the role as the director and producer of this feature film based on the novel written by Larry Watson. Academy Award winners Diane Lane and Kevin Costner have been given a large role as the main pair of protagonists in the film whilst Kayli Carter and Lesley Mansville received a supportive character role.

In the film, upon the death of their son, a retired sheriff named George and his wife Margaret fight to rescue their widowed daughter in-law and young grandson from a dangerous, dysfunctional family through the streets in North Dakota.

Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, whom they both worked together in Man of Steel, appear throughout the film as George and Margaret living in the countryside in Montana with Kayli Carter portraying Lorna, their son’s now-widowed wife after her husband’s death. Will Brittain steps into the scene as Donnie Weboy, Lorna’s abusive husband with Jeffrey Donovan portraying as Bill, one of Donnie’s family relatives. And lastly, the legendary English actress Lesley Mansville arrives as the mother of Donnie.

Also appearing is Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga, X-Men: Days of the Future Past, Disney’s Descendants) as Peter, the Indian horseman George and Margaret meet.

Bezucha gives all the fuzzes, the energy, and the fuses when he and the crew build a large scenery in the countryside to treat the film like a modern, Western film taking place in the 1950s and 1960s for that film’s ordinary textures to fit the Drama and Western genre. He even brought some Michael Giacchino’s scoring pieces to give the film some proper boost to follow the guidelines on crafty thriller production line and to match the personas for both Costner and Lane’s characters together along with Carter’s motherly character.

One of the main focus of the film is the chemistry between Kevin Costner and Diane Lane’s characters, which is also part of the film’s structural dynamics when it comes to acting out as a family couple, a similar output and tasty amusements like the filmmakers did from Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, the first film of what is called DC Extended universe, co-starring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams.

Though what can be scary is the number of violences that appear almost at the end that shocks and shrieks right out of my ears and can flip both myself and the adult audiences out of the edge of their seats. Another thing is the director and crew went extremely overboard on the much-violent, not-so bright, unglamorous Weboy family characters.

In conclusion, Let Him Go is a great movie. It is a must see when it opens in theaters and on digital. Not only the director plays the cards well but Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are what makes the film very interesting to see. I would give best bets on the entire cast and crew who made it all possible. Just to let the viewers know that the film clocks around roughly 114 minutes for that feature time length, so if you’re planning on seeing a two-hour presentation, I say watch this. You’ll be fascinated by the fantasies of “countryside vs. city” life.

GRADE: B-

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Touch!



Director: Aleksandra Szczepanowska

Studio: Jungle Cat Productions

Review: TOUCH!


Movies can be filled with life-threatening issues people have everyday or sometimes just for a living. TOUCH is a dramatic Korean-storytelling tale crafted by a first-time feature film director Aleksandra Szczepanowska and is going to be showcased at The Lone Star Film Festival in Fort Worth, TX in November 2020. A little backstory for the director is that Szczepanowska is a writer/director/producer/actor born in New York. Prior to TOUCH, she has written and directed several short films including Let it Ring and Naked Soles. Aside from being a filmmaker, Szczepanowska also steps in as an actress for the main role with Chinese actors Jun Yang, Beckham, and Jiangwei Yuan.

In Szczepanowska’s feature directorial debut, Fei Fei, a Caucasian, Western woman is living an affluent, cosseted existence as the wife of hard-charging, business executive Zhang Hua and mother to young son Mo Mo. Though she feels deeply alienated from the country she loves, her friends, and husband, her issues and mysterious circumstances have caused her life to be threatened by her own privileged, fragile existence and her family.

Director Aleksandra Szczepanowska portrays as Fei Fei while Jun Yang plays as her husband Zhang who is concerned about his wife. Jiangwei Yuan appears as an blind Chinese man named Bai Yu whom Fei Fei later encountered. Backham also comes into the scene as Mo Mo, Fei Fei’s young son.

The film is entirely shot somewhere in Asia, though the location for any Asian cities where the crew have shot the film is unknown. Szczepanowska, despite being a director and actress altogether at the same time, had much commitment on filming and editing the scenes throughout the film, bringing this delight and taste to that so-so old-school, new-school bilingual film compared to that critical-acclaimed film The Farewell with Awkwafina and Best Picture Oscar-winning film Parasite. Not to mention that this film is in English and Mandarin Chinese. Other than the scenes and editing themselves, the music and the camera shots and angles look pretty much similar to any films that were produced or made in Asian countries, giving a strong delicacy for the film’s texture and balance for both Asian and American audiences and critics.

The majority of the actors are all new to my viewing pleasures which means that my passion for films begins to grow simultaneously inside and outside of America. They both look like they’re having a hard time with Szczepanowska’s character, but they seem like they are getting along well. And to add a couple of bonus points, Szczepanowska also gives a good headliner for a female character, which is nice to study her own character developments and for that motherly focus on herself and to Backham’s character rather than focusing on the husband character entirely.

TOUCH is a nice, soft 95-minute production and is worth the watch. It gives me the chills and thrills. Of course, I realized that some people can be picky about movies, but as I recently pointed out that there are plenty of options to choose from. I say TOUCH is a so-called “real steal!”

GRADE: B+

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Darkness in Tenement 45

Director: Nicole Groton

Studio: Wood Entertainment

Journey through the Darkness in Tenement 45


Surely, movies can be dark and depressing to watch, but life is also dark and depressing to see depending on who you are or the way you tell a story to your kids for a bedtime story. Darkness in Tenement 45 is written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Nicole Groton, though she did direct The Melting Family which was a documentary film about her experiences with her divorced families. The film features the main stars of Nicole Tompkins, David Labiosa, Melissa Macedo, Keyon Bowman, Anthony Marciona, and Casey Kramer who take on a supportive role throughout the film.

The film mainly focuses on sixteen-year-old named Joanna who has been living with her overbearing Aunt Martha in a low-income NYC tenement building ever since a violent outburst left her fighting with a scarful feel of darkness. With no food left and Martha's controversial role as leader expanding, Joanna realizes that she must face both her darkness and her aunt in order to save the tenants.

Nicole Tompkins plays the signature role as the main girl Joanna who’s desperate in seeking something outside of her tenement, though she was heavily discouraged by her aunt Martha, the leader of the family group and is portrayed by Casey Kramer.

Groton weaves a fascinating tableau that tells a dark, imaginable story by taking her own experiences with family divorces and separation into a nice, soft plot-twisting idea that even children should come and watch regardless of the genre and the ratings. Groton also throws a plethora of horrifying, gruesome special effects to give the cast onscreen a more proper feel if this is another Jordan Peele’s adventure or maybe just another Beetlejuice film with a side of Casper the ghost.

By the looks of the film itself entirely, Darkness in Tenement 45 is shot in one building because the filmmakers, including the cast, wanted to find a decent location to shoot the entire film in without having to ask people who own any certain buildings or homes or apartments. The film did deliver some stay-at-home order references due to the characters being told by the director to stay put just to give the film and scenes some proper thrilling experience personas that bring the uncertainty to both families and children.

Out of all the scary, horror films I watch, Darkness in Tenement 45 is just a safer choice unlike several of those films I watched that I haven't enjoyed most. Needless to say, this film is a must see. Though the sad part is Darkness in Tenement 45 going to release in the early November just after Halloween. I wish I could see this in theaters, but times have changed. Watching this good movie at home is like substituting an outdoor activity for an indoor activity when the weather becomes rainy. I think it's ok, not that bad but I can’t go higher than when it comes to liking it more than anybody else.

GRADE: C

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Ouija Warehouse

Director: Israel Luna

Studio: La Luna Entertainment

Review: Ouija Warehouse


As Halloween is just around the corner, they are a plethora of scary, horrifying films to be offered in theaters or at home via digital streaming service. This film is made locally and was heavily consist of several of my colleagues who have worked on this project called Ouija Warehouse directed by Israel Luna during the pandemic. The film features the cast of Kristin Keith, Joseph Herrera, Abby Joy, Suha Kim, Swisyzanna, Justin Armstrong, Chaselyn Wade, and Angel Rose Keeley.

Ouija Warehouse centers on the group of friends who discovered the spiritual game board at the warehouse where they are gathered for the birthday party. However, one of the two party-goes accidentally set the spirit free by playing it, forcing them to solve the case of this spirit that died in the warehouse just a year before the events of the film.

Actors Joseph Herrera and Suha Kim played key roles as Noah and Kay who are responsible for releasing a deadly spirit after they found the spirit game board in the room and started playing with it. Kristin Keith came along in the scene as Elaine who is busy setting up a party in the warehouse. Also appearing are Swisyzanna, Justin Armstrong (who also serves as an executive producer), and Chaselyn Wade. And finally, Angel Rose Keeley comes in as Isabella, the spirit that rises into the room.

Due to the pandemic, the film was shot entirely in one location with less than seven days to work on those scenes, editing, and acting out in the film. The crew have spent so much time finding a decent storyline down the road as well as focusing on the character developments for Joseph Herrera, Kristin Keith, Chaselyn Wade, and Suha Kim in which they represent an old-school survival challenge compared to the A Quiet Place and other scary films that have something to do with survival. The crew even throw in some special effects for that horror-graphic flavor for the film, but in turn, the plot seems manageable for audiences to look directly into. Though, the downside is not adding little more special/visual effects to keep it classy.

Ouija Warehouse has just enough satisfying twists and turns to keep one’s interest come in handy. My main challenge is picking a scary film to watch can be tough, but for my advice, see the trailer first and voice your thoughts honestly. My last theater experience is The Hunt, which was released earlier this year before the pandemic begins.

With the colors and the flavors present, Ouija Warehouse is a pretty good 86-minute (almost 90) indie-feature film. I feel like this film is safe lubricant for teens and maybe older kids. The film gives me lots of laughs and shocks along the way throughout the film. The director, the cast, and the crew did an amazing job of keeping the paces behind their backs. And that’s all I’m going to say, I can’t give out too much. I rather watch this again when it comes out on digital. Lastly, just to let the readers know that most of my colleagues have worked on and appeared in this film.

GRADE: A-

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Director: Jason Woliner

Studio: Amazon Studios

Review: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm


Borat Subsequent Moviefilm serves as the official, direct sequel to this critical acclaim film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which was released in 2006. Although, no word of the sequel hasn’t been official to the public yet until the news came in the mid-2020s. The sequel is directed by feature-film first-timer Jason Woliner, though he had a background on television as he was directing some television episodes from several television sitcoms, including Parks and Recreation. The film’s cast consists of Cohen who reprises his role as Borat Sagdiyev and Maria Bakalova in her supporting role on Cohen’s side.

Sacha Baron Cohen reprises his role as journalist/reporter from the first Borat film. Despite that pandemic is still spreading, he uses his advantages to start filming but in a secretive manner out of sight. Cohen gives his character and persona more comedy, more vitamins, and some hilarious tactics in order to received bonus points and making the film as enjoyable, possibly making it brighter and better than that lazy-and-lousy Dumb and Dumber sequel. Taking a stand on Cohen's side, Maria Bakalova appears in the film as Tutar, the daughter of Borat Sagdiyev.

The setting of the film takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic as the some events happening in Hollywood are referenced during the film which made the viewers to believe that the film was made and set somewhere in the world during this time. Woliner, Cohen, and the crew took much of their time traveling and shooting multiple film scenes day-in and day-out right after the stay-at-order was lifted. Although Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a mockumentary, comedy film, Cohen also threw in some father-and-daughter scenes together to give it more proper, structural family dynamics and whimsical tones for that chemistry between those two and the film as a whole.

Even though there are more films and titles to come, I say Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is one of the greats for house-viewing activity, though only for teens and adults due to its disturbing contents. The sequel threw in several loads of laughs, bruises, and amusements for this 96-minute feature. The director and Cohen really made this comedy classic all possible as means of spreading joy during the pandemic. And that’s all I’m going to say, I can’t give out too much, you’ll have to see it for yourself if you love Borat and Sacha Baron Cohen so much. So please watch Borat Subsequent Moviefilm if you can!

Bonus points for that Tom Hanks cameo in the film.

GRADE: A-

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Bullets of Justice

Director: Valeri Milev

Studio: Zenit TT

Review: Bullets of Justice


Bullets of Justice is one of the darkest, scariest films to watch this season, giving the fact that Halloween is just around the counter. Bulgarian director Valeri Milev, who is known for directing Re-Kill in 2015, flew over to Eastern Europe and somewhere in Central Asia to take the role as the main film director for this horrorous, post-apocalyptic feature film with Timur Turisbekov coming aboard as the producer and an actor with Danny Trejo also starring onscreen.

The film takes place in the era called the Third World War where the American government has initiated a secret project code that creates super soldiers by inbreeding human beings with pigs. 25 years later a breed called "Muzzles" occupied the top of the food chain, eating and farming humans like animals. The film also centers on Rob Justice who is an ex-bounty hunter working for the last line of human resistance, which actually consists of a group of survivors hiding in a nuclear bunker deep underground. His mission is to find out how muzzles came to power and destroy them.

Valeri Milev and producer Timur Turisbekov, with the latter acting in the film as the ex-bounty hunter named Rob Justice, have filmed the entire scenes, the film itself, and action sequences in Kazakhstan, which is a transcontinental country mainly located in Central Asia with a smaller portion west of the Ural in Eastern Europe. The two also took some inspirations from several zombie films and other post-apocalyptic films in order to match the style, the depth, and the characters’ performances, even when it means going through tons of bloody CGI-usages and sexual appeals on the characters, both real and robotic in the scenes.

Not only the direction, but the killer-shooting meltdowns add some putrid effects on those disturbing pig scenes. What is more horrifying is the music in the background, which bears a striking resemblance to that old-school Hitchcock’s persona just to give the film some vitamins for its strength and some structural tones for the film’s central atmosphere. And lastly, to make matters worse, Trejo’s screentime is cut short in order for the filmmakers to focus on other characters, thereby, going against the criteria from that movie poster and trailer.

I hate to say this, but Bullets of Justice is the worst film I ever watched. Though only Trejo’s scenes are what makes the film enjoyable to see. I really wish Danny Trejo has more screentime as said in the poster of this film, but sadly, the filmmakers have really focused on other scenes and characters more than focusing on Trejo. And that’s all I’m going to say, I feel like their movie skills are beneath them. This is one huge mess of a film that hurts to watch, truly painful. You will never kick yourself for passing on this one.

GRADE: F-

(Review by Henry Pham)









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Fugitive Dreams

Director: Jason Neulander

Studio: New Republic Studios

Review: Fugitive Dreams


This film feels like this one is made in the 1920’s or 1930s due to the looks of the film, possibly giving steady captures and tones from The Wizard of Oz adventure. Fugitive Dreams is based on the play of the same name by Caridad Svich. Director Jason Neulander takes the helm of producing Fugitive Dreams that weaves a wandering tale of homelessness, addiction and mental illness in a dream-like depiction of rural parts of America.

Fugitive Dreams opens and centers heavily on Mary (April Matthis) who is wandering through empty fields, aimlessly walking towards a city limits sign, which is actually middle of nowhere with no signs of habitation anywhere else, before finding refuge in an abandoned petrol station bathroom. She is later about to press down when John (Robbie Tann) bursts in and shocks her from the moment of self-harm.

Under Neulander’s direction, the film is shot in black and white and this gives Mary and John’s travels a stark beauty, a clear juxtaposition that allows the anyone who watches this film, mainly some, to truly capture some extraordinary, yet stunning images of the empty American countryside, giving some historical references from the segregation era due to the settings and the tones of the film for that accuracy. Though as the film progresses midway, colour of the scenes have been switched to return to the modern world that looks like the setting takes place in the present day, which lost its beauty and narrative for the film’s structure integrity.

April Matthis and Robbie Tann played as Mary and John, the two homeless folks who are in desperate need of finding shelter somewhere in the countryside in America. Also appearing are Scott Shepherd and O-Lan Jones who played the mother-and-son duo of Israfel and Providence in the film, supporting the main two actors onscreen.

As the film deeply explores the beauty and the naturalness of the characters and the settings, the scenes in the colour world (parts of the second half of the film) did not capture the blink of the eye for the gloriousness for how the film will find their way to beautyness, much to the film’s detriment. The colour scenes really lost their flavor on how the story aims for the decent storytelling and for the reasonable plotlines which nearly felt that the director is very off-topic to make the film itself to be more compatible to any road-trip movies anyone has ever watched. But on the bright side, the plot and the main focus on Mary and John really adds a nice touch for their chemistry, which is part of the film’s climax.

On the side note, Fugitive Dreams is a fascinating 95-minute feature presentation. It may or not be as enjoyable as any other balck-and-white drama, road trip movies. but I say this film is a really interesting story to tell that fights and flies beneath the surface. This film is a must for any first timers out there.

GRADE: A

(Review by Henry Pham)









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The Witches

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures/HBO

Review: HBO’s The Witches


Originally tended to be released in theaters, Warner Bros. and HBO have officially decided to release this film digitally on television through the latter's own streaming system called HBO Max. Based on Ronald Dahl's book released in 1983, The Witches serves as the second full-length feature film to be adapted from that book, the first was that classic cult released in 1990 with Anjelica Huston starring in it. Famed director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) returns to the director’s chair to produce this dark, comedy film on HBO Max. The film features the stars of Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, and Stanley Tucci, with Chris Rock narrating the film.

The film talks about an imaginative tale of a seven year old boy who lives with his grandmother and has a run in with some real life witches, including the Grand High Witch, at the hotel just before he was turned into a mouse. He later overhears the witches' plan to turn children into rodents and it is up to him to foil their evil schemes.

Anne Hathaway portrays the Grand High Witch, the main witch who is responsible for turning children into animals, while Jahzir Kadeem Bruno plays as a young boy, the main protagonist of the film, who is turned into a mouse by the Grand High Witch while comedian Chris Rock does the voiceover for Bruno’s character and primarily serves as the film’s narrator. In addition, Octavia Spencer appears as the supportive grandmother to the young boy whilst Stanley Tucci came into the scene as the hotel’s manager named Mr. Stringer. And lastly, Kristin Chenoweth also appears as the voice of Daisy, another mouse who was once a human girl named Mary who was turned into a mouse by the witches before the film takes place.

Utilizing his experiences from his directing duties in 1992’s Death Becomes Her and 2007’s Beowulf, Zemeckis and his team have used a bucket load of CGI on the mice Hathaway’s character, with the addition of special effects that are mainly focused and aimed on Hathaway entirely throughout the film. Not only, he and the crew have guided Hathaway’s onscreen performance throughout the film, but also gave Spencer’s and Bruno’s character a fine mother-and-son relationship chemistry in order to give the film some much needed lovable amusement for the audiences regardless of the genre.

Though, there've been some downfalls on the film where Zemeckis and the filmmakers overdid compared to his (Zemeckis’) own films, predominantly his recent films. He has taken deep advantages in focusing on two things: the scrawny CGI effects and unglamourous Cats-style visual effects. Those two things really bring up the much more scarier tone like the classic one dated back in 1990. Even when the crew have planted a subtle plot and the lazy script-writing, turns out it wasn’t as imaginable as ever like how Ronald Dahl would want when his books got made into films. Not only that, but the mice and witches scenes are the most frustrating things to watch because it feels like it could've been made by somebody else, though Hathaway and Spencer’s performance are pretty flawless to follow, which makes the film too enjoyable to watch.

In conclusion, The Witches is a god-awful, disappointing 104-minute movie. I honestly don’t know why they chose to remake the first one which was great and all for both critics and audiences. I feel like the special effects are just too much and have taken over the movie compared to that junky, musical Cats film released in 2019. I hate to say this, but don't watch this and don’t waste your time on this one... enjoy the first one again instead.

GRADE: F

(Review by Henry Pham)









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