Your Guide To The Dallas International Film Festival 2016!

The Dallas Film Festival is well under way, but there is still time to see some great movies over the next few rainy days. Most of the films will center around the Angelika and, after the USA Film Festival moves in next week, the Alamo Drafthouse on Lamar.

Critics are already weighing in on the best movies to see. Check out the reviews.

All the Colors of the Night

11:45 a.m. April 17, Angelika 4; 4:15 p.m. April 22, Alamo 7

Grade: C-

This Brazilian film about people (and at least one ghost) sitting around telling stories of violence to one another in tones of faux profundity felt like a long slog even at its relatively short running time of just over an hour. Set primarily in an apartment with a spectacular ocean view, two women ponder what to do with the dead body of a man that somehow came to be on the living room floor. They get side-tracked swapping tangentially related tales from their past, and I’m not sure I ever understood how what happened happened, or who it happened to, or even whether any of it happened. All the Colors of the Night is part of a grand tradition of would-be artistic works that attempt to pass off sheer inscrutability as emotional and intellectual depth.  — Jason Heid

 

Takim (The Team)

2:30 pm April 17, Angelika 6; 1:30 pm April 18, Angelika 8

Grade: B-

This Turkish film about two brothers who enter a tournament to save the family-owned soccer pitch from a sinister developer marks every single box on the “sports movie cliche” checklist. There’s the assembling of the ragtag group of misfit players, led by the stern coach whose own career ended short of the big leagues. The rival team, whose black jerseys might as well be labeled “bad guys,” oozing punchability with every snide put-down and haughty gesture. The rousing speech about the importance of teamwork, delivered in the huddle before the big game. Director Emre Sahin has some larger political ideas about urbanization and inequality in Istanbul on his mind, but, for the most part, Takim just wants to be a feelgood sports movie. It succeeds on that front, with a fun cast and stylish “street soccer” scenes that should leave a smile on your face, even though you’ve seen it all before. —Alex Macon

 

The Anthropologist

5:15 pm April 17, Angelika 8; 5:15 pm April 18, Angelika 8

Grade: C

Somewhere in this documentary, there is an important and powerful film about the catastrophic effects of climate change on long-standing cultural practices around the world. Yet the movie that could have been is interwoven with a cloying narrative about an American teenager’s ambivalence toward her anthropologist mother’s career, which takes them both from Siberia to the coast of Virginia, where rising temperatures are wreaking havoc on old traditions. This is paralleled, until it’s inexplicably abandoned about halfway through the movie, by an interview with the daughter of the famed 20th century anthropologist Margaret Mead, who happily followed her mother into the field. Perhaps this was meant to be a moving portrait of a mother-daughter relationship, rather than a profound call-to-action about climate change.The Anthropologist, a film suffering from a severe identity crisis, is neither. — Alex Macon

 

The Bad Kids

7:45 pm April 17, Angelika 8; 4:45 pm April 19, Angelika 8

Grade: B

A heartbreaking look at troubled students attending a last-chance alternative high school in Black Rock, Calif., The Bad Kids also delivers an inspiring portrayal of the administrators given the impossible task of breaking a cycle beyond their control. The tragedy is obvious, and deeply felt, with poverty, drug addiction, and domestic chaos working against whatever stability a classroom can provide. The teachers’ quiet compassion is a lifeline, but we’re left with the discomfiting impression that for every student pulled out of a hopeless situation, another is left to sink. The documentary is an effective reminder that the only “bad kids” are those we fail to help. — Alex Macon

 

I Promise You Anarchy

10:30 pm April 17, Angelika 7; 10:45 pm April 18, Angelika 8

Grade: B

There’s style and attitude to spare in this gritty Mexican crime thriller about a gay teenage skateboarder (Diego Calva Hernandez) involved in illegal blood trafficking whose quest to make some extra cash hits a snag when his lover (Eduardo Eliseo Martinez) becomes ill and his operation becomes mixed up with a Mexico City kidnapping ring. At its core, the film is a coming-of-age romance that hints at broader socioeconomic issues including immigration and black-market pharmaceuticals. The evocative visuals from director Julio Hernandez Cordon combine with the natural performances by an ensemble cast of newcomers to bring a raw authenticity to some otherwise familiar subject matter. — Todd Jorgenson

 

Shorts 3

7:15 p.m. April 18, Angelika 7; 10:15 p.m. April 19, Angelika 7

The highlight of this entertaining and touching group of films is a delightful documentary about a 90-year-old woman whose introduction to the wonders of the internet via Google (“It gave me a sense of connectedness unlike any I’d ever experienced at the synagogue.”) causes her to lose her lifelong Jewish faith (“I went very quickly from Julia Child to Christopher Hitchens”) and inspires her to eat bacon for the first time. Also worth the time are a heartbreaking short about a Chinese couple who come to America for the funeral of their daughter and another doc about a small Florida town that treats its high schoolers headed to prom as celebrities, turning out like paparazzi to photograph them and their extravagant rides to the dance. — Jason Heid

 

Dheepan

4 pm April 19, Angelika 4; 6 pm April 24, Alamo Drafthouse 2

Grade: B+

Heartfelt and topical, this compelling drama from director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) examines the European immigrant experience through its title character (Jesuthasan Antonythasan), who flees war-torn Sri Lanka for Paris, taking along a makeshift family of two strangers to satisfy French authorities, allowing him to get a job as a caretaker in a rundown apartment complex. That’s where Dheepan reconnects with his violent past, which threatens his future. Although the action-packed finale gets carried away, the film is both sympathetic and even-handed. While gradually building tension, it succeeds most as an intimate and provocative look at refugee struggles given added emotional resonance by current events. — Todd Jorgenson

 

Demimonde

10:45 p.m. April 19, Angelika 8; 10:15 p.m. April 20, Angelika 7

Grade: B

This Hungarian thriller, set in an upper-class Budapest home in the early 20th century, doesn’t quite live up to its Hitchcockian ambitions. After an opening segment in which we see a dead woman floating in a basket in the Danube, we flash-back four days to follow young Kató as she takes employment as a maid in the house of Lady Elza, who (along with her devoted housekeeper Rózsi) harbors secrets about how she came to afford such a luxurious lifestyle. Assorted love triangles develop, involving also Elza’s wealthy benefactor and a young, handsome poet. The movie will leave you guessing as to who will commit the murder, and it has some fun in teasing its audience with the appearance of various objects we know will be present at the crime scene. — Jason Heid

 

In View

7:45 pm April 20, Angelika 8; 10:30 pm April 21, Alamo Drafthouse 3

Grade: C+

A moderately poignant yet relentlessly downbeat examination of the grieving process, this Irish drama follows Ruth (Caoilfhionn Dunne), an exasperated Dublin cop struggling to cope with a recent tragedy in her family that has left her feeling isolated and withdrawn. Her grief manifests itself in a mix of internal guilt and external resentment toward just about everyone, exacerbated by alcoholism and drug use. As the film charts her path to redemption, it commendably doesn’t offer any easy answers. Yet the script by rookie director Ciaran Creagh struggles to generate sympathy for Ruth as her depression leads to a second-half twist with a muddled emotional payoff. — Todd Jorgenson

 

The Liberators

7 pm April 22, Angelika 7; 5 pm April 23, Angelika 6

Grade: B

This documentary is well-suited by a matter-of-fact approach to a true story that connects the dots between the Nazis’ fascination with the occult, stolen treasure, and a U.S. army lieutenant with an art degree and a habit of visiting Dallas gay bars. The Liberators tracks the strange journey of a small trove of priceless medieval art, stolen from a German church in the waning days of World War II only to reappear in the small town of Whitewright, Texas, decades later. A German “art detective” manages to track it down with some help from a New York Timesreporter, but getting the priceless items back to their proper home remains a tricky proposition. The Liberators, in its simple recounting of such a fascinating saga, has a better grasp of the importance of its subject matter and more compelling characters — namely, the late, sticky-fingered Lt. Joe Meador — than a film like The Monuments Men, a flashier movie about the recovery of cultural artifacts lost in World War II. — Alex Macon

 

Morris From America

2 pm April 23, Alamo Drafthouse 2; 7:30 pm April 24, Alamo Drafthouse 3

Grade: B

Quietly profound if generally predictable, this coming-of-age saga from director Chad Hartigan (This Is Martin Bonner) stars newcomer Markees Christmas in the title role, an optimistic American teenager who moves to Germany, where his single father (Craig Robinson) works as a soccer coach. As Morris is forced to mature while making new friends, the film offers a deeper examination of cultural differences and adjustments, but also the subtle things that link us all — from music and fashion to flirtations and insecurities. Christmas has a charismatic screen presence and Robinson balances humor and wisdom in a change-of-pace role, as the father-son dynamic forms an emotional anchor. — Todd Jorgenson

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