Phoenix - Review

PG-13  |  98 min  |  Drama, History
Review - Matt Mungle

**In select theaters and Angelika Film Center in Dallas and Plano August 7th*

Language: German w/ English subtitles

Synopsis: A disfigured concentration-camp survivor (Nina Hoss), unrecognizable after facial reconstruction surgery, searches ravaged postwar Berlin for the husband (Ronald Zehrfeld) who might have betrayed her to the Nazis.

Review:  This romantic story of mystery and drama is a decent attempt at intrigue but too often it just simply a mediocre narrative. Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss) is lucky to be a live and wants to connect with the one person left alive that she loves; her husband Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld). The rumors that he is the one who turned her in to the Nazi's does not discourage her from seeking him out. The characters and plot points should have made this a stellar film. But the writing by Christian Petzold and Harun Farocki never breaks free from the confines of insecurity.

The screenplay is adapted from the novel "Le Retour des cendres" by Hubert Monteilhet which was probably more compelling in print. I doubt the characters drifted around as lost and removed on the pages of the book the way they do on the screen. Plus the plot holes and "convenient scenarios" make the outcome unbelievable. Viewers should (if they are paying attention) shake their heads and look at each other as if to say, "umm that is not how that would play out". And I am not talking about the actual ending but the events and unveiling's that lead up to the hum drum conclusion.

I am always quick to point out when actors are not to blame for the meandering of their roles. And here it is important to note that both Hoss and Zehrfeld deliver stellar performances. What is lacking the lines they were given and the direction of Christian Petzold - who also wrote it, remember? When you are unable to improve on your own script by how you direct it may be just cause to reevaluate the entire thing.

Again the concept is top notch and I can see why the film was made. This idea of a woman escaping a concentration-camp, taking on a new identity, and then engaging her unknowing husband is catchy and unique. I give this rendering only 2 out of 5 nose jobs. Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief suggestive material there is nothing objectionable in this one. It is certainly written and themed for those who like art house foreign films. Which I am one of. That is why I judge this one as critical as I do. It could have and should have been so much better.


Win passes to MegaFest-International 2015

Aug.20-22 at the Omni Dallas Hotel

The International Faith & Family Film Festival is a first-class gathering of high-level entertainment executives, notable Hollywood directors, screenwriters and actors that features exclusive movie screenings and events. It is a major component of MegaFest, a multi-day family festival featuring faith, empowerment and entertainment activities that was founded nine years ago by Bishop T.D. Jakes. Our inaugural film festival event in 2013 was a major success. This year’s MegaFest is expected to host upwards of 100,000 people at the Dallas Convention Center and American Airlines Center.


To enter simply email giveaway@mungleshow.com with MEGAFEST in the subject line. Include your full name and email address. No cost or obligation. Normal contest rules apply. 


The festival will include 10 featured films of different genres from countries around the world.
The festival will also include inspirational morning talks by Hill Harper, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.
There will be four in-depth panel discussions featuring seasoned industry pros: Faith-Based TV, Marketing in Faith, Diversity in Hollywood, and Faith in the Digital Space.
The event will also feature master classes by Devon Franklin and Keke Palmer moderated by Kevin Frasier of OMG! Insider.
In addition, there will be smaller breakout sessions on directing, acting, producing, writing and film finance featuring top Hollywood players.
Tickets for the three-day event are $99 and entitle registrants to enjoy other events in the Megafest lineup.
Discount family and group packages are available.
The goal of the IFFFF is to entertain, inform, inspire and provide specialized topics of interest to aspiring filmmakers, actors and others who have an interest in the entertainment business.
In its 2013 debut, the International Faith and Family Film Festival set a new standard for discovering and showcasing the best of faith-and-family movies that reflect a biblical worldview.
The IFFFF also stands as a unique ecumenical gathering that unites the various Christian film communities around a common cause of supporting and advancing Christian and family-friendly films and entertainment.
The three major components of the F&F market – Protestant, Catholic and African American Christian – are all powerfully represented in this exciting integrated festival for the second time.
There is a clear desire and support for high-quality Christian and family-friendly films and entertainment.
An International Faith and Family Film Festival is needed to raise the bar and change perceptions about what constitutes a faith-based film.

Now on Blu-ray 08-04-15

SYNOPSISAfter a friend’s son is found dead, Soviet secret-police officer Leo Demidov (Hardy) suspects his superiors are covering up the truth.  When Leo dares to raise questions, he is demoted and exiled to a provincial outpost with his wife (Rapace).  There, Leo soon discovers other mysterious deaths with similar circumstances and convinces his new boss (Oldman) that a deranged serial killer is on the loose—and must be stopped before he strikes again in this electrifying thriller.

The home entertainment release of Child 44 will include a “Reflections of History” featurette that looks behind-the-scenes at the film crew’s work recreating the 1950s Soviet Union. 

Also available on Blu-ray


Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - Review

PG-13  |  131 min  |  Action, Adventure, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle

**In theaters July 31, 2015**

Synopsis: Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate - an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

Review:  The right formula is key. Mathematics is based on correct formulas working precisely. You can figure out the most intricate equation if you have the right formula. That seems to be why the Mission Impossible franchise is so successful; they have a fantastic film formula.

Ethan (Tom Cruise) may have met his match this time in super villain Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) who always seems to be one step ahead of Hunt. The IMF has its own problems though as the head of the CIA (Alec Baldwin) is trying to get it disbanded. William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) to deal with all of this while his main agent, Hunt, is out trying to get Lane. In the mix is a British rouge agent, Ilsa Faust, (Rebecca Ferguson) who may or may not be working for Lane. Hunt has to trust her though if is he going to pull off this near impossible mission.

The formula I referred to has to do with the mix of action, fast paced chase scenes, eye rolling stunts, comedy, and a solid script. Very seldom do you find all of these working in harmony so effectively; but you do here. Also the script is well thought out and weaves the multiple story lines in a way that keeps it moving clearly. There are no plot holes and everything ties up perfectly.

High five to Cruise on keeping Hunt lean and mean. You never feel like Tom is phoning it in or doing something that is unbelievable. He gives 110% in every frame. He dives in to the action full force. Faust is another solid addition. In past MI films the female character is undefined, unnecessary, and unqualified. Ferguson leaves no doubt as to her ability as a kick butt spy. She carries herself with an inner strength masked by a beautiful exterior. This is a double weapon that keeps all the other characters on high alert.

Much of the comedy comes from, obviously, Simon Pegg as tech savvy Benji Dunn. Pegg doesn't stray far from what we normally see him doing but it works great here. He even gets into the action a few times. Renner steps away from the Hawkeye persona to put on an IMF suit and tie. Like everyone else in this film he nails the performance. Harris as a bad guy is a good call. He is an intelligent, soft spoken, sophisticated villain; which are the scariest of all.

All of the elements you liked from the earlier MI films are in this one. The gadgets, effects, and spy gear all take a seat of honor in this new installment. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity. As far as action films go you will find very little to be offended by in this one. The fighting and gun play being the most intense. I give it a strong 4 out of 5 water mains. A perfect addition to the MI franchise.