Arianna - Review - DIFF2016

Italy, 2015, 84 min., Color, Italian (with English subtitles)
1h 24min | Drama | NR 18+
Review - Matt Mungle

Angelika Film Center Friday 4/15 4:45pm
Angelika Film Center Wednesday 4/20 4:45pm

Tickets and Festival info

SynopsisCarlo Lavagna’s debut feature, ARIANNA, unfolds like a classic film mystery set in the the gorgeous Italian countryside. Arianna is nineteen years old and still hasn’t had her first period. She’s starting to notice that she hasn’t physically matured like other girls. Arianna becomes more suspicious of her condition and her parents which leads up to surprise conclusion that will shock audiences as much as it shocks Arianna herself.

Review:  Foreign dramas are always a much anticipated staple at the Dallas International Film Festival. This years first offering is a beautifully shot and fantastically acted piece about one girl's self discovery. Set in the lavish Italian countryside with rich textures and natural dialogue ARIANNA is captivating and engrossing. 

Ondina Quadri stars as the nineteen year old Arianna. Fabulously she controls her character with an awkward rhythm and shy curiosity. It is instantly apparent that something is not quite honest about her parents. The secret obviously holds answers to Arianna's condition. But the film never feels rushed. The audience is content to allow the story to progress at its own pace. We know we will get there in due time. Even as the tension builds and clues appear we aren't anxious about the outcome. 

There is just the right amount of organic story telling and mystery to make this worthy of a festival ticket. - Matt Mungle


The Adderall Diaries - Review

R | 1h 45min | Drama, Romance, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle

*Opens on Friday, April 15 in DFW at Forney Cinema 12 and Starplex Hulen 10 in Fort Worth. THE ADDERALL DIARIES is currently available on DirecTV VOD.*

Synopsis: Based on the bestselling memoir by Stephen Elliott, The Adderall Diaries is the gripping and complex story of how an author’s fascination with a high-profile murder case leads him to come to terms with his troubled past while embarking on a potentially life-changing romance in the present.

Review:  James Franco plays journalist, writer, filmmaker Stephen Elliott in this dark, brutally emotional drama based on Elliott's 2009 memoir. Elliott is a troubled man trying to escape an even more troubled childhood. But he can't seem to get past the death of his mother, the absentee father (Ed Harris), and his teenage drug abuse. As time passes he begins to realize that his memories might not be factual. This revelation changes everything he thought was truth.

This could be one of Franco's most powerful role. We see him struggle against a past that is an unraveling thread of unhinged memories. He is in a constant state of brooding and angry disposition. But he is also a man in pain; trying to figure out if he is the victim or the reason for his personal struggles. Franco wears all of these emotions openly and this allows the viewer to experience the tension as well. The scenes with him and Harris are volatile and powerful but also extremely organic and unrehearsed.

The one downfall of the film (other than the horrific poster) is the sporadic script by Pamela Romanowsky. It is possible that the source material was too cerebral to transfer to dialogue and the big screen. The other relationships of Elliott's are not thought out and remain superficial regardless of how deep we are led to believe they were in real life. One main focus is Elliott's fixation with a murder trial. He wants to write about it and is drawn to the father on trial. As if he is trying to find a correlation between that man and his own father. But there is no cohesion and the plot line is muddled, riddled with holes, and honestly pointless.

The supporting cast of Amber Heard and Jim Parrack add some solid performances even if their characters are not well written. Heard plays a love interest that has her own ghosts and past demons. Parrack plays Stephen's best friend Roger who has been by his side since youth. Again these relationships probably ran much deeper than we get to experience here.

THE ADDARALL DIARIES is rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexuality, and some aberrant and disturbing content. It is by all means an adult drama and one that is heavy and an emotional downer. Franco's performance is its saving grace and the only reason to consider it. I give it 2.75 out of 5 rough drafts. Most will find the lack of synergy teamed with minuscule redemptive elements enough reason to avoid it.


Occupy, Texas - Review DIFF 2016

1h 33min | Comedy, Drama, Family 
Review - Matt Mungle

Angelika Film Center Friday 4/15 7:30pm 
Angelika Film Center Saturday 4/16 11:45am

SynopsisSeven years after the height of Occupy Wall Street, Beau Baker is still raging against the machine—from a tent—in a New York City alley. When his uncle tracks him down and informs him of his parents' tragic death, Beau packs up his things and heads home to Texas to take care of his family affairs and two sisters who aren’t sure what to think of their long lost brother.

Review:  Death is the greatest equalizer. How we handle it and how it changes the path of our lives is sobering. Gene Gallerano wrote and stars in OCCUPY, TEXAS, a brilliantly scripted and endearingly acted film about one guys quick trip to maturity.  

When Beau (Gallerano) is thrust back into polite society to take care of his two younger sisters he tries hard to continue his blatant disregard for all things conformist. But as the fog clears and his eyes open he discovers a lost season and begins to take stock of what is left. It is a powerful story but lots of humor and endearing banter take much of the weight off it; in light of the elements. 

The film introduces us to the young actress Catherine Elvir who plays Beau's youngest sister, Arden. If Beau has any ally at all it is Arden. Elvir gives us a character you immediately engage with. She has lost her parents and desperately wants to cling to something. Beau offers a fun escape from reality. His other sister Claire (Lorelei Linklater) is not as open to this vagabond crashing her world. She is lost in an angst filled world of suppression and anger. The three of them are a triangle of grief each with a different way of coping. 

This is a perfect addition to the Dallas Film Festival. Lots of familiar Dallas landmarks and a home grown feel make it a must see. 


The First Monday in May - Review

PG-13 | 1h 30min | Documentary 
Review - Matt Mungle

Magnolia Pictures will release The First Monday in May in Dallas on April 15 at the Magnolia theatre.

SynopsisAn unprecedented look behind the scenes of two of New York’s premier cultural events, The First Monday in May follows the creation of “China: Through The Looking Glass,” the most attended fashion exhibition in the history of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the 2015 Met Gala, the star-studded fundraiser that celebrates the opening of the exhibition.

Review:  Fans of fashion and especially fashion as art must take the time to see THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY. The documentary takes you behind the scenes for a very rare and exclusive look at New York's Met Gala. Follow Andrew Bolton (curator) and Anna Wintour (editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine and longtime chair of the Met Gala) through the 8 month preparation. Wintour is a draw all her own. This icon and "dragon lady" of the fashion world knows how to get a job done. No one crosses her or second guesses her hands on approach. Seeing her in this environment is intriguing and entertaining. 

One of the most appealing parts of this film is watching Bolton search through items to find just the right pieces for the China exhibit. Movies and pop culture are influenced by the asian culture and to watch it evolve through out  history is fascinating. 

The First Monday in May is rated PG-13 for brief strong language. There is nothing even remotely objectionable in this feature and art lovers, fashion lovers, and those interested in asian history need to have this on their list. I give it 4 out of 5 emeralds. Cheers to filmmaker Andrew Rossi on a fascinating documentary. 

Win THE FOREST on blu-ray.

Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 12, 2016
  • Run Time: 94 minutes

Synopsis: A young woman’s hunt for her missing sister leads to horror and madness in the terrifying supernatural thriller THE FOREST. Natalie Dormer and Taylor Kinney take a horrifying journey into the unknown as they search the eerie dark woods and ignore the warning to never stray from the path. Own the frightening thriller THE FOREST on Blu-ray™& DVD April 12. From Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. 

To enter send an email to giveaway@mungleshow.com with "THE FOREST" in the subject line. 

Deadline for entry is April 30th 2016.


No cost or obligation. Open to U.S. residents only. NO PHONE CALLS, PLEASE. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. All federal, state and local regulations apply. Winners will be randomly selected and notified by email. One prize per person per household. Employees of all promotional partners and their agencies are not eligible. The MungleShow, Salem Radio Network, The Doug and Jaci Morning Show, and their affiliates accept no responsibility or liability in connection with any loss or accident incurred in connection with use of a prize. A recipient of prizes assumes any and all risks related to use of prize and accepts any restrictions required by prize provider. Prizes cannot be exchanged, transferred or redeemed for cash, in whole or in part.

The Jungle Book - Review

PG | 105 Min | Adventure, Drama, Family 
Review - Matt Mungle

**In theaters April 15th**

SynopsisThe man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don't have his best interests at heart.

Review:  Disney's classic animated, THE JUNGLE BOOK gets a live action makeover. Jon Favreau directs this powerful story that elevates the intensity of the original. Gone, for the most part, are the catchy musical numbers and silly characters. Instead we get a fiercer, darker story that may leave some PG audiences a bit shaken. 

The man cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) has been raised by the wolves since infancy. He was placed with the pack after being found by the Panther, Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley). Everything is copacetic until the ruthless Tiger, Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba) threatens to kill the man cub. Bagheera knows that the safest place for Mowgli is back with the humans and thus begins the journey. 

The emotional story is compelling and moving. In this live action adventure the characters are more vivid and the jungle more vibrant than ever before. It is not a perfect visual experience but does have wow factor moments of grandeur. If you see it in IMAX 3D you will find that scenes with fast action and quick movements come across blurry and the use of visual effects and CGI are too apparent. In those moments what is meant to create depth comes across thinner and it is obvious that Mowgli is nowhere near a real jungle. But the tighter shots and times when the animals interact look spectacular. 

There have been many attempts at a live action version of THE JUNGLE BOOK but nothing has even come close to this one. It is so far beyond the scope of anything Disney has tried in the past. But in doing so they had to sacrifice some of the lighter more kid friendly moments of the 1967 animated version. The songs are woven in through small catch phrases or casual dialogue. They have a much darker tone to them and an ominous undercurrent. Which in truth may fit better with what Kipling penned in the book. When the giant snake Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), who in IMAX will take your breath away literally, slithers around Mowgli we do not see a minuscule, lisping reptile singing Trust in Me but rather a sinister seductress with malicious intent. 

Thankfully the honey loving, laid back bear, Baloo (voice of Bill Murray) remains the comic relief that we all love. Seeing Mowgli and Baloo float down the river proclaiming the wonders of the Bare Necessities will immediately bring a childlike smile to the viewers face. It is also a much needed break in the intensity of the story. The scenes of Mowgli trying to wrangle Baloo some honey comb feels like a cartoon break in the middle of a live action drama. It is well placed and allows a warm beam of light to penetrate the dark jungle. 

The use of live action also enhances the peril of the characters. Unlike the Lion King were you see two animated animals battling it out, here you intensively witness the power of the animal kingdom. Your mind has no problem engaging with the action. This is fine for adults but the concern for parents is how their young tots will handle the animal violence and thematic elements. A PG rating normally allows parents breathing room and less worries. Depending on the kid and in what aspect you see the film - 2D v 3D - parents may want to spend some time afterwards talking through some of the scenes and prepare for audible gasps and eye covering. 

THE JUNGLE BOOK is rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril. There is no doubt that adults who grew up watching the 1967 film will revel in the sights and sounds of this one. Other than a few minor glitches it is stunningly beautiful to watch. Seeing the characters in this setting will endear them even more to the viewer. I give it 3.75 out of 5 human tricks. Again the only issue is the false sense of security the PG rating offers parents. Be advised that this is not light romp through the Jungle.