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Off to See the Lizard: "Rango," "The Adjustment Bureau," and "Beastly" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 13:14

RangoRANGO

I spent the past several days enjoying a vacation halfway across the country, and am consequently getting my reviews written a few days later than usual. In terms of reviewing the animated Rango, though, I’m quite grateful for the delay, because I so rarely get the chance to write about movies that I love after I’ve seen them a second time. Had the vacation lasted longer, I might’ve even gone for a third.

 
Oscars / The Grouch: Notes on the 2011 Academy Awards Telecast PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 28 February 2011 13:41

Best Actor Colin FirthBefore getting into what went wrong at last night’s Academy Awards ceremony – and sadly, quite a bit went wrong – let’s begin by addressing the one portion of the telecast that, for maybe the first time in Oscar history, went magically right.

 
Iowa Not-So-Stubborn: "Cedar Rapids," "Hall Pass," and "Drive Angry" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 27 February 2011 16:09

Isiah Whitlock Jr., John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, and Ed Helms in Cedar RapidsCEDAR RAPIDS

Prior my Saturday screening of Cedar Rapids, I’d seen 18 2011 releases, and my favorite of the mostly-slash-wildly underwhelming bunch – by a considerable margin – was Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. It’s tempting, then, to want to overpraise director Miguel Arteta’s raunchy yet genial comedy simply for being, you know, good.

 
One-Room Wonders: Area Filmmakers Explore America’s Educational History in "Country School: One Room – One Nation," March 6 at the Nighswander Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 09:38

Tammy and Kelly Rundle in North English, Iowa's Gritter Creek School“The biggest problem we have, I think, is always getting people in the door,” says local filmmaker Kelly Rundle. “Because we find that most people – not everyone, of course – ... do enjoy our films. With this one, though ... . There’s just something about one-room schools that doesn’t sound very sexy, you know what I mean?”

He may have a point. The latest collaboration between director Kelly Rundle and his wife, co-writer and co-producer Tammy Rundle, is Country School: One Room – One Nation, the third documentary released by the couple’s Moline-based production company Fourth Wall Films. And as the movie is an examination of, and tribute to, the one-room schools that flourished throughout the rural United States in the first half of the 20th Century, “sexy” isn’t exactly the adjective that springs to mind.

Other descriptions, however – including “fascinating,” “insightful,” and “really, really entertaining” – are more than appropriate. Like the pair’s 2004 true-crime doc Villisca: Living with a Mystery and 2007’s Lost Nation: The Ioway, Country School takes an in-depth look at a mostly unknown, or largely forgotten, chapter of American – specifically Midwestern – history. Also like those films, the Rundles’ most recent endeavor delivers a history lesson that is anything but a dry lecture.

 
Rebel without a Planet: “I Am Number Four,” “Unknown,” and “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 20 February 2011 14:08

Dianna Agron and Alex Pettyfer in I Am Number FourI AM NUMBER FOUR

A handsome, troubled, rebellious transfer student dealing with alienation and the wrath of bullies at his new high school. The kid’s ineffectual father, shrugging off his child’s loneliness and conflicts with the authorities. The kid’s one new friend, a withdrawn, frequently picked-on nerd with his own parental hang-ups. The kid’s potential love interest, a pretty, popular girl who feels like an outsider herself, and appears to be the property of the kid’s chief tormentor. If you’ve seen a certain iconic drama starring Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, and a red-jacket-wearing James Dean, the aforementioned character descriptions might sound a teensy bit familiar.

 
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