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Beyond War and Politics and Religion: St. Ambrose Presents the Middle Eastern Film Festival, October 15 through 24 PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 02 October 2014 06:00

Zero MotivationSt. Ambrose University’s educational initiative the Middle East Institute (MEI), which just began its first school-calendar year of programming, was designed to foster discussion and study of this frequently misunderstood and geopolitically critical region. And as institute director Ryan Dye says, when it came time to create an event schedule for the MEI’s fall semester, “I consulted with our fine-arts department, and they were really excited about the idea of doing a film festival.”

Through the art department’s Clea Felien, Dye was put in contact with Ghen Zando-Dennis, a cinema-studies professor at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. An Alaska native and occasional filmmaker herself, Zando-Dennis teaches a course in Middle Eastern films at Ramapo and was eager to curate the MEI’s event. Zando-Dennis admits, however, that the curator position did come with a challenge for her.

“I didn’t want to show work just because it’s from this place we regard as ‘the Middle East,’” she says. “I didn’t want anyone to come away from it thinking it was a kind of survey, in any sense of the imagination, of Middle Eastern media art. And yet I’m programming a film festival that’s called ‘the Middle Eastern Film Festival.’ So that’s tricky.”

 
Both Eyes for an Eye, a Jaw for a Tooth: "The Equalizer" and "The Boxtrolls" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 28 September 2014 14:38

Denzel Washington in The EqualizerTHE EQUALIZER

As he did, to great acclaim and an Oscar victory, in director Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day, Denzel Washington plays a psychopath in Fuqua’s new action thriller The Equalizer. And the most interesting thing about the movie – in truth, the only interesting thing about this laughably earnest, resoundingly foolish endeavor – is that none of its on- or off-screen participants seems to realize it.

 
Walking, Running, Retching, Kvetching: "A Walk Among the Tombstones," "The Maze Runner," "Tusk," and "This Is Where I Leave You" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 21 September 2014 16:19

Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the TombstonesFriday, September 19, 10:10 a.m.-ish: It’s been six weeks since my last quadruple feature, and I’m expecting this one to start with supreme novelty, considering that the poster for the day’s first feature, A Walk Among the Tombstones, boasts the image of a brooding Liam Neeson holding a gun. That’s right: Liam Neeson! That guy from Schindler’s List! Brooding and holding a gun! How does Hollywood keep coming up with such fresh ideas?!

 
Tony Soprano and a Pit Bull Walk into a Bar ... : "The Drop," "Dolphin Tale 2," and "No Good Deed" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 14 September 2014 14:02

Tom Hardy in The DropTHE DROP

Tom Hardy, by this point in his career, has had enough major roles in enough major movies to qualify as a familiar face. And a good thing, too, because if we were forced to rely on his voice and specific screen type, how, from film to film, would we ever recognize him? The British star’s latest is the crime thriller The Drop, and it’s a solid piece of work – hardly novel, but gripping and enjoyable nonetheless. Yet it’s tough to imagine any Hardy fan even thinking about skipping it, considering that, much like the recent home-video release Locke, the movie allows this brilliantly chameleon-like character actor to perform an exquisite slow burn that lasts 90-ish minutes, and to sound and seem quite unlike anyone he’s ever played before.

 
The King, and More Royal Subjects: "The Identical," "Locke," "Only Lovers Left Alive," "The Normal Heart," and "The Spoils of Babylon" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 08 September 2014 08:51

Blake Rayne, Ashley Judd, and Ray Liotta in The IdenticalDirector Dustin Marcellino’s The Identical is for anyone who ever wanted to see a fictionalized account of the birth of the Elvis-impersonator movement. Or anyone who’d enjoy Presley’s songs more if their melodies weren’t so complex and their lyrics weren’t so depraved. Or anyone who’s been yearning to see Ray Liotta play a devout evangelist who explains to his congregation why he just lit eight candles on a menorah, when, as we can see, he clearly lit nine.

 
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