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Boy Oh Boy(hood): The Most Enjoyable Movies of 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 06:00

Ellar Coltrane in BoyhoodThere are quite a few promising titles I’ve yet to see, including wintertime Oscar hopefuls such as Selma, American Sniper, Mr. Turner, Still Alice, A Most Violent Year, and Inherent Vice, and most everything bound to be nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Documentary Feature. The Quad Cities area is a relatively small movie market in the Midwest, and I don’t get to Chicago (or New York or Los Angeles) very often. C’est comme ça.

So the films and the order of their placement on this list of “10 Favorite Movies of 2014” will, no doubt, eventually change. Baring a miracle, though, we’re good to go on that first one.

100 Favorite Movies, 2000-2014: Mike Schulz PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 01 January 2015 09:02

BoyhoodWa-a-a-a-ay back at the tail end of 2009, my editor Jeff Ignatius and I thought it’d be fun to compose lists of our 100 favorite movies of the millennium. That, of course, led to a completely predictable fight over which year the millennium actually started in ... .

But once we put that past us, it was a lot of fun. (You can read Jeff’s article from January of 2010 here and mine here.) So we decided, with five additional years behind us, to do it again – if, in Jeff’s case, slightly differently this time around. Creature of habit that I am, though, I stuck to a good-ol’-fashioned ranking of 100 favorites in preferential order. In doing so, I also made some interesting discoveries.

100 Favorite Movies, 2000-2014: Jeff Ignatius PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 01 January 2015 09:01

MementoWhen Mike Schulz suggested revisiting and updating our lists of favorite movies of the 2000s, I looked back at my early-2010 article and thought: “Ghost Town? What the hell is that?” Sorry, Ricky Gervais, but it took a few seconds to recall anything at all about a movie I’d listed as one of my top 100.

Such are the perils of composing lists covering long periods of time with a memory as leaky as mine. Unlike my colleague Mike, I don’t have a record of my thoughts about most of the movies I’ve seen, and therefore I can’t say with much certainty whether I still like the 100 favorite movies I selected for 2000 through 2009. So I started from scratch here, with the idea that I wouldn’t include anything so poorly (if fondly) remembered as Ghost Town. (Favorites from the 2010 list that aren’t included here haven’t necessarily fallen in my esteem; in many cases, I just don’t have a recent experience or firm memory of them to rely on).

I’ve also decided to include television in the mix – everything from a single episode to a show’s entire run – partly because of changes in consumer viewing habits and platforms, but mostly because short-run television has changed the nature of the beast so radically; television isn’t the new movies, but the lines between them have blurred to the extent that the distinction hardly matters anymore. Just ask any A-list actor or director who’s signed on to a TV project.

It should go without saying that this list says more about me than it does about the movies of the past 15 years, especially considering that I seek out what interests me rather than having Mike’s professional obligation to see just about everything. My hope is that some folks might watch, based on these recommendations, something they would have otherwise missed or skipped. (And Mike's updated list can be found here.)

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure: I’ve recently re-watched a bunch of movies to see how I feel about them now, but in some cases I’m falling back on (and even stealing from) my previous writings rather than fresh viewings.

Beyond War and Politics and Religion: St. Ambrose Presents the Middle Eastern Film Festival, October 15 through 24 PDF Print E-mail
Movies - 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.”

Parrots and Cats and a Pageant for Bunnies: "Video Art from Israel," May 4 at the Figge PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 06:00

The Days of the Family of the BellOn May 4, in an event co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, the Figge Art Museum will host the screenings of a feature-length documentary and seven shorter works, all of them by award-winning Israeli filmmakers. Yet if the you enter the Video Art from Israel: A One-Day Sensory Experience presentation with preconceived notions about the films’ collective subject matter – anticipating explorations of Israel’s foreign policy, say, or the country’s ongoing struggle with Palestine – you’re likely to be in for a surprise or two. Or eight.

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