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Tanks. A Lot.: "Fury" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 19 October 2014 15:06

Brad Pitt in FuryFURY

Granted, I haven’t seen Birdman yet, but it’s hard to imagine any movie this year featuring a more kick-ass title character than the one in writer/director David Ayer’s Fury. A battered but still indomitable Sherman tank plowing through Nazi Germany at the tail end of World War II – its name imprinted, twice, on the tank’s cannon – Fury is both an amazing destructive force and a desperately needed safe haven for its five-man platoon. Our heroic tank also boasts more personality than any human on-screen, but in the case of this particular film, that’s relatively easy to forgive.

 
"Women & Children" First: "Men, Women & Children," "The Book of Life," "Meet the Mormons," "The Skeleton Twins," and "Venus in Fur" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 19 October 2014 14:56

Rosemarie DeWitt and Adam Sandler in Men, Women & ChildrenMEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN

The single most definitive shot in director/co-writer Jason Reitman’s “Ee-e-eek! The Internet!” melodrama Men, Women & Children is one from the previews, in which Ansel Elgort trudges toward dozens of fellow high-schoolers, all of whom are so fixated on their phones that they can’t see anything, or anyone, directly in front of them.

 
From Rad to Worst: "Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," "Dracula Untold," "Addicted," and "The Judge" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 12 October 2014 14:12

Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Elise or Zoey Vargas, Ferris Dorsey, and Ed Oxenbould in Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DayFriday, October 10, 10:05 a.m.-ish: My latest quartet of screenings starts with an adaptation of the beloved children’s book Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It’s a shame that the title has already eaten up about half my word count, because I now have far less space in which to rave about this surprisingly fantastic family comedy whose unforced cheerfulness is matched by its completely unexpected wit.

 
So Bye Bye, Miss American Pike: "Gone Girl," "Left Behind," and "Annabelle" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 05 October 2014 20:40

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in Gone GirlGONE GIRL

David Fincher’s Gone Girl, adapted from screenwriter Gillian Flynn’s 2012 literary phenomenon, opened on Friday. I was tempted to compose this review under the headline “SPOILER ALERT!” just to make it absolutely clear that, to offer a thorough opinion, I’d be revealing elements of this suspense thriller that the uninitiated might not want revealed. But after a couple of days spent sitting on the experience, I’m not certain that going into the movie’s specifics is all that necessary, as long as (MODERATE-SPOILERS ALERT!) I’m allowed to say that (1) the role of Rosamund Pike’s titular Amy Dunne is a co-lead opposite Ben Affleck’s Nick Dunne; (2) almost no scene featuring Amy reads as remotely believable; and (3) in the end, that doesn’t matter all that much.

 
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.”

 
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