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Tickler, Failure, Soldiers, Spies – Notes on a Quadruple Feature: "Blackhat," "Paddington," "The Wedding Ringer," and "American Sniper" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 17 January 2015 19:22

Wei Tang and Chris Hemsworth in BlackhatFriday, January 16, 10:05 a.m.-ish: My first and final quadruple feature of 2015 (yeah, right) begins with the Michael Mann thriller Blackhat, which opens with the camera racing within a computer module and deeper and deeper into the internal workings of binary code, like a burrowing reverse of Robert Zemeckis’ introductory shot in Contact. At its climax, we discover that we’ve been watching the process by which a faraway cyber-terrorist sets off an explosion at a Chinese nuclear facility, and it’s a juicy, unsettling prelude – so good, and so promising, that it probably takes longer than it should to realize the movie is goofy as hell.

The 2015 Academy Award Nominations PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 15 January 2015 11:30

Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori in The Grand Budapest HotelIt was awfully early in the morning, 5:30 a.m. Pacific, when the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards were read by actor Chris Pine, directors J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón, and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. (Also, for the first time ever, the nominees in all 24 categories were read live, meaning we prognosticators didn’t have to wait an extra six minutes to find out just how badly we screwed up Best Sound Mixing.) It might even have been a little too early for Ms. Isaacs, who, when announcing their names, approached true Travolta-ness by calling Julianne Moore “Julianne Moren” and Mr. Turner cinematographer Dick Pope “Dick Poop.”

Yet it’s hard to imagine anyone in Hollywood – especially anyone with a vested interest in the results – falling back to sleep after the official Oscar contenders were revealed, because as wake-up calls go, this one was frequently a doozy.

For King and Country: "Selma," "Inherent Vice," and "Taken 3" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 11 January 2015 18:27

David Oyelowo in SelmaSELMA

Movie violence is so prevalent – be it in horror films or action franchises (see Taken 3, if you must) or the PG-13 pummelings of every Marvel entertainment ever – that it’s shocking to see one whose brutal acts have the power to make you cry. But within the first minutes of the extraordinary Selma, director Ava DuVernay stages a literal explosion of historical violence so frightening, repellent, and emotionally overwhelming that, in the awestruck moments of silence that followed, it was absolutely no surprise to hear viewers sniffling.

Predicting the 2015 Academy Award Nominations PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 08 January 2015 17:53

Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest HotelIf you’re reading this hot off the (electronic) presses, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences only have an hour or so to submit their online or – less frequently these days – paper ballots for this year’s Oscar race. (Voting officially ends today at 5 p.m. PST.) So this seems like an appropriate time to make my own final guesses for January 15’s nominees, even if a better time would be January 15 itself – preferably just after the Academy’s official announcement of contenders.

Boy Oh Boy(hood): The Most Enjoyable Movies of 2014 PDF Print E-mail
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.

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