An intimate yet sprawling work selected as an official entry in the Mountain Film Festival and the Sheffield Docfest, directors Raj Patel's and Zek Piper's The Ants & the Grasshopper serves as the latest presentation in River Action's QC Environmental Film Series, its February 6 premiere at Davenport's Figge Art Museum set to explore how, according to The Guardian, power and privilege shape climate justice and food justice from Africa to America – and how we might move forward together."

The short version is that it's a queasy morality fable about a fallen woman who, due to the love of a faultless man, ultimately discovers the grace of God and mends her wicked ways. The longer version is that this earnest, tacky, largely offensive trifle is – thanks to a handful of unexpectedly resonant performances – a lot less icky than it should have been. Damned actors. The good ones can make almost anything bearable.

While this latest, incessantly meta sequel is frequently clever and easily watchable, it also kept reminding me, unfortunately, that there's a fine line between smart and smarty-pants.

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Going to the cineplex or staying in and streaming this weekend? Every Thursday morning at 8:15 a.m. you can listen to Mike Schulz dish on recent movie releases & talk smack about Hollywood celebs on Planet 93.9 FM with the fabulous Dave & Darren in the Morning team of Dave Levora and Darren Pitra. The morning crew previews upcoming releases, too.

Or you can check the Reader Web site and listen to their latest conversation by the warm glow of your electronic device. Never miss a pithy comment from these three scintillating pundits again.

Thursday, January 20, 2022: Discussion of Scream, Drive My Car, The Tragedy of Macbeth, and Hotel Transylvania: Transformania.

Described by CNN as “amazing,” by the San Francisco Chronicle as “wonderful,” and by the Hollywood Reporter as “a fascinating portrait,” Picture of His Life, the 2019 documentary on lauded underwater photographer Amos Nachoum, opens the 2022 season in River Action's QC Environmental Film Series, this January 23 presentation at Davenport's Figge Art Museum a multiple festival-award winner by acclaimed directors Dani Merkin and Yonatan Nir.

There's nothing much wrong with the action thriller The 355 that couldn't have been fixed with a better director and a better script.

Welcome to my 21 for '21 – a list of 21 cinematic favorites from 2021 (even if they were technically 2020 releases, and even if they didn't literally play at cinemas), along with 21 runners-up, and, because I'm only in half-bitchy critic mode these days, 10-and-a-half citations for the most egregious offenders of the past 12 months.

From its opening Meet Cute to its inspired roster of satiric figures to its rapturous finale in which two youths literally fall for each other (and into each other), Licorice Pizza all but bubbles over with euphoric high jinks, platonic-rom-com wit, and an unmissable desire to give audiences a great time. It's like the movie version of a chocolate-covered pretzel: salty and sweet, and something that, once consumed, makes you instantly crave more.