Devin Hansen understands that some people might feel betrayed. He remembers what he said when he opened the Rocket cinema earlier this year, making what many saw as an implicit promise to remain loyal to the Brew & View.

When the Putnam's IMAX theatre first opened its doors in 2002, the plan was to give audiences a big-screen educational experience they wouldn't forget. Yet in the past six months, you're nearly as likely to catch Beauty & the Beast or Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban at the Putnam as you are an educational opus along the lines of Everest.

When it was announced that the Brew & View's Devin Hansen, this spring, would open a similar theater, The Rocket, in the District of Rock Island's long-defunct Capri Cinema, the reaction of Brew & View regulars was generally twofold: an emphatic "Hooray!" followed by a quick "Huh?" After all, the Capri stands not four blocks from the Brew & View, and one such venue in the District was already more than film fans should have hoped for.

After the announcement of last year's Oscar nominations, in which the Academy made almost shockingly inspired choices across the board, this year's slate of nominees was bound to be a more predictable lot; barring a few minor surprises - the director and screenplay nods for Mike Leigh's Vera Drake (still unseen by me) chief among them - voters opted for traditional, safe choices in 2004, especially among the squarer-than-usual Best Picture contenders.

2004 in Movies

Was I feeling especially sensitive in 2004, or were the year's most memorable cinematic works, coincidentally, the most unabashedly romantic ones? It could certainly be me - the only (fictional) televised event that moved me to tears was the unlikely but enormously satisfying kiss between Martin Freeman's Tim and Lucy Davis' Dawn on The Office Special.

Famous filmmaking pairs usually work together on everything or have clearly defined roles. The Wachowski brothers - the forces behind The Matrix series - both write and direct. Joel and Ethan Coen - the hip duo that made Fargo and many other cult classics - write together but split their duties otherwise, with Joel directing and Ethan producing.

My first article for the River Cities' Reader appeared in Issue 18, way back in March of 1995. (You know how long ago that was? Tom Hanks had only one Oscar.) Serving as the Reader's film critic was, and still is, a terrific gig - for an avowed movie fanatic who loves to write, the chance to expound on the state of cinema has always been about more than giving a particular work a "yay" or "nay" vote; it's given me, in a minor way, the opportunity to analyze an entire culture, to try to understand what's in the heads of those who make films, and those who distribute films, and the millions of us who view them.

As a screed against George W. Bush to justify the feelings, suspicions, and thoughts of people who already dislike the president and plan on voting against him in November, Fahrenheit 9/11 is strikingly effective.
During the screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 that I attended, someone opened the door of the theatre and screamed into the auditorium, "Liberals suck! Michael Moore's a bitch!" and ran off. Moore has, once again, obviously touched a tender nerve with his latest production.

For the past couple of years, as a prelude to the Academy Awards presentation (scheduled to air on ABC at 7 p.m. on Sunday, February 29), I've devoted an article to re-constructing the top six Oscar categories, replacing what I felt were unworthy contenders with my own personal preferences; this enabled me to extoll the virtues of the deserving while also allowing me to whine, "Why the hell didn't Naomi Watts get noticed for Mulholland Dr.?" And before this year's contenders were announced in late January, I was already writing my annual article in my head: "Where's Johnny Depp's nomination? And what about Keisha Castle-Hughes? And how about Marcia Gay Harden and Shohreh Aghdashloo and Fernando Meirelles?" And then what did the Academy go and do? They nominated them all.

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