Even though Hollywood's summer tends to begin in the last days of April and end a couple weekends before Labor Day, it is, you know, still technically summer. Consequently, I feel completely within my rights to decree The Predator perhaps the happiest summer-movie surprise of 2018 – a thrillingly funny, nasty, unpretentious good time that's leagues more entertaining than any deeply unnecessary sequel/reboot of its type should ever be.

Few likely remember it, but back in 1985, Susan Sarandon starred in a movie titled Compromising Positions, an utterly charming mystery-comedy in which a suburban homemaker becomes an amateur sleuth investigating the murder of her dentist. Director Frank Perry's film is a sharp, funny trifle with an astounding supporting cast of Broadway talents – Raul Julia, Judith Ivey, Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Edward Herrmann, Mary Beth Hurt – and totally worth a watch on YouTube. (It's easier to sit through if you can ignore the film's rather blatant mid-'80s misogyny.) But I hadn't thought about that movie in years, if not decades – not until director Paul Feig's irresistible mystery-comedy A Simple Favor kept bringing it to mind.

Follow along if you can: Director Corin Hardy's new horror film The Nun is the prequel to last fall's Annabelle: Creation, which was the prequel to 2014's Annabelle, which was the prequel to 2013's The Conjuring. This is what, in franchise terms, is called “universe building.” And if the popular series continues in this chronologically backward vein, I'm pretty sure that several hundred years from now, the final movie in the cycle will be titled Genesis, or perhaps The Mind of God. If only The Nun were similarly divine.

It's almost inconceivable, and a little perverse, that the same actor who was so convincing as a Jewish bookkeeper in Schindler's List, the heroine's father in Anne Frank, and freakin' Moses could also be wholly persuasive as Adolf Eichmann, the chief architect behind Hitler's Final Solution. But considering his additional screen roles have ranged from Mahatma Gandhi to gangster Meyer Lansky to film pioneer Georges Méliès, Ben Kingsley has always demonstrated a virtuosic talent for playing ethnically diverse real-life figures – a skill that's both the chief pleasure and biggest moral hazard in the engaging, slightly infuriating post-war thriller Operation Finale.

The novelty of puppets – or, in the case of Team America: World Police, marionettes cursing and boinking and excreting was already mostly worn out by the mid-aughts, at which point Crank Yankers was midway through its five-season run and Broadway's Avenue Q a mainstream, Tony-winning hit. So The Happytime Murders was probably doomed from the start, given that its central joke, and only truly sustained joke, finds humans interacting with puppets in possession of brazenly filthy mouths, active libidos, and a wild excess of body fluids. As comic conceits go, that one's definitely a yawn. Astoundingly, though, and despite its considerable flaws, the movie itself isn't terrible – or at least, nowhere near as terrible as you may have heard.

Much has been made in the press about how the romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, based on Kevin Kwan's 2013 bestseller, is the first Hollywood movie since 1993's The Joy Luck Club to boast an almost universally Asian and Asian-American cast. To be sure, this is a milestone worth celebrating – if also lamenting. (Representation of this sort took another quarter-century why, exactly?) But getting lost in the conversation is the fact that in addition to being a charming entertainment, the weekend's top-grossing film at nationwide cineplexes is, I'm forced to admit, unbridled pornography. Granted, it's luxury porn, and sometimes food porn, but a deliberate turn-on nonetheless.

Short works, feature-length films, comedy classics, documentaries, an awards party, and a Q & A with Bettendorf natives Scott Beck and Bryan Woods – co-screenwriters of the horror smash A Quiet Place – are just some what movie fans can look forward to at this year's Alternating Current festival, with more than a dozen events scheduled for venues in downtown Davenport and at Rock Island's Wake Brewery.

Inspired by true events – or, as an opening title card explains, “based upon some fo' real, fo' real sh*t – BlacKkKlansman is a police procedural, a thriller, a comedy, a celebration of black identity, an indictment of white nationalism, and a rallying cry against more than a century's worth of media and public complacency, misrepresentation, and offense. Being a Spike Lee joint, the movie's stunning success on these and additional levels isn't necessary a surprise.

A question for those of you who saw Disney's Christopher Robin over the weekend: While watching Ewan McGregor's titular character interact with vocal actor Jim Cumming's eerily lifelike Winnie-the-Pooh, did any of you immediately flash to Mark Wahlberg trading profane quips with his Teddy-bear best friend in Ted? Another question: If so, did you find yourself, as I did, kind of wishing you were watching Ted instead?

Lord knows we don't need any more awards for movies and the people who make them. But after watching the latest sequel to Mission: Impossible – hell, after watching its first 10 minutes – I was actively wishing that someone would at least fashion an oversize blue ribbon, or maybe an Edible Arrangements bouquet of some sort, in recognition of “Best Pre-Opening-Credits Sequence.” Because the one that writer/director Christopher McQuarrie and company have devised for Mission: Impossible – Fallout is practically a movie of its own, and an awfully good one.