A mysterious outsider's quiet life is turned upside down in the Figge Art Museum's April 19 screening of the lauded 2013 revenge thriller Blue Ruin, the latest Cinema at the Figge presentation by Ford Photography, and a work that made the top-10 lists of publications ranging from the Austin Chronicle to The A.V. Club to Las Vegas Weekly.

Friday, April 6, 10:05 a.m.-ish: Call me an optimist, or maybe just a nitwit, but I was really looking forward to starting my day with Blockers, director Kay Cannon's tale of three middle-aged parents who attempt to foil their daughters' prom-night plan to lose their collective virginity. Sure, its central conceit, as several characters here point out, was sexist, retrograde, and more than a little icky, and there was bound to be an awkward blend of slapstick and sentiment, and the previews' comedic highlight was the sight of John Cena chugging beer through his anus. Still, though: Potential belly laughs! Likable leads! John Cena chugging beer through his anus!

Adapted from Ernest Cline's famed sci-fi novel and set in the dystopian 2045 of Columbus, Ohio, Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One is about a teen gamer (Tye Sheridan's Wade Watts) who, like millions of others, enters a worldwide virtual-reality competition intent on finding a hidden Easter Egg that will reap him untold fortune. This is no knock against Spielberg's generally exhilarating, occasionally frustrating, frequently jaw-dropping entertainment, but considering the film runs 140 minutes, I'm rather astounded that the kid didn't find the thing within the movie's first seconds. Because good God is this thing lousy with Easter Eggs.

Sometimes it seems as if very, very little separates a wretched Tyler Perry movie from a … . Well, not from a great Tyler Perry movie, because he hasn't yet made one of those. (He probably came closest with 2010's For Colored Girls, but those results were likely aided by Perry's choice to adapt a Tony-nominated Ntozake Shange play.) The auteur, however, has certainly made his share of terrifically entertaining movies, and for almost its entire length, I couldn't tell whether Tyler Perry's Acrimony was a stunningly confused and ineffective melodrama or an oddly irresistible one.

Friday, March 23, 10 a.m.-ish: There are worse ways for movies to begin than with the bouncy strains of Elton's John's “Crocodile Rock.” And there are certainly worse ways for quadruple features to begin than with Sherlock Gnomes, director John Stevenson's witty, winning follow-up to 2011's Gnomeo & Juliet.

You may have heard Love, Simon described as a gay Sixteen Candles – or a gay anything-by-John-Hughes – and it's kind of true, as this coming-out comedy is just as blithe, funny, well-meaning, and contrived as any of Hughes' mid-'80s classics, and certainly just as sensitive to the plight of its teenage protagonist. Yet particularly in its final half hour, director Greg Berlanti's casually revolutionary film is more like a gay Lady Bird – an unerringly truthful, supremely insightful, deeply affecting work boasting more than a half-dozen supporting characters whom you'd eagerly watch in films of their own.

In the latest big-screen event in its World Adventure Series, the Putnam Museum & Science Center will explore one of the most beautiful, contentious, and frequently misunderstood regions on Earth in the documentary The Promised Land: Adventures in the Middle East, its two March 27 screenings followed by Q&A sessions with the film's writer/director Rick Ray.

Even if you're Steven Spielberg, Spielberg-ian whimsy is tough to pull off effectively, and Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time – the director's eagerly awaited adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's cherished 1962 fantasy novel – most assuredly has its heart in the right place. If only it were clear where its brain was.

Hosted by the Midwest Writing Center, the latest presentation in the Brown Bag Luncheon Discussion series finds area filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films speaking on “Writing for the Screen,” delivering a March 15 overview on writing for their documentary film projects and new narrative film Sons & Daughters of Thunder, based on a play by Earlene Hawley.

Described by RogerEbert.com as “a unique documentary spectacle” and the New York Times as “cooling to the mind and soothing to the spirit,” directors Marc J. Francis' and Max Pugh's Walk with Me will enjoy special Figge Art Museum screenings on March 15 and 24, giving viewers unique insight into the legacy of Buddhish monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanha man nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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