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Quad Cities USA - Guide to Davenport & Bettendorf Iowa and Rock Island & Moline Illinois
 

‘Two Distant Strangers’ Is A Masterpiece

May 20th, 2021
'Two Distant Strangers' Is A Masterpiece

Art is a powerful tool. It can make us laugh. It can make us cry. It can make us think. It can be used to fictionalize harsh real-life circumstances in order to enhance our acceptance and understanding of actual reality. That’s the power behind the Netflix short (and Oscar nominee and front runner) Two Distant Strangers. Sharply written by Travon Free and directed by Free and Martin Desmond Roe, this 32 minute masterpiece centers around Carter James (an nuanced and solid Joey Bada$$), a clean cut black dude reliving the same day of waking up next to his new fling (an absurdly authentic Zaria... Read More

Into the Void (Review: Stowaway)

May 5th, 2021
Into the Void (Review: Stowaway)

“Stowaway” is streaming on Netflix Life is fragile. It’s easy to forget that on an average day. Last Thursday, for example, many of us were at work, spending time with kids, looking at cat pictures online, trying to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and wondering if it’s too late to order a pizza. For many of us, last Thursday was the last day of our lives. If regular life on our planet carries with it a certain sense of risk, then a life lived in the stars is insanely, ludicrously dangerous. I have a great deal of respect for people who choose to assume risk in order to protect others or... Read More

‘Judas And The Black Messiah’ A Dynamic Drama That Should Be In Oscar Consideration

March 4th, 2021
'Judas And The Black Messiah' A Dynamic Drama That Should Be In Oscar Consideration

“Judas and the Black Messiah,” the bio-pic about Fred Hampton, head of the Black Panthers in Illinois in the sixties, comes to us from a dynamic team. Director Shaka King (“Newlyweeds”) had met Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”) in 2013 at Sundance.  Coogler (“Black Panther”) approached Warner Brothers with 50% of the film’s financing in hand to back the picture, directed by Shaka King (“Newlyweeds”) from a story by the Lucas Brothers. They already had the cast in mind and Shaka King had connected with screenwriter Will Berson, who had been researching Hampton for some time.... Read More

Last Man (Review: The Midnight Sky)

January 18th, 2021
Last Man (Review: The Midnight Sky)

My kid Liam is around six months into his thirteenth year. He’s kind, smart, funny, and I can already see that he’ll go much further in life than I ever will. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Also, since he’s taking his first coltish steps in being a teenager, he has Opinions. Many, many opinions about many, many subjects. Which is also how it’s supposed to be. For example, here’s me camped out in my chair, watching George Clooney’s newest film, The Midnight Sky. Maybe 45 minutes into it, Liam comes in and announces he’s done with school. He asks what I’m watching and what I... Read More

The Self-Made Myth

December 4th, 2020
The Self-Made Myth

Hillbilly Elegy is streaming on Netflix There’s a story many of us tell ourselves about poverty.* Poor people are poor due to their own actions or inactions. They just want a handout from the government. They’re lazy. They’re not very intelligent or motivated, and when they do utilize a kind of low cunning, it’s to figure out ways to game the system and screw over virtuous taxpayers like “us.” I remember being told that story when I was very young. We had a house in Rockville, Maryland, and while my mother stayed indoors to protect the fragile health that would eventually fail her,... Read More

Renewed Fascination With Royals Deepens Tradition of Tragedy

November 28th, 2020
Renewed Fascination With Royals Deepens Tradition of Tragedy

Saturday In The Arts is a weekly look at a personality, place, trend or topic of interest to the Quad-Cities. It runs every Saturday morning on your site for fun, free, local entertainment and features, QuadCities.com. Wealth and power don’t guarantee happiness. We’ve seen that over and over throughout history – from Greek tragedy to Shakespearean rulers, through the many curses and deaths of the Kennedy family (the closest America has to a royal family). The new fourth season of “The Crown” – the stunning, sumptuous dramatic series on Netflix – leans heavily into foreboding, dread,... Read More

Disorder In the Court

November 20th, 2020
Disorder In the Court

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is streaming on Netflix There’s a long and semi-proud tradition in Hollywood of the courtroom movie. Some of them, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Verdict, and 12 Angry Men stand the test of time.* They have something particular to say about the law, about justice, and how we either uphold our ideals or abandon them altogether. Here’s the thing about making a courtroom movie…they’re hard. The first problem before you is the script. Ever read legal transcripts? If not, they’re a very effective substitution for valium. Your first challenge is to hack through... Read More

“Yes, God, Yes” a Sweet, Small Film Exposing Enormity of Catholic Hypocrisy

October 26th, 2020
“Yes, God, Yes” a Sweet, Small Film Exposing Enormity of Catholic Hypocrisy

The 70-minute teen comedy/drama “Yes, God, Yes” is a sweet, slight and mostly satisfying film that deftly, gently tackles enormous, weighty subjects – sexuality, morality, religion, personal autonomy and responsibility, and the vast, disgusting hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. The 2019 film was written and directed by Karen Maine (who co-wrote the 2014 abortion-themed “Obvious Child”) and stars Natalia Dyer (of “Stranger Things” fame), based on Maine’s 2017 short film of the same name also starring Dyer as a shy, sympathetic, and secret rebel. The awkward, totally identifiable... Read More

Miss Mystery

October 22nd, 2020
Miss Mystery

Enola Holmes is streaming on Netflix Perhaps the best part of a movie, for me, is the first couple of seconds. By that point, I have a broad idea of the premise. I’ve poured myself a drink. My brain is prepared. When the first production company logo appears onscreen, we’re in a Schrodinger’s Movie scenario. Anything is possible, and even if the premise is ill-advised, there’s a chance of getting something amazing.* Add to that the excitement you get from hearing a strong concept. A secret organization protects Earth from alien threats? Sold. A rag-tag group of scientists opens a business... Read More

New Chicago 7 Film Carries Powerful Relevance Today

October 20th, 2020
New Chicago 7 Film Carries Powerful Relevance Today

What year is it? There are scores of protests over racial injustice and civil rights. There’s rioting and police brutality. A global pandemic kills tens of thousands of Americans. A bitter presidential election featuring a former vice president. Debates over law and order and the limits of free speech. Of course, you could be talking about this year, with its collision of cataclysmic crises. But that also summarized 1968, which also featured the shocking assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, which fed into the massive violence in Chicago during the August Democratic... Read More