Many, many people were made happy – and more than a little surprised – by the final minutes of last night’s Academy Awards ceremony. But you know who had to be the happiest of all? Marisa Tomei.

It would be easy, and fairly accurate, to describe Jordan Peele’s Get Out as the horror-comedy flip side to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – kind of like what you’d get if the 1967 Sidney Poitier were less noble than monumentally panicked, and the Tracy-and-Hepburn clan were enacted by the Manson family. But that wouldn’t begin to suggest the singularity and incredible inventiveness of Peele’s achievement, which is so thrillingly scary-funny, and so deeply satisfying, that it might take you hours or days to also recognize it as one of the angriest genre entertainments ever made. Given the results, I couldn’t possibly mean that as a higher compliment.

For a brief period during the mid-aughts, Chinese director Yimou Zhang was the first international helmer in decades to find his foreign-language titles – 2004’s Hero, 2005’s House of Flying Daggers, and 2006’s Curse of the Golden Flower – receiving wide U.S. distribution. Predictably, the novelty soon wore off for mass audiences, and Zhang’s subsequent films, when we got them at all, were confined solely to specialty houses. But China has recently become such a yu-u-uge bottom-line consideration that Zhang is apparently again in-vogue – especially with action adventure The Great Wall having already earned some $200 million abroad. Since money talks, it isn’t surprising that Hollywood has re-embraced Zhang. In return, it seems that Zhang, for better and for worse, has fully embraced Hollywood. How else to explain a movie in which thousands of fierce Chinese warriors would be annihilated if not for the ass-kicking abilities of Matt Damon?

La La Land has 14 Oscar nominations. It won seven Golden Globe Awards – a new record – out of seven nominations. It won the Producers Guild and Directors Guild awards, both of which have led to Best Picture wins eight times out of the past 10 years. The movie is still in the box-office top 10 more than a month after its wide release, has grossed more than $125 million domestically, and is such a pop-culture touchstone that Saturday Night Live recently aired a skit in which two cops attacked a perp for the cardinal sin of insufficient admiration for the movie. The guy liked it; he just didn’t love it.

This year’s Academy Awards air on the evening of February 26, a night likely be dominated by a certain musical that’s set in Hollywood. Earlier in the day, though, you can enjoy a completely different batch of tunes from California talents with the Quad City Arts Visiting Artists of Quinteto Latino, who perform at Davenport’s First Presbyterian Church that Sunday at 4 p.m. Based in the San Francisco area, this five-person ensemble is dedicated to showcasing the energetic rhythms of Latin American music through works both traditional and modern, and will no doubt deliver an electrifying performance in the hours before the inevitable love thrown toward La La Land. Which, if memory serves, translates into English as The The Land. (That faraway sound you hear is my collegiate Spanish professor cursing my name.)

Brand-happy though Hollywood is, it’s still rare when three high-profile franchise extenders all debut on the same weekend. Personally speaking, it’s even rarer when all three are follow-ups to movies I liked. (One of which, to be accurate, I only kinda liked.)

In its blatant attempt to revive a scare-flick “franchise” that couldn’t even produce a second sequel, director F. Javier Gutiérrez’s Rings probably won’t make 2002’s The Ring and its 2005 follow-up relevant again, but the results are better than I expected – by which I mean the first 10 minutes are actually pretty good.

Over the span of six days, the Quad Cities will welcome the arrival of touring performers who collectively specialize in pop, rock, country, blues, folk, jazz, reggae, Americana, bluegrass, roots, contemporary-Christian, and dance-club music – and who, if they wanted, could conceivably arrive together in one mid-size van. The artists in question are country-pop chanteuse Sara Evans, Texas-based genre-hoppers The Band of Heathens, and multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams, so let’s learn a bit about these acclaimed, prolific talents – there’s gonna be a quiz at the end!

Murderers is author Jeffrey Hatcher’s blanket title for his trio of monologues suggesting Twilight Zone episodes written by O. Henry, and in its current presentation at Moline’s new Black Box Theatre, our first sight is of monologuists Brent Tubbs, Nancy Teerlinck, and Lora Adams standing in a row, each in turn stating, “I am a murderer.” So give director Adams’ production honesty points right off the bat, because for 100 minutes on January 28, these three actors positively killed.

With apologies to my parents’ house cat Sam, who I’m crazy about, I’ve always been more of a dog person, and was totally anticipating a good cry at A Dog’s Purpose even in light of that notorious, upsetting footage of a German shepherd seemingly forced into a scary-looking aquatic stunt. Yet while its trailer never failed to slay me, I actually watched director Lasse Hallström’s family weepie completely dry-eyed, given how tough it is to get misty when your primary emotions are confusion, irritation, and offense.

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