Most theatre patrons don’t need a good reason to see Steel Magnolias, as author Robert Harling’s six-woman dramedy set in a Southern beauty parlor has been a beloved staple of professional, community, and educational theatres for more than a quarter-century. But Donna Weeks, who directs the Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s January 13 through 22 presentation of the play, certainly had a good reason to want to direct it, given that like Steel Magnolias’ ingénue Shelby, Weeks herself has spent most of her life with type-1 diabetes.

“We knew it would be a good fit and we hadn’t done it for a while,” says Weeks of submitting the title for inclusion in 2017’s Playcrafters season, “and it’s a crowd-pleaser. I’ve always liked it – the movie and the show. But I’ve always been irritated by the scene at the beginning where Shelby has the low-blood-sugar attack. Part of me was like, ‘Oh, I just wanna get ahold of that show so just once it can be done right.’”

Denzel Washington in Fences

Movies aren’t plays, but it’s amazing how movie versions of plays, every once in a while, can make audiences momentarily forget that. A decade after seeing Dreamgirls, I can easily pinpoint the four moments in Jenifer Hudson’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” solo that caused our cheering crowd to burst into applause. Thirty-five years after the fact, I can still hear, with perfect clarity, the relieved laughter and ovation at On Golden Pond’s finale when Henry Fonda looked up at Katharine Hepburn and said, “I think I’m feeling all right now.” And if you ask me years down the road, I think I might also have instant recall of which revelations in the August Wilson adaptation Fences elicited loud, collective gasps at my screening, to say nothing of the Viola Davis line reading that, were this an actual play, might have stopped the show for a full 30 seconds.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land

Damien Chazelle’s musical romance La La Land is a grand, lush, candy-colored dream of a movie, and I’d mean that as even higher praise if the lingering effects of dreams lasted longer than they actually do. Don’t get me wrong: I devoured this movie so hungrily and happily that I half-wished my admission ticket came with complimentary silverware and a napkin. Yet as of this writing, four days have passed since I saw it, and I find the film’s delirious charms and plaintive melancholy slowly but surely evaporating, only resurfacing when I play one of its tunes on YouTube, or enjoy a millionth viewing of the trailer. Writer/director Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash is a great time, but I’m not altogether convinced it’s a great movie, despite knowing that I’ll likely, eventually, watch it 20 or 30 more times in an attempt to decide.

Ten years ago, you could’ve called Passengers a “Sandra Bullock in space” flick, before Bullock went and ruined the gag by starring in Gravity.

11th Street Precinct (2108 East 11th Street, Davenport): Hap Hazard, 9 p.m., no cover, (563)324-9545, 11thStreetPrecinct.com.

Barrel House Moline (1321 Fifth Avenue, Moline): Twisted Mic’s Music & Entertainment, 10 p.m., no cover, (309)517-1973, BarrelHouse211.com.

Cabana’s Bar & Grille (2120 Fourth Avenue, Rock Island): DJ Freeze – DJ L-Murray – JoJo, 9 p.m., no cover, drink specials, champagne toast, (309)283-7564, CabanasRockIsland.com.

Felicity Jones and Diego Luna in <em>Rogue One: A Star Wars Story</em>

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place after the events of Revenge of the Sith and before the events of the original Star Wars (which I steadfastly refuse to call A New Hope), and it concerns the Rebel Alliance’s plans to destroy the Death Star. I think that’s about as much detail as I can get into without traumatizing the spoiler-averse, unless “... and I didn’t care for it” counts as a spoiler.

Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck in <em>Manchester by the Sea</em>

Before its narrative gets underway, Manchester by the Sea opens with a title card presenting “A Picture by Kenneth Lonergan.” That unusual phrasing is more formal than we’re accustomed to. But it proves not to be inaccurate, as this picture is indeed a picture, and an intensely specific one, of life continuing in the wake of insurmountable tragedy. Given its reams of brilliantly crafted, oftentimes dryly hilarious conversation and its transcendent performances, you’d never mistake Lonergan’s third feature for a documentary. You’d still be hard-pressed, though, to find one scene, one moment, that doesn’t feel unerringly real. The film is as heartbreaking as actual life can be, but also as funny and startling and, above all, surprising – a profoundly human work that’s also a hell of a satisfying entertainment.

T.J. Miller, Courtney B. Vance, and Rob Corddry in Office Christmas Party

Is any movie sight more incongruously dull than that of amped-to-11 crowds drinking and dancing and losing their minds at a raucous on-screen party? I ponder this every time I yawn during a teen-centric Project X or a “We’re still vital, damn it!” slapstick lament such as the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler Sisters; characters may be having an inhibition-busting ball, but watching them from the immobility of a cineplex seat is a strange and alienating affair. Exactly how are we supposed to react to all these happy lunatics enjoying the techno-thumping, strobe-flashing times of their lives? By punching our fists in the air and shouting, “F--- yeah!!!”? By whipping out our own Jell-O shots and Slip N Slides? By smiling politely, chuckling occasionally, and kind of wishing we were anywhere else instead?

Wild horse races at the Oglala Lakota Nation Pow Wow, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. (2010) -- photo by Danny Wilcox Frazier

A few years ago, while in the South Dakota Badlands, still photographer, photojournalist, filmmaker, LeClaire native, and current Iowa City resident Danny Wilcox Frazier met John and Julie – married ranchers whose daily lives he wanted to document in photographs. Frazier explained his intentions to the couple, and they agreed to take part. But as Frazier says during our recent phone interview, there was a caveat.

“I said, ‘There’s one thing you need to know before we start: How I work is I move in.’ And Julie was like, ‘Uh-h-h-h ... oka-a-a-ay ... . Are you saying you need somewhere to sleep tonight?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, that’d be great!’ Because at that point, I was sleeping in the back of my truck. I’d find a place, get a few hours sleep, wake up with the sun, and start shooting again.

“But more importantly,” he continues, “I wanted them to understand how I work – how I wanted to be there for everything.”

Music

Deana Carter

Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center

Friday, December 9, 7:30 p.m.

The chart-topping, multi-platinum-selling singer/songwriter/guitarist Deana Carter brings her national holiday tour to Bettendorf’s Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center on December 9. She’ll also bring two decades’ worth of alternative-country hits ranging back to her number-one singles “Strawberry Wine,” “We Danced Anyway,” and “How Do I Get There,” all from Carter’s 1996 breakthrough Did I Shave My Legs for This? A year after that album was released, the artist found herself on People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” list. So shaving apparently didn’t hurt matters.

Pages