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Cinema Chat: 'Life Itself', 'Violette', 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For', 'If I Stay' And More

Aug 21, 2014

Movie openings, special screenings and Hollywood news. It's all covered in this week's installment of Cinema Chat with Michigan Theater Executive Director and CEO Russ Collins!   

Michigan Theater Marquee
Credit Michigan Theater / michtheater.org

Now Playing Downtown

Magic in the Moonlight

Set in the 1920s on the opulent Riviera in the south of France, Woody Allen‘s Magic in the Moonlight is a romantic comedy about a master magician (Colin Firth) trying to expose a psychic medium (Emma Stone) as a fake.

What follows is a series of events that are magical in every sense of the word and send the characters reeling. In the end, the biggest trick Magic in the Moonlight plays is the one that fools us all. Also starring Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Hamish Linklater, and more.


Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha.

Opening Downtown

Life Itself

“Life Itself” recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert - a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful, and transcendent.

Based on his bestselling memoir of the same name, “Life Itself” explores the legacy of Ebert's life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America. 

Geoffrey O’Brien of the New York Times says “’Life Itself’ is a work of deftness and delicacy, by turns a film about illness and death, about writing, about cinema and, finally and very movingly, a film about love.” 

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”),“Life Itself” plays Saturday August 23-Monday August 25 at the Michigan Theater. 

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times -- It's another mark of the director's skill that he took me deeper into aspects of that life that I thought I knew the most about.

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly -- What does the movie version of Life Itself really have to show or tell us? A great deal, it turns out.

Todd McCarthy , Hollywood Reporter -- A fulsome appreciation of the life and work of the world's most famous film critic.

Foundas , Variety -- James cuts - as in all of his best work - straight to the human heart of the matter, celebrating both the writer and the man, the one inseparable from the other, largely in Ebert's own words.


“Violette” is a biographical study of landmark French writer Violette LeDuc. Born out of wedlock at the beginning of the 20th century, LeDuc encountered Simone de Beauvoir in the post-WWII years in St-Germain-des-Prés.

An intense relationship began between the two women, a life-long relationship based on the quest for freedom through writing, for Violette, and, for Simone, on the conviction that she held the fate of an extraordinary writer in her hands. 

Mick La Salle of the San Francisco Chronicle writes “A strong account of a literary friendship, a case of two opposites attracting, even if the nature of the attraction was different on each side.”  “Violette” plays August 27 & 28 at the Michigan Theater.

Opening at the Multiplex

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller reunite to bring Miller's visually stunning "Sin City" graphic novels back to the screen in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”

Weaving together two of Miller's classic stories with new tales, the town's most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more notorious inhabitants.  Starring Bruce Willis, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Eva Green and more, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” opens Friday. 

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter -- As an exercise in style, it's diverting enough, but these mean streets are so well traveled that it takes someone like Eva Green to make the detour through them worth the trip.

Justin Chang, Variety -- Rare indeed is the movie that features this many bared breasts, pummeled crotches and severed noggins and still leaves you checking your watch every 10 minutes.

When the Game Stands Tall

Inspired by a true story, “When the Game Stands Tall” it is the story of the highly successful football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.

When the streak is broken, and tragedy strikes the team, Coach Lad must teach his players - and the entire town - that it's not about how you fall, but how you get back up.  “When the Game Stands Tall” opens Friday.

If I Stay

In “If I Stay,” Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be choosing between embracing her gift and musical dreams or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Jamie Blackley).

But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant and she is caught between life and death for one revealing day.  Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate. Based on the best-selling novel, "If I Stay" opens Friday.

Special Screenings Downtown

A Clockwork Orange

In “A Clockwork Orange” Stanley Kubrick dissects the nature of violence in this darkly ironic, near-future satire, adapted from Anthony Burgess‘s novel, complete with “Nadsat” slang.

Classical music-loving proto-punk Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his “Droogs” spend their nights getting high at the Korova Milkbar before embarking on “a little of the old ultraviolence,” such as terrorizing a writer, Mr. Alexander (Patrick Magee), and gang raping his wife.

After Alex is jailed for bludgeoning the Cat Lady (Miriam Karlin) to death with one of her phallic sculptures, Alex submits to the Ludovico behavior modification technique to earn his freedom; he’s conditioned to abhor violence through watching gory movies.

Returned to the world defenseless, Alex becomes the victim of his prior victims, with Mr. Alexander using Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to inflict the greatest pain of all. “A Clockwork Orange” plays Thursday, August 21 at 10 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Seven Samurai

One of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, “Seven Samurai” tells the story of a 16th-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits.

This three-hour ride from celebrated Japanese director Akira Kurosawa seamlessly weaves philosophy and entertainment, delicate human emotions and relentless action, into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope.

“Seven Samurai” plays Sunday, August 24 at 1:30 PM & Tuesday, August 26 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.

The Visitor

In the dawn of ’70s American blockbusters, European production companies emerged stateside, attempting to recreate box office gold by cloning Hollywood. 

Director/professional body builder Michael J. Paradise‘s “The Visitor” stands as perhaps the most ambitious of all, taking its inspiration by artfully fusing “The Omen,” “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind,” “The Birds,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” The Fury and “Star Wars” alongside a baffling cast that includes Shelley Winters, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, Franco Nero and Sam Peckinpah. 

“The Visitor”” plays Thursday, August 21 at 10 PM at the Michigan Theater.