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Cinema Chat: 'The Miseducation Of Cameron Post,' 'Juliet, Naked,' 'The Happytime Murders,' And More

Aug 23, 2018

The Michigan Theater
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair and Russ Collins talk about all of the latest films hitting theaters this weekend.  Plus, Russ announces a special event to honor the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.


CELEBRATING ARETHA FRANKLIN

"The Blues Brothers"  Michigan Theater, Friday, August 24 at 7:00 PM – ONE SCREENING ONLY

Aretha Franklin may have been the Queen of Soul, but she only appeared in two movies – “The Blues Brothers” and, 20 years later, its sequel, “Blues Brothers 2000.”  The director of both those films, John Landis, talked about the legendary diva:

“You have to remember, we shot this in 1979.  It was all disco, all the time — soul music was sort of out.  So she was thrilled to be in the movie.  Lucky for us because we had written that scene in the diner for her — we would have been in trouble if she said no. But she wanted to change the song.  She wanted to sing “Respect” instead of “Think.” But we had written “Think” into the script, with the dialogue leading into the song and the song actually furthering the plot of the film, so we didn’t want to change it."

Aretha agreed and then she came in and she listened to the tracks and she said, “I'd like to change the piano.”  I said, “Of course, who would you like?”  She said, “I’ll do it.”  So she sat down at the piano with the mic and, with her back to us, started playing and singing.  Her piano playing actually made a difference.  It was more soulful.

I don’t remember her being a diva or anything like that.  I think she was kind of disappointed in the waitress costume — we dressed her up in a faux Chanel suit for the sequel, which she was a lot happier about — but she was actually a real soldier.  The only complaint Aretha made was that there were too many takes and she had issues with lip-syncing.  Like many great artists, she never sang a song the same way twice, so there were issues getting her to match her lips.  But she pulled through. I knew she’d be a wonderful actress even though she ended up making only two movies in her whole career.  Both 'Blues Brothers' movies.

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"The Miseducation of Cameron Post"

At the State: Cameron Post (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) looks the part of a perfect high school girl.  But after she's caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night, Cameron is quickly shipped off to a conversion therapy center that treats teens "struggling with same-sex attraction."  At the facility, Cameron is subjected to outlandish discipline, dubious "de-gaying" methods, and earnest Christian rock songs-but this unusual setting also provides her with an unlikely gay community.  For the first time, Cameron connects with peers, and she's able to find her place among fellow outcasts.

"Juliet, Naked"

At the State: Based on the novel by Nick Hornby ("High Fidelity," "About A Boy"), this is a comic account of life's second chances.  Annie (played by Rose Byrne) is stuck in a long-term relationship with Duncan (played by Chris O'Dowd) - an obsessive fan of obscure rocker Tucker Crowe (played by Ethan Hawke).  When the acoustic demo of Tucker's hit record from 25 years ago surfaces, its release leads to a life-changing encounter with the elusive rocker himself. 

"Puzzle"

At the Michigan: This film is a closely observed portrait of Agnes, who has reached her early 40s without ever venturing far from home, family or the tight-knit immigrant community in which she was raised.  That begins to change in a quietly dramatic fashion when Agnes receives a jigsaw puzzle as a birthday gift and experiences the heady thrill of not only doing something she enjoys but being very good at it as well.  She sneaks away from her suburban town and goes to New York City, where she partners with a man for a puzzle tournament in Atlantic City.  As she experiences independence for the first time, she begins to view her value and the pieces of her own life in a whole new light.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

"Beauty and the Beast"

TWO SCREENING ONLY – SUNDAY AND TUESDAY!  Be our guest and sing-along to the classic 1991 Disney animation classic as a part of the SavCo Hospitality Summer Classic Film Series.  A selfish prince is cursed to become a monster for the rest of his life, unless he learns to fall in love with a beautiful young woman he keeps prisoner.  The sing-along will be Sunday, August 26 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, August 28 at 7:00 PM with onscreen lyrics, goodie bags, and more!  Costumes are also encouraged.

"The Big Lebowski"

This Saturday’s $8 Midnight at the State feature will be the 90’s classic, where "The Dude" Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.

Celebrating Pasek & Paul – Sing Along "The Greatest Showman" – Friday, September 14

Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum in “The Greatest Showman,” the 2017 musical celebration of the life of one of America’s true original entertainment pioneers, the producer of the most famous touring circus in history, and the spiritual godfather of marketing.  Zac Efron plays Barnum’s playboy protégé, Zendaya is his trapeze-artist star.  Music and lyrics for "The Greatest Showman" are by UM Musical Theatre graduates and 2017’s showbusiness rock stars Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. They won the Oscar for Best Song for “City of Stars” from The Greatest Showman, wrote the songs for academy award nominated Best Picture “La La Land” and the Tony bestowed Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Fatally Yours: A Film Noir Series

Special Guest Eddie Muller, president and founder of the Film Noir Foundation and host of TCM’s Noir Alley will kick off this film series with a special series introduction and a post-film discussion of the opening film, Orson Welles' "The Lady From Shanghai!"

The ‘Femme Fatale’ is a character archetype that uses cunning, charm, and sexuality to provoke the downfall and disaster of men.  In Fatally Yours, we will celebrate the women that drive the plots of these 1940s crime thrillers that defined and inspired decades of film history.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN (It’s Been A Great Summer of Fine Movies – But Don’t Trust Me, Read What Variety Has To Say!)

"Crazy Rich Asians"

At the State: This film is based on a global bestseller and follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanying her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore.  She's also surprised to learn that Nick's family is extremely wealthy and he's considered one of the country's most eligible bachelors.  Thrust into the spotlight, Rachel must now contend with jealous socialites, quirky relatives and something far, far worse - Nick's disapproving mother. 

"BlackKkKlansman"

From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero.  It's the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington) is the first black detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.  Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan.  The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (played by Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime.

"Sorry to Bother You"

The film takes place in a dystopian, not-too-distant future Oakland, California, where black telemarketer Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success.  This key propels him into a macabre universe of “powercalling” that leads to material glory. 

"Three Identical Strangers"

Three strangers are reunited by astonishing coincidence after being born identical triplets, separated at birth, and adopted by three different families.  Their jaw-dropping, feel-good story instantly becomes a global sensation complete with fame and celebrity, however, the fairy-tale reunion sets in motion a series of events that unearth an unimaginable secret -- a secret with radical repercussions for us all. 

"Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf"

The documentary immerses viewers in landscape designer Piet Oudolf's work and takes us inside his creative process, from his beautifully abstract sketches, to theories on beauty, to the ecological implications of his ideas.  Intimate discussions take place through all four seasons in Piet's own gardens at Hummelo, and on visits to his signature public works in New York, Chicago, and the Netherlands, as well as to the far-flung locations that inspire his genius, including desert wildflowers in West Texas and post-industrial forests in Pennsylvania.

"Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

This film takes an intimate look at America's favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers.  A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.

"RBG"

An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women.

"The Cakemaker"

At the Michigan: In this film, Thomas, a young German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who has frequent business visits in Berlin. When Oren dies in a car crash in Israel, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking for answers regarding his death.  Under a secret identity, Thomas infiltrates into the life of Anat, his lover's newly widowed wife.  The encounter with the unfamiliar reality will make Thomas involved in Anat's life in a way far beyond his anticipation, and to protect the truth he will stretch his lie to a point of no return.

"Eighth Grade"

This year’s Cinetopia Film Festival opening night film follows thirteen-year-old Kayla who endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school, the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year before she begins high school.

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX

"The Happytime Murders"

No Sesame.  All Street.  This is a filthy comedy set in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist.  Two clashing detectives with a shared secret, one human (played by Melissa McCarthy) and one puppet, are forced to work together again to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show.  Also stars Maya Rudolph and Elizabeth Banks.  This film opens this Friday, August 24!

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu