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Cinema Chat: 'Moonlight,' 'Certain Women,' 'Arrival,' And More

Nov 10, 2016

The Michigan Theater
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

America is still processing an unprecedented election.  If you need a break, why not catch a good movie?  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks with Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and all the flicks opening this Veterans Day weekend.

Opening Downtown


A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, this film chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.  The story of his struggle to find himself is told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love while grappling with his own sexuality.  At once a vital portrait of contemporary African-American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, “Moonlight” is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths.  Ty Burr of the Boston Globe writes, “In its quietly radical grace, it's a cultural watershed - a work that dismantles all the ways our media view young black men and puts in their place a series of intimate truths.”  “Moonlight” opens Friday.

“Certain Women”

This film features a remarkable ensemble cast led by Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, and Laura Dern in a stirring look at three women striving to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest: a lawyer (Dern) who finds herself contending with both office sexism and a hostage situation; a wife and mother (Williams) whose determination to build her dream home puts her at odds with the men in her life; and a young law student (Stewart) who forms an ambiguous bond with a lonely ranch hand (radiant newcomer Lily Gladstone).  As their stories intersect in subtle but powerful ways, a portrait emerges of flawed, but strong-willed individuals in the process of defining themselves.  Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post writes “(director Kelly) Reichardt lets her flawed, enigmatic heroines be, allowing them to keep struggling, persevering and relishing what can sometimes pass for tiny victories.”  “Certain Women” opens Friday.

Continuing Downtown

"A Man Called Ove"

Sweden’s biggest hit since “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”  Adapted from the best-selling novel by Fredrik Bachman, “A Man Called Ove” follows the titular character, Ove, the quintessential angry old man next door. An isolated retiree with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife’s grave, Ove has given up on life. Enter a boisterous young family next door who accidentally flattens Ove’s mailbox while moving in and earning his special brand of ire.  Yet from this inauspicious beginning an unlikely friendship forms and we come to understand Ove’s past happiness and heartbreaks.  What emerges is a heartwarming tale of unreliable first impressions and the gentle reminder that life is sweeter when it’s shared.  Alissa Simon of Variety calls the film “a touching comic crowd pleaser that may call for a tissue or two by the end.” 

"Gimme Danger"

Jim Jarmusch’s new film chronicles the story of The Stooges, one of the greatest rock-n-roll bands of all time.  Emerging from Ann Arbor amidst a countercultural revolution, The Stooges’ powerful and aggressive style of rock-n-roll blew a crater in the musical landscape of the late 1960s.  Assaulting audiences with a blend of rock, blues, R&B, and free jazz, the band planted the seeds for what would be called punk and alternative rock in the decades that followed.  “Gimme Danger” presents the context of the Stooges’ emergence musically, culturally, politically, historically, and relates their adventures and misadventures while charting their inspirations and the reasons behind their initial commercial challenges, as well as their long-lasting legacy.  (Sharp-eyed observers will notice footage shot at the Stooges’ 2011 Michigan Theater concert.)  Andrew Lapin of NPR writes “The Stooges may be the biggest secret success story in music.  'Gimme Danger' preserves their legacy better than any fan might have dared hope.”  

94% positive reviews.  Owen Gleiberman, Variety -- "'Gimme Danger' is a compelling and detailed diary of everything that made the Stooges what they were. The best reason to see the film is simply the chance it offers to wallow in the grungy glory of Iggy Pop ..."

Special Screenings Downtown

"Back to the Future"

The Kids in America: ‘80s Teen Classics film series continues!  Small-town California teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is thrown back into the ’50s when an experiment by his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) goes awry.  Traveling through time in a modified DeLorean car, Marty encounters young versions of his parents (Crispin Glover, Lea Thompson), and must make sure that they fall in love or he’ll cease to exist.  Even more dauntingly, Marty has to return to his own time and save the life of Doc Brown.  “Back to the Future” plays Monday, November 14 at 7 PM.  

"Top Gun"

The “Top Gun” Naval Fighter Weapons School is where the best of the best train to refine their elite flying skills.  When hotshot fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) is sent to the school, his reckless attitude and cocky demeanor put him at odds with the other pilots, especially the cool and collected Iceman (Val Kilmer).  But Maverick isn’t only competing to be the top fighter pilot, he’s also fighting for the attention of his beautiful flight instructor, Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis).  “Top Gun” plays Thursday, November 17 at 9:30 PM as part of the Kids in America: ‘80s Teen Classics film series.


Monday, November 21 @ 7 PM: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"

Monday, November 28 @ 7 PM:  "WarGames"


Thursday, December 8 @ 9:30 PM:  "Gremlins"

Opening at the Multiplex


When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team--lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams)--are brought together to investigate.  As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers--and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.  “Arrival” opens Friday. 

96% positive reviews.  Critics Consensus: Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams.

"Almost Christmas"

This film tells the festive story of a beloved patriarch who asks his family for one gift this holiday season: to get along.  If they can honor that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle.  Starring Danny Glover and Mo’Nique, “Almost Christmas” opens Friday.

A bad Christmas movie can give off all the warmth of a televised yule log, but David E. Talbert, the writer-director of "Almost Christmas," has assembled a gifted cast and given them a chance to stretch out and play with their roles. – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

"Shut In"

A heart-pounding thriller starring Naomi Watts as a widowed child psychologist who lives an isolated existence in rural New England.  When a young boy Mary (Watts) is treating goes missing, and is presumed dead, she becomes convinced that his ghost is haunting her and her bedridden son.  “Shut In” opens Friday. 

This is a disappointing waste of good acting talent, coupled with a very pedantic and not very intriguing story from first-time screenwriter Christina Hodson. -- Bill Zwecker, Chicago Sun-Times

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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