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Cinema Chat: Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, 'Magic In The Moonlight', 'Calvary' And More

Aug 14, 2014

This week's edition of Cinema Chat takes note of the passing of two Hollywood greats 

Michigan Theater Marquee
Credit courtesy photo / michtheater.org


Producers of Robin Williams’ final film, Merry Friggin Christmas, participated in a crisis conference call on Tuesday following word of the actor’s apparent suicide as they discussed scenes in the film that mention his character’s alcoholism, TMZ reported on Tuesday.

It’s a road movie of sorts with Williams playing the father of Joel McHale’s character. In one scene, according to TMZ, Williams’s character is revealed as an alcoholic who’s been sober for six years.  Coincidentally, Williams himself went into rehab six years ago and has been sober ever since.

The producers reportedly decided to keep the scene in. They also decided to add an "in memory" slide at the end of the film.

Williams is also due to appear in three other movies this year, reprising his role as President Theodore Roosevelt in the upcoming Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; the drama Boulevard; and Absolutely Anything, in which he voices the animated character Dennis the Dog.


Lauren Bacall, who made her film debut at the age of 19 in 1944 opposite Humphrey Bogart in the World War II drama To Have and Have Not, died Tuesday in New York at age 89.

Bogart and Bacall were married in 1945 (he was 45 at the time) and made three other movies together, all for Warner Bros.: The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo. Bogart died of throat cancer in 1957. "I never got over that," she later said in interviews. She married Jason Robards in 1961 and divorced him in 1969.

Bacall also had a successful career on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for her performance in Applause, which ran from 1970 to 1972. She received her only Oscar nomination — for supporting actress — for 1996′s The Mirror Has Two Faces, playing Barbra Streisand’s mother.

Her autobiography, By Myself and Then Some won the National Book Award in 1980.

Opening Downtown

Set in the 1920s on the opulent Riviera in the south of France, Woody Allen‘s “Magic in the Moonlight” tells the story of a magician (Colin Firth) trying to expose a psychic (Emma Stone) as a fake.

What follows is a series of events that are magical in every sense of the word which send the characters reeling.  Scott Foundas of Variety calls the film, “A high-spirited bauble that goes down easy thanks to fleet comic pacing, a surfeit of ravishing Cote d'Azur vistas and the genuinely reactive chemistry of stars Colin Firth and Emma Stone.”

“Magic In The Moonlight” opens Friday at the State Theatre.

Stephanie Merry, Washington Post -- It may not be wholly original or without its flaws, but "Magic in the Moonlight" offers a pleasant vacation from reality, and what more could you want from a summer movie?

Claudia Puig, USA Today -- A pleasant, but forgettable, trifle.

Full Review  Source: USA Today | Original Score: 2.5/4

A.O. Scott, New York Times -- Mr. Allen has had his ups and downs over the years. Rarely, though, has he put a story on screen that manifests so little energy, so little curiosity about its own ideas and situations.

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone -- Melancholy and doubt may seem like gloomy qualities to blend into an amorous romp. But that shot of gravity is what makes Magic in the Moonlight memorable and distinctively Woody Allen.

In “Calvary,” Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good priest who is faced with sinister and troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish.

Although he continues to help members of his church with their various scurrilous moral – and often comic – problems, he feels sinister forces closing in, and begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary.

Rex Reed of the New York Observer hails the films as “A wicked, gimlet-eyed revelation of both Catholic dogma and Irish life today… ‘Calvary’ has unflinching things to say about the people and the church that defies cliché.” “Calvary” opens exclusively at the Michigan Theater on Friday.

Bob Mondello, NPR -- Calvary is bleak and corrosively funny in about equal measure.

Dana Stevens, Slate -- Calvary gives Gleeson ample opportunity to explore his talent for anchoring a movie, making it deeper and richer than the script and direction might otherwise allow.

Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times -- In its steady assemblage of details over an incidental, episodic structure it accrues a building sense of moral gravity.

Opening at the Multiplex

Jeff Bridges (“The Big Lebowsky”) has worked for decades to have “The Giver,” an award-winning young adult novel come to life as a film. 

The movie centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. However, Jonas begins to spend time with the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, a figure called The Giver.

Jeff Bridges, plays The Giver, however, he originally intended for the role be played by late father Lloyd – a movie and TV star from Hollywood’s heyday. Jonas, mentored by Jeff Bridge’s character The Giver, quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community's past.

With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined - a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. Based on Lois Lowry's beloved Newberry Medal-winning novel of the same name, “The Giver” opens Friday at area multiplexes.

Sara Stewart, New York Post -- The central premise - that wildness of spirit isn't something to be tamed, no matter how messy it makes our lives - is an enduring one, and well served by Jeff Bridges in the title role.

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post -- [The Giver is] handsomely directed by Phillip Noyce and [features] an appealing, sure-footed cast of emerging and veteran actors.

John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter -- An agreeable YA riff on Orwell - via Logan's Run - topped with the kind of magic-transformative baloney that passes for an ending in too many otherwise-fine Hollywood adventures ...

In “The Expendables 3,” Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham) and the rest of the team come face-to-face with Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney.

Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill... or so he thought. Stonebanks is now making it his mission to end The Expendables - but Barney has other plans. “The Expendables 3” opens Friday at area multiplexes.

Tom Huddleston, Time Out -- Are there legions of middle-aged weightlifting nuts out there who yearn for the good old days of Chuck Norris mowing down foreign Johnnies with an uzi 9mm?

Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter -- The law of diminishing returns is inexorably setting in with the third iteration.

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap -- Once you take the grizzled seniors out of the picture and replace them with the United Commandos of Benetton, The Expendables 3 loses the one thing that makes it special.

Justin Chang, Variety -- You need "The Expendables 3" like you need a kick in the crotch, and while this running-on-fumes sequel may not be quite as painful a thing to experience, it will waste considerably more of your time.

Special Screenings Downtown

Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” is a dark, expressionistic musical, told from the point of view of Pink (Bob Geldof), a depressed rock musician. The film is structured around Pink’s reflections on his life, all of which center on the building of “the wall.”

This wall is a metaphor for psychological isolation, a barrier Pink creates to distance himself from his pain while seeking freedom through writing and music. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” plays Saturday at 11:59 PM at the State Theatre.

This week’s Summer Classic is Stanley Kubrick’s farcical interpretation of the controversial classic “Lolita.” Starring James Mason as Humbert Humbert, Shelley Winters as the mother of Humbert’s obsession and Peter Sellers as Quilty, a character inordinately interested in Humbert's behavior. Sue Lyons is “Lolita” playing Sunday, August 17 at 1:30 PM & Tuesday, August 19 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Stanley Kubrick also directs “A Clockwork Orange” a darker, more violent film of obsession as part of the Classics After Dark series.  “A Clockwork Orange” plays Thursday, August 21 at 10 PM at the Michigan Theater.

“Alive & Well” is a documentary film about the human condition, which follows seven resilient characters coming to terms with the reality of living with Huntington's Disease, a hereditary illness that is called the most devastating disease known to man. “Alive & Well” reminds us of our ability to persevere with strength, despite life's most difficult challenges. “Alive & Well” plays Saturday, August 16 at noon at the Michigan Theater.

“American Mustang” is an artful blend of documentary & character-driven narrative featuring the majestic wild horses of the American West. The intricate dance between man and horse presents lessons for us all, including the battle-hardened special interest groups fighting over the American Mustang. “American Mustang” plays Wednesday, August 20 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.