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Cinema Chat: Post Academy Awards Edition

The Michigan Theater at Night

 There is plenty of Hollywood and movie related news this week, and there are some new films showing this weekend. 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and Michigan Theater Executive Director and CEO, Russ Collins, have the breakdown for you.

It's Cinema Chat and you can listen right here:

12 Years a Slave' and 'Gravity' Lead 2014 Oscar Winners

The 86th Academy Awards have been handed out, and they were basically as we expected: "Gravity" won the most awards with a whopping 7 (director, editing, cinematography, visual effects, original score, sound mixing and sound editing), but not the biggest prize. That went to Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave," which won best picture along with best supporting actress (Lupita Nyong'o) and best adapted screenplay (John Ridley).

Alongside Nyong'o, acting winners included "Dallas Buyers Club" duo Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, and "Blue Jasmine" star Cate Blanchett -- all of which most expected to be the case.  "Frozen," "Twenty Feet From Stardom" and "The Great Beauty," meanwhile, won best animated feature, documentary feature and foreign language film, respectively -- which again, represented no surprises. Though notably, David O. Russell's "American Hustle" went 0-for-10, which wasn't entirely expected.


For once, The Walking Dead was unable to walk all over its much-touted competition. After scoring ratings victories against the Winter Olympics among the 18-49 age group last month and beating both Sunday Night Football and the World Series last fall, the AMC series had to settle for second place against the Oscars Sunday night. Final figures showed that the Oscars recorded a 13.1 average rating, while the Dead earned a 6.4 in the demo. In addition, Nielsen’s final ratings, released today (Tuesday), put ABC’s Oscars audience at 43.74 million viewers, the largest non-sports audience since the series finale of Friends on May 6, 2004 and the largest for an Oscars telecast since 2000. By contrast, the Golden Globe Awards, which also hit a ten-year high this year, drew 20.9 million viewers and the Grammy Awards in January, 28.5 million viewers.

'12 Years a Slave' wins big at Film Independent Spirit Awards

The period drama "12 Years A Slave" swept through the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, taking five prizes, including feature, director, supporting female, screenplay and cinematography. It won in all but two categories in which it was nominated. John Ridley won for best screenplay, Steve McQueen won for best director, Lupita Nyong'o won for supporting female and Sean Bobbit landed cinematography honors. The film's only podium absences came at the hands of "Dallas Buyers Club" -- Chiwetel Ejiofor lost to Matthew McConaughey in male lead and Michael Fassbender to Jared Leto in supporting male, results that were thought by many a foregone conclusion both Saturday and at Sunday's Oscars. Released by Fox Searchlight, "12 Years" is the product in part of the perseverance of Brad Pitt and his production company, Plan B Entertainment. "Mr. Brad Pitt," as McQueen called him Saturday, was in attendance with partner Angelina Jolie and was referenced throughout the ceremony but didn't speak upon taking the stage for the feature win.

In addition to Lupita Nyong'o, Matthew McConaughey and Jerad Leto, Cate Blanchett won best female lead for her turn as a fallen socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine." Continuing her dominating run throughout the awards season, Blanchett began by noting that there were six nominees in the actor category and only five for lead actress, singling out the snub for Greta Gerwig from "Frances Ha." She then continued her tactful maneuvers around the recently renewed controversy surrounding Woody Allen, referencing the filmmaker as a prolific presence and a man who has made movies with "alarming regularity."

Razzies 2014: Will and Jaden Smith, 'Movie 43' dominate; 'Grown Ups 2' wins nothing (Is that good?)

On March 1, the “winners” of the 34th annual Razzie Awards were announced in a ceremony at IgnitedSpaces in Hollywood. Honoring the worst films of the year with a Golden Raspberry statue, the annual awards call out the year’s biggest stars to “Own Their Bad,” which occasionally happens when folks like Sandra Bullock actually show up at the ceremony to collect (like she did in 2009 for All About Steve).

This year’s crop of nominees was dominated by the Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups 2, which led the pack of Worst Picture nominees that included other mega-embarrassments like Movie 43, The Lone Ranger (also nominated for an Oscar), After Earth, and A Madea Christmas. What does it mean for Sandler, then, that Grown Ups 2 earned the most nominations and yet went home completely empty-handed at the ceremony?

Movie 43 and After Earth each won three Razzies, while The Lone Ranger, A Madea Christmas, and Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor earned one award each.

The full list of this year’s “winners”:

  • Worst Picture - Movie 43
  • Worst Actor - Jaden Smith - After Earth
  • Worst Actress - Tyler Perry (in drag) – A Madea Christmas
  • Worst Supporting Actor - Will Smith - After Earth
  • Worst Supporting Actress - Kim Kardashian - Tyler Perry’s Temptation
  • Worst Screen Combo - Jaden Smith & Will Smith - After Earth
  • Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel - The Lone Ranger
  • Worst Director - The 13 people who directed Movie 43
  • Worst Screenplay - Movie 43 (written by 19 “Screenwriters”)

Movie 43: A star-studded turkey, Movie 43 is loaded with gleefully offensive and often scatological gags, but it's largely bereft of laughs. Starring: Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Kristen Bell, Bobby Cannavale, Halle Berry, Seann William Scott, "Snooki" Polizzi, Johnny Knoxville, Richard Gere, Jack McBrayer, Terrence Howard

Special Screenings Downtown

The Arab Film Festival is designed for fans of Arabic-language movies and adventurous art-film lovers seeking new perspectives. This year’s selections were all acclaimed on the international festival circuit but are unlikely to reach many U.S. viewers on the big screen. The opening night of the Arab Film Festival is taking place in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater with “When I Saw You” and the short film “The Forgotten” at 7:30 PM.  After opening night, the remainder of the Arab Film Festival will take place at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn on March 7 and March 8. Go to http://www.arabamericanmuseum.org/arabfilmfest_2014 for full details.

The Academy Award nominated film ”The Act of Killing” is a chilling and inventive documentary which may have been the best and most important documentary film of 2013. The filmmakers examine Indonesia, where death squads in the mid-1960s killed an estimated half-million people.  Surviving death squad leaders remain unaccountable and unpunished. The filmmakers challenging these men tell their brutal story by restaging their real-life mass-killings in the style of American movies. The brilliant and moving work is an unsettling journey into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit. A darling of the festival circuit in 2013, the Los Angeles Times said, “Could well change how you view the documentary form.” This special screening of “The Act of Killing” is co-sponsored by the UM Center for Southeast Asian Studies and will feature a post-screening Q&A, on Wednesday, March 12 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Opening Downtown

Three decades after his milestone documentary film “Shoah,” Claude Lanzmann (Laaahnz-Maaahn) once again reorients our understanding of the Holocaust with “The Last of the Unjust.” This new film focuses on Benjamin Murmelstein, the last living Jewish elder of Theresienstadt concentration camp, the so-called “model” ghetto the Nazis used to market a false vision of concentration camps. Mermelstein is despised by many of the ghetto’s surviving inhabitants because of his perceived cooperation with the Nazis. Murmelstein, sometimes excitedly but more often calmly, explains his actions and precisely defines his paradoxical role in history.  Deborah Young of the Hollywood Reporter says, “A powerful reflection on the beginning of Hitler's Final Solution is seen through the intelligent, sardonic eyes of an aged eyewitness.” “The Last of the Unjust” plays March 8 & 17 at the Michigan Theater.

In “Like Father, Like Son” Ryota is a successful Tokyo architect who works long hours to provide for his wife, Midori and six-year-old son, Keita. But when a blood test reveals Keita and another baby were switched at birth, two very different families are thrown together and forced to make a difficult decision while Ryota confronts his own issues of responsibility and what it means to be a father.  Tom Long of the Detroit News says, “(director Hirokazu) Koreeda's film never feels gimmicky; he uses the situation to examine both nature and nurture while dealing with ties that simply can't be broken…” “Like Father, Like Son” plays March 8-9 & 11 at the Michigan Theater.                           84% positive reviews. Sensitively written, smartly directed, and powerfully performed, Like Father, Like Son uses familiar-seeming elements to tell a thought-provoking story.

Opening at the Multiplex

“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” is a feature length contemporary computer animation movie based on the characters from the classic, witty, but very simply drawn “Peabody's Improbable History” segments from the 1960s era TV cartoon “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” It follows Mr. Peabody, the most accomplished dog in the world, and his mischievous boy Sherman, who use their time machine, the WABAC (“way-back,” get it!?), to go on outrageous historical adventures. It opens Friday.                                                                                                                                                Preliminary review are pretty good: Mr. Peabody & Sherman offers a surprisingly entertaining burst of colorful all-ages fun, despite of its dated source material and rather convoluted plot.

Based on Frank Miller's latest graphic novel “Xerxes” and told in the same visual style as its predecessor, “300: Rise of the Empire”  follows Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) as he attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. The film pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemisia (Eva Green), vengeful commander of the Persian navy. Variety’s “meh” review is typical: “This highly entertaining time-filler lacks the mythic resonances that made ‘300’ feel like an instant classic, but works surprisingly well on its own terms.” “300: Rise of the Empire” opens Friday.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Hitchcock Series Continues Downtown

The Michigan Theater’s tribute to Alfred Hitchcock continues this week with “Saboteur,” starring Priscilla Lane and Robert Cummings. It follows a plant worker who is falsely blamed for an explosion and must clear his name or be labeled a saboteur; it plays Sunday, March 9 at 5 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Also this week is “Shadow of a Doubt,” starring Joseph Cotton as an uncle visiting his family who may be more (or less) than he appears. He is pursued by detectives who have questions about the mysterious deaths of several rich East coast widows. “Shadow of a Doubt” plays Tuesday, March 11 at 7 PM.

See you at the movies!


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