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Cinema Chat: Whiplash, The Zero Theorem, Citizenfour, and more!

Michigan Theater

Patrick Campion and Amanda Bynum sit in for David Fair and Russ Collins this week.

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This summer, the animation world was thrown into a bit of a tailspin when it was announced that Hayao Miyazaki had retired from filmmaking. Or had he? The news had come from translated reports from overseas, and it was a bit unclear what exactly was going on. But having just received an honorary Oscar over the weekend at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Governors Awards, the director chatted briefly with the LA Times and confirmed that indeed, there will be no more movies from his imaginative pen.

In fact, the news gets worse, with


also confirming that the beloved Studio Ghibli is also closing up shop on new movies. "At this point, we're not making a new film," he said. "I think we will not be making any feature films to be shown in theaters. That was not my intention, though. All I did was announce that I would be retiring and not making any more features."  



is bleak about the future, not just for Studio Ghibli — whom he suggests isn't in a place right now to bring new talent into the fold — but hand-drawn animation in general. "If creators have the intent to do hand-drawn animation, there certainly will be opportunities for them to do that," Miyazaki explained. "But what might be a difficulty will be the financial considerations. I do think the era of pencil, paper and film is coming to an end."

So what is


up to right now? Well, he's penning a manga ("about samurai in the 16th century, wearing full armor, battling it out with each other"), and also providing artwork for the Studio Ghibli museum. But again, no more movies, so pour one out for the legendary animator.


Quentin Tarantino says he'll be retiring after his tenth film, which means one more film after "The Hateful Eight," his Western now officially starring Channing Tatum, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Michael


, Demian Bechir and Walton Goggins.

Here's what the director had to say at a recent American Film Market panel, where Harvey Weinstein presented "Eight" to international buyers, who're clamoring for a piece of the pie:

"I don’t believe you should stay onstage until people are begging you to get off...I like the idea of leaving them wanting a bit more. I do think directing is a young man’s game, and I like the idea of an umbilical cord connection from my first to my last movie. I’m not trying to ridicule anyone who thinks differently, but I want to go out while I’m still hard.

"I like that I will leave a 10-film filmography, and so I’ve got two more to go after this. It’s not etched in stone, but that is the plan. If I get to the 10th, do a good job and don’t screw it up, well that sounds like a good way to end the old career. If, later on, I come across a good movie, I won’t not do it just because I said I wouldn’t. But 10 and done, leaving them wanting more — that sounds right.”

The trouble is that directors who say they're retiring end up struggling to do so. Look at Hayao Miyazaki, recently presented with a career-honoring achievement prize at the Governors Awards, who wants to decamp from Hollywood to work on manga but hasn't really just yet. (It seems this is finally a reality, as Studio Ghibli shutters feature film production and Miyazaki confirms his retirement in the LA Times). 

As for Tarantino, he's the toast of the town at the AFM this week, where he and the foreign-money-seeking Weinsteins are running a tight ship to keep "The Hateful Eight" screenplay under wraps. Investors who want to read the script have been schlepping from AFM headquarters in Santa Monica to the TWC headquarters in Beverly Hills, and under company supervision. That's because Tarantino wants to avoid repeating the Gawker Media scandal in which the Western project almost foundered after the site got its hands on an original draft and leaked it.

During the same AFM panel, Tarantino, whose New Beverly theater in Los Angeles is now a celluloid-only venue, once again affirmed his staunch position on film vs. digital projection. He wants "The Hateful Eight" to be an epic 70mm experience, stating

"If we do our jobs right by making this film a 70 mm event, we will remind people why this is something you can’t see on television and how this is an experience you can’t have when you watch movies in your apartment, your man cave or your iPhone or iPad...You’ll see 24 frames per second play out, all these wonderfully painted pictures create the illusion of movement. I’m hoping it’s going to stop the momentum of the digital stuff, and that people will hopefully go, ‘Man, that is going to the movies, and that is worth saving, and we need to see more of that.”


Opening Downtown

In “Whiplash” Andrew (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite music conservatory. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability and his sanity. Alonso Duralde of The Wrap says,  “The editing matches the film's jazz rhythms, up to and including a climactic drum solo that's more hold-your-breath suspenseful than a dozen superhero rooftop battles.” “Whiplash” opens Friday at the State Theatre.

In “The Zero Theorem” acclaimed director Terry Gilliam returns with a visually stunning sci-fi epic starring Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as Qohen, an eccentric and reclusive computer genius. Living in isolation, Qohen is obsessively working on a mysterious project personally delegated to him by Management (Matt Damon) aimed at discovering the meaning of life – or the complete lack of one—once and for all. Increasingly disturbed by visits from people he doesn’t fully trust, including the flirtatious Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry), his unpredictable supervisor Job (David Thewlis), and would-be digital therapist Dr. Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton), it’s only when he experiences the power of love and desire that he’s able to understand his own reason for being. “The Zero Theorem” plays one day only, Monday, November 17


at the Michigan Theater.

“Citizenfour” is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA). Poitras had already been working on a film about surveillance for two years when Snowden contacted her, using the name “Citizenfour.” Peter Travers from Rolling Stone says, “Poitras may be guilty of taking Snowden at face value, but she succeeds brilliantly in evoking a shadow villain intent on world domination. Big Brother is back, baby, and he's gone digital.” “Citizenfour” opens Wednesday at the Michigan Theater.

Opening at the Multiplex

In “Dumb and Dumber To” Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise their roles as lovable imbeciles Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne in this sequel to “Dumb and Dumber,” from original directing duo Bobby and Peter Farrelly. The story finds the dim-witted pals setting out on a wacky road trip to find Harry's long-lost daughter. “Dumb and Dumber To” opens Friday.

“Beyond the Lights” is the story of Noni, the music world's latest superstar. But not all is what it seems, and the pressures of fame have Noni on the edge - until she meets Kaz, a young cop and aspiring politician who's been assigned to her detail. Drawn to each other, Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of those around them who urge them to put their career ambitions ahead of their romance. But it is ultimately Kaz's love that gives Noni the courage to find her own voice and become the artist she was meant to be. “Beyond the Lights” opens Friday.

Special Screenings Downtown

Before “Princess Mononoke” ever arrived in the U.S., this epic, animated 1997 fantasy had already made history as the top-grossing domestic feature ever released in Japan, where its combination of mythic themes, mystical forces, and ravishing visuals tapped deeply into cultural identity and contemporary, ecological anxieties. For international animation and anime fans, “Princess Mononoke” represents an auspicious next step for its revered creator, Hayao Miyazaki. “Princess Mononoke” plays Wednesday, November 19 at 7 PM at the State Theatre. Part of The Studio Ghibli Collection: A 30-Year-Retrospective.

In “Dead Poets Society” Robin Williams plays English teacher John Keating, who inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day. With Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and more. “Dead Poets Society” plays Wednesday, November 19 at 7 PM. 

Presented by National Network of Depression Centers


“Austeria” is Jerzy Kawalerowicz‘s funny, touching and lightly surreal tribute to Poland’s vanished prewar Jewish past. On the first day of World War I in the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia, the country inn of the elderly, distinctly unorthodox Jewish proprietor Tag (Franciszek Pieczka) becomes a nexus for assorted townspeople fleeing from the approaching Russian army. Over the course of a day and night, individual narratives intertwine with dreams, memories and visions to create an almost hallucinatory tapestry of Jewish communal life and tradition, a beautiful, absurd, and conflicted world unknowingly perched on the brink of apocalypse. “Austeria” plays Monday, November 17 at 7 PM. Part of Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema.

See you at the movies!

Patrik is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and functions as the New Media/Social Media manager for 89.1 WEMU.