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Cinema Chat: 'Cake', American Sniper', 'The Tale Of Princess Kaguya', 'Diplomacy' And More

Michigan Theater

The Razzie Awards, Oscar talk, an Ann Arbor announcement from the Sundance Film Festival! David Fair and Michigan Theater Executive Director and CEO Russ Collins bring you 'Cinema Chat'  with those stories and a list of movie previews.  

  Coming Soon: Direct From Sundance

The Michigan Theater is honored to continue its relationship with the Sundance Film Festival by hosting a special screening of a 2015 Sundance Film Festival film with guest appearances on Thursday February 5 – and unlike in years past, the Michigan is the ONLY theater outside Utah participating with Sundance this year! We are nearing confirmation of a new film starring Jonah Hill and James Franco, slated to premiere at Sundance later this month.  Stay tuned for details!

New York Film Critics Series returns to Ann Arbor


In “Cake,” Claire (Golden Globe nominee Jennifer Aniston) is in pain, evident in the scars that line her body and the way she winces with each step. She’s no good at hiding her emotional pain, either. Blunt to the point of insult, she has driven away her husband, her friends – even her chronic-pain support group has kicked her out.

The only one left in Claire’s otherwise solitary existence is her housekeeper-cum-caretaker, Silvana, who barely tolerates her boss’ need for liquor and prescription pills. But the suicide of Nina (Anna Kendrick), one of Claire’s fellow chronic-pain group members, prompts another fixation. “Cake” plays Tuesday, January 20 at 7:30 PM. Presented by the New York Film Critics Series and featuring an on-screen Q&A with Jennifer Aniston.

Opening at the Multiplex

American Sniper

"American Sniper" stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield. However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. Despite the danger, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq. But upon returning home, Chris finds that he can't leave the war behind. "American Sniper” opens Friday.

Critics Consensus: Powered by Clint Eastwood's sure-handed direction and a gripping central performance from Bradley Cooper, American Sniper delivers a tense, vivid tribute to its real-life subject.  74% positive


Based on the beloved children’s novels, “Paddington” tells the story of a young bear (voiced by Colin Firth) who travels to the city in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone, he begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined - until he meets the kindly Brown family who read the label around his neck that says "Please look after this bear. Thank you.” It looks as though his luck has changed until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist. “Paddington” opens Friday.

Critics Consensus: Paddington brings a beloved children's character into the 21st century without sacrificing his essential charm, delivering a family-friendly adventure as irresistibly cuddly as its star.   96% positive

The Wedding Ringer

In “The Wedding Ringer” Doug (Josh Gad) is an awkward groom-to-be with a problem: he has no best man. With less than two weeks until his wedding, Doug is referred to Jimmy (Kevin Hart), owner of a company that provides flattering best men for socially challenged guys in need. What ensues is a hilarious wedding charade as they try to pull off the big con. “The Wedding Ringer” opens Friday.


Set within the world of global cybercrime, “Blackhat” follows a furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners as they hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta. “Blackhat” opens Friday.

50/50 reviews

Blackhat is a tedious, preposterous and incoherent cyberthriller that is anything but thrilling.

Claudia Puig, USA Today

In terms of both its global locales and cast, few movies have been as riveting in their exploration of the friend/enemy relationship between China and the U.S.

Jake Coyle, Associated Press

Occasionally, [director Michael) Mann (Ali, The Insider, The Last of the Mohicans, Manhunter, Thief) shows flashes of the sort of springloaded action set pieces he was once hailed for ... But mostly they just come off as warmed-over parodies from a onetime master aping his own style.

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

Opening Downtown

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Legendary Studio Ghibli cofounder Isao Takahata revisits Japan’s most famous folktale in the gorgeous, hand-drawn “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.” Found inside a stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious girl enthralls all who encounter her – but ultimately she must confront her fate. “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” plays January 19 – 21 at the Michigan Theater.


In “Diplomacy” as the Allies march toward Paris in the summer of 1944, Hitler gives orders that the French capital should not fall into enemy hands, or if it does, then ‘only as a field of rubble’. The person assigned to carry out this barbaric act is General Dietrich von Choltitz, who already has mines planted around the city. However, Swedish Consul General RaoulNordling steals into German headquarters through a secret tunnel. A tension-filled game of cat and mouse starts as Nordling tries to persuade Choltitz to abandon his plan. “Diplomacy” plays January 21 & 22 at the Michigan Theater.

Critics Consensus: For filmgoers who value character development and smart dialogue over plot, Diplomacy yields rich, powerfully acted rewards.  93% positive reviews

The Babadook

In “The Babadook,” Amelia (Essie Davis) struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6 year-old, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), whose dreams are plagued by a monster. When a disturbing storybook called The Babadook turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. Amelia, genuinely frightened by Samuel’s behaviour, is forced to medicate him. But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real. “The Babadook” plays January 22 & 23 at the Michigan Theater.

Critics Consensus: The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares -- and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.  97% positive reviews

Continuing Downtown

The Imitation Game



Special Screenings Downtown

The Entertainers

“The Entertainers” is a heartwarming documentary about six piano players striving to win the World Championship of Old-Time Piano (mostly ragtime). With brilliant showmanship and skill these competitors vie for the glow of victory, for escape from the trials of their everyday lives, and for the revival of the first distinctly American popular music.  “The Entertainers” plays tonight at the Michigan.


The Michigan Theater’s Noir series continues with Academy Award nominee “Laura,” playing January 19 at the Michigan Theater.

A Hard Day

This week’s Korean Cinema Now film, “A Hard Day,” plays Saturday, January 17 at 2 PM. Free admission! Presented by the Nam Center for Korean Studies.

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu