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Cinema Chat: 'Woman In Gold', 'Effie Gray', 'The Hunting Ground', 'While We're Young' And More

Michigan Theater

Another week, another edition of 'Cinema Chat' with David Fair and Russ Collins! 

(Click on the movie titles to see the movie trailers.)

Playing Downtown

What We Do In The Shadows

Ends tonight at the State Theater

The New Zealand mockumentary comedy horror film What We Do in the Shadows chronicles the adventures of four vampire roommates trying to get by in a modern world that’s not always hospitable to the undead. Jemaine Clement and TaikaWaititi, creators of the HBO hit series “Flight of the Conchords,” co-wrote, co-directed, and co-star in this hilarious send-up in which an endearingly unhip quartet of friends reveal to us or, rather, to the documentary crew that’s filming them, the details of their daily-make that nightly-routine.

Ranging in age from 183 to 8,000, and in appearance from adorably youthful to Nosferatu-crusty, they squabble over household chores, struggle to keep up with the latest trends in technology and fashion, antagonize the local werewolves, cruise clubs for lovely ladies, and deal with the rigors of living on a very, very strict diet. The film also stars Rhys Darby, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford, and Jackie Van Beek, and was produced by Waititi, Chelsea Winstanley and Emanuel Michael.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry  

Ends tonight at the Michigan Theater.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971. The film takes us from the founding of NOW, with ladies in hats and gloves, to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation; from intellectuals like Kate Millett to the street theatrics of W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell!).  Artfully combining dramatizations, performance and archival imagery, the film recounts the stories of women who fought for their own equality, and in the process created a world-wide revolution.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry does not try to romanticize the early movement, but dramatizes it in its exhilarating, quarrelsome, sometimes heart-wrenching glory.  The film does not shy away from the controversies over race, sexual preference and leadership that arose in the women’s movement and captures the spirit of the time — thrilling, scandalous, and often hilarious.  That story still resonates today for women who are facing new challenges around reproductive rights and sexual violence, as the film shows present-day activists creating their generation’s own version of feminism.

The Hunting Ground 

April 3, April 5, and April 6, State Theatre

The statistics are staggering. One in five women in college are sexually assaulted, yet only a fraction of these crimes are reported, and even fewer result in punishment for the perpetrators. From the intrepid team behind The Invisible War, comes The Hunting Ground, a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses, poised to light a fire under a national debate. In a tour de force of verité footage, expert insights, and first-person testimonies, the film follows undergraduate rape survivors pursuing both their education and justice, despite ongoing harassment and the devastating toll on them and their families.

Scrutinizing the gamut of elite Ivies, state universities, and small colleges, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering reveal an endemic system of institutional cover-ups, rationalizations, victim-blaming, and denial that creates perfect storm conditions for predators to prey with impunity. Meanwhile, the film captures mavericks Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, survivors who are taking matters into their own hands—ingeniously employing Title IX legal strategy to fight back and sharing their knowledge among a growing, unstoppable network of young women who will no longer be silent. —C.L., Sundance Institute

It Follows 

State Theatre

For nineteen-year-old Jay, autumn should be about school, boys and weekends out at the lake in this stylish Michigan shot film. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.

Opening Downtown

Woman in Gold

Starring the amazing Helen Mirren, “Woman in Gold” is the true story of one woman's journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman (Helen Mirren) starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis. With her attorney (Ryan Reynolds), she embarks upon a major battle which takes her all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the U.S. Supreme Court, and forces her to confront difficult truths about the past along the way.  “Woman in Gold” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

Effie Gray

Written by and starring Oscar winner Emma Thompson, “Effie Gray” peers inside the realms of Victorian society through the true story of the marriage of Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning) and renowned art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise), courageously exposing a secret world of unrequited passion hidden behind the veil of an opulent public life. Set in an era when neither divorce, nor gay marriage were an option, “Effie Gray” is the story of a beautiful young woman coming of age, and finding her own voice in a world where women were expected to be seen but not heard. “Effie Gray” opens Friday at the State Theatre.

The Hunting Ground

“The Hunting Ground” is a startling exposé of rape crimes on U.S. campuses, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on victims and their families. Weaving together verité footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors as they pursue their education while fighting for justice - despite harsh retaliation, harassment and pushback at every level.  Ty Burr of the Boston Globe says “The movie needs to be seen and discussed by everyone within shouting distance of the college experience: parents, students (of both genders), administrators, alumni, coaches - the list goes on.” “The Hunting Ground” plays April 3, 5 and 6 at the Michigan Theater.

While We're Young

Director Noah Baumbach's comedy “While We're Young” stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a childless New York married couple in their mid-forties. As their other friends all start having children, the couple gravitates toward a young couple named Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried). It’s not long before the restless 40-somethings throw aside friends their own age to trail after these young hipsters who seem so plugged in, so uninhibited, so cool.  But is this new inspiration enough to sustain collaboration with a couple 20 years their junior?  “While We’re Young” opens Thursday April 9 at the State Theatre.

Opening at the Multiplex

Furious 7

In the high-octane thrill ride “Furious 7,” Dominic (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), and the rest of the crew are able to return to the United States and live normal lives again.  However, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is after Dom and his crew, seeking revenge for his brother's death and putting the entire crew in danger once more. The crew sets out to find the man who killed one of their own, before he finds them first.  “Furious 7” opens Friday.

Special Screenings Downtown

Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II

Who you gonna call!?  “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II” play as a double feature on Saturday April 4, beginning at 11 PM at the State Theatre. 

The Big Heat

“The Big Heat” is this week’s Noir film. This unrelentingly brutal crime drama centers on a street-toughened detective’s quest for vengeance after his wife is accidentally killed by the gangsters who have been assigned to murder him. Working outside the law’s confines, the detective’s obsessive search for the culprits leads him into the labyrinthine bowels of mob-corrupted city politics. “The Big Heat” plays Monday, April 6 at 7 PM.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival

The Banff Mountain Film Festival features about three hours of thrilling outdoors movies, involving exploration, feats of derring-do, preservation work, cultural stories, and adrenaline rushes.  Presented by UM Outdoor Adventures, the Banff Mountain Film Festival plays Tuesday April 7 at 7 PM at the Michigan. 

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine

“Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” is a powerful feature documentary about Matthew Shepard, the gay young man who was tortured and murdered in one of the most notorious hate crimes in U.S. history. Directed by Michele Josue, a close friend of Shepard’s, the film revisits the shocking case with never-before-seen photos, rare video footage, and new revelations about Shepard’s all-too-brief life.  “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” plays Thursday April 9 at 7 PM at the State Theatre.  Admission is free.  Presented by React to Film UMICH.

M-Agination Films

M-agination Films is a student-run film production group at the University of Michigan. In production, students are responsible for writing, directing, camera work, editing, and everything in between. The M-agination Film Festival takes place Thursday April 9 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan.  Admission is free!

Remember the Cinetopia Festival is coming June 5-14 in Detroit and Ann Arbor. 

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