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Cinema Chat: Cinetopia, Cannes Festival, The Avengers Age Of Ultron

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Catch a preview of the upcoming Cinetopia Film Festival, and previews of films opening around town and downtown this weekend on this week's Cinema Chat with Patrick Campion and Michigan Theater Executive Director and CEO, Russ Collins.

Film Festival season soon arrives! The Cannes Film Festival, the granddaddy of them all, takes over that French Mediterranean resort town May 13-24.  Then, June 5-14, Ann Arbor and Detroit’s very own award-winning celebration of cinema, the Cinetopia Festival, brings the world’s best films from the world’s best film festivals to our corner of the planet. Cinetopia starts with a free concert and screening on the lawn of the Detroit Institute of Art; continues with a University of Michigan sponsored symposium examining and celebrating the centenary of the legendary film artist and personality Orson Welles. Cinetopia wraps with over 40 films screened in Ann Arbor at the Michigan and State Theaters and at several venues on the campus of the University of Michigan.  Festival passes, which allow you admission to all festival films, go on sale Friday, May 1.  Go to “” for more information and to purchase your festival pass.

Opening Downtown

In “Clouds of Sils Maria,” Maria (Juliette Binoche) is an actress at the peak of her international career who is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years earlier. Back then she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young woman who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now she is being asked to step into the other role, that of the older Helena. A young Hollywood starlet with a penchant for scandal (Chloë Grace Moretz) is to take on the role of Sigrid, and Maria finds herself on the other side of the mirror, face to face with an ambiguously charming woman who is, in essence, an unsettling reflection of herself.  “Clouds of Sils Maria” opens Friday at the Michigan.  91% POSITIVE REIVEIWS
Manohla Dargis, New York Times  -- The three women in "Clouds of Sils Maria" love, talk and move, move, move, sharing lives, trading roles and performing parts. The lives they lead are messy and indeterminate, but each woman's life belongs to her.

Betsy Sharkey , Los Angeles -- As stirring as Binoche is as Maria, Stewart is breathtaking as Valentine. Assayas uses the issues he parses in "Sils" to zero in on a personal-professional minefield that Stewart has navigated as well.

“'71” takes place over a single night in the life of a young British soldier (Jack O'Connell) accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorientating, alien and deadly landscape. “’71” opens Friday at the State. 

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times -- A tense thriller from Britain that so adroitly joins physical intensity, emotional authenticity and political acuity that you may find yourself forgetting to take a breath.

Manohla Dargis, New York Times -- Mr. O'Connell runs away with " '71," in which his character's every emotional, psychological and physical hurdle makes for kinetic cinema.

“Dior and I” takes the viewer inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons' first haute couture collection as its new artistic director-a true labor of love created by a dedicated group of collaborators. Melding the everyday, pressure-filled components of fashion with mysterious echoes from the iconic brand's past, the film is also a colorful homage to the seamstresses who serve Simons' vision.  “Dior and I” opens Saturday at the Michigan.  
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times -- If the ungodly star-driven media frenzy that surrounds the spring collections of the great Paris houses like Christian Dior is the public face of designer fashion, "Dior and I" shows us that what goes on behind the scenes is even more intriguing.

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal -- The drama of getting new dresses on the runway turns out to be transfixing, while the hero redefines the notion of intense.

In “She’s Lost Control,” Ronah works as a sexual surrogate in New York City, teaching her clients the very thing they fear most - to be intimate. Her life unravels when she starts working with a volatile new client, Johnny, blurring the thin line between professional and personal intimacy in the modern world.  “She’s Lost Control” opens Monday at the State.

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter -- The story of a behavioral psychologist specializing in sexual surrogacy provides insight into intriguing characters for whom professional intimacy supplants personal relationships.
Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice -- While smart, well-acted, and shot with a vigorous chilliness, She's Lost Control shares one of that client's maladies: You try to get close to it, and it shies away, even as its subject and protagonist fascinate.
Opening at the Multiplex
In “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” when Tony Stark jumpstarts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth's Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as they battle to save the planet from destruction at the hands of the villainous Ultron.  Starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and more, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens Friday. 72% POSITIVE REVIEWS
A middling film, yet it's so heavy with Joss Whedon's sweat that it never feels like a lazy cash-in --- which for a preordained summer megahit is an accomplishment. -- Amy Nicholson, L.A. Weekly
It would be silly to pretend that Avengers: Age of Ultron isn't good at what it does, that it's not proficient at delivering superhero thrills for those who crave them most. -- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Special Screenings Downtown
The Wine and Film Series continues Wednesday with “You Will Be My Son,” a story that focuses on the problematic relationship between Paul, owner of a prestigious vineyard in Saint Emilion and his son, Martin, who works with him on the family estate. Paul is a demanding and passionate wine-maker but is a domineering father. He dreams of a son who is more talented, more charismatic . . . and more in line with his own aspirations. Things deteriorate as Paul’s trusted manager Francois is dying of cancer. When Francois’ son Philippe, also in the wine business, returns from California to look after his father, Paul sees Philippe as his ideal son and turns away from his own flesh and blood. “You Will Be My Son” plays Wednesday May 6 at 7 PM.  Presented with support from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
In “Beetlejuice,” a couple of recently deceased ghosts (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) contract the services of a "bio-exorcist" (Michael Keaton) in order to remove the obnoxious new owners of their house.  “Beetlejuice” plays Saturday May 2 at 11:59 PM at the State.  Tickets just $8!
“On A Quest” tells the story of Swami Chinmayananda, one of the world’s most renowned and revered exponents of Vedanta, the foundation of Hindu religion and culture. Who was he before he became the great Swami Chinmayananda? How did this passionate, witty, outspoken freedom fighter and atheist turn into an enlightened master? The film answers all these questions and gives us insight into the making of a master who continues to inspire millions across the globe.  “On A Quest” plays Sunday May 3 at 3 PM.  Admission is free!  Presented by Chinmaya Mission of Ann Arbor.


Enhancing the cachet of the secondary Un Certain Regard competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year, festival officials have selected famed Italian-American actress Isabella Rossellini, 62, to head the jury assessing the films selected for the peripheral screenings that recognize new talent and innovative and daring filmmaking. Rossellini is the daughter of legendary Italian director Roberto Rossellini and screen icon Ingrid Bergman, to whom the festival is paying tribute this year, the centenary of her birth. (Bergman died in 1982.) In somewhat of a departure from its focus on productions for the screen, the festival also announced that Rossellini will lift the curtain on a stage show dedicated to her mother’s career that will be based on her autobiography and her correspondence with Roberto Rossellini. The Cannes Film Festival is scheduled to take place from May 13 to 24.


After the critical and commercial flop that Grace of Monaco, last year’s opening film at the Cannes Film Festival, turned out to be, the festival has given the prestigious opening slot this year to a far less glittering production, La Tête Haute, by director Emmanuelle Bercot. In making its announcement, the festival noted that it would be the first film from a female director ever to open the festival. In the past, the festival has often showcased plainly commercial features on opening night, including the world premieres of 2013′s The Great Gatsby, 2010′s Robin Hood, 2009′s Up, and 2006′s The Da Vinci Code. Even films with more modest budgets but equivalent star power have been chosen with an apparent eye for what will attract the maximum number of news photographers and TV crews to Cannes’ renowned red carpet on opening night. In a statement, Thierry Frémaux, the festival’s artistic director, acknowledged that the selection of La Tête Haute “may seem surprising.” However, he explained that it reflected “our desire to see the festival start with a different piece that is both bold and moving.” The film, the festival said, follows a juvenile delinquent as a children’s judge and a social worker attempt to “save” him as he matures. Said Frémaux: “Emmanuelle Bercot’s film makes important statements about contemporary society, in keeping with modern cinema. It focuses on universal social issues, making it a perfect fit for the global audience at Cannes.” The film will be screened at Cannes on opening night, May 13. Closing ceremonies, including the announcement of the winner of the competition for the top honor, the Palme d’Or, are scheduled for May 24.

See you at the movies!