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Cinema Chat: Tomorrowland, Wild Tales, Hot Pursuit, A Year In Champagne And More!

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The Michigan Theater

Patrick Campion and Russ Collins on what's playing downtown and around town:

Mark your calendars! 

The Cinetopia Festival, will celebrate Orson Welles. It was named the outstanding Detroit Area Film Festival by the Metro Times and is coming June 5-14. The acclaimed and beautiful animated film “The Prophet,” based on the poetry of Kahlil Gibran, will open the festival with a free screening on the lawn of the Detroit Institute of Art; screenings in Ann Arbor take place June 8-14. During the festival over 70 films - the best films from the world’s best film festival - will be screened in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills and Ann Arbor. The University of Michigan will host a centenary celebration of Orson Welles, the legendary artistic genius and Hollywood maverick. Filmmakers and film scholars will join festival goes at most festival screening.  Passes are on sale now at cinetopiafestival.org.

The summer Hollywood blockbuster “Tomorrowland” will have a special limited screening, May 21-June 4, at the Michigan Theater. The only at the Michigan Theater opening night will take place in the historic theater at Thursday, May 21 at 7:00. The film’s director, Brad Bird, specifically chose the Michigan Theater as one of 15 Movie Palaces hosting these special screenings. “Tommowland” is a mystery adventure starring Academy Award winner George Clooney. It features a screenplay by "Lost" writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof, Bird and Jeff Jensen. From the Disney studio, it promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of movie magic.

Opening Downtown 

“Wild Tales,” nominated for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is an entertaining anthology of six short stories. Hilarious and delightfully deranged, “Wild Tales” is a subversive satire that doubles as a uniformly entertaining anthology film. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian calls “Wild Tales” “fantastically scabrous” and “a delicious chocolate box of nastiness.”  “Wild Tales” opens Friday at the State.

“D Train” asks the question: how far would you go to be popular? All his life, Dan (Jack Black) has never been the cool guy. That's about to change - if he can convince Oliver (James Marsden), the most popular guy from his high school who's now the face of a national Banana Boat ad campaign, to show up with him to their class reunion. A man on a mission, Dan travels from Pittsburgh to LA and spins a web of lies to recruit Oliver. But he gets more than he bargains for as the unpredictable Oliver proceeds to take over his home, career, and entire life. “D Train” opens Friday at the State.

“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” tells the story of an Israeli woman seeking to finalize her divorce from her cruel and manipulative husband.  Viviane finds herself effectively put on trial by her country's religiously-based marriage laws: in Israel a marriage celebrated in the Jewish faith cannot be dissolved in a  civil divorce; therefore only rabbis can dissolve a marriage, which is only possible with the husband's full consent. Viviane has been applying for a divorce for three years but her husband Elisha will not agree. His cold intransigence, Viviane's determination to fight for her freedom, and the ambiguous role of the judges shape a procedure in which tragedy vies with absurdity, and where everything is brought out for judgment, apart from the initial request. Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer says “Shot in intense close-ups, the better to study the emotions burning off the characters' skin, the film is all talk and gestures, but it begins to take your breath away like a chase movie would.”  “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” opens Friday at the Michigan.

Playing 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.

Opening at the Multiplex

In "Hot Pursuit," an uptight and by-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Sofia Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas, pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen.  “Hot Pursuit” opens Friday. 

Special Screenings Downtown

The popular Wine in Film series continues next Wednesday with “A Year in Champagne,” the second film in a remarkable wine trilogy (following the award-winning documentary “A Year In Burgundy”).  With renowned wine importer Martine Saunier as our guide, we get a rare glimpse behind the scenes into the real Champagne through six houses, from small independent makers to the illustrious houses of Gosset and Bollinger. “A Year in Champagne” plays Wednesday May 13 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Each Wednesday after the screening a FREE wine tasting takes place, presented with support from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

In “Every Secret Thing,” a detective looks to unravel a mystery surrounding missing children and the prime suspects: two young women who, seven years ago, were put away for an infant's death.  “Every Secret Thing” plays Tuesday May 12 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater. Presented by the New York Film Critics Series, featuring post-screening interview via Skype with lead actors Diane Lane and Dakota Fanning, director Amy Berg and producer Frances McDormand.

“All or Nothin’” provides a rare glimpse into the Underground Railroad in Washtenaw County.  This work-in-progress screening features clips from the feature film as well as interviews with area scholars.  “All or Nothin’” plays Thursday May 14 at 7 PM.  Admission is free!

See you at the movies!