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Cinema Chat: Traverse City Film Festival, 'Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation', 'Vacation' And More


Michigan Theater Executive Director and CEO Russ Collins  calls in from the Traverse City Film Festival for 'Cinema Chat' this week. Get the news from the festival and learn more about your local movie options for the weekend. 

Opening Downtown

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

In “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet,” T.S. lives on a remote ranch in Montana with his parents, his sister Gracie and his brother Layton. A gifted child with a passion for science, he has invented a perpetual motion machine, for which he has been awarded the prestigious Baird Prize by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

He leaves a note for his family and hops a freight train to make his way across the United States and receive his prize. But no one there suspects that the lucky winner is a ten-year-old child with a very dark secret.  Tom Clift of Concrete Playground writes “Mark Twain by way of Jimmy Neutron, this oddball family film lays the syrup on thick, only to cut through the sweetness with a biting critique of America’s cultural foibles.”

Starring Helena Bonham Carter as T.S.’s mother and Judy Davis as the Smithsonian Undersecretary (played with a touch of Anna Wintour parody), the film is based on the acclaimed novel by Reif Larsen and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie,” “Delicatessen”).  “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater, with 3D screeningsFriday through Monday and 2D screenings Tuesday through Thursday.

Special Screenings Downtown

The Thin Man

The Summer Classic Film Series continues with 1934’s  “The Thin Man!” Filmed on what MGM considered a B-picture budget and schedule (14 days, which at Universal or Columbia would have been considered extravagant), The Thin Man” proved to be “sleeper,” spawning a popular film, radio, and television series. 

The film’s strong suit is the witty repartee between Nick and Nora Charles, who manage to behave like saucily illicit lovers throughout the film even though they’re married. The chemistry between the film’s stars  William Powell and Myrna Loy would be adroitly exploited by MGM in several subsequent films, including five additional Thin Man mysteries produced between 1936 and 1948. 

Another star of the film is their sidekick Asta, a wire fox terrier who became Hollywood’s foremost canine scene stealer and an audience favorite. “The Thin Man” plays Sunday August 2 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday August 4 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Continuing Downtown

Testament of Youth

In “Testament of Youth,” during World War I, a young English woman named Vera (Alicia Vikander) postpones her studies at Oxford University to serve as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. After the war she returns to Oxford to read history and later becomes a writer, feminist and pacifist. This powerful story of love, war and remembrance is based on the memoir by Vera Brittain and also stars Kit Harington, Dominic West,Emily Watson and Hayley Atwell.  “Testament of Youth” continues at the Michigan Theater.

Continuing at the State Theater:  


“Amy,” the exquisite and acclaimed documentary on Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse.


“Southpaw” a story from acclaimed director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and screenwriters Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Richard Wenk (“The Mechanic”) of a boxing champ who has to fight his way back to the top, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker (with a soundtrack produced by Eminem).

Opening at the Multiplex

Mission Impossible- Rogue Nation

In “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation,” with the IMF disbanded and Ethan (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents known as The Syndicate.  These highly trained operatives are hell-bent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks.  

Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet.  The film is already building buzz for the scene of Tom Cruise hanging from the side of an airplane as it takes off in flight – something to add to the actor’s legendary reputation for performing his own stunts. “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” opens Friday.


In “Vacation,” the next generation of Griswolds is at it again.  Following in his father’s footsteps, a grown-up Rusty (Ed Helms) surprises his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and their two sons with a cross-country trip back to America’s favorite family fun park, Walley World.  What could possibly go wrong?  Also starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth, “Vacation” opened Wednesday.

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu