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Cinema Chat: DGA Winners, "The Lady in the Van," "Roman Holiday," "Deadpool," And More

Michigan Theater
Brandon Bartoszek

In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU program director Patrick Campion fills in for David Fair and talks with Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movies opening this Valentine's Day weekend.

Frozen Is Heading to Broadway

Walt Disney Animation Studios' megahit is officially heading to Broadway.  Disney Theatrical Group announced Tuesday that a musical adaptation will open in the spring of 2018 after a limited pre-Broadway engagement in the summer of 2017.  Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who wrote the film's original music and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Let It Go," will write the score for the live-action stage show.  Alex Timbers will direct; Stephen Oremus will be in charge of music supervision, vocal and incidental music arrangements; Peter Hylenski will handle sound design; Natasha Katz will oversee lighting design; Bob Crowley will handle scenic and costume design; Peter Darling will do choreography; and Jennifer Lee will write the book.  Casting and Broadway dates and theater will be announced at a future date.  

The Michigan Theater will do two Sing-A-Long “Frozen” screenings:  Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28 at 11:30 AM.

2016 DGA Awards

A visibly emotional Alejandro G. Inarritu accepted the award for outstanding directorial achievement in feature film for his work on "The Revenant" at the 68thannual Directors Guild Awards, which were held Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.  

Traditionally, the winner of the previous year's DGA Award does the honors of announcing the new year's winner, but since Inarritu himself won the award last year for "Birdman," Tom Hooper, who won the award in 2011 for "The King's Speech," was drafted to open the envelope, since this year Inarritu was nominated once again — along with Spotlight's Tom McCarthy, "The Big Short's" Adam McKay, "Mad Max: Fury Road's" George Miller and "The Martian's" Ridley Scott. 

Judging from the applause level in the room as the nominees' names were read, Miller was the popular favorite, but in the end, it was Inarritu who was called to the stage, becoming the first director to ever win back-to-back DGA Awards.  The DGA Award is considered one of the key harbingers of Oscar victory, since there have been only seven occasions in the history of the award when the DGA winner has not gone on to win the Oscar for best director. 

The suspense was particularly high this year since no one picture has emerged as the obvious Oscar frontrunner.  While the Golden Globe for best drama went to "The Revenant" (and the best comedy Globe was awarded to "The Martian"), each of the guilds have chosen a different film.  The Producers Guild of America gave its top prize to "The Big Short" and the Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble went to Spotlight.  But the DGA Award now gives a boost "The Revenant," the tale of a 19th century fur trader fighting for his life.

Opening Downtown

"The Lady in the Van"

The true story of the relationship between screenwriter and playwright Alan Bennett (played in the film by Alex Jennings) and the singular Miss Shepherd (Dame Maggie Smith), a woman of uncertain origins who “temporarily” parked her van in Bennett's London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years.  Nathalie Atkinson of The Globe and Mail writes, “Smith is never more beloved than when she plays just this sort of curmudgeon.  Happily for the movie, Bennett’s Lady is the cantankerous one the performer was most born to play.”  “The Lady in the Van” opens Friday at the Michigan.

"Where to Invade Next"

An expansive, rib-tickling, and subversive comedy in which director Michael Moore, playing the role of "invader," visits a host of nations to learn how the U.S. could improve its own prospects.  Turns out the solutions to America's most entrenched problems already existed in the world - they're just waiting to be co-opted.  “Where to Invade Next” opens Friday at the State, with special early screenings on Thursday February 11.

Valentine’s Day Treats Downtown

"Roman Holiday"

Whether you’re feeling hopelessly in love or feeling hopeless about love, the Michigan and State Theaters have a Valentine’s Day film for you!  Overwhelmed by her suffocating schedule, touring European princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) takes off for a night while in Rome.  But she falls asleep on a park bench and is found by an American reporter, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who takes her back to his apartment for safety.  At work the next morning, Joe finds out Ann’s identity and bets his editor he can get an exclusive interview with her, but romance soon gets in the way.

"Fight Club"

For those more inclined towards Valentine ennui, we have “Fight Club.”  In this anti-romantic film, an unnamed protagonist (played by Edward Norton), an “everyman” who is discontented with his white-collar job, forms an underground club with Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) to stage fights with other men who are similarly fed up with their mundane lives.

Michigan Theater members are admitted free to EITHER screening!  Chocolates from SchakoladChocolate Factory and sparkling wine will be served at the FREE member reception at 6 PM.  The event is FREE to all Michigan Theater members – please call Amber at 734-668-8397 (Extension 28) to RSVP.  The screenings of “Roman Holiday” and “Fight Club” are open to all, regular movie admission prices apply for non-Michigan Theater members.  “Roman Holiday” plays Sunday, February 14 at 7 PM, and “Fight Club” starts at 7:15 at the State.

Special Screenings Downtown


In director BazLuhrmann’s adaptation, the Capulets and the Montagues are two rival gangs living in a post-modern city named Verona Beach. Juliet (Claire Danes) is betrothed to the boorish Paris (Paul Rudd) as part of a strategic investment plan, but a lovelorn Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Montague, throws a wrench in the plans when he and Juliet fall in love.  “Romeo + Juliet” plays Saturday at 11:59 PM at the State. 

"Throne of Blood"

Director Akira Kurosawa’s resetting of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in feudal Japan is one of this revered director’s most acclaimed films.  Returning to their lord’s castle, samurai warriors Washizu and Miki are waylaid by a spirit who predicts their futures.  When the first part of the spirit’s prophecy comes true, Washizu’s scheming wife presses him to speed up the rest of the spirit’s prophecy by murdering his lord and usurping his place.  “Throne of Blood” plays Monday, February 15 at 7 PM at the Michigan as part of The Bard film series.

"Bikes vs. Cars"

This documentary depicts the global climate crisis, where a city’s entire surface is consumed by the car.  The bike is a great tool for change, but the powerful interests who gain from the private car invest billions each year on lobbying and advertising to protect their business.  “Bikes vs Cars” plays Wednesday, February 17 at 7 PM at the Michigan.

"Bunny Drop"

Daikichi is an unmarried office worker who ends up living with the six-year-old illegitimate child of his dead grandfather.  The girl helps bring a new definition to family while her family comes together to determine her fate.  “Bunny Drop” plays Wednesday, February 17 at 7 PM at the State as part of the CineManga Film Series.

Opening at the Multiplex


Based upon Marvel Comics' most unconventional anti-hero, “Deadpool” tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), who, after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool.  Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.  “Deadpool” opens Friday.

"How to be Single"

Alice (Dakota Johnson) decides she needs a break from her long-term boyfriend and moves to New York.  Helping her navigate her way through an unfamiliar city is Robin (Rebel Wilson), a fun-loving, wild co-worker who enjoys partying and one-night stands.  With Robin as her freewheeling guide, Alice can now learn how to get free drinks, meet men and enjoy the single lifestyle.  “How to Be Single” opens Friday.

"Zoolander 2"

The "world's most beautiful people" are being systematically assassinated with formerly famous male model Derek Zoolander's (Ben Stiller) trademark "Blue Steel" look on their face.  Interpol recruits Derek and his friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) to infiltrate a new world of high fashion in order to put a stop to it.  “Zoolander 2” opens Friday.

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— Patrick Campion is the WEMU Program Director.  You can contact Patrick at734.487.3363, on twitter @WEMUPC, or email him at pcampion@emich.edu.

Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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