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Cinema Chat: 'Miles Ahead' Announcement, Cinetopia Film Festival, 'Eye In The Sky,' And More

Miles Davis Ann Arbor WEMU NPR

In this week's Cinema Chat, WEMU's David Fair and Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins meet to discuss movies and the movie business.  Plus, they have a special announcement for Miles Davis fans all over town (No, it's not an early April Fool's joke)!

"Miles Ahead" Premiere at the Michigan Theater

You have a chance to attend the premiere of the new film "Miles Ahead" on Thursday, April 21.  Starring DonCheadle as Miles Davis, the film is a dramatized account of the jazz legend's life from 1945 to the 1970's. 

A $100 donation includes:  two film tickets plus admission to a special pre-show reception at theNectoNightclub (across from the Michigan Theater) from 5-6:30 PM, featuring light snacks, a cash bar, music from Big Fun, a five-piece band led by MarkKirschenmann and Stephen Rush, and a special souvenir ($50 for one ticket and admission).

Donations can be made here, or by calling our main office at 734-487-2229 during regular business hours.

Cinetopia International Film Festival

50 great films from the world's best film festivals, June 3-12.  Mark your calendars!!!

Kevin Smith Says ‘Batman v Superman’ Is a “Fundamental Misunderstanding” of the Heroes

There is a huge divide between film critics and general audiences when it comes to their enjoyment of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."  However, if you look at what some of the viewers who enjoyed the film have to say, including the more hardcore comic book fans, you’ll see that they have many of the same complaints that critics wrote in their reviews.

The Kevin Smith Batman v Superman review is key because it comes from someone who is a filmmaker, a movie fan, and a writer and lover of comic books.

"The movie, I felt like, didn’t really have a heart. It was certainly (expletive) humorless. There was nothing funny going on in that world whatsoever, but it had lots of spectacle. Like you can’t take that away from [Zack] Snyder. Boy, he knows how to compose a frame and how to setup a shot. Beautiful visual stylist. But you need more than just pictures. You need the characterization and these characters seemed off character, particularly Superman. There seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding of what those characters are about. It’s almost like Zack Snyder didn’t read a bunch of comics, he read one comic once, and it was Dark Knight Returns, and his favorite part was the last part where Batman and Superman fight. But … you get to do that in that book because you’ve got three books prior to that and 50 years at that point of comic-book history to build on."

Kevin Smith is pretty even-keeled when it comes to his reception of Batman v Superman.  He gives Zack Snyder credit where credit is due, but in the end, he’s not satisfied with how the characters were presented, and this is coming from a guy who got paid to shill for the movies in a Dawn of Justice TV special on TheCW.

In the end, Batman v Superman was always going to be too big to fail, but the box office take is not something that proves critics are irrelevant.

Currently Playing Downtown

"Hello My Name is Doris"

When Doris (Sally Field) meets John (Max Greenfield), her company's hip new art director, sparks fly - at least for Doris.  In the cluttered house she shared with her late mother, Doris mines the Internet for information on her one-and-only.  Her guide to, for Doris, the baffling digital/Internet age is the 13-year-old granddaughter of her best pal Roz (Tyne Daly).  When Doris begins showing up at John's regular haunts, she wins over his Williamsburg friends. Her new life brings Doris a thrilling perspective, but also creates a rift between her and her longtime friends and family, who believe she's making a fool of herself over a guy half her age.  Doris throws caution to the wind and follows her heart for the very first time.  “Hello My Name is Doris” is playing at the Michigan.

"Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict"playing occasionally at the Michigan.

A colorful character who was not only ahead of her time but helped to define it, Peggy Guggenheim was an heiress to her family fortune who became a central figure in the modern art movement. As she moved through the cultural upheaval of the 20th century, she collected not only art, but artists. Her colorful personal history included such figures as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, as well as countless others. While fighting through personal tragedy, she maintained her vision to build one of the most important collections of modern art, now enshrined in her Venetian palazzo.


This film was submitted by Romania for Academy Award consideration.  Set in early 19th century, gendarme Constandin and his son search for a gypsy slave who has run away from his nobleman master and is suspected of having an affair with the noble's wife.  While the unflappable Costandin comments on every situation with a cheery aphorism, his son takes a more contemplative view of the world.  On their odyssey they encounter people of different nationalities and beliefs.  And even when the slave Carfin is found, the adventure is far from over...  “Aferim!” is now playing at the Michigan.   100% positive reviews!!!!!!!!!

Opening Downtown

"Eye in the Sky"

Starring HelenMirren as Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya.  Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from "capture" to "kill."  But as American pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute, reaching the highest levels of US and British government, over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.  The film also featuresAlanRickman in his final screen performance; Stephen Holden of the New York Times writes “(Rickman’s performance) is a great one, suffused with a dyspeptic world-weary understanding of war and human nature… Ms. Mirren has rarely been icier, and her powerful, scary performance doesn’t strive to make her character likable.”  “Eye in the Sky” opens Friday at the State.   

"I Saw the Light"

This film tells the story of the legendary country western singer Hank Williams (TomHiddleston, in a virtuoso performance), who, in his brief life, created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his meteoric rise to fame and its ultimately tragic effect on his health and personal life.  While Hiddleston’s portrayal of Williams is receiving near-universal accolades, reviews for the film are not strong; KennethTuranof the Los Angeles Times writes "’I Saw the Light’ is solid but not spectacular, a retelling of a sad story that never catches fire.”  “I Saw the Light” opens Friday at the State.

Special Screenings Downtown


Exploited temp workers at a big-box store in South Korea organize themselves to fight layoffs.  “Cart” plays Saturday, April 2 at 2 PM as part of the Korean Cinema Now film series.   Admission is free.


One of the best-known examples of contemporary Japanese animation, this cyberpunk adventure takes place in the post-apocalyptic city of Neo-Tokyo, where a teen-age boy is exposed to a mysterious energy source and develops telekinetic powers that place him at the center of a conflict that may destroy the world.  “Akira” plays Wednesday April 6 at 7 PM at the State as part of the CineManga Film Series.

M-agination Film Festival

This is astudent film production organization which seeks to provide film production and acting opportunities for U-M students across all majors and experience levels.  This year’s M-agination Film Festival features an incredible line-up of films from the 2015-2016 school year, including sketch, dramas, music videos, experimental films, documentaries, a web series and a short film celebrating 15 years of creating exceptional student passion projects at the University of Michigan.  The M-agination Film Festival plays Thursday, April 7 at 8 PM at the Michigan.  Admission is free!

Opening at the Multiplex

"God's Not Dead 2"

After answering a student's question about Jesus, a high school teacher (Melissa Joan Hart) faces an epic court case that could end her career.  This sequel to the 2014 faith-based box office hit “God's Not Dead” also stars JesseMetcalfe, David A.R. White, and Ray Wise.  “God’s Not Dead 2” opens Friday.

"Meet the Blacks"

After obtaining a great deal of money, the patriarch (Mike Epps) of a black family decides they should move from Chicago to a posh neighborhood in Beverly Hills.  However, they are soon terrorized by home intruders who want them out of the affluent community in this comedic spoof.   “Meet the Blacks” opens Friday.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@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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