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Cinema Chat: Cinetopia Kickoff, 'The Meddler,' 'The Lobster,' 'Popstar,' 'Ninja Turtles,' And More

Michigan Theater
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The long-awaited Cinetopia Film Festival officially starts this week!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Patrick Campion talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the start of Cinetopia and all the movies opening this weekend.

Film directors, writers and stars take part in Cinetopia International Film Festival, June 3-12

Part of what sets a film festival apart from simply going to see a movie is the opportunity to talk with and hear from those involved in the creation of the films.  Cinetopia International Film Festival, recently named The Best Film Festival in Detroit by Metro Times, welcomes a wide variety of writers, directors, producers, and stars to discuss their films at the festival, which kicks off on June 3 in Detroit and continues in Ann Arbor June 7-12.  This year’s scheduled headliners include (films listed alphabetically):

THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK: Friday, June 3 at 9:30 PM at the College for Creative Studies: director/screenwriter (and Grand Rapids native) Joel Potrykus and members of the cast & crew; Wednesday, June 8 at 9:30 PM at the Michigan Theater: director/screenwriter Joel Potrykus.

BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS: Sunday, June 5 at 7:30 PM at the Henry Ford Giant Screen Experience, and Friday June 10 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater: executive producer Jon Rennie.

HOLY HELL: Friday, June 10 at 9:30 PM at the Michigan Theater: director and on-screen subject Will Allen and producer Tracey Harnish.

HUNKY DORY: Saturday, June 4 at 4 PM at Cinema Detroit, Saturday, June 11 at 6:45 PM at the State Theatre, and Sunday, June 12 at 4:30 PM at the State Theatre: director/screenwriter/producer (and EMU alum) Michael Curtis Johnson and screenwriter/producer/lead actor Tomas Pais.

LITTLE MEN: Saturday, June 11 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater and Sunday, June 12 at 1 PM at the State Theatre: lead actor Theo Taplitz.

Leonard Maltin and the Wonderful World of Disney - renowned film critic, historian, and creator of the Walt Disney Treasure series Leonard Maltin joins us onstage to talk about the iconic works of Walt Disney and his talented company of illustrators, artists, and animators following THREE screenings!: Classic Disney Shorts Saturday, June 11 at 2 PM at the Redford Theatre; TYRUS Sunday, June 12 at 1 PM at the Michigan Theater; BAMBI Sunday, June 12 at 4 PM at the Michigan Theater.

MISS STEVENS: Saturday, June 4 at 6:45 PM at the College for Creative Studies, and Sunday, June 5 at 3:30 PM at Cinema Detroit: director/screenwriter Julia Hart and screenwriter/producer Jordan Horowitz.

OPERATOR: Thursday, June 9 at 7:15 at the Michigan Theater, Saturday, June 11 at 7:15 at the Michigan Theater, and Sunday, June 12 at 7:30 PM at the Henry Ford Giant Film Experience: director/screenwriter Logan Kibens, screenwriter/producer Sharon Greene, and lead actor Martin Starr.

PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW: Wednesday, June 8 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater: on-screen subject Samantha Montgomery (aka Princess Shaw).

SEMBENE!: Friday, June 3 at 6:45 PM at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: director (and UM alum) Jason Silverman.

SUITED: Friday, June 3 at 7:15 PM at Cinema Detroit: co-founder of Bindle & Keep Clothiers and on-screen subject Rae Tutera; Wednesday June 8 at 7 PM at the Maple Theatre, and Thursday June 9 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater: co-founder of Bindle & Keep Clothiers and on-screen subject Daniel Friedman.

TYRUS: Saturday, June 4 at 8:30 PM at the DIA Lecture Hall: director Pamela Tom.

And the above is just a sample of the festival’s impressive program. Cinetopia will feature more than 100 screenings of 50+ films, in an expanded array of venues throughout Detroit and Ann Arbor.  Cinetopia’s full schedule of films and events, as well at the opportunity to buy festival passes and tickets, is at

Continuing Downtown

"The Meddler"

With a new iPhone, an apartment near the Grove, and a comfortable bank account left to her by her beloved late husband, Marnie (Susan Sarandon) has happily relocated to Los Angeles to be near her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne), a successful (but still single) screenwriter.  But when Marnie’s texts, unexpected visits, and conversations dominated by unsolicited advice force Lori to draw strict personal boundaries, Marnie finds ways to channel her eternal optimism and forceful generosity to change the lives of others - as well as her own - and find a new purpose in life.  “The Meddler” plays at the State.

"The Man Who Knew Infinity"

This film charts the incredible life of Srinivasa Ramanujan (“Slumdog Millionaire’s” Dev Patel), whose genius for mathematics takes him from the slums of India to Cambridge University in the early 20th-century. Spurred on by his mentor G. H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), Ramanujan overcomes racism and the rigidity of academia to revolutionize the field with his startlingly original theorems, which he attributes to divine inspiration.  “The Man Who Knew Infinity” plays at the State.

"Love & Friendship"

Based on the Jane Austen novella “Lady Susan,” it tells the story of beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who visits the estate of her in-laws to wait out the rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society.  Whilst ensconced there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and a future for her eligible but reluctant daughter.  In doing so she attracts the simultaneous attentions of three men, complicating matters severely.  Critics Consensus: Love & Friendship finds director Whit Stillman bringing his talents to bear on a Jane Austen adaptation -- with a thoroughly delightful period drama as the result. 99% positive reviews.

"A Bigger Splash"

Rock legend Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is recuperating on the volcanic island of Pantelleria with her partner Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) when iconoclast record producer and old flame Harry (Ralph Fiennes) unexpectedly arrives with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson) and interrupts their holiday, bringing with him an A-bomb blast of nostalgia from which there can be no rescue.  “A Bigger Splash” is a sensuous portrait of desire, jealousy and rock and roll, under the Mediterranean sun.  Absorbing, visually arresting, and powerfully acted by an immensely talented cast, A Bigger Splash offers sumptuously soapy delights for fans of psychological adult drama.  90% positive reviews.

"The Lobster"

In the absurdist comedy, every adult must be part of a couple.  Recently dumped by his wife, David (Colin Farrell) is assigned to a countryside “hotel” where he must find a suitable mate or be turned into the animal of his choice (part of the absurdist nature of this movie).  David attends group meetings and mixers designed to foster compatible pairings.  David’s search ultimately leads him to escape from the “hotel” to join a group of militant outcasts who live in the woods.  “The Lobster” won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, as well as the controversial Direct from Sundance screening at the Michigan in February. “The Lobster” opens Friday at the State.  Critics Consensus: As strange as it is thrillingly ambitious, The Lobster is definitely an acquired taste -- but for viewers with the fortitude to crack through Yorgos Lanthimos' offbeat sensibilities, it should prove a savory cinematic treat.  90% positive reviews.

Opening at the Multiplex

"Me Before You"

Adapted from the bestselling novel by Jo Jo Moyes, this film tells the story of the unexpected relationship that blossoms between a contented small town Englishwoman (Emilia Clarke) and the wealthy, paralyzed Londoner who hires her as his caretaker (Sam Claflin).  “Me Before You” opens Friday.

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”

Headlined by musical digital-shorts superstars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, collectively known as The Lonely Island, the comedy goes behind the scenes as singer/rapper Conner4Real (Samberg) faces a crisis of popularity after his sophomore album flops, leaving his fans, sycophants, and rivals all wondering what to do when he's no longer the dopest star of all.  “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” opens Friday.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows"

Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael return to battle bigger, badder villains.  After supervillain Shredder escapes custody, he joins forces with a mad scientist and two dimwitted henchmen to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world.  As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater evil with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.  “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” 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

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