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Cinema Chat: 'Swiss Army Man,' 'The Dirty Dozen,' 'Dark Horse,' 'The BFG,' And More

Michigan Theater
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The Fourth of July is almost here, which means fireworks, barbecues, and a trip to the movies!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the film business and all the movies coming to theaters this Independence Day weekend.

Opening Downtown

"Swiss Army Man"

This film goes from the absurd to the emotional to the whimsical to the profound and back again.  Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again.  But everything changes when a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore; the two become fast friends, and ultimately go on an epic adventure that will bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams.  “Swiss Army Man” creates a world like no other-a place of pure fantastical imagination, brimming with magical realism yet featuring two characters whose dreams and fears are entirely relatable.  “Swiss Army Man” opens Friday, July 1 at the State, with special advance screenings on Thursday, June 30.

"Our Kind of Traitor"

While on holiday in Marrakech, an ordinary English couple, Perry and Gail (Ewan McGregor and NaomieHarris), befriend a flamboyant and charismatic Russian, Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), who unbeknownst to them is a kingpin money launderer for the Russian mafia.  When Dima asks for their help to deliver classified information to the British Secret Services, Perry and Gail get caught in a dangerous world of international espionage and dirty politics.  Based on the novel by John le Carre, “Our Kind of Traitor” opens Friday, July 1 at the Michigan, with special advance screenings on Thursday, June 30.

Special Screenings Downtown

"Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"

In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers’ minds and the hydrogen bomb relatively new and frightening, Stanley Kubrick dared to make a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button — and played the situation for laughs. “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb’s” jet-black satire and a host of superb comic performances (including three from Peter Sellers) have kept the film fresh and entertaining, even as its issues have become (slightly) less timely.  “Dr. Strangelove” plays Sunday, July 3 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, July 5 at 7 PM at the Michigan as part of the Summer Classic Film Series.

July 10 & 12: A Streetcar Named Desire

July 17 & 19: Monty Python & The Holy Grail

July 24 & 26: Funny Face

July 31 & August 2: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

August 7 & 9: Horse Feathers

August 14 & 16: Fargo

August 21 & 23:  Sound of Music Sing-A-Long

August 28 & 30: Metropolis w/ Live Organ

September 5:  Casablanca (Free for Students)

"The Dirty Dozen"

Lee Marvin plays Major Reisman, assigned to coordinate a suicide mission on a French chateau held by top Nazi officers.  Since no "normal" GI can be expected to volunteer for this mission, Reisman is compelled to draw his personnel from a group of military prisoners serving life sentences, including a rapist (TellySavalas), a former mobster (JohnCassavetes), and a slow-witted killer (Donald Sutherland).  On the dim promise of receiving pardons if they survive, the criminals undergo a brutal training program, then are marched behind enemy lines.  “The Dirty Dozen” plays Monday, July 4 at 1:30 PM at the Michigan.  All veteran and active military are admitted for free to this and all Michigan and State theater films playing July 1-4.

"Dark Horse"

Set in a former mining village in Wales, this is the inspirational true story of a group of friends from a working men's club who decide to take on the elite “sport of kings” and breed themselves a racehorse.  Raised on a slagheap allotment, their foal grows into an unlikely champion, beating the finest thoroughbreds in the land, before suffering a near fatal accident.  Nursed back to health by the love of his owners, he makes a remarkable recovery, returning to the track for a heart-stopping comeback.  “Dark Horse” plays July 6 and 7 at the Michigan Theater and continues next week.

Continuing Downtown

"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.  “Love and Friendship” plays at the Michigan.  99% 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” is at the State.  90% Positive Reviews.  


From Academy Award-nominated screenwriter John Logan and acclaimed Tony Award-winning director Michael Grandage in his feature film debut comes a stirring drama about the complex friendship and transformative professional relationship between the world-renowned book editor Maxwell Perkins and the larger-than-life literary giant Thomas Wolfe.  The film stars Colin Firth as Perkins, Jude Law as Wolfe, Nicole Kidman as Aline Bernstein, a costume designer sharing a tumultuous relationship with Wolfe, LauraLinney as Louise Perkins, Max's wife and a talented playwright, Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Dominic Westas Ernest Hemingway.  "Genius” is at the Michigan Theater.


Curmudgeonly widower Nat (JonathanPryce) clings to his way of life as a Kosher bakery shop owner in London's East End.  Understaffed, Nat reluctantly enlists the help of teenager Ayyash (Jerome Holder), who has a secret side gig selling marijuana to help his immigrant mother make ends meet.  When Ayyash accidentally drops his stash into the mixing dough, the challah starts flying off the shelves and an unlikely friendship forms between the old Jewish baker and his young Muslim apprentice.  “Dough” is a warmhearted and humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places. 

Opening at the Multiplex

"The BFG"

Based on the book by Roald Dahl, this film tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country.  Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming – he’s a Big Friendly Giant.  Having both been on their own in the world up until now, their affection for one another quickly grows, but Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, who have become increasingly more bothersome.  “The BFG” opens Friday.

"The Legend of Tarzan"

It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (AlexanderSkarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Margot Robbie) at his side.  Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge.  “The Legend of Tarzan” opens Friday.

"The Purge: Election Year"

It’s been two years since Leo Barnes (FrankGrillo) stopped himself from a regrettable act of revenge on Purge Night.  Now serving as head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), his mission is to protect her in a run for president and survive the annual ritual that targets the poor and innocent.  But when a betrayal forces them onto the streets of D.C. on the one night when no help is available, they must stay alive until dawn…or both be sacrificed for their sins against the state.  “The Purge: Election Year” 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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