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Cinema Chat: 'Dark Horse,' 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' 'Hamlet,' 'The Secret Life Of Pets,' And More

Michigan Theater
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It's been a hot, sticky week outside, so why not spend it in an air-conditioned theater?  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 the big screen this weekend.

Opening Downtown

"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 slag heap 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 9, 11, 13, and 14 at the Michigan Theater.

Continuing 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" continues at the State.

"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.  “Our Kind of Traitor” continues at the Michigan.  Critics Consensus: "Our Kind of Traitor" relies on solid writing and acting rather than action to deliver its spy-movie thrills -- and thankfully has the pedigree to pull it off on both fronts.

Don’t miss the rest of the art house hits continuing at the Michigan and State theaters this week: “Love and Friendship,” adapted from a Jane Austen novella; the absurdist comedy “The Lobster;”“Dough,” a warmhearted story starring Jonathan Pryce; and “Genius,” a stirring drama about the complex friendship between world-renowned book editor Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth) and larger-than-life literary giant Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law).

Special Screenings Downtown

"A Streetcar Named Desire"

In the classic play by Tennessee Williams, brought to the screen by EliaKazan, faded Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) comes to visit her pregnant sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), in a seedy section of New Orleans.  Stella’s boorish husband, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), not only regards Blanche’s aristocratic affectations as a royal pain but also thinks she’s holding out on inheritance money that rightfully belongs to Stella.  “A Streetcar Named Desire” plays Sunday, July 10 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, July 12 at 7 PM at the Michigan as part of the Summer Classic Film Series.

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)

"RSC Live in HD: Hamlet"

This continues the broadcasts of wonderful productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Young, wealthy and living a hedonistic life studying abroad, Hamlet has the world at his feet.  Then word reaches him that his father is dead.  Returning home he finds his world is utterly changed, his certainties smashed and his home a foreign land.  Struggling to understand his place in a new world order he faces a stark choice.  Submit, or rage against the injustice of his new reality.  As relevant today as when it was written, “Hamlet” confronts each of us with the mirror of our own mortality in an imperfect world.  “Hamlet” plays Sunday, July 10 at 7 PM at the Michigan.

Opening at the Multiplex

"The Secret Life of Pets"

Max (Louis C.K.) is a spoiled terrier who enjoys a comfortable life in a New York building until his owner adopts Duke (EricStonestreet), a giant and unruly canine.  During their walk outside, they encounter a group of ferocious alley cats and wind up in a truck that's bound for the pound.  Luckily, a rebellious rabbit named Snowball (Kevin Hart) swoops in to save the doggy duo from captivity.  In exchange, Snowball demands that Max and Duke join his gang of abandoned pets on a mission against the humans who've done them wrong.  “The Secret Life of Pets” opens Friday.  Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, funny, and blessed with a talented voice cast, "The Secret Life of Pets" offers a beautifully animated, cheerfully undemanding family-friendly diversion.  81% positive reviews.

"Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates"

Hard-partying brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (ZacEfron) place an online ad to find the perfect dates (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) for their sister's Hawaiian wedding.  Hoping for a wild getaway, the boys instead find themselves outsmarted and out-partied by the uncontrollable duo.  “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” opens Friday.  Critics Consensus: "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates" benefits from the screwball premise and the efforts of a game cast, even if the sporadically hilarious results don't quite live up to either.  50/50 reviews.

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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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