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Cinema Chat: Ann Arbor Art Fairs, 'The Music Of Strangers,' 'Wiener-Dog,' 'Ghostbusters,' And More

Michigan Theater
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The weather outside is still hot and rainy, which is perfect for a trip to your local movie house.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and all the movies hitting the big screen this weekend.

Art Fair

Next week Ann Arbor’s Art Fairs will be underway!  If you’re downtown for the fairs and looking for a way to beat the heat and have a snack, stop by the Michigan Theater and relax in the air conditioned comfort of Ann Arbor’s beautiful Movie Palace (which when it opened in 1928 was billed as being “As refreshing as a Mountain Resort”)!  Enjoy a free concert on our Barton Organ each afternoon!

Opening Downtown

"The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble"

This tells the extraordinary story of the renowned international musical collective created by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma.  The feature-length documentary follows this group of diverse instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists, and storytellers as they explore the power of music to preserve tradition, shape cultural evolution, and inspire hope.  KenJaworoskiof the New York Times writes “If the screen went dark during ‘The Music of Strangers,’ that would be a disappointment. But if the sound failed, that would be a tragedy. While [the film] is lovely to watch, it’s even more beautiful to hear.”  Directed by Morgan Neville (“Twenty Feet from Stardom”), “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble” opens Friday at the Michigan.


This is a dark, starkly funny story of a single dog and the many different people she touches over her short lifetime.  Man’s best friend starts out teaching a young boy some contorted life lessons before being taken in by a compassionate vet tech named Dawn Wiener (the character from “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” now played by GretaGerwig).  Dawn reunites with someone from her past and sets off on a road trip.  After leaving Dawn, Wiener-Dog encounters a floundering film professor, as well as an embittered elderly woman and her needy granddaughter—all longing for something more.  Director Todd Solondz’s perversely dark comedy offers an appallingly honest look at the American experience, brought to life by its all-star cast.  Barry Hertz of the Globe and Mail writes “for those who appreciate exploring the more difficult and untidy corners of the world, Solondz’s film is a godsend – an effective work of agitation in a summer predisposed to shiny tales about happy people.”  “Wiener-Dog” opens Friday at the State.

Special Screenings Downtown

"Monty Python and the Holy Grail"

The Summer Classic Film Seriescontinues with “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”  History is turned on its comic head in this cult classic when, in 10th Century England, King Arthur travels the countryside to find knights who will join him at the Round Table in Camelot.  Gathering up the men is a tale in itself but after a bit of a party at Camelot, many decide to leave only to be stopped by God who sends them on a quest: to find the Holy Grail.  After a series of individual adventures, the knights are reunited but must face a wizard named Tim, killer rabbits, and lessons in the use of holy hand grenades.  Their quest comes to an end however when the police intervene – just what you would expect in a Monty Python movie.  “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” plays Sunday, July 17 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, July 19 at 7 PM at the Michigan.

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)

Continuing Downtown

Great films are continuing downtown this week!  Make sure you check out“Our Kind of Traitor” and “Dark Horse,”playing at the Michigan, and “The Lobster”and “Swiss Army Man,”now playing at the State Theatre.

Opening at the Multiplex


“Ghostbusters” makes its long-awaited return, rebooted with a cast of hilarious new characters.  Paranormal researcher Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristin Wiig) are trying to prove that ghosts exist in modern society.  When strange apparitions appear in Manhattan, Gilbert and Yates turn to engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) for help.  Also joining the team is Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a lifelong New Yorker who knows the city inside and out.  Armed with proton packs and plenty of attitude, the four women prepare for an epic battle as more than 1,000 mischievous ghouls descend on Times Square.  “Ghostbusters” 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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