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Cinema Chat: Oscar Recap, 'The Salesman,' 'A United Kingdom,' 'Logan,' And More

Michigan Theater
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Another Oscars ceremony is in the books, and it's one people will talk about for years to come.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair speaks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and all of the flicks heading to the silver screen this weekend.

Cinema Classics

Classic films are a joy to watch on the big screen!  This spring, March 27-May 30, Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater will celebrate classic films that capture the spirit of cinematic revolution.  A revolution that disrupted the Hollywood Studio system, created contemporary foreign film culture in the USA, and brought to light visionary American directors and new generations of brilliant cinematic voices.

CINEMA CLASSICS COCKTAIL PARTY -- 3/5 - 4:30 – Invitation only event with Ira Deutchman, Indie film icon and co-curator of the series will be held at the Michigan Theater.

Opening Downtown

"The Salesman"

Winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, this film follows Emad and Rana, a young couple living in Tehran who are forced to move into a new apartment when their old flat becomes damaged.   However, once relocated, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant of their new home dramatically changes the couple’s life, creating a simmering tension between husband and wife.  

"A United Kingdom"

This film is based on extraordinary true events.  In 1947, Seretse Khama, the King of Botswana (David Oyelowo), met Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a London office worker.  They were a perfect match, yet their proposed marriage was challenged not only by their families, but by the British and South African governments.  The latter had recently introduced the policy of apartheid and found the notion of a biracial couple ruling a neighboring country intolerable.  South Africa threatened the British: either thwart the couple or be denied access to South African uranium and gold and face the risk of South Africa invading Botswana.  “A United Kingdom” opens Friday.

Continuing Downtown

"I Am Not Your Negro"

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House.  The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends - Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.  At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript.  Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished.  The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin's original words and flood of rich archival material.  "I Am Not Your Negro" is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.  It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond.  And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

Special Screenings Downtown

"Things to Come"

Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) teaches philosophy at a high school in Paris.  She is passionate about her job and particularly enjoys passing on the pleasure of thinking.  Married with two children, she divides her time between her family, former students, and her very possessive mother.  One day, Nathalie's husband announces he is leaving her for another woman.  With freedom thrust upon her, Nathalie must reinvent her life.  “Things to Come” plays Tuesday-Thursday, March 7-9.

"March of the Penguins"

This was the winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature!  At the end of each Antarctic summer, the emperor penguins of the South Pole journey to their traditional breeding grounds in a fascinating mating ritual.  The journey across frozen tundra proves to be the simplest part of the ritual, as after the egg is hatched, the female must delicately transfer it to the male and make her way back to the distant sea to nourish herself and bring back food to her newborn chick.  Narrated by Morgan Freeman, “March of the Penguins” plays Sunday, March 5 at 1:30 PM.  Free admission for kids 12 and under!

"Dragnet Girl"

First released in Japan in 1933, this film is a psychologically complex gangster tale which pivots on the growing attraction between Joji, a hardened career criminal, and Kazuko, the sweet-natured older sister of a newly initiated young hoodlum—a relationship that provokes the jealousy of Joji’s otherwise patient moll, Tokiko.  This screening will feature live benshi narration by renowned benshi Ichiro Kataoka, accompanied by electronic DJ Arwulf.  "Dragnet Girl" plays Monday, March 6 at 7 PM. 

      ·         Ichi the Killer -- Monday, March 13 at 7:00 PM.

      ·         The World of Kanako – Monday, March 20 at 7:00 PM

Opening at the Multiplex

"Before I Fall"

What if you had only one day to change absolutely everything?  Samantha has everything: the perfect friends, the perfect guy, and a seemingly perfect future.  Then, everything changes.  After one fateful night, Sam wakes up with no future at all.  Trapped reliving the same day over and over, she begins to question just how perfect her life really was.  As she begins to untangle the mystery of a life suddenly derailed, she must also unwind the secrets of the people closest to her and discover the power of a single day to make a difference, not just in her own life, but in the lives of those around her--before she runs out of time for good.  “Before I Fall” opens Friday.


Mutants are gone--or very nearly so.  An isolated, despondent Logan (Hugh Jackman) is drinking his days away in a hideout on a remote stretch of the Mexican border, picking up petty cash as a driver for hire.  His companions in exile are the outcast Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart), whose singular mind is plagued by worsening seizures.  But Logan's attempts to hide from the world and his legacy abruptly end when he is asked to shepherd an extraordinary young girl to safety.  Soon, the claws come out as Logan must face off against dark forces and a villain from his own past on a live-or-die mission.  “Logan” opens Friday.

"The Shack"

Based on the New York Times best-selling novel, this film takes us on a father's uplifting spiritual journey. After suffering a family tragedy, Mack (Sam Worthington) spirals into a deep depression causing him to question his innermost beliefs.  Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness.  Despite his doubts, Mack journeys to the shack and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa (Octavia Spencer).  Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.  “The Shack” opens Friday.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU todayto keep your community NPR station thriving.

— 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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