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Cinema Chat: State Theatre Update, 'The Big Sick,' 'War For The Planet Of The Apes,' And More

Michigan Theater
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In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Patrick Campion talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and all of the new and returning films playing at your local movie house this weekend.  Plus, Russ gives an update on the State Theatre renovation project.

Opening Downtown

"The Big Sick"

This film tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (KumailNanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (ZoeKazan) after one of his standup sets.  However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents.  When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he's never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.  RichardRoeperof the Chicago Sun-Times says, “the most treasured modern rom-coms stay with us because through all the laugh-out-loud moments and the absurd predicaments and the familiar meet-cutes and the break-ups and the reconciliations, there’s a ring of authenticity to the writing and the directing, and of course the performances.  ‘The Big Sick’ hits all of those notes.  It is funny and smart and wise and silly, it is romantic and sweet and just cynical enough, and it is without a doubt one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a long time.”  Based on the real-life courtship between KumailNanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, “The Big Sick” opens today.

Continuing Downtown

"The Beguiled"

An atmospheric thriller written and directed by Academy Award winner SofiaCoppola, this film weaves a story fraught with sexual tension, dangerous rivalries, and broken taboos following an unexpected turn of events.  At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in.  Soon, the house is taken over with sexual tension, rivalries, and an unexpected turn of events.  LeahGreenblattof Entertainment Weekly writes, “Coppola, who took home the Best Director prize for the movie last month at Cannes (only the second woman in the festival’s 70-year history to do so), has her own narrative hand to play, and she does it with a coolness that both obscures and inverts the most obvious interpretations of her characters’ choices.”  “The Beguiled” stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning

"The Hero"

In the Cinetopia Film Festival hit, Western star of yesteryear Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) likes to reminisce with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (NickOfferman), about the good times gone by, until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. Lee gets a fresh chance to reclaim the spotlight with the help of his new lover Charlotte (LauraPrepon) and an industry award for his work, all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy.  AnnHornadayof the Washington Post writes, “There are moments when Elliott evokes more meaning and sympathy from the back of his wiry, weathered neck than most actors do from all manner of scenery-chewing… That’s the weird alchemy of screen acting: At its best, it’s a combination of careful technique, canny withholding and unquantifiable charisma.  And it’s what Elliott embodies in every frame of this modest but inordinately absorbing little movie.” 

"Beatriz At Dinner"-- Closes Soon

Critics Consensus: Beatriz at Dinner offers timely social commentary enlivened by powerful, layered performances from Salma Hayek and John Lithgow.

Beatriz (Salma Hayek), an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a health practitioner in Los Angeles. Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) is a cutthroat, self-satisfied billionaire. When these two opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.

Special Screenings Downtown


The Summer Classic Film Series returns with more selections than ever celebrating generations of filmmakers and their nostalgic treasures. Beginning this Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, the Michigan Theater will begin screenings every Sunday at 1:30 PM, Tuesday at 7:00 PM, and Thursdays in July and August at 9:30 PM.  We’ll continue traditions with a Sing-Along of THE LITTLE MERMAID, screen a silent film with live organ accompaniment in Buster Keaton’s STEAMBOAT BILL JR, but we’ve also added three sub-series featuring the works of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, and Stanley Kubrick:

Kubrick After Dark

Though many today consider his work as modern masterpieces of art, Stanley Kubruk’s films are encapsulated genre pieces that make these selections enjoyable summer flicks for everyone. The series began with “Lolita” last night and continue on Thursdays at 9:30 with 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining.

13-Jul  "2001: A Space Odyssey"       

An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in the enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke.  When Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and other astronauts are sent on a mysterious mission, their ship’s computer system, HAL, begins to display increasingly strange behavior, leading up to a tense showdown between man and machine that results in a mind-bending trek through space and time.  “2001: A Space Odyssey” plays Thursday, July 13 at 9:30 PM as part of the Summer Classics: Kubrick After Dark series.

20-Jul   "A Clockwork Orange"

In future Britain, Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), a charismatic and psychopath delinquent who likes to practice crimes and ultra-violence with his gang, is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society’s crime problem – but not all goes according to plan.  In a 1971 review, Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote, “ (‘A Clockwork Orange’) is brilliant, a tour de force of extraordinary images, music, words and feelings.”  “A Clockwork Orange” plays Thursday, July 20 at 9:30 PM as part of the Summer Classics: Kubrick After Dark series.

27-Jul            The Shining    

Lynch After Dark

3-Aug              Eraserhead

10-Aug            Dune  

17-Aug            Blue Velvet

24-Aug            Wild At Heart

31-Aug            Lost Highway

Hitchcock Goes Hollywood

This year, we have 11 selections of Hitchcock’s most popular films from his career working with Hollywood’s biggest stars like James Stewart, Cary Grant, Tippi Hedren, Grace Kelly, Doris Day and Sean Connery. We will begin with his 1951 thriller/noir Strangers On A Train and work our way through his filmography, celebrating his most iconic images, and concluding the series with Psycho, which students will be able to attend for free! This series begins Sunday, July 9, and continues with a new film every Sunday and Tuesday at our normal time.

16-Jul   "To Catch a Thief"

In Alfred Hitchcock’s film, notorious cat burglar John Robie (Cary Grant) has long since retired to tend vineyards on the French Riviera.  When a series of robberies is committed in his style, John must clear his name.  Armed with a list of people who own the most expensive jewels currently in the area, John begins following the first owner, young Francie (Grace Kelly).  When her jewels are stolen, Francie suspects John, destroying their tentative romance.  “To Catch a Thief” plays Sunday, July 16 at 1:30 PM.

18-Jul   "The Trouble With Harry"

When a local man’s corpse appears on a nearby hillside, no one is quite sure what happened to him.  Many of the town’s residents secretly wonder if they are responsible, including the man’s ex-wife, Jennifer (Shirley MacLaine), and Capt. Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), a retired seaman who was hunting in the woods where the body was found. As the no-nonsense sheriff (Royal Dano) gets involved and local artist Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) offers his help, the community slowly unravels the mystery.  The Trouble with Harry” plays Tuesday, July 18 at 7 PM.  Both “To Catch a Thief” and “The Trouble With Harry” play as part of the Michigan Theater’s Summer Classics: Hitchcock Goes Hollywood series.

23-Jul              The Man Who Knew Too Much

25-Jul              The Wrong Man

30-Jul              Vertigo

1-Aug             North By Northwest

6-Aug             The Birds

8-Aug              Marnie

End of Summer Classics

13-Aug                        Steamboat Bill Jr.

15-Aug                        Steamboat Bill Jr.

20-Aug                        Wizard of Oz

22-Aug                        Wizard of Oz

27-Aug                        Sing-A-Long Little Mermaid

29-Aug                        Sing-A-Long Little Mermaid

3-Sep                         Children of Men

4-Sep                         Psycho

5-Sep                          Children of Men

"Stop Making Sense"

The Art House Convergence presents a national day celebrating the life of Jonathan Demme with a special screening of “Stop Making Sense.”  Theaters across the country will join in by screening Demme’s iconic concert film throughout the day, complete with a special pre-recorded intro and Q&A featuring Demme himself, David Byrne, and Janet Maslin.  Demme captured the frantic energy and artsy groove of Talking Heads in this concert movie shot at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983; the film culminates with frontman Byrne’s iconic performance in an enormous suit.  “Stop Making Sense” plays Wednesday, July 19 at 7 PM.

Opening at the Multiplex

"War for the Planet of the Apes"

In the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel.  After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. “War for the Planet of the Apes” opens Friday.

Critics Consensus: War for the Planet of the Apes combines breathtaking special effects and a powerful, poignant narrative to conclude this rebooted trilogy on a powerful -- and truly blockbuster -- note. 93% positive reviews.

"Wish Upon"

Clare (Joey King) is barely surviving the hell that is high school.  So when her dad (RyanPhillippe) gifts her an old music box with an inscription that promises to grant the owner's wishes, she thinks there is nothing to lose.  Clare makes her first wish and, to her surprise, it comes true.  Before long, she finally has it all: money, popularity and her dream boy.  Everything seems perfect - until the people closest to her begin dying in gruesome and twisted ways.  Now, with blood on her hands, Clare has to get rid of the box, before it costs her and everyone she loves the ultimate price.  “Wish Upon” 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 pcampion@emich.edu

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