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Cinema Chat: Sam Shepard Remembered, 'An Inconvenient Sequel,' 'Detroit,' 'The Dark Tower,' And More

Michigan Theater
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In this week's "Cinema Chat," Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins returns from a two-week break to talk with WEMU's David Fair about all of the flicks worth checking out this weekend.  Plus, they pay tribute to the late actor/playwright Sam Shepard.

Opening Downtown

"An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power"

A decade after “An Inconvenient Truth” brought climate change into the heart of popular culture, the riveting and rousing follow-up shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution.  Vice President Al Gorecontinues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes-in moments private and public, funny and poignant-as he pursues the empowering notion that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.  Our extraordinary former vice president invites us along on an inspirational journey across the globe that delivers the tools to heal our planet.  The question is: Will we choose to take the baton?  “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” opens today.

Continuing Downtown

"The Big Sick"

This film tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) 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.


Based on a true story, this is an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper.  Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and she also yearns, passionately, to create art.  Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love.  “Maudie” charts Everett's efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie's deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter. 

"The Little Hours"

Medieval nuns Alessandra, Fernanda, and Ginevra (Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci) lead a simple life in their convent.  Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings on newly hired hand Massetto (Dave Franco), a virile young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord.  Sheila O’Malley of RogerEbert.com writes, “what could have been—in less confident hands—a one-joke sketch becomes, instead, a consistently wacko screwball.  (Director Jeff) Baena knows that the main thing—Nuns Gone Wild—is funny.  The three extremely funny actresses go to town with all of the possibilities.” 

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.

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.

"The Birds"

A wealthy San Francisco socialite (Tippi Hedren) pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. “The Birds” plays Sunday, August 6 at 1:30 PM.


Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) is a customer of one Mr. Strutt, whose business was robbed by his secretary, the mysterious Marnie Edgar (Tippi Hedren).  When Marnie applies for a job with Mark, with the intention of stealing from him, Mark — who is obsessively in love with her — blackmails her into marrying him. However, he soon discovers that she has severe psychological issues regarding men, thunderstorms, and the color red, and resolves to help her come to terms with her past trauma.  “Marnie” plays Tuesday, August 8 at 7 PM. 

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

Lynch After Dark

Celebrating the return of Twin Peaks, we’ll take a look at career of David Lynch, featuring selections which find focus in science fiction, mystery, love, and the outright weird.  Beginning August 3rd with Eraserhead, this After Dark Series will also continue every Thursday in August at 9:30 PM with Dune, Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, and Lost Highway.


Henry (John Nance) resides alone in a bleak apartment surrounded by industrial gloom.  When he discovers that an earlier fling with Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) left her pregnant, he marries the expectant mother and has her move in with him.  Things take a decidedly strange turn when the couple’s baby turns out to be a bizarre lizard-like creature that won’t stop wailing.  Other characters, including a disfigured lady who lives inside a radiator, inhabit the building and add to Henry’s troubles.  “Eraserhead” plays tonight at 9:30 PM as part of the Summer Classics: Lynch After Dark series.


Based on the acclaimed science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, this film is set in the year 10191, when a spice called melange is the most valuable substance known in the universe, and its only source is the desert planet Arrakis.  A royal decree awards Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides and ousts his bitter enemies, the Harkonnens.  However, when the Harkonnens violently seize back their fiefdom, it is up to Paul (Kyle MacLachlan), Leto’s son, to lead the Fremen, the natives of Arrakis, in a battle for control of the planet and its spice.  “Dune” plays Thursday, August 10 at 9:30 PM as part of the Summer Classics: Lynch After Dark series.

17-Aug            Blue Velvet

24-Aug            Wild At Heart

31-Aug            Lost Highway

Opening at the Multiplex


This tells the gripping story of one of the darkest moments during the civil unrest that rocked Detroit in the summer of 1967.  Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion, with the city under curfew, and as the Michigan National Guard patrolled the streets, three young African-American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel.  50 years after the events of July 25th, 1967, the question remains: what happened at the motel  Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”) and starring John Boyega, “Detroit” opens Friday.

"The Dark Tower"

The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (IdrisElba), has been locked in an eternal battle with the Man in Black (MatthewMcConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together  With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.  Based on the novels by Stephen King, “The Dark Tower” opens Friday.


A typical afternoon in the park turns into a nightmare for single mom Karla (Halle Berry) when her son suddenly disappears.  Without a cell phone and knowing she has no time to wait for police help, Karla jumps in her own car and sets off in pursuit of the kidnappers.  A relentless, edge-of-your seat chase ensues, where Karla must risk everything to not lose sight of her son.  “Kidnap” 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

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