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Cinema Chat: Sundance's Big Winners, 'All Or Nothin',''The Insult,' 'Winchester,' And More

Michigan Theater
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In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks with Michigan Theater and State Theatre executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and all of the new and returning films hitting the silver screen this weekend.

2018 Sundance Film Festival Awards Winners

The Grand Jury Prizes

U.S. Dramatic: Desiree Akhavan’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”

U.S. Documentary: Derek Doneen’s “Kailash”

World Cinema Dramatic: Tolga Karaçelik’s “Butterflies”

World Cinema Documentary: Talal Derki’s “Of Fathers and Sons”

Audience Awards

U.S. Dramatic Audience Award: “Burden”

U.S. Documentary Audience Award: “The Sentence”

World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award: “The Guilty”

World Cinema Documentary Audience Award: “This Is Home”

NEXT Audience Award: “Search”

“Puzzle”was a favorite of the Michigan Theater’s staff, and was co-produced by and area native and UM Graduate Eddie Rubin.

“A Boy, A Girl, A Dream” was co-written and directed by Qasim Basir, and Huron High graduate, and I got to see the world premiere at Sundance. 

Sundance Critics Choices

Best Film

1.  "Madeline’s Madeline"

2.  "Sorry to Bother You"

3.  "Eighth Grade"

4.  "Hereditary" (Mike Gould)

5. "The Tale"

Best Documentary

1.  "Three Identical Strangers"

2.  "Bisbee ’17"

3.  "Won’t You Be My Neighbor"

4.  "The Last Race"

5.  "Minding the Gap"

Foreign Film

1.  "Pity"

2.  "Holiday"

3.  "The Guilty"

4.  "Yardie"

5.  "And Breathe Normally"

The Michigan Theater will present a film “Direct From Sundance.”


"The Insult"

Now a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, from Lebanon, this film opens this Friday at the State Theatre.  It takes place in present day Beirut where a civilian dispute blown out of proportion finds Tony, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, involved in a courtroom battle.  As the media circus surrounding the case threatens a social explosion in divided Lebanon, Tony and Yasser reconsider their values and beliefs as revelations of trauma complicate their understanding of one another.


"All or Nothin'"

In this 83-minute melodrama, Underground Railroad conductor John Fairfield guides an enslaved group from a northern Kentucky farm in Boone County to their freedom in  Canada.  He is forced to share center stage with Washington Barker who at the same time leads his wife and loved ones out of enslavement from a neighboring farm.  This epic adventure intertwines multiple stories to create a realistic portrayal of the numerous players, black and white, men and women, needed to implement a successful group escape; a view seldom depicted in slavery films.  Via character and plot development, AON gives a voice to many who were customarily silenced.  While the film exposes the bitter truths of oppression, manipulation, and misogyny inherent in slavery in America, it also stresses teamwork, selflessness, and ultimately triumph.  Free admission, $10 donation preferred.

Be Our Guest

At the Michigan Theater, we invite you to “Be Our Guest” and come out for our new Christopher Guest film series premiering tonight at 9:30 PM with "This is Spinal Tap," the mock-rockumentary from Director Rob Reiner that follows a metal band struggling to get back on the charts.  Next week Thursday, "Waiting For Guffman" will continue the series at the same time.

"Groundhog Day"

Tomorrow at the Michigan, in celebration of its 25th Anniversary we will be screening the film starring Bill Murrayas a weatherman out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole.  But when he gets caught in a blizzard that he didn’t predict, he finds himself trapped in a time warp doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right.

"The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail"

Next Monday, this film will premiere the “Enter the Samurai” Film Series at 7:00 PM, celebrating Akira Kurosawa's greatest genre epics and more!  In this film, written and directed by the acclaimed auteur, a routed Japanese general and his group of loyal retainers are forced to flee from his own traitorous brother.  But en route to a safe zone, they must pass through a heavily garrisoned mountain stronghold held by his brother’s force.

Jim Henson Presents the Muppets

At the State Theatre, “Jim Henson Presents the Muppets” continues with "The Great Muppet Caper" this Saturday at 1:30 PM, and because it’s also part of the Toyota Family-Friendly Film Series presented by the Benard L. Maas Foundation, kids 12 & under get in free!  In their second live-action film, Kermit, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo snag an assignment reporting on a British jewel heist and set out to find the real criminals after Miss Piggy is framed as the thief.

A Decade of O-Scope: Celebrating 10-years of Oscilloscope Films

Also at the State, “A Decade Of O-Scope: Celebrating 10 Years of Oscilloscope Films” will begin presenting some the most memorable films from the distribution/production company that have brought us titles like "Kedi," playing next Monday at 7:00 PM, the documentary focused on the hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats roaming the metropolis of Istanbul freely. "Buzzard"and "The Alchemist Cookbook"will play the following Tuesday and Wednesday at the same time, from filmmaker and Michigan native Joel Potrykus.  Both films are also previous selections of the Cinetopia Film Festival.  


“Faces Places”

Now nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, continues at the Michigan!  89-year old Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33 year-old French photographer and muralist JR teamed up to co-direct this enchanting documentary/road movie.  Kindred spirits, Varda and JR share a lifelong passion for images and how they are created, displayed, and shared.

“The Post”

From Director Steven Spielberg, this film stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the true story of the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor who join an unprecedented battle between journalism and the government, which led to the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

“Phantom Thread”

From Paul Thomas Anderson, this film reunites the acclaimed director with Daniel Day-Lewisin his last on screen role.  In the film, Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.

“Call Me by Your Name”

At the State Theatre, this film continues.  Set in Northern Italy in 1983, seventeen year-old Elio (played by Timothee Chalamet) begins a relationship with visiting Oliver (played by Armie Hammer), his father’s research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape.  The film was written by James Ivory, known for his previous romantic period classics "A Room with a View" and "Howard’s End."

“Lady Bird”

Also playing at the State:  From DirectorGreta Gerwig, who is now the fifth female to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar, stars Saoirse Ronanas an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old coming of age in Sacramento, California in the early 2000s.  The film also starsLaurie Metcalf as her headstrong mother who maintains a turbulent bond with her daughter, as well as Lucas Hedges and Tracy Letts.

“I, Tonya”

This has been called “The Goodfellas of Figure Skating” by Playlist.com and stars Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding who rose amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the late 80s and 90s, only to find her future in thrown into doubt after her ex-husband (played by Sebastian Stan) intervenes with a rival, leading to one of the most unbelievable Olympic moments in history.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

From Director Martin McDonagh, known for his previous black comedies "In Bruges" and "Seven Psychopaths," stars 5 time Academy Award nominee Frances McDormandas a mother who commissions three signs leading into her town with a message directed at the town's revered chief of police after months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case.  The film also stars Woody HarrelsonandSam Rockwell.

“The Shape of Water”

This film continues with select showtimes, starring Sally Hawkins as a mute custodian working in an isolated government laboratory where she develops a friendly relationship with a scaled creature living in a water tank.  The film also stars Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon.



Starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, it opens this Friday.  The story of firearms heiress Sarah Winchester, who, after the sudden death of her family, becomes convinced that she's haunted by the souls of those killed by guns.  She then decides to build an enormous mansion that's designed to keep the evil spirits at bay.  But, when skeptical psychiatrist Eric Price visits the estate to evaluate her state of mind, he soon discovers that her obsession may not be so far-fetched after all.

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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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