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Cinema Chat: Linklater's Secret Project, Oscar-Nominated Shorts, 'Fifty Shades Freed,' And More

The State Theatre
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It's been a cold, snowy week, but the movie business remains hot!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Patrick Campion talks to Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest movie news and all of the flicks you can check out at your local theater this weekend.

Richard Linklater’s Secret Movie: The Director Confirms 1969 Coming-of-Age Film & Needs Your Help

Director Richard Linklater has confirmed to The Houston Chronicle that he’s currently at work directing a secret project in Houston, Texas.  Linklater isn’t ready to reveal any cast or plot details, but he’s OK with letting everyone know the film will be a coming-of-age story that takes place in 1969 and centers around the moon landing.  “You had so much going on in Houston at once: NASA, the Medical Center, the Astrodome,” Linklater said.  “There was a communal atmosphere. You had all these kids with parents working at NASA for a common goal.”  The Chronicle says the new film was partly inspired by Linklater’s time shooting his magnum opus “Boyhood.” The film got the director thinking about his own childhood and growing up in the wake of the moon landing, which is where the script was inspired. The movie will feature “regional hits” from 1969 and be set during the summer. Similar to “Boyhood,” the film will be told from a child’s point of view.

The Houston Film Commission has issued the following statement, “Director Richard Linklater needs your Houston area photos, videos from the 1960s for a new movie.  Have a home movie from Astroworld or the Astrodome, or a recording of your little brother with Kitirik?  Did someone you know use a Kinescope to record the moon landing? If so, we want to see it and anything else that documents that era. There is no wrong material, as long as it from Houston in the 1960s we want to see it.”  Linklater is aiming to release the film in 2019 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Linklater has already announced he’s tackling an adaptation of the novel “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” with Cate Blanchett, so it seems like the Houston-set secret project is a quick trip back to his indie roots before he takes on a larger project.  He was last in theaters in the fall with “Last Flag Flying,” starring Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, and Laurence Fishburne.

‘Isle of Dogs’ First Clip Is 90 Seconds of Everything You Love Most About Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is gearing up for a return to the big screen in just over a month thanks to “Isle of Dogs,” and Fox Searchlight is about to get every fan extremely excited thanks to the debut of the film’s first official clip.  The new footage runs just over 90 seconds, but it has everything you could possibly ask for from a Wes Anderson movie.  “Isle of Dogs” is Anderson’s second stop-motion feature after “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”  The story takes place in the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki.  All dogs have been banished from the city following an outbreak of “canine flew,” and they now live on a island trash dump.  A young adventurer named Atari Kobayashi crash lands his plane on the island and teams up with some of the local dogs to find his own canine, Spots.  Anderson has assembled a powerhouse voice cast for “Isle of Dogs,” including Bryan Cranston, Greta Gerwig, Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson, and more.  The movie will open the Berlin Film Festival this month before opening in select theaters March 23.


Oscar-Nominated Shorts

This Friday, the Michigan Theater will begin screening the annual Oscar-nominated shorts. ​Presented in Live Action, Animated, and Documentary categories, the programs honor the best of short filmmaking from 2017, including "Edith + Eddie"in the Documentary category from Ann Arbor native Laura Checkoway with Thomas Lee Wrights.

"In the Fade"

Opening tomorrow at the State Theatre, this film starsDiane Kruger as a woman out for justice after her husband and son are suddenly killed in a bomb attack by a young neo-Nazi couple.  The film won the 2018 Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Film and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, though it did not receive any Oscar nominations.

"Double Lover"

Next week, Wednesday, February 14, this film will also open at the State.  From France, the film finds a fragile young woman who falls in love with her psychoanalyst.  A few months later she moves in with him, but soon discovers that her lover is concealing a part of his identity.

"Black Panther"

And just recently announced, next Thursday, February 15, the State will premiere the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!  From DirectorRyan Coogler, best known for his work directing such films as "Fruitvale Station" and "Creed" the film finds T'Challa, otherwise known as the superhero Black Panther, returning home after the death of his father to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.


"Waiting for Guffman"

At the Michigan, this film will continue the“Be Our Guest: The Films of Christopher Guest” series tonight at 9:30 PM.  In this comedic mockumentary, as the town of Blaine, Montana approaches its sesquicentennial, a local theater group prepares to celebrate with a musical revue called “Red, White and Blaine.”  The film also stars Christopher Guest regulars Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, and Parker Posey.  Next week, "Best in Show" will continue the series at the same time.


This will continue the “Enter the Samurai”Film Series next Monday, February 12 at 7:00 PM.  Considered to be one of the greatest films to come from writer/directorAkira Kurosawa, this film investigates the philosophy of justice and through an ingenious use of camera and flashbacks, reveals the complexities of human nature as four people recount different stories of a woman’s murder.

"The Divine Order"

Playing next Tuesday, February 13 at 7:15 PMDirector Petra Volpe explores the surprising history of women’s voting rights in Switzerland through the story of Nora, a seemingly unremarkable housewife from a quaint village who must learn to become an unflinching suffragette leader.

"Singin' in the Rain"

And next Wednesday, we’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day with the 1952 musical classic at 7:30 PM, starring Gene Kelly, Jean Hagen, and Debbie Reynolds.  The film include free admission for members and a pre-show reception from 6:00 – 7:00 PM. 

"Brokeback Mountain"

But in case you’re looking for something else, the State Theatre will also be screening the 2005 Best Picture nominee starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger on Valentine's Day at 7:30 PM.

"The Muppets Take Manhattan"

For film series at the State Theatre, Jim Henson Presents the Muppets” continues 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!  When Kermit the Frog and friends start a stage act, they decide to take the show from their college town to Broadway.

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

This will continue with screenings of "The Fits" on Monday, February 12, "Tchoupitoulas"on Tuesday, February 13, "Welcome to Pine Hill" on Wednesday, February 14and "Contemporary Color" on Thursday, February 15.  Also screenings will take place at 7:00 PM.


“The Post”

At the Michigan Theater, stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the true story of the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

“Phantom Thread”

Daniel Day-Lewisstars as a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman who becomes his muse and lover.  At the Michigan Theater.

“Faces Places”

Also at the Michigan Theater, prolific and acclaimed Belgium filmmaker Agnes Varda co-directs this enchanting documentary/road movie with French photographer and muralist JR.

"The Insult"

Playing at the State Theatre, this film takes place in present day Beirut where a civilian dispute blown out of proportion finds a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee involved in a courtroom battle.

“Call Me by Your Name”

A seventeen year-old (played by Timothee Chalamet) begins a relationship with his father’s visiting research assistant (played by Armie Hammer), with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape.  Also playing at the State.

“Lady Bird”

From Director Greta Gerwig, Saoirse Ronan plays as an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old coming of age in Sacramento, California in the early 2000s.  The film also stars Laurie Metcalf as her headstrong mother who maintains a turbulent bond with her daughter.  Playing at the State.

“I, Tonya”

Playing at the State, this film 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.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

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.  At the State Theatre.

“The Shape of Water”

The film stars 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.  Playing at the State.


"Fifty Shades Freed"

This Friday, the Fifty Shades Trilogy concludes.  Believing they've left behind the shadowy figures from the past, billionaire Christian Grey and his new wife, Anastasia, fully embrace their inextricable connection and shared life of luxury.  Just as the Greys begin to step into their new roles, sinister events come to light and jeopardize their happy ending before it even begins.

"Peter Rabbit"

The mischievous and adventurous hero who has captivated generations of readers, now takes on the starring role of his own irreverent, contemporary comedy with attitude. "The Late Late Show" host JamesCorden voices the character of Peter with playful spirit and wild charm, with Margot Robbie, ElizabethDebicki, and Daisy Ridleyperforming the voice roles of the triplets, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, with DomhnallGleeson as Mr. McGregor.

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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

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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