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Cinema Chat: Cinetopia Continues, 'Hereditary,' 'Ocean's 8,' And More

Michigan Theater
Wikipedia Media Commons

Cinetopia 2018 rolls on, and there's a lot more going in the movie business as well.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Patrick Campion and Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins talk about the latest Hollywood news and all of the new flicks hitting theaters this weekend.


Opening night film, May 31:

8:00 - "Eighth Grade"-- opening night! Special guest Director Bo Burnham.  LOVED this film @ Sundance!!

Friday, June 1:

5:45 - "Hal"– Documentary on Director Hal Ashby (Harold & Maude, Shampoo, The Last Detail, Coming Home, Being There)

"A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love On Election Night" directed by Qasim Basir.  The screening will be at the Michigan Theater.  Qasim, also known as “Q,” is from Ann Arbor (Huron High graduate).  Staring Omari Hardwick (TV-Saved and Dark Blue, Being Mary Jane; movies-The A-Team, Kick-Ass, Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls…) and Meagan Good.  They will join Q at the screening – as will Samantha Tanner, who co-wrote the film.  There will be romance flickering on the screen and last year, Q and Samantha created additional romantic excitement when they became engaged during Cinetopia last year at the screening of Q’s film “Destined.” 

Sunday, June 10 at CCS:

"American Animals" – art heist thriller by BAFTA winning dir. Bart Layton.  Free for MT members

"Woman Walks Ahead" – In the wild west female artist (Jessica Chastain) goes Dakotas to meet Sitting Bull, become Native American advocate. Also stars Sam Rockwell.

"The Big House" – great doc on UM Football Stadium

"The Guilty"– Danish thriller

"Secretopia" – Friday @ the Michigan (DON’T TELL--it’s a secret but it's "The Russian 5")

"Butterflies"– Turkish comedy

"Savage Youth" – Crime drama, directed by EMU grad Michael Curtis Johnson– whose Hunky Dory was a hit at the 2016 Cinetopia Festival.  Michael will be at the screening!

"Hal" – Documentary on Hal Ashbey

"Night is Short, Walk On Girl" – Comedy from Japan

"Soufra"– Heartwarming documentary on Middle Eastern food truck

"Blindspotting" – written and starring Daveed Digs ("Hamilton")

"Love, Gilda" – closes the festival

  • This year, we have the most directors and talent coming with their films than any other year.
  • 55 film titles over 120 screenings
  • Film shown in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Dearborn.


"Hereditary"--Opens Today

When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter's family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.  The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.  Making his feature debut, writer-director Ari Aster unleashes a nightmare vision of a domestic breakdown that exhibits the craft and precision of a nascent auteur, transforming a familial tragedy into something ominous and deeply disquieting, and pushing the horror movie into chilling new terrain with its shattering portrait of heritage gone to hell.  Written and directed by Ari Aster.  Special laser effects by Mike Gould.  

"The Rider"

After suffering a near-fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.

"First Reformed"

A priest of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past. 


"Always at the Carlyle"

Plays Tuesday, June 12 – Thursday, June 14.  At the Michigan.  The iconic Carlyle hotel has been an international destination for a particular jet-set as well as a favorite haunt of the most discernible New Yorkers.


"A Quiet Place"

At the State Theatre: Emily Blunt and Writer/Director John Krasinski star in the modern horror thriller.  A family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threaten their survival.  If they hear you, they hunt you.  Critics Consensus: A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary -- and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.


At the Michigan: The highly anticipated new documentary from CNN Films is an intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star:Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women.

"Isle of Dogs"

From Wes Anderson, this film follows a group of canine pets who have been exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island.  When a 12-year-old boy sets off alone in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots, the group of dogs travel the island with him in the search, featuring the voices Bryan CranstonEdward NortonBill MurrayScarlett JohanssonJeff Goldblum, and more.

"The Death of Stalin"

The latest comedic satire from Armando Iannuccicontinues for another week, which depicts the chaos that fell on the Soviet regime after the death of their powerful leader.


"Ocean's 8"

Critics Consensus: Ocean's 8 isn't quite as smooth as its predecessors, but still has enough cast chemistry and flair to lift the price of a ticket from filmgoers up for an undemanding caper.

Upon her release from prison, Debbie, the estranged sister of legendary conman Danny Ocean, puts together a team of unstoppable crooks to pull of the heist of the century.  Their goal is New York City's annual Met Gala, and a necklace worth in excess of $150 million.  Directed by Gary Ross. Written by Olivia Milch, Gary Ross.

"Hotel Artemis"

Set in riot-torn, near-future Los Angeles, this is an original, high-octane action-thriller starring Jodie Foster as The Nurse, who runs a secret, members-only hospital for criminals.  Jodie Foster is joined by an all-star cast that includes Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day, and Dave Bautista.  Written and directed by Drew Pearce.


Following a significant community-funded renovation that restored some of its original art-deco look and feel while adding modern touches, the State Theatre tops the list of Ann Arbor’s 2018 historic preservation award winners as project of the year.

Mayor Christopher Taylor and local historian Susan Wineberg presented the city’s annual awards at this week’s City Council meeting.


Seventy-five years after it originally opened, the State Theater reopened after a year-long renovation effort to a newly restored glory.  In 2014, when the second-floor cinema was threatened with redevelopment, the Michigan Theater Foundation, led by Executive Director and CEO Russ Collins, sprang into action and purchased the cinema portion of the 1942 theater.  After a two-year long capital campaign to refurbish and restore the theater, it was closed in 2016 and reopened in December 2017 with great fanfare and two theaters, two screening rooms, improved seating, an elevator and escalator and carpeting to match the original.

The sound and movie projection systems also were updated and the marquee, with its signature neon, enameled steel panels and chase lights, was meticulously restored.  The owner of the first floor, State Theatre LLC, contributed financially for the marquee restoration and worked cooperatively with the Michigan Theater Foundation.  The theater was designed by one of the great movie theater architects in America, C. Howard Crane, who also designed the Fox Theater in Detroit, the Detroit Opera House and Orchestra Hall, to name a few.


Russ Collins has served as the executive director and CEO of the Michigan Theater Foundation for over 35 years.  During his tenure, he has overseen restoration and renovation efforts at both the 1928 Michigan Theater movie palace and now the 1942 Art Deco State Theatre.

He has served on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board, and on the board of directors for the Michigan Humanities Council and the State Street Area Association.  Collins started the Cinetopia Film Festival in 2012 because Detroit, a major metropolitan area with a rich heritage of cinematic culture, didn’t have its own independent film festival.  The festival is currently running through June 10 and showing films in nine different movie theaters/locations throughout Ann Arbor, Detroit and Dearborn.  Collins also is the founding director of the Art House Convergence, a national conference for art house cinemas.  Collins provides commentary on films for several local radio shows and taught film studies at Eastern Michigan University.  Collins has been the recipient of numerous accolades for his work in cinema, film studies and the arts. In 2013, he was named to Indiewire’s inaugural list of “influencers” in the independent film industry.  Collins grew up in Ann Arbor and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.  We thank Russ for his ongoing contributions to preserving these two historic Ann Arbor landmarks.

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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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