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Cinema Chat: 'The Other Side Of The Wind,' 'Suspiria,' 'The Nutcracker,' And More

Michigan Theater
Wikipedia Media Commons

Halloween is behind us, and the November election is just ahead of us.  So, let's catch a movie in between.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest movie news and and all of the new films coming to the big screen this weekend.


"The Other Side of the Wind"

This film will be playing November 2 to November 8 at the Michigan Theater!  The Michigan Theater is proud to be one of the only theaters in the country (and the only theater in Michigan) playing this limited theatrical release!  Orson Welles’ final film has remained in limbo following the death of the iconic director.  The film is now complete after years of work by trusted collaborators and receiving a much-anticipated limited theatrical run.  Shot in an unconventional, mockumentary style, the film follows a Hollywood director on the last day of his life (played by John Huston) as he struggles to complete an innovative new project while contemplating his legacy.  The film also stars Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg, Oja Kodar, and Joseph McBride



At the State: In this film, young American dancer Susie Bannion arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Co.  When she vaults to the role of lead dancer, the woman she replaces breaks down and accuses the company's female directors of witchcraft.  Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist and a member of the troupe uncover dark and sinister secrets as they probe the depths of the studio's hidden underground chambers.  

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

At the Michigan: Based on a true story, this film stars Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer who made her living in the 1970's and 80's profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder, and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen.  When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (played by Richard E. Grant). 

"Beautiful Boy"

At the Michigan: Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, this film chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.  Teenager Nicolas Sheff seems to have it all -- good grades, editor of the school newspaper, actor, artist and athlete.  When Nic's addiction to meth threatens to destroy him, his desperate father does whatever he can to save his son and his family.  Starring Steve CarellTimothée ChalametMaura Tierney, and Amy Ryan.


"Kusama: Infinity"

This film will be playing November 6 and 7 at the Michigan Theater!  Now the top-selling female artist in the world, Yayoi Kusama was an underdog with everything stacked against her-the trauma of growing up in Japan during WWII, life in a dysfunctional family that discouraged her creative ambitions, sexism and racism in the art establishment, mental illness in a culture where that was a particular shame, and eventually growing old and continuing to pursue and be devoted to her art full time.  In spite of it all, Kusama has endured and has created a legacy of artwork that spans the disciplines of painting, sculpture, installation art, performance art, poetry, and novels.  


"Mad Max: Fury Road"

This film plays Friday, November 2 at 9:30 PM at the State as a part of Late Nights at the State.  Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel.  When the warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads the despot’s five wives in a daring escape, she forges an alliance with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a loner and former captive.  Fortified in the massive, armored truck the War Rig, they try to outrun the ruthless warlord and his henchmen in a deadly high-speed chase through the Wasteland.


This film plays Sunday, November 4 at 1:30 PM at the State — FREE for kids 12 & under!  Part of the Toyota Family-Friendly Film Series presented by the Benard L. Maas Foundation.  Gentle farmer Arthur Hoggett (played by James Cromwell) wins a piglet named Babe (played by Christine Cavanaugh) at a county fair.  Narrowly escaping his fate as Christmas dinner when Farmer Hoggett decides to show him at the next fair, Babe bonds with motherly border collie Fly (played by Miriam Margolyes) and discovers that he too can herd sheep.  But will the other farm animals, including Fly’s jealous husband Rex, accept a pig who doesn’t conform to the farm’s social hierarchy?

"Listening to Grandma's Stories" and "Dance with Third Grandma"

This double feature plays Sunday, November 4 at 4:00 PM at the State as a part of the “Electric Shadows” film series presented by the Confucius Institute at U-M.  Free and open to the public!  These are documentary-style interview films that recorded the stories of Wen Hui’s third grandmother.  When Wen Hui visited her family’s hometown, a small village in Yunnan, on a project, she unexpectedly met her third grandmother.  Spending time with her, Wen Hui listened to her stories of tragedy and hardships that she lived through the Great Famine and Cultural Revolution in China.

"NT Live: King Lear"

This plays play Sunday, November 4 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan!  Presented in partnership with UMS.  The Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of King Lear received five-star reviews for its sell-out run, and transfers to the West End for a limited season.  Jonathan Munbydirects this “nuanced and powerful” contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s tender, violent, moving, and shocking play.  Considered by many to be the greatest tragedy ever written, King Lear sees two aging fathers — one a King, one his courtier — reject the children who truly love them.  Their blindness unleashes a tornado of pitiless ambition and treachery, as family and state are plunged into a violent power struggle with bitter ends.  Tickets available at UMS.org.

"Wild Strawberries"

This film plays Tuesday, November 6 at 7:00 PM at the State as a part of the new series titled “Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema: A Centennial Retrospective.”  This series will continue on Tuesdays throughout November.  Crotchety retired doctor Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström) travels from Stockholm to Lund, Sweden, with his pregnant and unhappy daughter-in-law, Marianne (Ingrid Thulin), in order to receive an honorary degree from his alma mater.  Along the way, they encounter a series of hitchhikers, each of whom causes the elderly doctor to muse upon the pleasures and failures of his own life.  These include the vivacious young Sara (Bibi Andersson), a dead ringer for the doctor’s own first love.

Cinetopia Presents: "6 Weeks to Mother’s Day"

This film will play at the Michigan on Wednesday, November 7 at 7:00 PM and will feature a conversation with director Marvin Blunte after the show!  Nestled in a remote jungle in Thailand is a unique school that is home for 150 underprivileged and orphaned children.  The students of the democratic Children’s Village have as much voice as their teachers, participating in council meetings to make key decisions about their education and community, gaining empowerment in the process.  As the 35th anniversary of the school approaches, the children make preparations to honor its extraordinary founder, the woman they all call Mother Aew.  This film is also the winner of the Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition Award at the 42nd Cleveland International Film Festival–awarded to “films with a conscience.”


"Tea with the Dames"

At the Michigan: In this film, viewers are invited to see happens when four legends of British stage and screen get together.  Dame Maggie SmithDame Judi DenchDame Eileen Atkins, and Dame Joan Plowright are among the most celebrated actresses of our time, with scores of iconic performances, decades of wisdom, and innumerable Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, and BAFTAs between them.  They are also longtime friends who hereby invite you to join them for a weekend in the country as they catch up with one another and reminisce.

"The Old Man and the Gun"

Moving from the Michigan to the State: Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker (played by Robert Redford), this film follows his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.  Wrapped up in the pursuit are detective John Hunt (played by Casey Affleck), who becomes captivated with Forrest's commitment to his craft, and a woman (played by Sissy Spacek), who loves him in spite of his chosen profession.


At the State: Written and directed by Jonah Hill, this film follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 90s-era L.A., who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop. 

"Free Solo"

At the State: From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyiand world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin comes this National Geographic Documentary Film, a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world's most famous rock... the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park... without a rope.

"A Star is Born"

Bradley Cooperplays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers--and falls in love with--struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga).  She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer... until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight.  But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.


"The Nutcracker and the Four Realms"

Disney’s latest film opens this Friday, November 2 in theaters nationwide!  All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key - a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother.   A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer's (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key, which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world.  It's there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers, and Land of Sweets.  Clara & Phillip brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara's key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.


"The Yellow Ticket"

A Silent-Era Classic presented with live music!  Klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals (founder of the Klezmatic) and pianist Marilyn Lerner perform live-on-stage, the award-winning score to the acclaimed 1918 Pola Negri silent-era film.  

Set in in Tsarist Russia, when sex work (prostitution) was legal and regulated.  For Eastern European Jewish women of the era a "Yellow ticket" allowed young women to move out of rural shtetls.  Thousands of young women, seeking higher education and opportunity beyond the confines of their shtetl, moved to Moscow and St. Petersburg, but to access opportunity they took on the stigma of prostitution and the burden of degrading biweekly medical check-ups.  

In the film, Pola Negri plays Lea, a bright adolescent girl who leaves the her home in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw and, seeking greater opportunity, goes to Russia.  There she learns that Jewish women must be sex workers to live in the city. Having limited options, she applies for the required “yellow ticket” and takes up residency at a brothel.  Lea applies to the University and is accepted. So begins an unhappy life of studying by day and receiving scholastic honors, while reluctantly working as a party girl at night.  Her fellow students, including a boy named Dimitri who is in love with her, then find her out.  Dimitri in particular is crushed to learn of Lea's double life. Lea realizes that this will be the end of her scholastic career.  Plot complications start to build, but in this wonderful film, with a stunning performance by Pola Negri – a HUGE silent-era star, love and happy circumstance conquers all.  

This is a NOT TO BE MISSED special Sound of Silents presentation on November 14.  Get your tickets now...

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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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