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Cinema Chat: 'Tito And The Birds,' 'All Things Are Photographable,' 'Alita: Battle Angel,' And More

Michigan Theater
Wikipedia Media Commons

It's time to see a movie with that special someone!  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 all of the flicks you can catch at your local movie house this Valentine's Day weekend.

"His Girl Friday"-- Plays Thursday, February 14 – Valentine’s Day – at the Michigan!  FREE Members screening!  RSVP by emailing Sarah Madsen at

When hard-charging New York newspaper editor Walter Burns (played by Cary Grant) discovers that his ex-wife, investigative reporter Hildy Johnson (played by Rosalind Russell), has gotten engaged to milquetoast insurance agent Bruce Baldwin (played by Ralph Bellamy), he unsuccessfully tries to lure her away from tame domestic life with a story about the impending execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams.  But when Hildy discovers Williams may be innocent, her reporter instincts take over.  

Drumbeat to OSCARS -- Academy Award bestowed Sunday, February 24

The State and Michigan Theatres will play more Oscar nominated films than any other theater!!  It’s quality movie season & the State and Michigan are your quality movie places!

Cinetopia Film Festival Direct from Sundance of THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM last Thursday was a smash!!

Extremely charming film and the warm hearted hit of two acclaimed Film Festivals – Telluride and Sundance.  Mark your calendar for MAY 10-19 – when the Cinetopia Film Festival will be back in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Royal Oak.  Festival passes are on sale now!!  Get them before prices go up!


"Tito and the Birds"

At the State (Opens Friday, Feb. 15): This film follows Tito, a shy 10-year-old boy, who lives in a world on the brink of pandemic.  Fear is crippling people, making them sick and transforming them.  Tito realizes, based on his father’s past research, that there may be a way to utilize the local pigeon population and their songs to create a cure for the disease.  His father was forced to leave when Tito was only six and the struggle to find a cure becomes linked with the search to find his father again, along with his own identity.  Part action part drama, Tito’s journey is at once an uplifting and insightful adventure about a boy fighting to find out what is right and to learn how to overcome his own fear.  


"Little Forest"

This film plays Saturday, February 16 at 1:00 PM at the Michigan Theater as a part of the Korean Cinema NOW Film Series presented by the Nam Center for Korean Studies.  Free and open to the public!  Hye-Won (Kim Tae-Ri) gets tired of her difficult life in the city and moves back to her hometown in the countryside.  There, she heals her emotional wounds with the help of her long-time friends, nature and food.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" Sing-Along

This film plays Sunday, February 17 at 6:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Join us for a foot-stomping celebration of this Golden Globe® winner (and Oscar® nominee) for Best Picture!  Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers.  The film traces the rise of the band through their iconic songs, their near-implosion as Mercury’s lifestyle spirals out of control, and their triumphant reunion on the eve of Live Aid, where Mercury, facing a life-threatening illness, leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music.  Stars Golden Globe® winner Rami Malek!

"On Golden Pond"

This film plays Tuesday, February 19 at 7:00 PM at the State Theatre as the last film in our Katharine Hepburn series.  Cantankerous retiree Norman Thayer (played by Henry Fonda) and his conciliatory wife, Ethel (played by Katharine Hepburn), spend summers at their New England vacation home on the shores of idyllic Golden Pond.  This year, their adult daughter, Chelsea (played by Jane Fonda), visits with her new fiancée and his teenage son, Billy (played by Doug McKeon) on their way to Europe.  After leaving Billy behind to bond with Norman, Chelsea returns, attempting to repair the long-strained relationship with her aging father before it's too late.


"Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable"

This film plays Sunday, February 17 at 3:00 PM and Monday, February 18 at 8:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Forged by Garry Winogrand‘s own words and images, this documentary is a stunningly intimate portrait of an artist who both personified his era and transformed it.  Decades before digital technology transformed how we make and see pictures, Winogrand made hundreds of thousands of them with his 35mm Leica, creating an encyclopedic portrait of America from the late 1950s to the early 1980s in the process.  When he died suddenly at age 56, Winogrand left behind more than 10,000 rolls of film – more than a quarter of a million pictures! He produced so many unseen images that it has taken until now for the full measure of his artistic legacy to emerge. 


2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films

At the Michigan:  As in previous years, the 2019 Oscar® Nominated Short Films program will present all nominees of the three shorts categories - Live Action, Animation, and Documentary.  Pick your favorites and see the winners announced live during the Oscars broadcast on Sunday, February 24.


Madre – Rodrigo Sorogoyen and Maria del Puy Alvarado, Spain
Fauve – Jeremy Comte and Maria Gracia Turgeon, Canada
Marguerite – Marianne Farley and Marie-Helene Panisset, Canada
Detainment – Vincent Lambe and Darren Mahon, Ireland
Skin – Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman, USA


Bao – Domee Shi and Becky Neimann-Cobb, USA
Late Afternoon – Louise Bagnall and Nuria Gonzalez Blanco, Ireland
Animal Behaviour – Alison Snowden and David Fine, Canada
Weekends – Trevor Jimenez, USA
One Small Step – Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas, USA

Plus a selection of additional Animated shorts:
Wishing Box – 6 minutes
Tweet Tweet – 11 minutes 


Black Sheep – Ed Perkins and Jonathan Chinn, UK
End Game – Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, USA
A Night at the Garden – Marshall Curry, USA
Lifeboat – Skye Fitzgerald and Bryn Mooser, USA
PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE. – Rayka Zahtabchi and Melissa Berton, India

"Stan & Ollie"

Stars Golden Globe® Nominee for Best Actor John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan! This film follows Laurel and Hardy, the world’s greatest comedy team, who faced an uncertain future as their golden era of Hollywood films remain long behind them.  Diminished by age, the duo set out to reconnect with their adoring fans by touring variety halls in Britain in 1953.  The shows become an instant hit, but Stan and Ollie can’t quite shake the past as long-buried tension, and Hardy’s failing health start to threaten their precious partnership.

"On the Basis of Sex"

This film tells an inspiring and spirited true story that follows young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg (played by Felicity Jones) as she teams with her husband Marty (played by Armie Hammer) to bring a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination.  Also stars Justin TherouxKathy Bates, and Sam Waterston.


Nominated for 10 Oscars®, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress!  The most personal project to date from Academy Award-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón ("Gravity," "Children of Men," "Y Tu Mama Tambien"), this film follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City.  Delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s.

"Cold War"

At the State: Nominated for 3 Oscars® including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography!  Set against the background of the Cold War in 1950s Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, it's the tale of a couple separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate - an impossible love story in impossible times. 


Oscar® nominated for Best Foreign Language Film!  Understated yet ultimately deeply affecting, this film adds another powerful chapter to director Hirokazu Koreeda's richly humanistic filmography.  After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold.  At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu's wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces.  Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.

"If Beale Street Could Talk"

Nominated for 3 Oscars®, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay!  Directed by Barry Jenkins ("Moonlight").  Set in early-1970s Harlem, this film is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the Black family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers (played by screen newcomer KiKi Layne).  A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect, and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (played by Stephan James).  The couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Alonzo is arrested for a crime he did not commit.


Nominated for 8 Oscars®, including Best Picture and Best Actor!  This film explores the epic story about how a bureaucratic Washington insider quietly became the most powerful man in the world as Vice-President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.  Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, Tyler Perry as Colin Powell, Justin Kirk as Scooter Libby, Bill Camp as Gerald Ford. 

"The Favourite"

Nominated for 10 Oscars®, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress!  This film takes place in the early 18th century, while England is at war with the French.   A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne's ill health and mercurial temper.  When a new servant Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.  Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots.  

"Green Book"

Nominated for 5 Oscars®, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor!  In this film, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on "The Green Book" to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans.  Confronted with racism, danger-as well as unexpected humanity and humor-they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime. 

"Free Solo"

Oscar® Nominated for Best Documentary!  From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and 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.


"Isn't It Romantic"

Starring Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, and Adam Devine.  Natalie is a New York architect who works hard to get noticed at her job, but is more likely to deliver coffee and bagels than design the city's next skyscraper.  Things go from bad to weird when she gets knocked unconscious during a subway mugging and magically wakes up to find herself in an alternate universe.  Always cynical about love, Natalie's worst nightmare soon comes true when she suddenly discovers that she's playing the leading lady in a real-life romantic comedy.

"Happy Death Day 2 U"

This film is the follow-up to Blumhouse's ("Split," "Get Out," "The Purge" series) surprise 2017 smash hit of riveting, repeating twists and comic turns.  Collegian Tree Gelbman wakes up in horror to learn that she's stuck in a parallel universe.  Her boyfriend Carter is now with someone else, and her friends and fellow students seem to be completely different versions of themselves.  When Tree discovers that Carter's roommate has been altering time, she finds herself once again the target of a masked killer.  When the psychopath starts to go after her inner circle, Tree soon realizes that she must die over and over again to save everyone.

"Alita: Battle Angel"

From visionary filmmakers James Cameron ("Avatar," "Titanic") and Robert Rodriguez ("Sin City"), comes an epic adventure of hope and empowerment that opens in theaters today.  Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic.  When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in.  As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.  Stars Rosa Salazar as Alita, Christoph Waltz, and Mahershala Ali.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at

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