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Cinema Chat: Cinetopia And Freep Film Fest News, 'The Public,' 'Hellboy,' And More

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As the weather heats up, so does the Michigan film festival scene!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Russ Collins, executive director of the Michigan and State Theaters, to discuss the latest movie news and the latest flicks hitting the big screen this weekend.



Michigan Theater Member tickets now on sale!  Tickets available to the general public on Friday, April 12 at 10:00 AM.  The Cinetopia Film Festival is an annual, curated festival in Ann Arbor and metro and downtown Detroit, featuring more than 50 of the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the world’s best film festivals.  Presented with major support from Michigan Medicine and the Knight Foundation.

Detroit is Rock City on opening night of Freep Film Festival 2019

The Fillmore Detroit welcomed a crowd of rock-music insiders, fans and a few celebrities Thursday night to open this year’s Freep Film Festival.  First up?  A documentary tribute to Detroit’s rock-music history — and specifically to Creem magazine, which carried the beat nationwide from the late 1960s through the early 1980s.  Celebrity watchers quickly found Don Was, a 1970 graduate of Oak Park High School, who grew up to produce the Rolling Stones and head his own music firm, Blue Note Records.  He said he was returning to his Michigan roots to re-live his earliest days in rock music.  Also spotted in the crowd was John Sinclair, 77, who was manager of the MC5 and Deb Polich of WEMU fame!  The film was released March 10 at the SXSW Festival – last night was the second screening.  The film “vividly portrays Detroit as a music capital of the 1970s, the home of Berry Gordy's empire and top rockers like Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Bob Seger,” wrote Free Press film critic Julie Hinds this week.

Additional screenings

9:30 p.m. Fri., Emagine Royal Oak

8 p.m. Sat., Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall at the DIA

Tickets at freepfilmfestival.com

The Freep Film Festival continues in through April 14 in Detroit, Royal Oak, and Grosse Pointe.


"The Public"

At the Michigan (Sneak Peak Thu. Apr. 11 and opens for a full run Friday, Apr. 12): In this film, an unusually bitter Arctic blast has made its way to downtown Cincinnati and the front doors of the public library where the action of the film takes place.  At odds with library officials over how to handle the extreme weather event, some homeless patrons turn the building into a shelter for the night by staging an "Occupy" sit in.  What begins as an act of civil disobedience becomes a stand-off with police and a rush-to-judgment media constantly speculating about what's really happening.  This David versus Goliath story tackles some of our nation's most challenging issues, homelessness, and mental illness and sets the drama inside one of the last bastions of democracy-in-action: your public library.  Stars Emilio Estevez, Alec Baldwin, Taylor Schilling, Gabrielle Union, and Christian Slater.

"The Hummingbird Project"

At the State (Opens Friday, Apr. 12): In this film, Kim Nguyen exposes the ruthless edge of our increasingly digital world.  Cousins from New York, Vincent (played by Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (played by Alexander Skarsgård) are players in the high-stakes game of High-Frequency Trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds.  Their dream?  To build a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions.  But nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair.  Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to the breaking point with their quixotic adventure.  Constantly breathing down their necks is their old boss Eva Torres (played by Salma Hayek), a powerful, intoxicating, and manipulative trader who will stop at nothing to come between them and beat them at their own game.


"Mary Janes: The Women of Weed"

This film plays Thursday, April 11 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater, presented by Dori Edwards via TUGGwith a post-film Q&A.  Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry – cannabis.  Join filmmaker Windy Borman as she explores the movement to end marijuana prohibition, her own relationship to the plant, and the stereotypes surrounding it.  Through a series of empowering and educational interviews with a broad diversity of women leading the industry today, Windy’s own assumptions are transformed as she discovers cannabis liberation intersects with the most urgent social justice issues of our time.  She learns how this green revolution has big effects on environmental sustainability, ending the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial Complex, and the destructive domination of Big Pharma.

"The Spy Gone North"

This film plays Saturday, April 13 at 1 PM at the Michigan Theater as a part of the Korean Cinema NOW Film Series presented by the UM Nam Center for Korean Studies.  Free and open to the public!  In 1993, reports emerge that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons.  Former South Korean military officer Park Suk-Young is recruited by the National Intelligence Service to infiltrate the highest ranks in North Korea and learn about their program.  He is given the code name “Black Venus.”  Besides Park Suk-Young, only the South Korean President and NIS foreign affairs director Choi Hak-Sung are aware of Black Venus’ existence.  During the run up to the 1998 South Korean presidential election, Park Suk-Young discovers secret deals between high-ranking South Korean and North Korean individuals.  He becomes conflicted.

"Shaun of the Dead"

This film plays Saturday, April 13 at 10 PM at the State Theatre as a part of Late-Nights at the State.  This kicks off the Cornetto Trilogy, which will play the rest of the month on Saturdays at 10 PM.  Shaun (played by Simon Pegg) is a 30-something loser with a dull, easy existence.  When he’s not working at the electronics store, he lives with his slovenly best friend, Ed (played by Nick Frost), in a small flat on the outskirts of London.  The only unpredictable element in his life is his girlfriend, Liz (played by Kate Ashfield), who wishes desperately for Shaun to grow up and be a man.  When the town is inexplicably overrun with zombies, Shaun must rise to the occasion and protect both Liz and his mother (played by Penelope Wilton).

"Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban"

This film plays Tuesday, April 16 at 7 PM at the State Theatre as a part of The Films of Alfonso Cuarón.  Harry Potter’s (played by Daniel Radcliffe) third year at Hogwarts starts off badly when he learns deranged killer Sirius Black (played by Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison and is bent on murdering the teenage wizard.  While Hermione’s (played by Emma Watson) cat torments Ron’s (played by Rupert Grint) sickly rat, causing a rift among the trio, a swarm of nasty Dementors is sent to protect the school from Black.  A mysterious new teacher helps Harry learn to defend himself, but what is his secret tie to Sirius Black?

"Ninja Scroll"

This film plays Wednesday, April 17 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater as a part of the Icons of Anime Film Series.  Jubei, a highly skilled ninja, is coerced into slaying his own clan of warriors.  After begrudgingly killing his fellow swordsmen, he becomes a roving hired assassin.  During his travels, he must face off against an organization of demonic ninjas known as the Devils of Kimon, who are plotting to take power of Japan’s government.  The Devils will stop at nothing and have the power to annihilate entire villages.  Now, only Jubei and a shogun spy named Dakuan can stop them.

"A Year in Burgundy"

This film plays Wednesday, April 17 at 7 PM at the State Theatre as a part of Wine Down Wednesdays  You’ve made it halfway through the week, so you deserve half-off a glass of wine at the State, paired perfectly with a film celebrating our love of wine.  Experience the year with French wine importer Martine Saunier as your guide.  The film is in four season-sections, and plays out against that backdrop: spring showers, drought, heat wave, hail and storms, harvest moons and the damp cold of winter.  Each vintage is a time capsule, a bottled piece of history of a very specific year, with its particular weather pattern, its crises and its triumphs.  It all goes in, whether you want it to or not, and 2011 was full of drama.


"The Aftermath"

At the Michigan: In this film, it's 1946, and Rachael Morgan (played by Keira Knightley) arrives in the ruins of Hamburg to be reunited with her husband, Lewis (played by Jason Clarke), who is a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city.  As they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an unexpected decision: They will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower (played by Alexander Skarsgard) and his troubled daughter.  In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.  Based on the novel by Rhidian Brook.


Adapted from Anna Segher's 1942 novel, this film transposes the original story to the present, blurring periods to create a timeless exploration of the plight of displaced people.  As fascism spreads, German refugee Georg (played by Franz Rogowski) flees to Marseille and assumes the identity of the dead writer whose transit papers he is carrying.  Living among refugees from around the world, Georg falls for Marie (played by Paula Beer), a mysterious woman searching for her husband--the man whose identity he has stolen. 

"Gloria Bell"

In this film, Gloria (played by Julianne Moore) is a free-spirited divorcée who spends her days at a straight-laced office job and her nights on the dance floor, joyfully letting loose at clubs around L.A.  After meeting Arnold (played by John Turturro) on a night out, she finds herself thrust into an unexpected new romance, filled with both the joys of budding love and the complications of dating, identity, and family. 

"Apollo 11"

At the State: Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, this film takes us straight to the heart of NASA's most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names.  The film was one of the opening-night documentaries at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, offering a fully captivating look at the mission whose 50th anniversary will arrive in July of this year.

"The Mustang"

This film follows Roman (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), a convict in a rural Nevada prison who struggles to escape his violent past.  As a part of his state-mandated social rehabilitation, Roman is required to participate in an "outdoor maintenance" program.  Spotted by a no-nonsense veteran trainer (played by Bruce Dern) and helped by an outgoing fellow inmate and trick rider (played by Jason Mitchell), Roman is accepted into the selective wild horse training section of the program, where he finds his own humanity in gentling an especially unbreakable mustang.


This is a new nightmare from the mind of Oscar® winner Jordan Peele, writer/director of "Get Out."  Accompanied by her husband and children, Adelaide Wilson (played by Lupita Nyong'o) returns to the beach home where she grew up.  Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows concerned that something bad is going to happen to her family.  Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival. Also stars Winston DukeElisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker

"Captain Marvel"

The story follows Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.  Set in the 1990s, this is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Brie Larson ("The Spectacular Now," "Trainwreck," "Room" – Academy Award for Best Actress) stars as Danvers, alongside Samuel L. JacksonBen MendelsohnDjimon HounsouLee PaceLashana LynchGemma ChanAnnette BeningClark Gregg, and Jude Law.  



He's back, and he's on fire.  From the pages of Mike Mignola's seminal work, this action packed story sees the legendary half-demon superhero (played by David Harbour, "Stranger Things") called to the English countryside to battle a trio of rampaging giants.  There he discovers The Blood Queen, Nimue (played by Milla Jovovich, "Resident Evil" series), a resurrected ancient sorceress thirsting to avenge a past betrayal.  Suddenly caught in a clash between the supernatural and the human, Hellboy is now hell-bent on stopping Nimue without triggering the end of the world.

"Missing Link"

Mr. Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), who is 8 feet tall and covered in fur, is tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest and recruits fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) to guide him on a journey to find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La.  Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight (voiced by Zoe Saldana), the trio encounters their fair share of peril as they travel to the far reaches of the world.  Through it all, they learn that sometimes one can find a family in the places one least expects.


Based on Anna Todd's best-selling novel which became a publishing sensation on social storytelling platform Wattpad, this film follows Tessa, a dedicated student, dutiful daughter and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart, as she enters her first semester in college.  Armed with grand ambitions for her future, her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysterious Hardin Scott, a magnetic, brooding rebel who makes her question all she thought she knew about herself and what she wants out of life.


Marsai Martin(TV's "black-ish") stars in and executive produces this film, a comedy based on an idea the young actress pitched.  Jordan (played by Regina Hall) is a take-no-prisoners tech mogul who torments her long-suffering assistant, April (played by Issa Rae), and the rest of her employees on a daily basis.  She soon faces an unexpected threat to her personal life and career when she magically transforms into a 13-year-old version of herself right before a do-or-die presentation.  Jordan will now need to rely on April more than ever -- if April is willing to stop treating Jordan like a 13-year-old child who has an attitude problem.

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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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