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Cinema Chat: Latest On Cinetopia, 'Red Joan,' 'John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum,' And More

Michigan Theater
Wikipedia Media Commons

Cinetopia is winding down, while the latest round of new movies is winding up.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Mat Hopson sits down with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to discuss the latest movie news and all of the new flicks arriving in theaters this weekend.


The Cinetopia Film Festival is an annual, curated festival in metro Detroit, featuring more than 50 of the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the world’s best film festivals (Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca, and more).  This year, there will be about 120 total screenings of the 50 films selected for the festival AND Cinetopia also includes the Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival. Cinetopia takes place over the span of 10 days with venues in Detroit, Dearborn, Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak and Ann Arbor.  Created in 2012 for the people of Southeast Michigan, Cinetopia brings many cinema artists to participate in special pre- and post-film events, including presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers, and actors.  The 2019 Cinetopia Film Festival comes with major support by Michigan Medicine and the Knight Foundation. For more information, visit cinetopiafestival.org.

"One Child Nation"– May 17 at the Emagine Royal Oak!

GRAND JURY PRIZE WINNER, U.S. DOCUMENTARY, SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2019!  China’s One Child Policy, the extreme population control measure that made it illegal for couples to have more than one child, may have ended in 2015, but the process of dealing with the trauma of its brutal enforcement is just beginning.  The film explores the ripple effect of this devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another.

"Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am" –  May 17 at the Emagine!

A documentary by Timothy Greenfield that offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist.  From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ‘70s-era book tours with Muhammed Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature.

"Bite Me" – May 17 at the Emagine Royal Oak and May 18 at Cinema Detroit!

A subversive romantic comedy about a real-life vampire and the IRS agent who audits her.  Set in modern-day New York City, the film follows two seemingly incompatible misfits as they struggle to break free from their identity crises and discover who they really are.  The central tension and heart-warming joy of the film comes from watching these two outsiders surrender to the terrifying act of falling in love.  Followed by a live Q&A with director Meredith Edwards!

https://vimeo.com/289897587" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(22, 141, 217); line-height: inherit; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;">"Making Mongomery Clift"– May 17 & 18 at the Emagine!

Montgomery Clift was one of the most influential actors in the history of cinema, bucking traditions on and off screen, but countless biographies have reduced him to labels like “tragically self-destructive” and “tormented.”  Now, nephew Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon rigorously examine the flawed narratives that have come to define Monty’s legacy.  On May 15, there will also be special guest appearances by directors/producers Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon!

Join us for our Closing Night Film and for our MCity Block Party May 19!

"Autonomy" will play as our closing night film at the Michigan and will feature special guest appearances by Alex Horowitz, Director, and Eddie Alterman, Executive Producer and Chief Brand Officer for Hearst Autos!  This documentary is a cinematic exploration of the world of automated vehicles—from their technical history to the personal narratives of those affected by them to the many unanswered questions about how this technology will affect modern society.  Following the film, head over to MCity where we are hosting an Ann Arbor street party with food, trucks, entertainment, automated vehicles up close, self-guided tours, and more!


"Red Joan"

At the Michigan (Opens Friday, May 17): This film takes place in a picturesque village in England, where Joan Stanley (played by Academy Award® winner Dame Judi Dench) lives in contented retirement. Suddenly her tranquil existence is shattered as she's shockingly arrested by MI5.  For Joan has been hiding an incredible past; she is one of the most influential spies in living history... Cambridge University in the 1930s, and the young Joan (Sophie Cookson), a demure physics student, falls intensely in love with a seductively attractive Russian saboteur, Leo.  Through him, she begins to see that the world is on a knife-edge and perhaps must be saved from itself in the race to military supremacy. Post-war and now working at a top secret nuclear research facility, Joan is confronted with the impossible: Would you betray your country and your loved ones, if it meant saving them?  What price would you pay for peace?  Inspired by an extraordinary true story, the film is the taut and emotional discovery of one woman's sacrifice in the face of incredible circumstances.  A woman to whom we perhaps all owe our freedom.

"Wild Nights with Emily"

At the Michigan (Opens Friday, May 17): Unique and surreal, this film sheds new light on the life one of our most celebrated poets. The poet Emily Dickinson's persona, popularized since her death, has been that of a reclusive spinster - a delicate wallflower, too sensitive for this world.  In this humorous drama, Molly Shannon captures the vivacious, irreverent side of Emily Dickinson that was covered up for years - most notably Emily's lifelong romantic relationship with another woman (played by Susan Ziegler).  After Emily's death, a rivalry emerges when her brother's mistress (played by Amy Seimetz) along with editor T.W. Higginson (played by Brett Gelman) published a book of Emily's poems. 

"The Man Who Killed Don Quixote"

At the State (Opens Friday, May 17): In this film, Toby (played by Adam Driver), a cynical advertising director, finds himself trapped in the outrageous delusions of an old Spanish shoe-maker (played by Jonathan Pryce) who believes himself to be Don Quixote.  In the course of their comic and increasingly surreal adventures, Toby is forced to confront the tragic repercussions of a film he made in his idealistic youth -- a film that changed the hopes and dreams of a small Spanish village forever.  Can Toby make amends and regain his humanity?  Can Don Quixote survive his madness and imminent death?  Or will love conquer all?

"Trial by Fire"

At the State (Opens Friday, May 17): This is the true-life Texas story of the unlikely bond between an imprisoned death row inmate (played by Jack O’Connell) and a mother of two from Houston (played by Laura Dern) who, though facing staggering odds, fights mightily for his freedom.  Cameron Todd Willingham, a poor, uneducated heavy metal devotee with a violent streak and a criminal record, is convicted of arson-related triple homicide in 1992.  During his 12 years on death row, Elizabeth Gilbert, an improbable ally, uncovers questionable methods and illogical conclusions in his case and battles with the state to expose suppressed evidence that could save him.  Her efforts ultimately fail, and since Willingham’s execution, the disturbing question remains: Did Texas execute an innocent man? 



At the Michigan (Plays from Sunday, May 19 to Tuesday, May 21): From the Academy Award® Winning Writer/Director Laszlo Nemes ("Son of Saul") comes this film.  1913, Budapest, in the heart of Europe as World War I approaches.  The young Irisz Leiter arrives in the Hungarian capital with high hopes to work as a milliner at Leiter, the legendary hat store that once belonged to her late parents; but she is quickly sent away by the new owner, Oszkár Brill. While preparations are under way at the store, to host important, wealthy, royal guests, a man abruptly comes to Irisz, looking for a Kálmán Leiter, who he says is her brother.  Refusing to leave the city, the young woman follows Kálmán’s tracks, her only link to a lost past.  Her quest brings her through the dark streets of Budapest, where only the Leiter hat store shines, into the turmoil of a civilization on the eve of its downfall.



This film plays Wednesday, May 22 at 7:00 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.  A fanciful comedy about a young woman who discretely orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making.  Shot in over 80 Parisian locations, acclaimed Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet ('Delicatessen;" "The City of Lost Children") invokes his incomparable visionary style to capture the exquisite charm and mystery of modern-day Paris through the eyes of a beautiful ingenue.

"Care to Laugh"

AARP’s first original film plays Thursday, May 23 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan!  This Big Hearts for Seniors fundraiser is presented by Memory Lane Assisted Living.  This is a feature-length documentary following Jesus Trejo, a rising star in the comedy world who is pursuing his dream of success while caring for his aging parents.  An only child, Jesus becomes his parents’ sole caregiver.  Transforming adversity into comedy, he uses his life experience as material for his routine.  VIP Reception begins at 5:30 PM and includes admission to the film and the reception, with delicious appetizers and a drink!  General Admission tickets include a live performance at 6:30 featuring Mr. B., Mark Lincoln Braun, Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano.


"The Chaperone"

At the Michigan: This film follows Louise Brooks, the 1920s silver screen sensation who never met a rule she didn't break, epitomized the restless, reckless spirit of the Jazz Age.  But, just a few years earlier, she was a 15 year-old student in Wichita, Kansas for whom fame and fortune were only dreams.  When the opportunity arises for her to go to New York to study with a leading dance troupe, her mother (played by Victoria Hill) insists there be a chaperone.  Norma Carlisle (played by Elizabeth McGovern), a local society matron who never broke a rule in her life, impulsively volunteers to accompany Louise (played by Haley Lu Richardson) to New York for the summer. 

"Amazing Grace"

Shot in 1972 over a 48-hour period in Watts’ New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, this stirring documentary captured the live recording of the most successful gospel album in history by Aretha Franklin.  This album marked Franklin's thrilling return to her gospel roots after she'd earned 11 consecutive No. 1 pop and R&B singles, won five Grammys and released more than 20 albums.  


At the State (Opens Friday, May 10): This film explores the formative years of the renowned author's life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school.  Their brotherhood strengthens as they grow up and weather love and loss together, including Tolkien's tumultuous courtship of his beloved Edith Bratt, until the outbreak of the First World War which threatens to tear their fellowship apart.  All of these experiences would later inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-earth novels such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Stars Nicholas Hoult ("Mad Max: Fury Road;" "The Favorite;" "About a Boy") as Tolkien and Lily Collins ("Okja;" "To the Bone") as Edith Bratt.

"Avengers: Endgame"

At the State: In this film, adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle.  Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers -- Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, and Bruce Banner -- must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos -- the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe. 


"John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum"

In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (played by Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail.  After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin's guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world's most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn.  Also starring Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, and Lance Reddick.

"A Dog's Journey"

In the sequel to the heartwarming global hit "A Dog’s Purpose," Bailey is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his "boy," Ethan and Ethan's wife Hannah.  He even has a new playmate: Ethan and Hannah's baby granddaughter, CJ.  The problem is that CJ's mom, Gloria, decides to take CJ away.  As Bailey's soul prepares to leave this life for a new one, he makes a promise to Ethan to find CJ and protect her at any cost.  Thus, begins Bailey's adventure through multiple lives filled with love, friendship and devotion as he, CJ, and CJ's best friend Trent experience joy and heartbreak, music and laughter, and few really good belly rubs.

"The Sun Is Also a Star"

This film follows college-bound romantic Daniel Bae (played by Charles Melton from "Riverdale") and Jamaica-born pragmatist Natasha Kingsley (played by Yara Shahidi from "black-ish" and "grown-ish"), who meet and fall for each other over one magical day amidst the fervor and flurry of New York City.  Sparks immediately fly between the two, who might never have met had fate not given them a little push.  But will fate be enough to take these teens from star-crossed to lucky in love?  With just hours left on the clock in what looks to be her last day in the U.S., Natasha is fighting against her family's deportation as fiercely as she's fighting her feelings for Daniel, who is working just as hard to convince her they are destined to be together.

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