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Cinema Chat: Russ's Big Award, 'Echo In The Canyon,' 'The Lion King,' And More

Russ Collins
David Fair
89.1 WEMU

The Ann Arbor Art Fairs are now officially open!  But, if you ever need to cool down from the outdoor heat, you can always catch a good flick!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest movie news and all of the new films coming to your local movie house this weekend.


"Echo in the Canyon"

At the State (Opens Friday, July 19): This film celebrates the explosion of popular music that came out of LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s as folk went electric andThe Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas gave birth to the California Sound.  It was a moment (1965 to 1967) when bands came to LA to emulate The Beatles, and Laurel Canyon emerged as a hotbed of creativity and collaboration for a new generation of musicians who would soon put an indelible stamp on the history of American popular music.  Featuring Jakob Dylan, the film explores the beginnings of the Laurel Canyon music scene.  Dylan uncovers never-before-heard personal details behind the bands and their songs and how that music continues to inspire today.  The film contains candid conversations and performances with Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn, and Jackson Browne, as well as contemporary musicians they influenced such as Tom Petty (in his very last film interview), Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, and Norah Jones.  

"Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood"Opens Thu. Jul. 25 (a week from today) at the Michigan.  Only 35mm Engagement in Michigan!

Quentin Tarantino’s film visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore.  The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.


"Meeting Gorbachev"

This film plays Thursday, July 18 at 7:20 PM & 9:25 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Werner Herzog and André Singer's riveting documentary, filled with unforgettable archive materials and based on three long interviews, provides incredible access to, arguably, the world's greatest living politician.  Now 87 and battling illness, the visionary Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of the U.S.S.R, has mellowed and slowed down.  Still, gently but resolutely, he is pushing towards his goals.  Herzog, as on-screen interviewer, does not disguise his affection, celebrating Gorbachev's remarkable accomplishments.

"Apollo 11"

This film plays Saturday, July 20 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing!  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.  

"Inglorious Basterds"

This film plays Saturday, July 20 at 10:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of the Tarantino Flashback Late-Night Series.  It is the first year of Germany’s occupation of France.  Allied officer Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) assembles a team of Jewish soldiers to commit violent acts of retribution against the Nazis, including the taking of their scalps.  He and his men join forces with Bridget von Hammersmark, a German actress and undercover agent, to bring down the leaders of the Third Reich.  Their fates converge with theater owner Shosanna Dreyfus, who seeks to avenge the Nazis’ execution of her family.

"The Godfather"

This film plays Sunday, July 21 at 1:30 PM and Wednesday, July 24 at 7:00 PM at Michigan Theater as a part of The SavCo Hospitality Summer Classic Film Series, presented by the University of Michigan Credit Unionwith media support from MLive.  All summer long, we will be celebrating generations of filmmakers and their nostalgic treasures!  Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, this mob drama, based on Mario Puzo’s novel, focuses on the powerful Italian-American crime family of Don Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando).  When the don’s youngest son, Michael (played by Al Pacino), reluctantly joins the Mafia, he becomes involved in the inevitable cycle of violence and betrayal.  Although Michael tries to maintain a normal relationship with his wife, Kay (played by Diane Keaton), he is drawn deeper into the family business.

"Deconstructing the Beatles: Abbey Road, Side Two"

This film plays Monday, July 22 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.  The latest from Beatleologist Scott Freiman!  Take a track-by-track journey into their inspiration and evolution in the studio with the man who’s been presenting his beloved, exhilarating multimedia deep dives into the band’s work here for years.  Scott Freiman combines his love of the Beatles with his experience as a composer, producer, and engineer to deliver unique multimedia presentations about the band’s creative process.  With rare insights, anecdotes, film clips, and recordings, he takes audiences on an entertaining journey through performances and recording sessions, allowing us to see and hear the evolution of groundbreaking songs and understand their lasting influence on popular music.

"The Cure: Anniversary 1978-2018 Live in Hyde Park London"

This film plays Tuesday, July 23 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater.  The Cure, acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest live bands, take the stage on a perfect July evening in London’s Hyde Park 2018 to deliver a set of songs celebrating four decades of music making.  The ensuing film “Anniversary 1978-2018,“ directed by long-time collaborator Tim Pope, captures them in glorious 4K.  The 5.1 audio mix by Robert Smith and Paul Corkett complements and completes this fabulously immersive cinematic experience.  From "Lovesong" to "Lullaby," from "Boys Don’t Cry" to "Burn," from "Fascination Street" to "Friday I’m in Love," Robert Smith and his extraordinary band – Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper, Roger O’Donnell, and Reeves Gabrels – take us on a magical trip through time.


"Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am"

At the Michigan: Cinetopia 2019 Audience Award winner!  This film 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 Muhammad 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.


Jack Malik (played by Himesh Patel, BBC's "Eastenders") is a struggling singer-songwriter in a tiny English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James, "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again").  Then, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed... and he finds himself with a very complicated problem, indeed.  Also stars Ed Sheeran and Kate McKinnon.  


The Cinetopia Secretopia hit returns!  From the filmmaking team behind the highly-acclaimed documentary "The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years," this is a riveting film that lifts the curtain on the icon who brought opera to the people.  Academy Award® winner Ron Howardputs audiences front row center for an exploration of The Voice…The Man…The Legend.  Luciano Pavarotti gave his life to the music and a voice to the world.  This cinematic event features history-making performances and intimate interviews, including never-before-seen footage and cutting-edge Dolby Atmos technology

"Wild Rose"

At the State: An official selection of Cinetopia 2019!  In this film, Jessie Buckley delivers an unforgettable, star-making performance as Rose-Lynn Harlan, a rebellious country singer who dreams of trading the working-class streets of Glasgow for the Grand Ole Opry of Nashville.  Fresh out of prison, Rose-Lynn juggles her menial job, two children, and committed mother, expertly portrayed by Oscar-nominee Julie Walters, as she pursues her bold ambition of a one-way ticket to musical stardom.  With the support of her boss (played by Sophie Okonedo), Rose-Lynn embarks on a life-changing journey that challenges her sense of self and helps her discover her true voice. 


From the visionary mind of Ari Aster("Hereditary") comes a dread-soaked cinematic fairytale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.  Dani and Christian are a young American couple with a relationship on the brink of falling apart.  But after a family tragedy keeps them together, a grieving Dani invites herself to join Christian and his friends on a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village.  What begins as a carefree summer holiday in a land of eternal sunlight takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that render the pastoral paradise increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing. 

"Spider-Man: Far from Home"

Peter Parker returns in the next chapter of the Spider-Man: Homecoming series!  Our friendly neighborhood Super Hero decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation.  However, Peter's plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent!

"Late Night"

In this film, a legendary late-night talk show host’s (played by Emma Thompson) world is turned upside down when she hires her first and only female staff writer (played by Mindy Kaling).  Originally intended to smooth over diversity concerns, her decision brings about unexpectedly hilarious consequences as the two women who are separated by culture and generation become united by their love of a biting punchline.  

"The Last Black Man in San Francisco"

This film is a poignant and sweeping story of hometowns and how they’re made—and kept alive—by the people who love them.  Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco.  Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.  As he struggles to reconnect with his family and reconstruct the community he longs for, his hopes blind him to the reality of his situation.


"The Lion King"

From Disney Live Action, director Jon Favreau's all-new film journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born.  Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny.  But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub's arrival.  Scar, Mufasa's brother-and former heir to the throne-has plans of his own.  The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba's exile.  With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

"The Art of Self-Defense"

In this film, timid bookkeeper Casey (played by Jesse Eisenberg) joins a neighborhood karate studio to learn how to protect himself after he's attacked on the street at night by a roving motorcycle gang.  Under the watchful eye of a charismatic instructor, Sensei (played by Alessandro Nivola), and hardcore brown belt Anna (played by Imogen Poots), Casey gains a newfound sense of confidence for the first time in his life.  But when he attends Sensei's mysterious night classes, he discovers a sinister world of fraternity, brutality, and hyper-masculinity, presenting a journey that places him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor.  Audacious and offbeat, this is an original dark comedy that takes toxic masculinity to absurd extremes.

Russ Collins
Credit David Fair / 89.1 WEMU
89.1 WEMU
2019 Outstanding Individual Contribution Award from the League of Historical American Theatres

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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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