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Cinema Chat: 'The Farewell,' 'Marianne & Leonard: Words Of Love,' '5B,' And More

State Theatre
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Summertime is starting to wind down, but the movies still keep on coming.  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 landing on the big screen this weekend.


"The Farewell"

At the State (Opens Thursday, August 1): Cinetopia 2019 Audience Award winner for Best U.S. Narrative!  In this film, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi (played by Awkwafina) reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself.  To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad.  As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate: a chance to rediscover the country she left as a child, her grandmother’s wondrous spirit, and the ties that keep on binding even when so much goes unspoken.

"Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love"

At the Michigan (Opens Friday, August 2): This film is renowned filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s ("The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," Lily Tomlin; "Kurt & Courtney" about American musicians Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love) most personal and romantic film of his storied career.  The documentary starts on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960, where Leonard Cohen, then a struggling and unknown fiction writer, and Marianne Ihlen, a single mother with a young son, became part of community of expat artists, writers and musicians.  Never-before-seen footage shot by Broomfield and legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebaker make for a unique portrait of an idyllic 1960’s bohemia.  It was a time that left a lasting imprint on both Marianne and Leonard, whose friendship would last another fifty years before their deaths in 2016.



This film plays Thursday, August 1 at 7:00 PM at the State Theatre.  It is the inspirational story of everyday heroes, nurses and caregivers who took extraordinary action to comfort, protect, and care for the patients of the first AIDS ward unit in the United States.  It is stirringly told through first-person testimony of these nurses and caregivers who built Ward 5B in 1983 at San Francisco General Hospital, their patients, loved ones, and staff who volunteered to create care practices based in humanity and holistic well-being during a time of great uncertainty.  The result is an uplifting yet candid and bittersweet monument to a pivotal moment in American history and a celebration of quiet heroes, nurses, and caregivers worthy of renewed recognition.  Community partners are Ann Arbor PrideJim Toy Community Center, and Unified HIV Health and Beyond.

"Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies"

This film plays Thursday, August 1 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Join Dead Heads in your neighborhood and around the world to celebrate the 9th Annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies.  This can’t-miss event -the first to go global -features the previously unreleased complete June 17, 1991 concert from Giants Stadium.  Widely considered one of the greatest shows of the band’s final decade of performing, 6/17/91 also sounds unlike any Dead show you’ve ever heard as it was one of only two recorded on 48-track.  Mixed by Jeffrey Norman in glorious surround sound with video from the multi-camera live edit, this will be the first time the Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick line-up has ever appeared on the big screen.

"Despicable Me 3"

This film plays Friday, August 2 at The Ford Resource and Engagement Center Eastside in Detroit as a part of Cinetopia Film Festival’s free summer screenings.  Bring your chairs and blankets for pre-show circus performers, which start at 4:00 PM, and the movie will follow. The mischievous Minions hope that Gru will return to a life of crime after the new boss of the Anti-Villain League fires him.  Instead, Gru decides to remain retired and travel to Freedonia to meet his long-lost twin brother for the first time.  The reunited siblings soon find themselves in an uneasy alliance to take down the elusive Balthazar Bratt, a former 1980s child star who seeks revenge against the world.


This film plays Saturday, August 3 at 10:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of the Late-Night Series.  Recently dumped by his girlfriend, slacker Rell (played by Jordan Peele) finds some happiness when a cute kitten winds up on his doorstep.  After a heartless thief steals the cat, Rell recruits his cousin Clarence (played by Keegan-Michael Key) to help him retrieve it.  They soon learn that a thug named Cheddar (played by Method Man) has the animal, and he’ll only give it back if the two men agree to work for him.  Armed with guns and a gangster attitude, it doesn’t take long for the hapless duo to land in big trouble.

"Alice's Restaurant"

This film plays Sunday, August 4 at 1:30 PM and Wednesday, August 7 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 Union with media support from MLive.  All summer long, we will be celebrating generations of filmmakers and their nostalgic treasures!  Arlo Guthrie plays himself in this film based on his song of the same name.  After getting kicked out of college, Arlo decides to visit his friend Alice (played by Pat Quinn) for Thanksgiving dinner.  After dinner is over, Arlo volunteers to take the trash to the dump, but finds it closed for the holiday, so he just dumps the trash in the bottom of a ravine.  This simple act of littering gets him arrested and sends him on a bizarre journey that ends with him in front of the draft board.  Sponsored by Tio’s.

"Nothing or Everything"

This film plays Wednesday, August 7 at 7:00 PM at the State Theatre, presented in partnership with the Ann Arbor Film Festival.  Free for AAFF & MT Gold Card members!  In both the past and the present, two people walk deep into a mountain forest.  For these two women born and raised in the city, there is no place more unfamiliar.  It is a place where all kinds of living things are breathing.  Here, two people in the present climb the mountain, following two people from the past.  The film unfolds with past and present overlapping in the same space, depicting two heartbroken women within a fixed range of shot sizes.

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

This film plays Wednesday, August 7 at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market as a part of Cinetopia Film Festival and Exchange Capital Management Flicks on Bricks.  Join us for this FREE outdoor screening and enjoy food trucks, a beer garden, pre-movie entertainment and circus performances, popcorn, and more!  Festivities start at 6pm and movies at sundown!  Ferris Bueller (played by Matthew Broderick) has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it.  Intending to make one last duck-out before graduation, Ferris calls in sick, “borrows” a Ferrari, and embarks on a one-day journey through the streets of Chicago.  On Ferris’ trail is high school principal Rooney (played by Jeffrey Jones), determined to catch him in the act.

2019 New York Cat Film Festival

This event plays Thursday, August 8 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.  The NY Cat Film Festival™ is an annual celebration of the cats who share our lives, through short films from around the world that inspire, educate and entertain, benefiting local animal welfare groups that bring people and pets together.  10% of proceeds go to the  Humane Society of Huron Valley!


"The Last"

This film plays Sunday, August 4 through Tuesday, August 6 at the Michigan Theater.  From two-time Sundance Film Festival veteran filmmaker Jeff Lipsky comes the story of the survivors of four generations of a Jewish family who are rocked to their core when the family’s beloved 92 year-old matriarch makes a stunning confession.


"Once Upon a Hollywood"

At the 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.  Also stars Bruce DernLuke PerryDakota FanningAl Pacino, and many more!


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.  

"Echo in the Canyon"

At the State: This film celebrates the explosion of popular music that came out of LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s as folk went electric and The ByrdsThe Beach BoysBuffalo 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. 

"Wild Rose"

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.


"Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw"

This film opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, August 2!  Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (played by Dwayne Johnson), a loyal agent of America's Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (played by Jason Statham), a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015's "Furious 7," the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they've tried to take each other down.  But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (played by Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever--and bests a brilliant and fearless rogue MI6 agent (played by "The Crown's" Vanessa Kirby), who just happens to be Shaw's sister--these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves.

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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

Nearly three-quarters of David Fair’s 20+ years in radio has been at WEMU. Since 1994, he has been on the air at 5am each weekday on 89.1 FM as the local host of NPR’s Morning Edition. Over the years, Fair has had the opportunity to interview nationally and internationally known politicians, activists and celebrities. But he feels the most important features and interviews have been with those who live and work here at home. He believes his professional passions and desires fit perfectly into WEMU’s commitment to serving a local audience.
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