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Cinema Chat: 'Luce,' 'One Child Nation,' 'Angel Has Fallen,' And More

Michigan Theater
Wikipedia Media Commons

Our good friend, Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins, is taking some time off, but we found someone more than willing to fill in for him for the next few weeks.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair and Michael Jewett discuss the latest movie news and all of the new flicks landing on the big screen this weekend.



At the Michigan (Opens Friday, August 23): In this film, it's been ten years since Amy and Peter Edgar (played by Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted their son from war-torn Eritrea, and they thought the worst was behind them.  Luce Edgar (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) has become an all-star student, beloved by his community in Arlington, Virginia.  His African American teacher, Harriet Wilson (played by Octavia Spencer), believes he is a symbol of black excellence that sets a positive example for his peers.  But when he is assigned to write an essay in the voice of a historical twentieth-century figure, Luce turns in a paper that makes an alarming statement about political violence.  Worried about how this assignment reflects upon her star pupil, Harriet searches his locker and finds something that confirms her worst fears. 

"One Child Nation"

At the Michigan (Opens Friday, August 23): 2019 Cinetopia Film Festival Favorite!  From award-winning documentarian Nanfu Wang ("Hooligan Sparrow," "I Am Another You") and Jialing Zhang, the sweeping film explores the ripple effect of this devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another -- from abandoned newborns, to forced sterilizations and abortions, and government abductions.  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 only just beginning.  

"The Nightingale"

At the State (Opens Friday, August 23): This film is set during the colonization of Australia in 1825 and follows Clare (played by Aisling Franciosi), a 21-year-old Irish convict.  Having served her 7-year sentence, she is desperate to be free of her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins (played by Sam Claflin), who refuses to release her from his charge.  Clare’s husband Aidan (played by Michael Sheasby) retaliates and she becomes the victim of a harrowing crime at the hands of the lieutenant and his cronies.  When British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare decides to pursue Hawkins, who leaves his post suddenly to secure a captaincy up north.


"La La Land"

This film plays Sunday, August 25 at 1:30 PM and Wednesday, August 28 at 7:00 PM at the 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.  This critically acclaimed film won a record-breaking seven awards from its seven nominations at the 74th Golden Globes!  Sebastian (played by Ryan Gosling) and Mia (played by Emma Stone) are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love.  But as success mounts, they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.  Sponsored by SEE Eyewear and Mainstreet Ventures.

2019 New York Dog Film Festival

This event plays Monday, August 26 (International Dog Day) at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.  The NY Dog Film Festival™ is an annual celebration of the love between dogs and their people, through short films from around the world that inspire, educate, and entertain, benefiting local animal welfare groups that bring people and pets together.  This film is sponsored by MiVet Animal Clinic, and 10% of proceeds go to the Humane Society of Huron Valley.


"Where'd You Go, Bernadette?"

At the Michigan: Based on the runaway bestseller, this is an inspiring comedy about Bernadette Fox (played by Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett), a loving mom who becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family.  Bernadette’s leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.  Stars Cate Blanchett, Billy CrudupKristen WiigEmma NelsonJames UrbaniakJudy GreerTroian Bellisario,Zoë Chao, and Laurence Fishburne.

"Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood"

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!

"Blinded by the Light"

At the State: In this film, Javed is a British teen growing up in 1987 England.  Amidst the racial and economic turmoil, he writes poetry to escape his rundown hometown and the rules of his traditional Pakistani household.  But when a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed sees parallels to his working-class life in the powerful lyrics.  As Javed discovers an outlet for his own pent-up dreams, he also begins to express himself in his own voice.  


This film is the story of how Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook in charter boats, became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World yachting competition in 1989.  Tracy's inspirational dream was opposed on all sides: her male competitors thought an all-women crew would never make it, the chauvinistic yachting press took bets on her failure, and potential sponsors rejected her, fearing they would die at sea and generate bad publicity.  But Tracy refused to give up: she remortgaged her home and bought a secondhand boat, putting everything on the line to ensure the team made it to the start line.  Although blessed with tremendous self-belief Tracy was also beset by crippling doubts and was only able to make it through with the support of her remarkable crew.  With their help she went on to shock the sport world and prove that women are very much the equal of men. 

"The Farewell"

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.


"Angel Has Fallen"

When there is an assassination attempt on U.S. President Allan Trumbull (played by Morgan Freeman), his trusted confidant, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (played by Gerard Butler), is wrongfully accused and taken into custody.  After escaping from capture, he becomes a man on the run and must evade his own agency and outsmart the FBI in order to find the real threat to the President.  Desperate to uncover the truth, Banning turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name, keep his family from harm, and save the country from imminent danger.


In this film, high school basketball coach John Harrison and his team face an uncertain future when their town's largest manufacturing plant shuts down unexpectedly.  As hundreds of people move away, John reluctantly agrees to coach cross-country, a sport he doesn't even like.  His outlook soon changes when he meets Hannah Scott, an unlikely runner who pushes herself to the limit.  Inspired by the words and prayers of a new friend, John starts to train Hannah for the biggest race of her young life.

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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

Michael Jewett is the long-time host of 89.1 Jazz every weekday afternoon. Besides his on-air work; Michael is WEMU’s Operations Manager. Mr. Jewett started working for WEMU in 1983. He’s been on the air longer than any other current WEMU music host.
Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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