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Cinema Chat: 'John McEnroe: In The Realm Of Perfection,' 'El Camino,' 'Gemini Man,' And More

State Theatre
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The leaves are changing color, and the movies keep on coming!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to discuss the latest movie news and all of the new films landing on the big screen this weekend.


The Michigan Theater begins the season with "The Magic School Bus – Lost in the Solar System" on Sunday, October 13 at 3:00 PM.  Hop on the Magic School Bus for a ride in this new musical adaptation based on the original book series published by Scholastic!  When the class gets lost on the way to the planetarium, Ms. Frizzle saves the day by blasting into outer space for an epic interplanetary field trip!  But when rivalries both old and new threaten to tear the students apart, our young heroes must learn to pull together or risk getting forever lost in the solar system.  Also join us for a special pre-show STEAM event at the Michigan Theater!  Starting at 1:30 PM, the lobby and upstairs mezzanine will be filled with interactive displays from Toyota, the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum, Michigan Science Center, the Discovery Center, UM Museum of Natural History, Nicola’s Books, and Huron High School’s WISE Club!

DOCTOBERFEST – Documentaries in October

To celebrate our love for documentaries, we will show a new documentary every Wednesday at 7:30 PM in October!  But wait there’s more!!  It is also Wine Wednesday, which means all wine is 50% off at the State and Michigan.

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection– Wednesday, October 16 at 7:30 PM at the State

Revisits the rich bounty of 16-mm-shot footage of the left-handed tennis star John McEnroe, at the time the world’s top-ranked player and a "man who played on the edge of his senses.”  Far from a traditional documentary, writer/director Faraut probes the archival film creating a lively and immersive look at a driven athlete.  2018.  95 min.  Documentary. NR

A Murder in Mansfield -- Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30 PM at the State Theatre

Filmmaker Barbara Kopple explores the legacy of the 1989 murder of Noreen Boyle in Mansfield, Ohio.  Her 12-year-old son Collier gave a devastating videotaped testimony.  Collier’s depth of character is a wonder to behold from childhood to adulthood.  Out of this tragic story, we witness the power of human resilience.  2017.  88 min.  Documentary.  NR

Memory: The Origins of Alien – Wednesday, October 30 at 7:30 PM at the State Theatre

Official selection at the Sundance Film Festival 2019!  Take an in depth voyage into the sci-fi masterpiece ALIEN with the visionary filmmakers who created it.  See how one of the most terrifying movies of all time burst to life 40 years ago, inspired by ancient mythology and our universal fears.  2019.  93 min.  Documentary.  NR


The Metropolitan Opera’s award-winning Live in HD series premiere at the Michigan Theater this October!  All live events take place on Saturdays, with special encore presentations of each screening the following Wednesday.

Turandot – October 12 & 16

Franco Zeffirelli’s spectacular production returns to cinemas, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director, conducting his first Puccini opera with the company.

Manon– October 26 & 30

Massenet’s tale of passion, excess, and their consequences stars rising soprano Lisette Oropesa in the effervescent title role.

Madama Butterfly –NOV 9, NOV 13

Anthony Minghella’s vividly cinematic staging returns to cinemas, featuring soprano Hui He in the devastating title role.

Akhnaten -- Nov 23, DEC 4

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo headlines American composer Philip Glass’s transcendent contemporary creation, with Karen Kamensek conducting.

The Magic Flute -- Dec 7

Julie Taymor’s (Broadway’s LION KING) kaleidoscopic production returns to select cinemas this holiday season in an encore presentation of the company’s first-ever Live in HD transmission.  English-language version of Mozart’s classic fable.

Wozzeck -- JAN 11, JAN 15

Berg’s 20th-century shocker stars baritone Peter Mattei in the title role, with Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium and soprano Elza van den Heever as the long-suffering Marie.

The Gershwins’Porgy and Bess – FEB 5, FEB 8

The Gershwins’ modern American masterpiece has its first Met performances in almost three decades, starring bass-baritone Eric Owens and soprano Angel Blue in the title roles.

And many more through May.


"Tigers Are Not Afraid"

This film plays October 10 and 14 at the Michigan Theater.  A haunting horror fairytale set against the backdrop of Mexico's devastating drug wars, this film follows a group of orphaned children armed with three magical wishes, running from the ghosts that haunt them and the cartel that murdered their parents.  Filmmaker Issa López creates a world that recalls the early films of Guillermo del Toro, imbued with her own gritty urban spin on magical realism to conjure a wholly unique experience that audiences will not soon forget.  

"El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie"

This film plays October 11, 12 and 13 at the State Theater.  This Netflix Event reunites fans with Jesse Pinkman (played by Emmy-winner Aaron Paul).  In the wake of his dramatic escape from captivity, Jesse must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future.  This gripping thriller is written and directed by Vince Gilligan, the creator of "Breaking Bad."  The movie is produced by Mark Johnson, Melissa Bernstein, Charles Newirth, Diane Mercer, Vince Gilligan, and Aaron Paul, in association with Sony Pictures Television.



This film plays Friday, October 11 and Saturday, October 12 at 10:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of the Late-Night Horrors Film Series.  From Director John Carpenterwho spawned the “slasher” subgenre and the franchise that continues today.  On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith.  He was sentenced and locked away for 15 years.  But on October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, a 21-year-old Michael Myers steals a car and escapes Smith’s Grove.  He returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, where he looks for his next victims.

"When It Breaks"

This film plays Saturday, October 12 at 2:30 PM at the State Theatre.  This is the inspiring story of Special Education teacher Konrad Wert and his personal journey through teacher burnout to advocacy.  Stepping away from the classroom, Wert turns to his musical side career to tour the country with his family and engage teachers, parents, and audiences in a conversation about the current state of Special Education.  As opportunities arise, Konrad must decide how his service is most effective- as an advocating artist or as a teacher in the classroom.  There will also be a post-screening Q&A with filmmaker and guests!

NT Live: "The Lehman Trilogy"

This event plays Sunday, October 13 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater, presented in partnership with UMS!  Academy Award-winnerSam Mendes directsSimon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, and Ben Miles, who play the Lehman Brothers, their sons, and their grandsons.  On a cold September morning in 1844, a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside.  Dreaming of a new life in a new world, he is joined by his two brothers. An American epic begins. 163 years later, the firm they establish — Lehman Brothers — spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy and triggers the largest financial crisis in history.

"Siccin 4"

This film plays Tuesday, October 15 at 9:00 PM at the Michigan Theater as a part of Halaloween: A Muslim Horror Film Fest presented by The Global Islamic Studies Center.  These screenings are free and will be every Tuesday at 9:00 PM in October!  The fourth installment in the Turkish jinn possession franchise and the horror movie equivalent of sketch comedy.  Don’t come to this movie for character development or thoughtful statements about Turkish politics or culture.  For true horror fans, it’s a treat.  Body horror, jump scares, a Dark Shadows vibe with a Dario Argento aesthetic, evil children, and evil old people in a creepy, fantastically decorated old house.


This film plays Wednesday, October 16 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater with LIVE organ accompaniment and original score on the newly restored 1928 Barton Organ!  An Ann Arbor tradition continues with "Nosferatu" – the first vampire movie!  A real estate agent (played by Gustav von Wangenheim) begins conducting business with the eerie Count Orlok (played by the beyond-creepy Max Schreck), who goes on a rampage when he becomes obsessed with the man’s beautiful wife.  Roger Ebert said it best about this Michigan Theater Halloween tradition: “[Nosferatu] doesn’t scare us, but it haunts us.  It shows not that vampires can jump out of the shadows, but that evil can grow there, nourished on death.”



At the Michigan: It is Winter 1968, and showbiz legend Judy Garland arrives in Swinging London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town.  It is 30 years since she shot to global stardom in "The Wizard of Oz," but if her voice has weakened, its dramatic intensity has only grown.  As she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through.  Even her dreams of love seem undimmed as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband.  Featuring some of her best-known songs, the film celebrates the voice, the capacity for love, and the sheer pizzazz of "the world's greatest entertainer.

"Downton Abbey"

The worldwide phenomenon becomes a grand motion picture event, as the beloved Crawleys and their intrepid staff prepare for the most important moment of their lives.  A royal visit from the King and Queen of England will unleash scandal, romance, and intrigue that will leave the future of Downton hanging in the balance. The television series followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country house.  Over its 6 seasons, the series garnered 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys – even earning a Special BAFTA award and a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way.


At the State: Winner of the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival!  Director Todd Phillips' film centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen.  Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society.  A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him.  Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.  

"Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice"

In this film, Ronstadt is our guide through her early years of singing Mexican canciones with her family; her folk days with the Stone Poneys; and her reign as the "rock queen" of the '70s and early '80s.  She was a pioneer for women in the male-dominated music industry; an early advocate for human rights, and had a high-profile romance with California governor Jerry Brown.  Ultimately, her incredible voice was lost to Parkinson's disease, but her music and influence remain as timeless as ever.

"Ad Astra"

Astronaut Roy McBride (played by Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father (played by Tommy Lee Jones) and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet.  His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.  Also starring Ruth NeggaLiv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland.

"IT Chapter Two"

Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club in a return to where it all began in the conclusion to the highest-grossing horror film of all time.  Twenty-seven years after the Losers Club defeated Pennywise, he has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once more.  Now adults, the Losers have long since gone their separate ways.  However, kids are disappearing again, so Mike, the only one of the group to remain in their hometown, calls the others home.  Damaged by the experiences of their past, they must each conquer their deepest fears to destroy Pennywise once and for all…putting them directly in the path of the clown that has become deadlier than ever.  


"The Addams Family"

Get ready to snap your fingers!  The first family of Halloween is back on the big screen this Friday, October 11 in the first animated comedy about the kookiest family on the block.  Funny, outlandish, and completely iconic, the Addams Family redefines what it means to be a good neighbor.

"Gemini Man"

This is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move.  To his horror, he soon learns that the man who's trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself.  This opens in theaters nationwide Friday, October 11!

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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

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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