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Cinema Chat: 'A Hidden Life,' 'Uncut Gems,' 'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker,' And More

Michigan Theater
Joshua Walker

You can find a good flick anywhere this week, whether it's just down the street or in a galaxy far, far away!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to talk about the latest movie news and all of the new films coming to the silver screen this pre-holiday weekend.


"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"-- OPENING TODAY AT THE STATE THEATRE!

This film is produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams.  It will be the last installment of the Star Wars saga, which began in 1977.  A year after the events of "The Last Jedi," the remnants of the Resistance face the First Order once again—while reckoning with the past and their own inner turmoil.  Meanwhile, the ancient conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its climax, altogether bringing the Skywalker saga to a definitive end.


Based on real events, from visionary writer-director Terrence Malick, this is the story of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II.  When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fani and children that keeps his spirit alive.  The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won two awards and was nominated for Palme d'Or! 


From acclaimed filmmakersJoshand Benny Safdie comes an electrifying crime thriller about Howard Ratner (played by Adam Sandler), a charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score.  When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win. 


Writer-director Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird") has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott and unfolds as the author's alter ego, Jo March, reflects and forth on her fictional life.  In Gerwig's take, the beloved story of the March sisters - four young women each determined to live life on her own terms -- is both timeless and timely.  Portraying Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth March, the film starsSaoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, with Timothée Chalametas their neighbor Laurie, Laura Dern as Marmee, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March.


"Fantastic Fungi"

This film will play December 17 & 19 at the Michigan.  It is directed by Louie Schwartzberg and narrated by Brie Larson, is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.  Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael PollanEugenia BoneAndrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.  


"It's a Wonderful Life"

This film plays Sunday, December 22 at 1:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Holiday Classics Film Series – FREE and open to the public!  This series is sponsored by Old National Bank and Sesi Mazda with media support from Ann Arbor Family Press, and this film is sponsored by Domino’s Farms Office Park.  DirectorFrank Capra’s classic bittersweet comedy/drama starring Jimmy Stewart, Henry Travers(the angel), Donna Reed, and Ann Arbor resident Ginny Moss, known as Virginia Patton, when the movie was made.  Nominated for 5 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Stewart), Best Director (Frank Capra), Best Sound, Recording, and Best Film Editing!


"Knives Out"

At the Michigan: Golden Globe® nominated for three awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Daniel Craig), and Best Actress (Ana de Armas)!  Acclaimed writer and director Rian Johnson ("Brick," "Looper," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi") pays tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie in this film.  When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig) is enlisted to investigate.  From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death.  Also stars Chris EvansAna de ArmasJamie Lee CurtisToni ColletteDon JohnsonMichael ShannonLaKeith StanfieldKatherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell.

"The Two Popes"

At the State: Golden Globe® nominated for four awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Jonathan Pryce), Best Supporting Actor (Anthony Hopkins), and Best Screenplay (Anthony McCarten)!  Frustrated with the direction of the church, Cardinal Bergoglio (played by Jonathan Pryce) requests permission to retire in 2012 from Pope Benedict (played by Anthony Hopkins).  Instead, facing scandal and self-doubt, the introspective Pope Benedict summons his harshest critic and future successor to Rome to reveal a secret that would shake the foundations of the Catholic Church.  Behind Vatican walls, a struggle commences between both tradition and progress, guilt and forgiveness, as these two very different men confront their pasts in order to find common ground and forge a future for a billion followers around the world. 

"Honey Boy"

An American drama with a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival!  From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Alma Har’el brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father through cinema and dreams in this film.  Fictionalizing his childhood’s ascent to stardom, and subsequent adult crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har’el casts Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career.  LaBeouf takes on the daring and therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon.  Har’el’s feature narrative debut is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as medicine and imagination as hope. 

"Jojo Rabbit"

Golden Globe® nominated for two awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Roman Griffin Davis)!  Writer-director Taika Waititi ("Thor: Ragnarok," "Hunt for the Wilderpeople") brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (played by Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.  Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism. 


Golden Globe® nominated for two awards, including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director (Bong Joon-ho) and Best Screenplay (Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won)!  Winner of the Palme D’or Award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival!  Bong Joon Ho brings his work home to Korea in this pitch-black modern fairytale.  Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth.  And the Kim Family, rich in street smarts but not much else.  Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kims sense a golden opportunity.  Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist, to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. 



Starring Academy Award® winner Charlize Theron, Academy Award® winner Nicole Kidman, Academy Award® nominee John Lithgow, and Academy Award® nominee Margot Robbie, based on the real scandal, this film is a revealing look inside the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time; Fox News, and the explosive story of the women who brought down the infamous man who created it.


Universal Pictures and Working Title's film is a most-unexpected film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's beloved smash musical and the poems from "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," by T.S. Eliot.  Oscar®-winning director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech," "Les Misérables," "The Danish Girl") brings astonishing new technology to transform his cast members.  The star-studded, ensemble cast includes James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, and Rebel Wilson.

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" opens in theaters nationwide today as well.

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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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