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Cinema Chat: 'Emma.,' 'The Traitor,' 'Onward,' And More

Michigan Theater
Joshua Walker

Spring is almost here, and plenty of great films are here, too!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Mat Hopson talks to Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest movie news and all of the new films arriving on the big screen this weekend.


Motion pictures have their own special language that enables them to communicate action, ideas, and emotions.  During four, three-hour sessions, we will look closely at four basic linguistic tools that most films use. We will use examples drawn from classic and contemporary films and will show a complete feature film during each meeting.  This week’s session is all about Editing.  Editing is the process by which individual shots are joined together.  We will explore several different ways that this unique cinematic device can be used, including “continuity editing,” “parallel editing,” “analytical editing,” and “montage.” Our examples will be drawn from "Casablanca," "The Battleship Potemkin," "Psycho," and "Russian Ark."  Following the lecture, we will screen "Sliding Doors" in its entirety.  This class will meet from 12:00—3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 at the Michigan Theater and will be taught by Dr. Henry Aldridge, Emeritus Professor of Film Studies at EMU and an active volunteer at the Michigan Theater.  To register, visit michtheater.org/movies-101.



Jane Austen's beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending, is reimagined in this delicious new film adaptation.  Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town.  In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.  Also starring Bill NighyMia Goth, and Johnny Flynn


This film tells the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, the man who brought down the Cosa Nostra.  In the early 1980’s, an all-out war rages between Sicilian mafia bosses over the heroin trade.  Tommaso Buscetta, a made man, flees to hide out in Brazil.  Back home, scores are being settled and Buscetta watches from afar as his sons and brother are killed in Palermo, knowing he may be next.  Arrested and extradited to Italy by the Brazilian police, Buscetta makes a decision that will change everything for the Mafia: He decides to meet with Judge Giovanni Falcone and betray the eternal vow he made to the Cosa Nostra.


From visionary director Masaaki Yuasa ("The Night is Short," "Walk on Girl," "Devilman Crybaby") comes a deeply emotional new film that applies his trademark visual ingenuity to a tale of romance, grief and self-discovery.  Hinako is a surf-loving college student who has just moved to a small seaside town. When a sudden fire breaks out at her apartment building, she is rescued by Minato, a handsome firefighter, and the two soon fall in love.  Just as they become inseparable, Minato loses his life in an accident at sea.  Hinako is so distraught that she can no longer even look at the ocean, but one day she sings a song that reminds her of their time together, and Minato appears in the water.  From then on, she can summon him in any watery surface as soon as she sings their song, but can the two really remain together forever?  And what is the real reason for Minato’s sudden reappearance?


This film tells the story of self-made British billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie (played by Steve Coogan), whose retail empire is in crisis.  For 30 years, he has ruled the world of retail fashion – bringing the high street to the catwalk and the catwalk to the high street – but after a damaging public inquiry, his image is tarnished.  To save his reputation, he decides to bounce back with a highly publicized and extravagant party celebrating his 60th birthday on the Greek island of Mykonos.  A satire on the grotesque inequality of wealth in the fashion industry, the film sees McCreadie’s rise and fall through the eyes of his biographer, Nick (played by David Mitchell). 


The classic story of Peter Pan is wildly reimagined in this ragtag epic from Benh Zeitlin, director of "Beasts of The Southern Wild."  Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.


"The Big Lebowski"

This film plays Friday, March 6 at 9:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Late-Night Film Series, sponsored by Owl Creek Apartments, celebrating “The Day of the Dude” on the anniversary of the release of the Coen Brothers’ late-night cult classic.  In this unconventional take on film noir genre, Jeff `The Dude’ Leboswki (played by Jeff Bridges) is mistaken for Jeffrey Lebowski, who is The Big Lebowski, which explains why he’s roughed up and has his precious rug peed on.  In search of recompense, The Dude tracks down his namesake, who offers him a job.  His wife has been kidnapped, and he needs a reliable bagman.  Aided and hindered by his pals Walter (played byJohn Goodman), a Vietnam vet, and Donny (played by Steve Buscemi), master of stupidity.

Late-NightFridays at 9:30 PM grab some popcorn and come watch our favorite late-night movies.

CatVideoFest 2020

This event plays Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan.  Each year, it curates a compilation reel of the latest, best cat videos culled from countless hours of unique submissions and sourced animations, music videos, and, of course, classic internet powerhouses.  Screening events raise money for cats in need, often through partnerships with local cat charities, animal welfare organizations, and shelters to identify how best to serve cats in the area.  10% of our proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Huron Valley.  


This event will be broadcast live in HD on Sunday, March 8 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan, presented in partnership with UMS.  William Shakespeare’s "Coriolanus" is directed by Robert Lepage and will be presented byStratford Festival on Film.  Although renowned as a fearless military leader, Caius Martius is unpopular among the plebians, the common people of Rome, who resent his arrogance and equate him with the patrician elite whom they believe to be responsible for the current food shortage.  Martius in turn despises the plebians as cowardly, fickle and untrustworthy.  For his extraordinary heroism in defeating the Volsces, enemies of Rome, and capturing the Volscian city of Corioles, Martius is honoured with the name of Coriolanus; he is also prevailed upon by his friends, and by his strong-willed mother, to run for consul, Rome’s highest public office.  But the warrior is no politician – and he faces unaccustomed enemies in the form of two tribunes of the people, Sicinius Velutus and Junius Brutus, who fan the flames of populism against him, with catastrophic results.

"Taste of Cherry"

This film plays Monday, March 9 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective Film Series.  Written and directed by Kiarostami, this dark, intense, and emotional film follows a depressed, middle-aged man as he travels the Iranian countryside searching for someone to bury him after he commits suicide.  Eventually, he encounters a Turkish taxidermist who tries to get him to see life’s beauty.  This screening will feature an introduction and post-film discussion with Arash Javanbakht(Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Wayne State), and Cameron Cross (Assistant Professor of Iranian Studies at U of M).  Thank you to our community partners in the Iranian Graduate Student Association at U-M.

Abbas Kiarostami: A RetrospectiveCelebrating the Great Iranian Master’s Career Mondays at 7:30 PM


This film plays Tuesday, March 10 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan.  Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, Harriet tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes.  Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.  Stars Cynthia Erivo as Tubman, with Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, and Janelle Monáe in supporting roles.

"Code: Debugging the Gender Gap"

This film plays Wednesday, March 11 at 6:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Independent Thinker Film Series, sponsored by the independent schools of Ann Arbor, including Greenhills School, Ann Arbor Academy, Emerson School, Summers Knoll, Rudolf Steiner School, and Daycroft School.  FREE for kids 18 & under!  The film exposes the dearth of female and minority software engineers, explores the reasons for this gap and highlights breakthrough efforts that are producing more diverse programmers while showing how this critical gap can be closed.  Join us for a post-film discussion with panelists Brooke Wolford, a 5th year Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan’s Department of Computational Medicine, Becky Reamy, a software engineer for over 20 years,Tatiana Duggan, a software engineer at Integral, andLisa Flohr, a math and computer science at teacher at Greenhills School.


This film plays Thursday, March 12 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Art of the Camera Film Series, sponsored by The University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  The tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle-shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, this rapturous “ramen western” by Japanese director Juzo Itami is an entertaining, genre-bending adventure underpinned by a deft satire of the way social conventions distort the most natural of human urges—our appetites.  Interspersing the efforts of Tampopo (played by Nobuko Miyamoto) and friends to make her café a success with the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster and glimpses of food culture both high and low, the sweet, sexy, and surreal Tampopo is a lavishly inclusive paean to the sensual joys of nourishment, and one of the most mouthwatering examples of food on film ever made.  This screening will include a 10-minute introduction from a University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies lecturer about the featured cinematographer Masaki Tamura.

Art of the Camera – Celebrating Japan’s great cinematographers Thursdays at 7:30 PM from January to April.



At the Michigan: This film is inspired by true events about the French New Wave darling and "Breathless" star, Jean Seberg (played by Kristen Stewart), who, in the late 1960s, was targeted by the FBI because of her support of the civil rights movement and romantic involvement with Hakim Jamal (played by Anthony Mackie), among others.  In Benedict Andrews’ noir-ish thriller, Seberg’s life and career are destroyed by Hoover’s overreaching surveillance and harassment in an effort to suppress and discredit Seberg’s activism. 

"Portrait of a Lady on Fire"

At the State: Winner of The Queer Palm at Cannes Film Festival!  France, 1760. Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent.  Because she is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night.  As the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse's first moments of freedom.  Héloïse's portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love.  

"Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band" 

A confessional, cautionary, and occasionally humorous tale of Robbie Robertson‘s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music, The Band.  The film is a moving story of Robertson’s personal journey, overcoming adversity and finding camaraderie alongside the four other men who would become brothers in music and who together made their mark on music history.  The film blends rare archival footage, photography iconic songs and interviews with many of Robertson’s friends and collaborators, including Bruce SpringsteenEric ClaptonVan MorrisonMartin ScorsesePeter GabrielTaj MahalDominique Robertson,Ronnie Hawkins, and more.  

"Jojo Rabbit"

Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress and Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay!  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. 


Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best International Film and Winner of Best Director, International Film, Picture, and Original Screenplay!  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. We are also play a special black and white cut of this film!  



Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney-Pixar's latest film introduces two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot.  These two embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.

"The Way Back"

Jack Cunningham (played by Ben Affleck) once had a life filled with promise.  In high school, he was a basketball phenom with a full university scholarship, when suddenly, for reasons unknown, he walked away from the game, forfeiting his future.  Now years later, Jack is spiraling down, triggered by an unspeakable loss, and drowning in the alcoholism that cost him his marriage and any hope for a better life.  When he is asked to coach the basketball team at his alma mater, which has fallen far since his glory days, he reluctantly accepts, surprising no one more than himself.

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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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