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Cinema Chat: Movies 101 Narrative Course, 'Cocktail Cinema,' 'The Booksellers,' And More

Michigan Theater
C. Ahern Photography Detroit

Theaters may still be closed, but the movie world is still open to you!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks with Michigan Theater director Russ Collins about the newest films and special screenings offered through the magic of your very own televisions and computers. 

MOVIES 101: NARRATIVE STRUCTURE Class taught by EMU Professor Emeritus Henry Aldridge

Online Class Now Available until Friday, April 24!

In this virtual 1-hour lesson that you can watch from home, we will look at various components of film narrative and how they can be manipulated to create anticipation, tension, and resolution.  The recommended movie to watch on your own after this lesson is "Vertigo," available to rent online.

Tickets are $20 non-members, $15 members.


"The Booksellers" -- OPENS FRIDAY

Antiquarian booksellers are part scholar, part detective and part businessperson, and their personalities and knowledge are as broad as the material they handle.  They also play an underappreciated yet essential role in preserving history.  This documentary takes viewers inside their small but fascinating world, populated by an assortment of obsessives, intellects, eccentrics and dreamers.


In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth.  Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year.  Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan paint a detailed and astonishing portrait of Pahokee, a rural village in the Everglades, Florida.  Very close-knit, its inhabitants fight to face fragile financial situations and an uncertain future.  Through a precise observational approach, the film captures the daily life of this city restoring a rich palette of nuances.  From sporting events to beauty contests at school, filmmakers explore social and community rituals, and how gender and identity are portrayed as new stories are created.  Going well beyond the teaching of Wiseman, which Lucas and Bresnan have perfectly integrated, the film seems to bathe in the singular atmosphere of a song of Gil Scott Heron, with lingering hints of rural blues tinged with urban echoes.  A complex multi-faceted work that recalls both the raw social realism of the new American cinema and the neorealist style.  The film is the powerful portrait of a forgotten America, absent from the current political discourse.

"Incitement" -- OPENS FRIDAY

Acclaimed writer-director Yaron Zilberman("A Late Quartet") chronicles the disturbing descent of a promising law student to an intransigent ultranationalist obsessed with murdering his country’s leader, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.


"Heathers" -- SATURDAY APRIL 25 AT 9 PM

Join the Michigan Theater staff on Twitch this Saturday, April 25 at 9:00 PM for a live virtual watch party of Michael Lehmann's dark high school comedy as we watch the film on our own (available on Hulu) and hit play together to experience it in real-time as a community.  Our staff will be providing movie trivia and background, as well as lend their own comments and opinions, and take comments and questions from you!  Follow us onTwitch.tv!

"Earth" -- SATURDAY APRIL 26 AT 3 PM

Watch the new documentary and join us for a LIVE Q&A with Stuart Kirsch, Professor of Anthropology, and Matthew Lassiter, Professor of History, Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan.  Professor Lassiter has published a book about the history of Earth Day.  Professor Kirsch conducts research in the Pacific and the Amazon on indigenous politics and the environment Register on Zoom.


Like cocktails?  Like to talk about classic movies?  Join us on Tuesday, April 28 for a special FREE Premium Member cocktail party featuringFred Astaire &Ginger Rogers.  Watch “The Gay Divorcee” and “Swing Time” before this Cocktail Cinema event, and on Tuesday, Russ and Deb will lead the movie discussion, with cocktails in hand, broadcasting via Zoom from the wonderful Art Deco lobby of the State Theatre.  This virtual event is open to all – members and non-members!

Sign up now at: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0lc--urzguE9e8LNcTyYG2Ejyi2sjxZ-MS

Participating in Cocktail Cinema is easy and fun, just:

  1. Watch the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers films – “The Gay Divorcee” and “Swing Time” at any time convenient to your schedule, but before the cocktail party on Tuesday, April 28, 7:00.  See them for free at home on Xfinity or for a small fee via several Internet streaming services. 
  2. Mix up classic cocktails in your own home and be open to discussing these film classics with Russ & Deb via Zoom.

Fun, nostalgia and relief from pandemic anxiety are the objectives.  These two cinema classics lifted the spirits of America during the Great Depression.  Hopes are your spirits will be lifted as you watch the films and, then on Tuesday, join Russ & Deb and lift the spirits in your cocktail glass to join in on the lively discussion!
On Tuesday, April 28, from 7:00-7:30 we’ll start with a cocktail party.  Russ & Deb will be drinking Hanky Pankys, White Ladies and Corpse Reviver No. 2 – three classic 1930s cocktails.  You, of course, may mix and drink whatever you like.  The film discussion will take place from 7:30-8:30.

Russ Collins is the long-time Executive Director of the Michigan and State Theaters.  Deb Polich is the award-winning Executive Director ofArtrain and the Arts Alliance.  Deb and Russ are also married and long-time leaders of film discussion groups and they truly enjoy a fine cocktail. 

Again, this is a free event, but you must sign up in advance: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0lc--urzguE9e8LNcTyYG2Ejyi2sjxZ-MS


"The Dog Doc"

Called a maverick, a miracle-worker, and a quack, Dr. Marty Goldstein is a pioneer of integrative veterinary medicine. By holistically treating animals after other vets have given up, Goldstein provides a last hope for pet owners with nothing left to lose.  A portion of this film will benefit the Michigan Theater and Humane Society of Huron Valley.


In post-WWII Leningrad, two women, Iya and Masha (astonishing newcomers Viktoria Miroshnichenkoand Vasilisa Perelygina), intensely bonded after fighting side by side as anti-aircraft gunners, attempt to readjust to a haunted world.

"Best of CatVideoFest: Creature Comforts Edition"

Long time CatVideoFest curator extraordinaire Will Braden has crafted a 40-min “treat” of a reel that includes the very best videos from CVF’s illustrious history.

"The Etruscan Smile"

Winner of the Audience Award and Best U.S. Nonfiction Film at the Traverse City Film Festival!  Based on the bestselling novel by José Luis Sampedro, the film stars Brian Cox (HBO’s "Succession" and recent Broadway leading man in "The Great Society") as Rory MacNeil, a rugged old Scotsman who reluctantly leaves his beloved isolated Hebridean island and travels to San Francisco to seek medical treatment.  Moving in with his estranged son, Rory’s life will be transformed, just when he expects it least, through a newly found love for his baby grandson. 

"Extra Ordinary"

Rose, a sweet, lonely driving instructor in rural Ireland, is gifted with supernatural abilities.  Rose has a love/hate relationship with her "talents" and tries to ignore the constant spirit related requests from locals – to exorcise possessed rubbish bins or haunted gravel.  But Christian Winter, a washed up, one-hit-wonder rock star, has made a pact with the devil for a return to greatness!  He puts a spell on a local teenager- making her levitate.  Her terrified father, Martin Martin, asks Rose to help save his daughter.  Rose has to overcome the fear of her supernatural gift & work with Martin to save the girl, get the guy and be home in time for a light snack…maybe a yogurt or something. 

"Phoenix, Oregon"

Defying midlife haze, two friends, a graphic novelist and a chef, seize an unlikely opportunity to reinvent their lives, quitting their jobs to restore an old bowling alley and serve the “world’s greatest pizza.”  This film takes a comedic look at the existential crisis many face when trying to find meaning and relevancy at midlife. 


National Theatre at Home

Join us every Thursday for much-loved National Theatre Live productions, free to stream on YouTube for seven days!  Enjoy world-class theatre online while they are unfortunately closed.  For more information, visit nationaltheatre.org.uk/nt-at-home

Penny Stamps Lecture Series

With the health and well-being of our community in mind, all live Penny Stamps Speaker Series events have been canceled for the remainder of the semester.  The series continues online with video presentations as allowed by special arrangement with the speakers: check out the latest presentations below.  In a new partnership designed to keep the community curious, engaged, and connected, the entire Penny Stamps Speaker Series video archive is also available to stream online through Detroit Public Television.  DPTV will also livestream select Penny Stamps Speaker Series events Fridays at 8 PM.  For more information, visit stamps.umich.edu/stamps

Met Opera Streams

During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark.  Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 PM until 6:30 PM the following day.  The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers.  For more information, visit metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams.

TheatreWorks Anywhere -- NEW ADDITION

TheaterWorks Anywhere aims to give young people a fun and active way to use their imaginations while learning the process of creating theater and adapting a book or story for the stage.  We’ll show you video clips from TheaterWorksUSA productions, take you behind the scenes with our artists, and provide theater activities and crafts for you to make and share with us!  For this content, visit the TheaterWorks Anywhere site at twusa.org/shows-artists/on-tour/anywhere.

For more information on our virtual screenings and content available, visit michtheater.org/screenings.  Stay safe.  Stay strong.

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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
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