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Cinema Chat: Giving Tuesday Coming Up, Cocktail Cinema Continues, 'What She Said,' And More

Michigan Theater
Bradley Pritts

Entertainment has become extremely valuable during this difficult time, especially when it comes to a good flick.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair gets on the phone with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to talk about the newest films and special screenings becoming available this weekend for your online streaming pleasure.



In a field that has historically embraced few women film critics, Kael was controversial, witty, and fiercely discerning.  Her decades-long berth at The New Yorker energized her fans (“Paulettes”) and infuriated her detractors on a weekly basis.  Her turbo-charged prose famously championed the New Hollywood Cinema of the late 1960s and ‘70s (BONNIE AND CLYDE, NASHVILLE, CARRIE, TAXI DRIVER) and the work of major European directors (François Truffaut, Bernardo Bertolucci), while mercilessly panning some of the biggest studio hits (THE SOUND OF MUSIC, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, DIRTY HARRY).  Her creepy battle with Andrew Sarris and his auteur theory was legendary, and her stint in Hollywood, trying her hand at producing, was a disaster.  Sarah Jessica Parker voices Kael’s reviews; filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Paul Schrader, and Francis Ford Coppola and critics Camille Paglia, Molly Haskell, Greil Marcus, and David Edelstein speak to her enormous gifts and influence.

"Capital in the Twenty-First Century" -- OPENS FRIDAY

Adapting one of the most groundbreaking and powerful books of our time, this is an eye-opening journey through wealth and power, that breaks the popular assumption that the accumulation of capital runs hand in hand with social progress, shining a new light on the world around us and its growing inequalities.

"Our Mothers" -- OPENS FRIDAY

Guatemala, 2018.  The whole country is immersed in the trial of the military officers who started the civil war.  Spanish with English subtitles.

"Balloon" -- OPENS FRIDAY

Following the crossing of the inner German border by the families Strelzyk and Wetzel from the GDR to West Germany in the summer of 1979.  Desperate to leave the GDR, they flee in a homemade hot-air balloon. German and English with English subtitles.

"Menopause the Musical" -- OPENS MONDAY, MAY 3

An exclusive opportunity to stream this popular musical from the comfort and safety of your home!  This hilarious musical parody set to classic tunes from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s will have you cheering and dancing in the aisles!  See what millions of women worldwide have been laughing about for over 18 years!

"Why Can't I Be Me? Around You" -- OPENS WEDNESDAY, MAY 6

AAFF Presents Goes Online!  Join us as we kick off our 2020 series with this year’s winner of the aut FILM Award for Best LGBTQ Film at the 58th Ann Arbor Film Festival.



With LIVE organ accompaniment by Andrew Rogers!  Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist who uses a zombie-like subject (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders.  The film features a dark and twisted visual style, with sharp-pointed forms, oblique and curving lines, structures and landscapes that lean and twist in unusual angles, and shadows and streaks of light painted directly onto the sets.

Writers and scholars have argued the film reflects a subconscious need in German society for a tyrant, and is an example of Germany's obedience to authority and unwillingness to rebel against deranged authority.  IT MAY BE REASONANT FOR TODAY’S USA???  Critic Roger Ebert called it arguably "the first true horror film," and film reviewer Danny Peary called it cinema's first cult film and a precursor for art house films.  Considered a classic, it helped draw worldwide attention to the artistic merit of German cinema and had a major influence on American films, particularly in the genres of horror and film noir.
"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" -- SATURDAY, MAY 2 AT 9 PM

Join the Michigan Theater staff on Twitch this Saturday, May 2 at 9:00 PM for a live virtual watch party of this fast, funny, and inventive graphic novel turned cult classic film.  Watch the movie on your own (available on Netflix) 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 on Twitch.tv!

Cocktail Cinema -- TUESDAY, MAY 5 AT 7 PM

Hosted this week by Russ Collins and John Bacon, sportswriter and commentator
Like cocktails?  Like to talk about classic movies?  Join us on Tuesday, May 5 for a special FREE Premium Member cocktail party and group film discussion.  Come celebrate the University of Michigan during Hollywood’s heyday in the 1940s (Tiki cocktails will be served)!  "Harmon of Michigan" (1941) features U-M’s 1940 Heisman Trophy-winner Tom Harmon (father of Mark Harmon of "St. Elsewhere," "Chicago Hope' and "NCIS") as a recently graduated college football player trying to make is way in the world.  "It Happens Every Spring" premiered in 1949 at the Michigan Theater!  It was based on a story by Shirley Smith, who part of the U-M’s administrative leadership, with a screenplay by Valentine Davies, a U-M grad and writer of the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” as well as the “Glen Miller Story.”  On Tuesday, Russ and sportswriter, storyteller, and commentator John Bacon will taste cocktail and lead this movie discussion.  Cocktails will be served 7:00 to 7:30, after which the film discuss will take place.  This virtual film club and cocktail party will be broadcasting via Zoom from the wonderful Art Deco lobby of the State Theatre.  This virtual event is open to all members and non-members!  It is free, but you must register in advance


"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. 

"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.


"The Booksellers"

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.


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.


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.


Arab Film Series Online: Arab World Shorts Program -- SATURDAY, MAY 2 AT 2 PM

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.  This week, it's "Frankenstein" on Sunday, May 3.

Penny Stamps Lecture Series

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.  This week's speaker is Bob Kramer on Friday, May 1 at 8 PM.

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.  This week's presentation is "Verdi's Luisa Miller" on Saturday, May 2 at 8 PM.

Theatreworks Anywhere

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.


Check out the Michigan Theater’s guide on how to watch the Michgan Theater specially curated films we are streaming via the Internet on your TV!  If you need additional help, you can schedule time with our box office team to walk you through your issue by Zoom or phone!  More info at michtheater.org and  michtheater.org/screenings.

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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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