© 2024 WEMU
Serving Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, MI
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cinema Chat: 'Life In Synchro,' 'Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy,' Virtual Organ Concert, And More

Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater

Whether it's the silver screen or your screen at home, the movies keep on coming!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins about the newest films and special screenings that you check out at home this Memorial Day weekend, thanks to the Michigan Theater's Virtual Movie Palace!


Order online and get your favorite Michigan Theater concessions safely via curbside pick-up under the marquee!  Orders must be submitted before 3:00 PM the day of pick-up.  Go to “michtheater.org


Movies 101: Editing – NOW AVAILABLE!

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 "Manhattan."  After the lecture, we recommend you watch "Sliding Doors."

Movies 101: Narrative Structure currently available

Movies 101: Sound – currently available

Movies 101: Mise-en-Scene– coming May 24


"Life in Synchro" -- OPENS FRIDAY, MAY 22

A fun documentary with a terrific local angle – Ann Arbor’s “Hockettes” were THE first Synchronized skating teams – and are extensively mentioned in the film.

On May 23rd, film festival audiences from across North America will join together again for a giant virtual watch party and live director Q&A!  Film starts at 6 PM EST and Q&A at 7 PM EST.

In 1956, the first synchronized skating team was formed by Dr. Richard Porter, who became known as the 'father of synchronized skating.'  The 'Hockettes' skated out of Ann Arbor, MI and entertained spectators during intermissions of the University of Michigan Hockey Team.  In the early days, precision skating (now called Synchronized) resembled a drill team routine, or a precision dance company such as The Rockettes.

A film festival favorite, it has touched and enthralled audiences around the country as it introduced them to the world of synchronized ice skating, Angela Pinaglia’s film follows a skating season alongside the stars of today, the newcomers, the passionate amateurs and the founders of the sport as they push their teams and themselves to be too good to ignore.  But will it be enough to get their sport off the fringes and into the Olympic spotlight?  From a young Team USA skater with big dreams, a 65-year-old amateur skater embracing this next chapter of life with her team, to a woman who was on the first synchro team back in 1956, who is now trying to get the founder of synchro, the credit he deserves for creating the sport that gave her so much, the film interweaves each woman’s vastly different journeys, from all around the U.S., as they and these determined teams are out to prove the staying power of synchro.

“Synchronized skating is the closest thing I have ever seen to a women’s utopia, and it’s not in an alternative reality or in the far-off future. It exists in the here and now. LIFE IN SYNCHRO captures the promise of what can be – for the sport, the athletes, and ultimately all women,” says Pingalia.

"Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy" -- OPENS FRIDAY, MAY 22

Featuring extensive interviews with Diana Kennedy and famed chefs José Andrés, Rick Bayless, Gabriela Camara, and Alice Waters, this film provides an intimate look at the leading expert on Mexican cuisine.  The author of nine acclaimed cookbooks and a two-time James Beard Award winner, Diana is called the “Julia Child of Mexico”, but the feisty cook prefers “The Mick Jagger of Mexican Cuisine”.

“Cinematic comfort food of the first order”Variety

“A candid, frank, and comprehensive whirlwind tour through the life and work of one of the world’s most celebrated (and uncompromising) chefs.”The Gate

“A charming documentary that allows its subject’s vibrant personality shine through.” Quelle Movies

"Military Wives"

Following a group of women in England whose partners are away serving in Afghanistan.  Faced with the men’s absences, they form a choir and quickly find themselves at the center of a media sensation and global movement.  Inspired by global phenomenon of Military Wives choirs, the story celebrates a band of misfit women who form a choir on a military base.


Presented by the Cinetopia Film Festivaland Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival

When a world-famous conductor tries to create an Israeli-Palestinian orchestra, it takes all his skill and resources to overcome the discord and get them to play in harmony, rising to a tense and emotional finale.

"Life Itself"

Filmmaker Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") chronicles the life of film critic Roger Ebert, especially his career highlights, his battle with alcohol, and his sometimes ruthless rivalry with fellow criticGene Siskel.


Cocktail Cinema -- TUESDAY, MAY 26 ON ZOOM

Deb Polich (WEMU "creative: impact" host) and Russ Collins will be discussed with WEMU listeners and Michigan Theater fans two 1960s film classics “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER,” withSidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy and “BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID” with Robert Redford, Paul Newman, and Katharine Ross.  Classic cocktails – prepared by their son Alan, the Sommelier and bar artist at Paesano Restaurant (on Washtenaw).  This is a Zoom film discussion group is free, but you must watch the movies on your own and register in advance at michtheater.org.


Even though you won’t be able to join us this weekend in person, we are delighted to bring a short program of music from the Michigan’s fully-restored Barton organ to you at home via YouTube!  Expect to hear a variety of classics like “Rhapsody In Blue” and “Cherokee” and some patriotic favorites like “God Bless America.”  Like a typical pre-show before a film at the Michigan, the music will be varied and, hopefully, bring a smile to your faces.  Performed by head organist Andrew Rogers.  FREE!  This virtual concert will be available for free onour YouTube Channel on Friday, May 22 at 10 AM until Monday, May 25 10 PM.


Join the Michigan Theater staff on Twitch Saturday, May 23 at 9:00 PM for a live virtual watch party of Ron Underwood’s first installment of the franchise as we watch the film on our own (available here on Netflix) and hit play together to experience it in real-time as a community.


"Up from the Streets: New Orleans - The City of Music"

A film looking at the culture of New Orleans thru the lens of music.  Hosted by Oscar nominee and 6-time Grammy Winner Terence Blanchard.  The film tells the story of how music and culture intersected to create a distinct form of expression.  This is a feature length documentary that looks at the culture, especially the music culture of New Orleans.  New Orleans has a distinct history as a result of its political and social history.  The film features archival and newly filmed performances by iconic artists, such as Louis ArmstrongMahalia Jackson, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and The Neville Brothers; and interviews with NOLA musicians Branford MarsalisWynton MarsalisHarry Connick Jr., and more, as well commentary from Keith RichardsRobert PlantSting, and Bonnie Raitt, among others.  

$1 from your ticket purchase will be donated to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation COVID-19 relief fund.


In honor of the late actor Brian Dennehy, his last film. 

Kathy (Golden Globe Nominee Hong Chau), a single mother, travels with her shy eight-year-old son Cody (newcomer Lucas Jaye), to Kathy’s late sister’s house which they plan to clean and sell.  As Kathy realizes how little she knew about her sister, Cody develops an unlikely friendship with Del (Golden Globe, Tony winner and longtime acting legend Brian Dennehy), the Korean War vet and widower who lives next door.  Over the course of a summer and with Del’s encouragement, Cody develops the courage to come out of his shell and, along with his mother, finds a new place to call home.

Nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, this is a beautifully observed, bittersweet drama about our lifelong search for a sense of community.  With a genuine script and impeccable acting from Chau and Dennehy, this little gem doesn’t coax tears, but earns them.

"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.

"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

Emerging from the Arab Film Festival, the Arab Film Series Online brings a wide range of new and classic films each week for free.

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

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.  

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.

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

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU todayto keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— 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.
Related Content