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Cinema Chat: Halloween Is Coming..., 'Tenet,' And More

Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater

Whether you prefer heading downtown or staying at home, plenty of movies are heading your way, just in time for Halloween!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Michael Jewett talks to Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins about all of the movies landing at the Michigan Theater, the State Theatre, and the Michigan Theater's Virtual Movie Palace this weekend.


The State and Michigan Theaters in downtown are open!  Thoughtful safety protocols are being implemented and people are enjoying going to the movies!  The theaters are opened weekends and Tuesdays – which is our special member day, but everyone is invited.  This is our third week of being open after being closed for seven months!  Health and safety equipment and protocols include:

  • Our ventilation systems is calibrated to use fresh filtered air;
  • Everyone’s temperature is taken as they enter the buildings;
  • Masks are mandatory;
  • Seating is strictly limited (to 20% or less of capacity);
  • Everyone and everything is organized around socially distancing:
    • No-touch ticketing;
    • Special computerized ticketing allows you to sit together with family and friends, but keep socially distanced from other audience members;
    • Concessions (including the renowned popcorn) will only be available as patrons leave the theaters.

It was so wonderful to welcome the community back into the theaters and well over 200 people excitedly returned and are looking forward to coming back.
We are grateful for all the extraordinary support and enthusiasm we continue to receive from our donors, sponsors, and community members.  Support continues to be needed, but we are so happy to open our doors again, to safely bring back the “normal” joys of cinema and getting out of the house to Ann Arbor’s Downtown to see a movie as part of an audience in a lovely old theater!


We're getting ready to show Halloween movies at the Michigan—just like old times.  While we cannot exactly bring the old times back to theaters right now, we're committed to putting on some safe, creative, and fun Halloween events, both in-theater and virtually.  There will be a special spooky edition of Virtual Movie Trivia, and, of course, a week of Halloween favorites coming to the Michigan Theater.


"Tenet" -- OCTOBER 23-25 & 27 AT THE STATE THEATRE

This is a 2020 action-thriller and science fiction film written and directed by Christopher Nolan.  It stars John David Washington (Denzel Washington’s son), Robert PattinsonElizabeth DebickiDimple KapadiaMichael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh.  The plot follows a secret agent (Washington) as he manipulates the flow of time to prevent World War III.  Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot on 70mm film.  Scenes of time manipulation were filmed both backwards and forwards.  In excess of a hundred vessels and thousands of extras were used.  The film received positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances, production value, and visuals, which hangs together despite a complex plot. 

"The Personal History of David Copperfield" -- OCTOBER 23-25 & 27 AT THE MICHIGAN THEATER

A fresh and distinctive take on Charles Dickens' semi-autobiographical masterpiece, this film, set in the 1840s, chronicles the life of its iconic title character as he navigates a chaotic world to find his elusive place within it.  From his unhappy childhood to the discovery of his gift as a storyteller and writer, David's journey is by turns hilarious and tragic, but always full of life, color and humanity.

"On the Rocks" -- OCTOBER 23-25 & 27 AT THE STATE THEATRE

Set in a world of privilege and sophistication, Laura (Rashida Jones) thinks she’s happily married with two daughters.  But when her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) starts logging late hours at the office with a new co-worker, Laura begins to fear the worst.  She turns to the one man she suspects may have insight: her charming and impulsive father Felix (Bill Murray), who insists they investigate the situation.  As the two begin prowling New York at night, careening from uptown parties to downtown hotspots, they discover at the heart of their journey lies their own relationship.  This is a charming father-daughter tale about rekindling fractured relationships and understanding the frazzles life can throw at you.”  Directed by Sofia Coppola.

"Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something" -- OCTOBER 23 AT THE MICHIGAN THEATER

Harry Chapin’s life story receives the big screen treatment with a loving documentary.  The release date, October 16, is also World Food Day — a respectful gesture to the late singer, who co-founded the influential hunger non-profit WhyHunger.  Chapin was a songwriter’s songwriter, weaving detailed imagery in his songs, guided by his moral compass.  “Taxi,” “Cat’s In The Cradle,” “Circle” “Remember When The Music” are among the few songs that have become standards worthy of an induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  The film includes archival concert footage of Chapin and his band, along with vintage and new interviews with those who knew him best: his wife Sandy, brothers Tom and Steve, along with commentary from Billy Joel, Pete Seeger, Kenny Rogers, Robert Lamm (Chicago), Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Pat Benatar, Bob Geldof, Ken Kragen, longtime bassist John Wallace, and WhyHunger co-founder Bill Ayres.

"John Lewis: Good Trouble" -- OCTOBER 27 AT THE MICHIGAN THEATER

A brilliant documentary on the late great member of Congress and civil rights leader.  Using interviews and rare archival footage, this film chronicles Lewis’ 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health care reform, and immigration.

Michigan Theater
Credit The Michigan Theater /
Halloween Week at the Michigan Theater



A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.  From director Alfred Hitchcock.


The spirits of a deceased couple are harassed by an unbearable family that has moved into their home and hire a malicious spirit to drive them out.  From director Tim Burton.


See the classic 1922 silent German Expressionist horror film directed by F.W. Murnau with live organ accompaniment on the Barton Organ by MTF Head Organist Andrew Rogers.


A curious youngster moves to Salem, where he struggles to fit in before awakening a trio of diabolical witches that were executed in the 17th century.  From director Kenny Ortega.

"Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas" -- NOVEMBER 1 AT THE MICHIGAN THEATER

Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington longs to spread the joy of Christmas.  But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere!

A2 Quarantine Creature Feature

Michigan Theater
Credit The Michigan Theater /
Cat over the Michigan Theater

Is your cat hilarious?  Is your dog a ham?  Does your marmot love to perform?  Submit your footage to the A2 Quarantine Creature Feature, our own compilation film starring your pets to be released virtually.  Deadline for submissions is October 23, so get recording!

CONTINUING VIRTUALLY" style="font-weight: 700; font-family: Lato, "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 1.125em; letter-spacing: 0.08px; word-spacing: 0.4px; background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(22, 141, 217); line-height: inherit;">"Resisterhood"

Showcasing the inspiring stories of six incredibly diverse activists as they work tirelessly to enact change to protect our civil rights and to motivate others to do the same—including peace movement leaders from the African-American, Latina, Muslim and LGBTQ+ communities—this is the feature film debut of producer/director Cheryl Jacobs “CJ” Crim—a longtime producer, director and editor of television documentaries, who has won 12 regional Emmy Awards and two Silver Tellys, among others.  


This is a feature-length documentary that explores the nexus of art, race, and justice through the story of art collector and philanthropist Agnes “Aggie” Gund’s life.  Emmy-nominated director Catherine Gund focuses on her mother’s journey to give viewers an understanding of the power of art to transform consciousness and inspire social change. 

"Oliver Sacks: His Own Life"

These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary people and Oliver Sacks, the late neurologist and author, was just that.  Though he died five years ago, his eccentric personality uplifts the new documentary as he recounts his career and upbringing while ailing from terminal cancer.

Sacks would not allow his diagnosis to dampen his desire to remain a shining example of empathy and positivity; traits that could find energy and life in his most destitute patients.  And in this practice, and in the lining of this film, Sacks shows us that he is not a rare extraordinary person but rather that we are all, in fact, extraordinarily unique individuals.

You can read a wonderful essay by Nick Alderink, Programming & Media Coordinator about this film at the Michigan Theater website:


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg developed a lengthy legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon in her 80s.  From Betsy West and Julie Cohen, and co-produced by Storyville Films and CNN Films, the Oscar-nominated documentary explores the unique personal journey of her rise to the nation’s highest court.  A journey that was largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans.

A portion of all ticket sales will be donated to the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, which was co-founded by Justice Ginsburg in 1972.  Thank you to our partners at Magnolia Pictures.

"Meeting the Beatles in India"

Filmmaker Paul Saltzman retraces his journey of 50 years ago when he spent a life-changing time with the Beatles at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram on the banks of the Ganges River.  In 1968, he discovered his own soul, learned meditation, which changed his life, and hung out with John, Paul, George, and Ringo.  Fifty years later, he finds “Bungalow Bill” in Hawaii, connects with David Lynch about his own inner journey as well as preeminent Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, Academy Award nominated film composer Laurence Rosenthal, and Pattie and Jenny Boyd.  And much of this is due to Saltzman’s own daughter, Devyani, reminding him that he had put away and forgotten these remarkably intimate photographs of that time in 1968.

"Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President"

If it hadn’t been for a bottle of scotch and a late-night visit from musician Gregg Allman, Jimmy Carter might never have been elected the 39th President of the United States.  The documentary charts the mostly forgotten story of how Carter, a lover of all types of music, forged a tight bond with musicians Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and others.  Low on campaign funds and lacking in name recognition, Carter relied on support from these artists to give him a crucial boost in the Democratic primaries. Once Carter was elected, the musicians became frequent guests in the White House.  The surprisingly significant role that music played throughout Carter’s life and in his work becomes a thread in this engaging portrait of one of the most enigmatic Presidents in American history.

"Supa Modo"

2018 Cinetopia audience favorite!  Jo, a witty 9-year old terminally ill girl is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life. Her only comfort during these dull times are her dreams of being a Superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, overprotective mother Kathryn, and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill. 

"Love & Busking (Fiction & Other Realities)" 

2019 Cinetopia Audience Favorite!  Bobby Choy, a.k.a. singer-songwriter Big Phony, makes his directorial debut with this intimate semi-biographical musical drama.  Bobby, a struggling Korean American singer-songwriter in New York, is suddenly given an opportunity to travel as a roadie for his best friend’s electro-pop band on a world tour.  When they arrive in Seoul, Bobby decides to ditch the band and stay in this “land where everyone looks like him” to investigate a feeling that could potentially fill a major void in his life.  He befriends Ina, a Korean busker facing her own personal struggles.  They seem to find success as they lean on each other for support. 

"Space Dogs" 

Laika, a stray dog, was the first living being to be sent into space and thus to a certain death.  According to a legend, she returned to Earth as a ghost and has roamed the streets of Moscow ever since.  Following her trace, and filmed from a dog’s perspective, the film accompanies the adventures of her descendants: two street dogs living in today’s Moscow.  Their story is one of intimate fellowship but also relentless brutality, and is interwoven with unseen archive material from the Soviet cosmic era.  A magical tale of voyagers scouting for unknown spaces. 

Warning: SPACE DOGS is Not Rated, and contains some graphic content and scenes of animal violence that some viewers, especially cat lovers, may find distressing.  Viewer discretion is advised.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at

Michael Jewett is the long-time host of 89.1 Jazz every weekday afternoon. Besides his on-air work; Michael is WEMU’s Operations Manager. Mr. Jewett started working for WEMU in 1983. He’s been on the air longer than any other current WEMU music host.
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