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Cinema Chat: Special Screenings Of 'Soul' And 'One Night In Miami,' 'Eyes Of Tammy Faye,' And More

Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater

Summer is almost in the rearview mirror, but the world of movies continues to heat up. WEMU's David Fair connected with Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins to make sure you know about some upcoming special screenings, as well as the latest films hitting the big screen this weekend. 


The Michigan and State theaters require all attendees over the age of 12 to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before films or live events. Masks will also still be required at this time. Attendees under the age of 12 will need to have their temperature checked and wear a mask at all times at the event. This is a temporary safety policy, which we expect to stay in place until the current flare up of COVID-19 infections recede.


"The Eyes of Tammy Faye" -- OPENS TONIGHT AT THE STATE

An intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall, and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world's largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. However, it wasn't long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire.


The screening was arranged for University of Michigan students, faculty and staff by U-M graduates (from the acclaimed Musical Theater Program by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the music and lyrics for this award-winning Broadway hit. It opened at the Music Box Theatre (designed by C. Howard Crane, who designed our very own State Theatre) in 2016. It was nominated for nine Tony awards, winning six, including Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Ben Platt, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Rachel Bay Jones, Best Musical, and Best Score. The movie stars Ben Platt, who also stared in the Broadway production. 


"David Byrne's American Utopia" -- PLAYS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 AT 7:15 PM AT THE STATE (ONE NIGHT ONLY!)

Directed by Oscar-winner Spike Lee, this film is a groundbreaking cinematic event that inspires audiences to connect with each other and with the global community. This filmed version of the electrifying Broadway musical sensation brings Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe-winning musician David Byrne (Talking Heads) together with 11 musical artists from around the world to perform songs from across Byrne’s career. Hailed by critics as “pure bliss,” the performance is a joyful celebration of music and dance, a call to action to engage in our democracy, and an invitation to reimagine our own utopias. Featuring never-before-seen footage and a special introduction by David Byrne.



 LATE NIGHTS - Fridays at 9:30 PM


Featuring an in-person discussion with Co-director & Writer Kemp Powers!

What is it that makes you...YOU? Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new feature film introduces Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) – a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (voice of Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.

Directed by Academy Award® winner Pete Docter (“Inside Out,” “Up”), co-directed by Kemp Powers (“One Night in Miami”), written by Kemp Powers & Mike Jones, and produced by Academy Award nominee Dana Murray (Pixar short “Lou”), the film also stars the voice talents of Phylicia RashadQuestlove, and Daveed Diggs. It features original jazz music by globally renowned musician Jon Batiste, and Oscar® winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (“The Social Network”), from Nine Inch Nails, composed an original score that drifts between the real and soul worlds. 


Featuring an in-person discussion with Screenwriter Kemp Powers! Directed by Regina King.

On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali, (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).


"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings"

Based on the Marvel Comics featuring the character Shang-Chi, it is the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi alongside AwkwafinaMeng'er ZhangFala ChenBenedict WongMichelle YeohBen Kingsley, and Tony Leung. In the film, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his past after he is drawn into his father's Ten Rings organization.

This is the first Marvel Studios film with an Asian director (Destin Daniel Cretton) and a predominantly Asian cast. The film received positive reviews from critics, praising the film's fight choreography, its exploration and representation of Asian culture, and the performances (particularly that of Simu Liu and Tony Leung). 

"The Lost Leonardo"

This film tells the inside story behind the painting “Salvator Mundi,” which, many, but not all art experts consider to be a lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci, which  at $450 becomes the most expensive painting ever sold. From the moment it is purchased from a shady New Orleans auction house, and its buyers discover masterful brushstrokes beneath its cheap restoration, the fate of “Salvator Mundi” is driven by an insatiable quest for fame, money and power. But as its price soars, so do questions about its authenticity. Is this multi-million dollar painting actually by Leonardo -- or do certain power players simply want it to be? Unravelling the hidden agendas of the world's richest men and most powerful art institutions, the film reveals how vested interests became all-important, and the truth secondary.

"The Alpinist" 

Marc-André Leclerc climbs alone, far from the limelight. On remote alpine faces, the free-spirited 23-year-old Canadian makes some of the boldest solo ascents in history. Yet, he draws scant attention. With no cameras, no rope, and no margin for error, Leclerc's approach is the essence of solo adventure. Nomadic and publicity shy, he doesn't own a phone or car, and is reluctant to let a film crew in on his pure vision of climbing. Veteran filmmaker Peter Mortimer ("The Dawn Wall") sets out to make a film about Leclerc but struggles to keep up with his elusive subject. Then, Leclerc embarks on a historic adventure in Patagonia that will redefine what is possible in solo climbing.

"Free Guy"

A bank teller discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game and decides to become the hero of his own story... one he rewrites himself. Now in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way... before it is too late. Directed by Shawn Levy from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn, and a story by Lieberman. The film stars Ryan Reynolds (who also produced) as a bank teller who saves his friends from deletion by the game's creator (Taika Waititi). Jodie ComerJoe KeeryLil Rel Howery, and Utkarsh Ambudkar also star.


The much-anticipated musical film based on the life of American singer Aretha Franklin. Directed by Liesl Tommy (in her feature film directorial debut), from a screenplay written by Tracey Scott Wilson. The film stars Jennifer Hudson as Franklin. Forest WhitakerMarlon WayansAudra McDonaldMarc MaronTituss BurgessSaycon SengblohHailey KilgoreSkye Dakota TurnerTate Donovan, and Mary J. Blige.


This film had its world premiere on January 28, 2021 at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and the screening at the Michigan Theater will be one of only a handful of theatrical screenings to be allowed. An American dramatic film featuring a hearing teenage girl who is a Child Of Deaf Adults (CODA for short). Written and directed by Sian Heder, the film stars Emilia Jones as the hearing girl, with Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur as her culturally deaf parents and Daniel Durant as her deaf brother. Eugenio Derbez and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo also star in the film. The film, which is an English-language remake of the 2014 French-language film "La Famille Bélier" was filmed on location in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in the United States.


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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

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