89.1 WEMU

Cinema Chat: AFI's Top 10 Of 2018, 'Maria By Callas,' 'Border,' And More

Dec 6, 2018

The Michigan Theater
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to talk about the latest movie news and about all of the new films you can check out in theaters this weekend.



“Black Panther”

“Eighth Grade”

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

“The Favourite”

“First Reformed”

“Green Book”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

“A Quiet Place”

“A Star Is Born”

Plus Special Award for "Roma"


"Maria By Callas"

At the Michigan: This film by Tom Volf is the first film to tell the life story of the legendary Greek-American opera singer, Maria Callas, completely in her own words.  Told through performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs-nearly all of which have never been shown to the public-the film reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time.


At the State: Winner of The Un Certain Regard Award at The Cannes Film Festival!  This film by director Ali Abbasi follows customs officer Tina, who is known for her extraordinary sense of smell.  It’s almost as if she can sniff out the guilt on anyone hiding something.  But when Vore, a suspicious-looking man, walks past her, her abilities are challenged for the first time ever.  Tina can sense Vore is hiding something she can’t identify.  Even worse, she feels a strange attraction to him.  As Tina develops a special bond with Vore and discovers his true identity, she also realizes the truth about herself. 


At the State: Winner of the FIPRESCI and Vulcain Prize, and a nominee for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival!  In this film, Jongsu is a frustrated introvert whose already difficult life is complicated by the appearance of two people into his orbit: first, Haemi, a spirited woman who offers romantic possibility, and then, Ben, a wealthy and sophisticated young man Haemi returns from a trip with.  When Jongsu learns of Ben’s mysterious hobby and Haemi suddenly disappears, his confusion and obsessions begin to mount, culminating in a stunning finale.  Starring Steven Yeun ("The Walking Dead," "Sorry to Bother You"), Jeon Jong-Seo, and Yoo Ah-In.


"Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale"

This film plays Friday, December 7 at 9:30 PM at the State Theatre as a part of Late Nights at the State: Holiday Horrors.  A young boy named Pietari and his friend Juuso think a secret mountain drilling project near their home in northern Finland has uncovered the tomb of Santa Claus.  However, this a monstrous, evil Santa, much unlike the cheery St. Nick of legend.  When Pietari’s father captures a feral old man in his wolf trap, the man may hold the key to why reindeer are being slaughtered and children are disappearing.


This film plays Saturday, December 8 at 11:59 PM at the State Theatre as a part of Late Nights at the State: Holiday Horrors.  Don’t get them wet, don’t expose them to bright light, and don’t feed them after midnight.  These are the 3 rules one must abide by when taking care of a ‘mogwai.'  But when young Billy is gifted one for the holidays, named Gizmo, he learns that when these rules are broken, Gizmo spawns a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.  From Director Joe Dante and written by Chris Columbus ("Home Alone," "The Goonies").  Tickets are only $8!


The Holiday Classic Film Series presented by Old National Bank and Sesi Lincoln continues this week with this film, which plays Sunday, December 9 at 1:30 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Free and open to the public!  This modern holiday classic comedy stars funnyman Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who was raised as an elf and thus struggles to fit in.  So, when Buddy discovers his true identity, he sets off to New York City to meet and form a relationship with his biological father, a cynical businessman played by James Caan, with increasingly chaotic results.  In the Big City, Buddy learns that the real world is not as magical as the North Pole but remains determined to spread Christmas cheer.  Also stars Ed Asner, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel, and Bob Newhart.

"NT Live: The Madness of King George"

This film plays Sunday, December 9 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater, presented in partnership with UMS and broadcast live in HD from the National Theater, London.  Written by one of Britain’s best-loved playwrights Alan Bennett, this epic play was also adapted into a BAFTA Award-winning film following its premiere on stage in 1991.  The cast of this new production includes Olivier Award-winners Mark Gatiss ("Sherlock," "Wolf Hall") in the title role, and Adrian Scarborough ("Upstairs Downstairs").  It’s 1786, and King George III is the most powerful man in the world.  But his behavior is becoming increasingly erratic as he succumbs to fits of lunacy.  With the King’s mind unraveling at a dramatic pace, ambitious politicians and the scheming Prince of Wales threaten to undermine the power of the Crown, and expose the fine line between a King and a man.


Ingmar Bergman’s final film, which received only a limited release in the United States, plays Tuesday, December 11 at 7:00 PM at the State Theater.  Following Johan (Erland Josephson - "Fanny and Alexander") and Marianne (Liv Ullmann - "Persona," "Autumn Sonata") 30 years after the events of "Scenes from a Marriage," this sequel finds the couple long since divorced and remarried.  After Johan separates from his second wife, and Marianne loses her second husband, the ex-lovers try to reconnect.  Meanwhile, Johan's son, Henrik, is having problems of his own with his daughter, Karin, a cellist whose career plans don't match her father's expectations.


"The Happy Prince"

At the Michigan: The last days of Oscar Wilde and the ghosts that haunted them are vividly evoked in Tthis film, Rupert Everett's directorial debut.  Everett gives a career-defining performance as Wilde, physically and emotionally embodying the literary genius as he lives out his last days in exile in Europe.  His body ailing and heavy, his mind spinning, he survives by falling back on the flamboyant irony and brilliant wit that defined him.  As the film travels through Wilde's final act and journeys through England, France, and Italy, desire and loyalty face off, the transience of lust is laid bare, and the true riches of love are revealed.  


At the State: Mamoru Hosoda, the Japanese director of hit animated features "Summer Wars" and "Wolf Children," has reunited with high-profile banner Studio Chi-zu for this film.  When four-year-old Kun meets his new baby sister, his world is turned upside down.  Named Mirai (meaning “future”), the baby quickly wins the hearts of Kun’s entire family.  As his mother returns to work, and his father struggles to run the household, Kun becomes increasingly jealous of baby Mirai… until one day he storms off into the garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future, including his sister Mirai, as a teenager.  Together, Kun and teenage Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible story.  But why did Mirai come from the future? 

"The Great Buster"

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the film plays December 2, 3 and 5 at the Michigan Theater!  Filled with stunningly restored archival Keaton films from the Cohen Film Classics library, this film celebrates the life and career of one of America's most influential and celebrated filmmakers and comedians, Buster Keaton, whose singular style and fertile output during the silent era created his legacy as a true cinematic visionary.  Keaton's beginnings on the vaudeville circuit are chronicled in this film, as is the development of his trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the lifelong moniker of "The Great Stone Face," all of which led to his career-high years as the director, writer, producer, and star of his own short films and features.  

"Green Book"

At the Michigan: In this film, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on "The Green Book" to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans.  Confronted with racism, danger-as well as unexpected humanity and humor-they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime. 


In this film, fourteen-year-old Joe (played by newcomer Ed Oxenbould) is the only child of Jeanette (played by Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) in a small town in 1960s Montana.  Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and Jerry decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.  Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother's struggle as she tries to keep her head above water.  This film is also adapted from Richard Ford's novel of the same name. 

"Beautiful Boy"

At the State: Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, this film chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.  Teenager Nicolas Sheff seems to have it all -- good grades, editor of the school newspaper, actor, artist and athlete.  When Nic's addiction to meth threatens to destroy him, his desperate father does whatever he can to save his son and his family.  Starring Steve CarellTimothée ChalametMaura Tierney, and Amy Ryan.

"Free Solo"

From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin comes this National Geographic Documentary Film, a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world's most famous rock... the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park... without a rope.

"A Star is Born"

Bradley Cooper plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers--and falls in love with--struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga).  She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer... until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight.  But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.


"Schindler's List"

To commemorate the 25th anniversary release of Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, one of the most significant endeavors in the history of cinema, Universal Pictures will re-release the film with picture and sound digitally remastered for a limited theatrical engagement on Friday, December 7, in theaters across the United States and Canada.  Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, this incredible true story follows the enigmatic Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson), who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust.  It is the triumph of one man who made a difference and the drama of those who survived one of the darkest chapters in human history because of what he did.  Meticulously restored from the original film negative in pristine high definition and supervised by Spielberg, this is a powerful story whose lessons of courage and faith continue to inspire generations.



The most personal project to date from Academy Award (R)-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón ("Gravity," "Children of Men," "Y Tu Mama Tambien"), this film follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City.  Delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s.  Cuarón's first project since the groundbreaking "Gravity" in 2013, it will be available in theaters and on Netflix later this year.  Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

"The Favourite"

Early 18th century.  England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne's ill health and mercurial temper.  When a new servant Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.  Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots.  As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen's companion.  Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics, or rabbit stand in her way.

"Vox Lux"

A 20th Century Portrait begins in 1999 when teenage Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) survives a violent tragedy.  After singing at a memorial service, Celeste transforms into a burgeoning pop star with the help of her songwriter sister (Stacy Martin) and talent manager (Jude Law).  Celeste's meteoric rise to fame dovetails with a personal and national loss of innocence, consequently elevating the young powerhouse to a new kind of celebrity: American icon, secular deity, global superstar.  By 2017, adult Celeste (Natalie Portman) is mounting a comeback after a scandalous incident almost derailed her career.  Touring in support of her sixth album, a compendium of sci-fi anthems entitled, "Vox Lux," the indomitable, foul-mouthed pop savior must overcome her personal and familial struggles to navigate motherhood, madness and monolithic fame.  Written and directed by Brady Corbet (most known for his role as Derek Huxley on "24.")

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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 dfair@emich.edu