Cinema Chat: Art Fair, 'Absolutely Fabulous,' 'Captain Fantastic,' 'Star Trek Beyond,' And More

Jul 21, 2016

The Michigan Theater
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons /

The Ann Arbor Art Fair kicks off today, but there's always time to catch a flick while you're out there!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the Art Fair, the movie business, and all the films coming to the big screen this weekend.

Pokemon Live-Action Movie a Go at Legendary

Legendary Entertainment has won the rights to a Pokemon movie and is partnering with the Pokémon Company to launch the first live-action Pokemon film franchise with a “Detective Pikachu” movie.

Legendary said details are being kept under wraps but added that the film will be fast-tracked for production to start in 2017.  Detective Pikachu is a new character in the Pokemon universe.

The deal comes two weeks after the Pokemon Go app game was released and became a worldwide phenomenon. The augmented reality game allows players to capture, battle and train the Pokemon virtual creatures.

Pokémon was introduced in Japan in 1996 and has sold 279 million video games worldwide with 21.5 billion cards shipped to 74 countries, and an animated series spanning 19 seasons.  The hugely popular Pokemon Go app recently saw the pocket monsters surge back into the pop culture consciousness.

Kirsten Dunst to Direct Indie Drama ‘The Bell Jar’ Starring Dakota Fanning

Kirsten Dunst is set to make her feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar.”  Dakota Fanning will star in the independent drama with plans for a first-quarter start of production.  Fanning will play the lead role of Esther Greenwood in the pic, based on Plath’s 1963 novel.  Dunst has adapted the script with Nellie Kim.  Priority Pictures optioned remake rights from Studio Canal. “The Bell Jar” was made into a feature film in 1979.  Priority’s Lizzie Friedman, Karen Lauder and Greg Little will produce alongside Fanning and Echo Lake Entertainment’s Brittany Kahan. Celine Rattray is executive producing.  In the book, Greenwood takes an internship at a magazine in New York City, and then begins to suffer a mental breakdown when she returns home to Boston.  The novel is the only book ever published by Plath, who committed suicide in 1963.

Garry Marshall, ‘Pretty Woman’ Director and Creator of ‘Happy Days,’ Dies at 81

Garry Marshall, who created some of the 1970s’ most iconic sitcoms including “Happy Days,” “The Odd Couple,” “Laverne and Shirley,” and “Mork and Mindy” and went on to direct hit movies including “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries,” died Tuesday.  He was 81. The news was first reported by Access Hollywood.  Marshall’s first bigscreen blockbuster was 1990’s “Pretty Woman,” starring Julia Roberts as a highly idealized hooker and Richard Gere as her client-cum-Prince Charming.  The romantic comedy grossed $463 million worldwide.  Roberts was Oscar nominated for best actress, the film was nominated for a Golden Globe for best comedy/musical — and Marshall scored a Cesar nomination as “Pretty Woman” drew a mention in the French awards’ foreign-film category.  In 1970 Marshall had a substantial hit when he developed and exec produced an adaptation of Neil Simon’s play “The Odd Couple” for ABC. The show drew several Emmy nominations for outstanding comedy series and wins for stars Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.

Art Fair

Ann Arbor’s Art Fairs are underway!  If you’re downtown for the fairs and looking for a way to beat the heat and have a snack, stop by the Michigan Theater, and relax in the air conditioned comfort of Ann Arbor’s beautiful Movie Palace (which when it opened in 1928 was billed as being “As refreshing as a Mountain Resort”)!  Enjoy a free concert on our Barton Organ each afternoon!

Opening Downtown

"Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie"

Edina and Patsy are still oozing glitz and glamour, living the high life they are accustomed to: shopping, drinking, and clubbing their way around London's trendiest hotspots.  Blamed for a major incident at an uber-fashionable launch party, they become entangled in a media storm and are relentlessly pursued by the paparazzi.  Fleeing penniless to the glamorous playground of the super-rich, the French Riviera, they hatch a plan to make their escape permanent and live the high life forever more!  “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” opens Thursday July 21 at the Michigan.  Critics Consensus: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie picks up pretty much where its source material left off, delivering an adaptation that, as fans of this British export might say, does what it says on the tin.

“Café Society”

Set in the 1930s, Woody Allen's bittersweet romance follows Bronx-born Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) to Hollywood, where he falls in love, and back to New York, where he is swept up in the vibrant world of high society nightclub life.  Centering on events in the lives of Bobby's colorful Bronx family, the film is a glittering valentine to the movie stars, socialites, playboys, debutantes, politicians, and gangsters who epitomized the excitement and glamour of the age.  Also starring Steve Carell, Parker Posey, Kristen Stewart, and Blake Lively.  “Café Society” opens Friday, July 29 at the Michigan, with special advance screenings on Thursday July 28.  Critics Consensus: Café Society's lovely visuals and charming performances round out a lightweight late-period Allen comedy whose genuine pleasures offset its amiable predictability.

"Captain Fantastic"

The Cinetopia hit returns to Ann Arbor!  Deep in the isolated forests of the Pacific Northwest, a devoted father (Viggo Mortensen) dedicates his life to transforming his six young children into extraordinary adults.  But when a tragedy strikes the family, they are forced to leave this self-created paradise and begin a journey into the outside world that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent and brings into question everything he's taught them.  Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle writes “’Captain Fantastic’ is that rare kind of film that makes viewers question and refine their own values… Mortensen finds a role here that capitalizes on his contradictions, on his air of resolve and his inner life of doubt, on his hardness and his reasonableness. It becomes the showcase for one of his best performances.”  “Captain Fantastic” opens Friday, July 29 at the State, with special advance screenings on Thursday July 28.  Critics Consensus: Captain Fantastic's thought-provoking themes -- and an absorbing starring turn from Viggo Mortensen -- add up to an above-average family drama with unexpected twists.

Special Screenings Downtown

"Funny Face"

The Summer Classic Film Series continues with the musical comedy “Funny Face.” Fashion photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) expropriates a Greenwich Village bookstore, leaving the store in a shambles, much to salesgirl Jo Stockton’s (Audrey Hepburn) dismay. Later, as he examines the photos taken there and sees Jo in the background of one shot, he becomes intrigued by her unique appearance.  Jo is offered a modeling contract, which she reluctantly accepts only because it includes a trip to Paris. Eventually, her snobbish attitude toward the job softens, and Jo begins to enjoy the work and the company of her handsome photographer. “Funny Face” plays Sunday, July 24 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, July 26 at 7 PM at the Michigan.

July 31 & August 2: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

August 7 & 9: Horse Feathers

August 14 & 16: Fargo

August 21 & 23:  Sound of Music Sing-A-Long

August 28 & 30: Metropolis w/ Live Organ

September 5: Casablanca (Free for Students)

"The Idol"

This film tells the real-life story of Palestinian Mohammad Assaf, who won “Arab Idol” in 2013 and became a hero for his country.  The film focuses as much on his early days – set against the brutal backdrop of life in Gaza and the illness of his sister – as it does on the challenge Assaf has in trying to take part in the Idol try-outs in Egypt.  Once the competition starts, the film cleverly balances the feel-good success with the harsh realities of Assaf’s life.  “The Idol” plays July 27 and 28 at the Michigan.

Opening at the Multiplex

"Lights Out"

When a bloodthirsty supernatural being that lurks in the shadows preys upon a family, a young woman must fight to protect herself, save her little half-brother, and uncover a mystery about her family's shadowy past.  “Lights Out” opens Friday.  Critics Consensus: Lights Out makes skillful use of sturdy genre tropes -- and some terrific performances -- for an unsettling, fright-filled experience that delivers superior chills without skimping on story.

"Star Trek Beyond"

Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise encounter an alien warrior race when marooned on a distant planet after the destruction of their spaceship.  “Star Trek Beyond” opens Friday.  Critics Consensus: Star Trek Beyond continues the franchise's post-reboot hot streak with an epic sci-fi adventure that honors the series' sci-fi roots without skimping on the blockbuster action.

"Ice Age: Collision Course"

This is the latest installment in the animated prehistoric adventure series.  Scrat's epic pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the Ice Age World.  To save themselves, Sid, Manny, Diego, and the rest of the herd must leave their home and embark on a quest full of comedy and adventure, traveling to exotic new lands and encountering a host of colorful new characters. 

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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