89.1 WEMU

Cinema Chat: Art House Theater Day, 'The Hollars,' 'Mia Madre,' 'The Magnificent Seven,' And More

Sep 22, 2016

The Michigan Theater
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

The beginning of autumn is upon us, and so is Art House Theater Day!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins talk about this year's Art House Theater Day celebration, plus all the movies hitting the big screen this weekend.

ART HOUSE THEATER DAY – Saturday, September 24

Art House Theater Day is here!  Art House Theater Day is a nationwide celebration of cinemas that stand the test of time and the tremendous film culture that art house theaters promote.  Featuring a full day’s worth of exclusive screenings and giveaways, Art House Theater Day celebrates the legacy of independent theaters as advocates for cinema arts.  In an age where media has become more digital than tangible, more solitary than social, art house theaters remain the physical spaces where film lovers congregate and connect with intrepid, creative filmmaking.  Screenings include new digital restorations of “Time Bandits” and “Phantasm,” two new animated shorts from A Town Called Panic (directors of “Ernest and Celestine”), and documentary “Danny Says,” a Cinetopia 2015 selection exploring the life of Danny Fields, one of the most influential figures of American punk rock.  Celebrate Art House Theater Day at the Michigan Theater on Saturday September 24!

The Michigan Theater’s NEW Annex Cinema opened last Friday.  The Annex Cinema will serve as an additional screen while the State Theatre downtown is closed for renovation.  The Michigan Theater now has three screens, the original 1928 historic theater auditorium, the Screening Room (opened in 1999), and the 64 seat Annex Cinema, located next to the Screening Room.  The two screens at the State Theater closed last week, but will reopen in the summer of 2017 as a beautiful four-screen cinema after a historically sensitive and creatively executed renovation is completed.

Opening Downtown

"The Hollars"

Struggling artist John Hollar (John Krasinski, who also directed this film) is forced to navigate the small middle-American town he left behind.  When his mom, played by U-M grad and Emmy award-winning character actress Margo Martindale, becomes ill, John Hollar returns his home town.  Back home, he is immediately swept up in the problems of his dysfunctional family, high school rival, and an over-eager ex-girlfriend as he faces impending fatherhood with his girlfriend (Anna Kendrick) in New York.  “The Hollars” opens Friday.

"Mia Madre"

This is a thought-provoking film by director/co-writer Nanni Moretti. It is a skillful blend of comedy and pathos that tells the story of of Margherita, a harried film director (Margherita Buy) trying to juggle the demands of her latest movie and a personal life in crisis. The star of her film, a charming but hammy American actor (John Turturro) imported for the production, initially presents nothing but headaches and her crew is close to mutiny.  Away from the shoot, Margherita tries to hold her life together as her beloved mother's illness progresses, and her teenage daughter grows ever more distant.  “Mia Madre” opens Friday.

Special Screenings Downtown

"Liberty's Secret"

This is a new movie-musical written, composed and directed by U-M professor Andy Kirshner.  The film follows the rise of Liberty Smith, the squeaky-clean daughter of a “family values” preacher who becomes the symbolic centerpiece of a socially conservative presidential campaign.  When ingénue Liberty falls in love with her (female) spin-doctor, the result is a cable news catastrophe.  A confused Liberty must choose between the life she knows, and the love she has always dreamed of – while all of America watches.  “Liberty’s Secret” premieres at the Michigan Theater on Thursday, September 22 at 8 PM.


This is a feature-length documentary that observes the complex world of an outpatient mental health clinic in Japan.  The film breaks a major taboo against discussing mental illness prevalent in Japanese society and captures the candid lives of people coping with suicidal tendencies, poverty, a sense of shame, apprehension, and fear of society.  Following the screening, filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda will take part in a Q&A.  Presented by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, “Mental” plays Friday at 7 PM.  Admission is free.

"Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang"

Naughty twins Zip & Zap are punished and sent to summer school at a strict re-education center run by Falconetti, who forbids all forms of recreation and entertainment. The kids form the Marble Gang, to defy the evil headmaster. Guided by intelligence, bravery and unbreakable faith in friendship, they uncover a mysterious secret hidden deep within the school and end up having the most exciting adventure of their lives.  This Spanish-language film is presented with English subtitles. “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang” plays Sunday at 1:30 PM.  Free for kids 12 and under!

"The Mermaid"

Xuan’s real estate project involving reclamation of the sea threatens the livelihood of the mermaids who rely on the sea to survive.  Mermaid Shan is dispatched to assassinate Xuan, but as they spend more time together, Xuan and Shan begin to fall in love. Out of his love for Shan, Xuan plans to stop the real estate project.  Meanwhile, Shan and the other mermaids are hunted by a nefarious organization and Xuan has to save Shan before it’s too late.  Presented by the Confucius Institute at U-M, “The Mermaid” plays Tuesday at 7 PM.  Presented in 3D; admission is free!

The Manhattan Short Film Festival returns to Ann Arbor!  It’s an extraordinary global event when over 100,000 people in over 300 cities across six continents gather in cinemas, galleries, universities, museums and cafes for one purpose: to view and vote on the finalists’ films in the annual festival.  The Manhattan Short Film Festival plays Thursday, September 29 at 7 PM.

Opening at the Multiplex

"The Magnificent Seven"

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his vision to a classic story.  With the town of Rose Creek under the deadly control of a ruthless industrialist, the desperate townspeople employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers, and hired guns.  As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.  Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Peter Sarsgaard, “The Magnificent Seven” opens Friday.


In the animated children's film, two storks (voiced by Kelsey Grammer and Andy Samberg) reveal the truth about their job delivering babies to new parents.  “Storks” opens Friday.

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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