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Cinema Chat: 'The Big Sick,' 'Strangers On A Train,' 'Spider-Man: Homecoming,' And More

Jul 6, 2017

Michigan Theater Marquee
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about all of the films you can check out at your local theater this weekend.  Plus, Russ shares his first drive-in theater experience in many years.

Continuing Downtown

"The Beguiled"

An atmospheric thriller written and directed by Academy Award winner Sofia Coppola, this film weaves a story fraught with sexual tension, dangerous rivalries, and broken taboos following an unexpected turn of events.  At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. Soon, the house is taken over with sexual tension, rivalries, and an unexpected turn of events.  Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly writes “Coppola, who took home the Best Director prize for the movie last month at Cannes (only the second woman in the festival’s 70-year history to do so), has her own narrative hand to play, and she does it with a coolness that both obscures and inverts the most obvious interpretations of her characters’ choices.”  “The Beguiled” stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning

"The Hero"

In the Cinetopia Film Festival hit, Western star of yesteryear Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) likes to reminisce with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), about the good times gone by, until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus.  Lee gets a fresh chance to reclaim the spotlight with the help of his new lover Charlotte (Laura Prepon) and an industry award for his work, all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy.  Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post writes, “There are moments when Elliott evokes more meaning and sympathy from the back of his wiry, weathered neck than most actors do from all manner of scenery-chewing… That’s the weird alchemy of screen acting: At its best, it’s a combination of careful technique, canny withholding and unquantifiable charisma.  And it’s what Elliott embodies in every frame of this modest but inordinately absorbing little movie.” 

"Beatriz At Dinner"-- Closes Soon

Beatriz (Salma Hayek), an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a health practitioner in Los Angeles.  Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) is a cutthroat, self-satisfied billionaire.  When these two opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.

Opening Downtown

"The Big Sick"-- Opens Thursday, July 13

Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, this film tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) after one of his standup sets.  However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents.  When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he's never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.  "The Big Sick" is directed by Michael Showalter ("Hello My Name is Doris") and producer by Judd Apatow ("Trainwreck," "This is 40") and Barry Mendel ("Trainwreck," "The Royal Tenenbaums").

Special Screenings Downtown


The Summer Classic Film Series returns with more selections than ever celebrating generations of filmmakers and their nostalgic treasures. Beginning this Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, the Michigan Theater will begin screenings every Sunday at 1:30 PM, Tuesday at 7:00 PM, and Thursdays in July and August at 9:30 PM.  We’ll continue traditions with a Sing-Along of THE LITTLE MERMAID, screen a silent film with live organ accompaniment in Buster Keaton’s STEAMBOAT BILL JR, but we’ve also added three sub-series featuring the works of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, and Stanley Kubrick:

Hitchcock Goes Hollywood

This year, we have 11 selections of Hitchcock’s most popular films from his career working with Hollywood’s biggest stars like James Stewart, Cary Grant, Tippi Hedren, Grace Kelly, Doris Day, and Sean Connery. We will begin with his 1951 thriller/noir Strangers On A Train and work our way through his filmography, celebrating his most iconic images, and concluding the series with Psycho, which students will be able to attend for free!  This series begins Sunday, July 9, and continues with a new film every Sunday and Tuesday at our normal time.

9-Jul                "Strangers On A Train"

In Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s thriller, tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger) is enraged by his trampy wife’s refusal to finalize their divorce so he can wed senator’s daughter Anne (Ruth Roman).  He strikes up a conversation with a stranger, Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker), and unwittingly sets in motion a deadly chain of events.  Psychopathic Bruno kills Guy’s wife, then urges Guy to reciprocate by killing Bruno’s father.  Meanwhile, Guy is murder suspect number one.  “Strangers on a Train” plays Sunday, July 9 at 1:30 PM.

11-Jul              "Rear Window"

This is one of Hitchcock’s most suspenseful films.  Laid up with a broken leg, photojournalist L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to his tiny, sweltering courtyard apartment.  To pass the time between visits from his nurse (Thelma Ritter) and his fashion model girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), the binocular-wielding Jeffries stares through the rear window of his apartment at the goings-on in the other apartments around his courtyard.  As he watches his neighbors, he assigns them roles and character names.  Of particular interest is seemingly mild-mannered traveling salesman Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), who is saddled with a nagging, invalid wife.  One afternoon, Thorwald pulls down his window shade, and his wife's incessant bray comes to a sudden halt.  Out of boredom, Jeffries casually concocts a scenario in which Thorwald has murdered his wife and disposed of the body in gruesome fashion.  Trouble is, Jeffries' musings just might happen to be the truth.  “Rear Window” plays Tuesday, July 11 at 7 PM.  Both “Strangers on a Train” and “Rear Window” play as part of the Michigan Theater’s Summer Classics: Hitchcock Goes Hollywood series.

16-Jul              To Catch A Thief

18-Jul              The Trouble With Harry

23-Jul              The Man Who Knew Too Much

25-Jul              The Wrong Man

30-Jul              Vertigo

1-Aug              North By Northwest

6-Aug              The Birds

8-Aug              Marnie

End of Summer Classics

13-Aug                        Steamboat Bill Jr.

15-Aug                        Steamboat Bill Jr.

20-Aug                        Wizard of Oz

22-Aug                        Wizard of Oz

27-Aug                        Sing-A-Long Little Mermaid

29-Aug                        Sing-A-Long Little Mermaid

3-Sep                          Children of Men

4-Sep                          Psycho

5-Sep                         Children of Men

Kubrick After Dark

Kubrick’s "Lolita" was the first film Stanley Kubrick wrote, directed, and produced, which is why we launch this sub-series in July with the film that broke ground and allowed him the creative freedom to become one of the primary auteurs of American Cinema.  Though many today consider his work as modern masterpieces of art, his films are encapsulated genre pieces that make these selections enjoyable summer flicks for everyone. We will continue the series with 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining.  This series begins Thursday, July 6, and continues every Thursday in July at 9:30 PM.           

13-Jul  "2001: A Space Odyssey"         

An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this film, the enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke.  When Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and other astronauts are sent on a mysterious mission, their ship’s computer system, HAL, begins to display increasingly strange behavior, leading up to a tense showdown between man and machine that results in a mind-bending trek through space and time.  “2001: A Space Odyssey” plays Thursday, July 13 at 9:30 PM as part of the Summer Classics: Kubrick After Dark series.

20-Jul            A Clockwork Orange

27-Jul            The Shining    

Lynch After Dark                  

3-Aug              Eraserhead   

10-Aug            Dune  

17-Aug            Blue Velvet   

24-Aug            Wild At Heart

31-Aug            Lost Highway

Opening at the Multiplex

"Spider-Man: Homecoming"

A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero.  Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine--distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man--but when the Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.  “Spider-Man: Homecoming” 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