89.1 WEMU

Cinema Chat: Bob Seger's Last Stand, 'The Last Black Man In San Francisco,' 'Toy Story 4,' And More

Jun 20, 2019

The State Theatre
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Summer is in full swing, and so is the summer box office!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair is joined by Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to discuss the latest movie news and all of the new films hitting the big screen this weekend.


"The Last Black Man in San Francisco"

At the State (Sneak peek Thursday, June 20 and opens for full run Friday, June 21): This film is a poignant and sweeping story of hometowns and how they’re made—and kept alive—by the people who love them.  Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco.  Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.  As he struggles to reconnect with his family and reconstruct the community he longs for, his hopes blind him to the reality of his situation.


At the State (Opens for Friday, June 21): With this film, director Zhang Yimou ("Hero," "House of Flying Daggers") once again pushes the boundaries of wuxia action to create a film like no other, masterfully painting a canvas of inky blacks and greys punctuated with bursts of color from the blood of the defeated.  In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a “shadow,” a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself.  Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.

"The Spy Behind Home Plate"

At the Michigan (Opens Friday, June 21): This film tells the real story of Morris “Moe” Berg, the enigmatic and brilliant Jewish baseball player turned spy.  Berg caught and fielded in the major leagues during baseball’s Golden Age in the 1920s and 1930s.  But very few people know that Berg also worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), spying in Europe and playing a prominent role in America’s efforts to undermine the German atomic bomb program during WWII.  Featuring an introduction and post-film Q&A with director Aviva Kempner on Saturday, June 22 at 7:00 PM! 


At the Michigan (Opens Friday, June 21): The Cinetopia Secretopia hit returns!  From the filmmaking team behind the highly-acclaimed documentary "The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years," this is a riveting film that lifts the curtain on the icon who brought opera to the people.  Academy Award® winner Ron Howard puts audiences front row center for an exploration of The Voice…The Man…The Legend.  Luciano Pavarotti gave his life to the music and a voice to the world.  This cinematic event features history-making performances and intimate interviews, including never-before-seen footage and cutting-edge Dolby Atmos technology


"Fiction and Other Realities"

Join us for a re-screening of an audience favorite from the 2019 Cinetopia Film Festival!  This film plays Thursday, June 20 at 10:00 PM at Top of the Park Rackham Stage.  Bring your blankets and chairs!  Bobby, a New York born and raised Korean American is a struggling singer-songwriter that still lives at home with his widowed Korean mother.  Bobby is presented with the opportunity to travel on a world tour as a roadie for his best friend Billy’s electro-pop band.  He abandons the tour upon reaching Seoul, Korea.  In Korea, he befriends INA who becomes his guide in Seoul and also a partner in music.  They perform music together and begin to find success.  Just as things are looking positive for the duo, things come to a halt and Bobby needs to decide what’s important to him.  Returning to his old life or continuing his journey for self-worth in Korea.  His time in this land where everyone looks like him helps close certain gaps in his life that question his heritage and his inability to feel fully accepted at home in America.

"The Last Animals"

This film plays Friday, June 21 at 3:00 PM at the Michigan.  Presented in partnership with the Michigan Sustainability Cases initiative at the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability.  Conflict photographer Kate Brooks’ pathbreaking and award-winning documentary reveals complex transnational networks of wildlife consumption and protection.  Presented for Galaxy 2019, a gathering of digital innovators in Socially Engaged Sustainability Education (register at galaxy.learngala.com) this screening features a discussion afterwards with the director and production team.


This film plays Friday, June 21 at 5:00 PM at The Ford Resource and Engagement Center Eastside in Detroit as a part of Cinetopia Film Festival’s free summer outdoor screenings.  Bring your chairs and blankets for pre-show circus performers, which start at 4:00 PM, and the movie will follow.  Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm.  With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people — and then the surface world.  Standing in his way is Aquaman, Orm’s half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne.  With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.

"Being John Malkovich"

This film plays Saturday, June 22 at 10:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of the Like It’s 1999 Late-Night film series.  In this quirky cult-favorite comedy, unemployed New York City puppeteer Craig Schwartz (played by John Cusack) reluctantly takes a temp job as a filing clerk for the eccentric Dr. Lester (played by Orson Bean).  While at work, Craig discovers a portal that leads into the mind of renowned actor John Malkovich.  When he lets his attractive co-worker Maxine (played by Catherine Keener) in on the secret, they begin both an unusual business scheme and an odd relationship that involves Craig’s restless wife, Lotte (played by Cameron Diaz).

"2001: A Space Odyssey"

This film plays Sunday, June 23 at 1:30 PM and Wednesday, June 26 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater as a part of The SavCo Hospitality Summer Classic Film Series, presented by the University of Michigan Credit Union with media support from MLive.  In June, July, and August, we will be celebrating generations of filmmakers and their nostalgic treasures!  An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke.  When Dr. Dave Bowman (played by 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.


"Late Night"

At the Michigan: In this film, a legendary late-night talk show host’s (played by Emma Thompson) world is turned upside down when she hires her first and only female staff writer (played by Mindy Kaling).  Originally intended to smooth over diversity concerns, her decision brings about unexpectedly hilarious consequences as the two women who are separated by culture and generation become united by their love of a biting punchline.  

"The Biggest Little Farm"

This year's Direct From Sundance selection!  This film chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.  Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature's conflicts, the Chester’s unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.

"Framing John DeLorean"

At the State: The Cinetopia 2019 hit returns for a full run!  This film recounts the extraordinary life and legend of the controversial automaker, tracing his meteoric rise through the ranks of General Motors, his obsessive quest to build a sports car that would conquer the world, and his shocking fall from grace on charges of cocaine trafficking.  Interweaving a treasure trove of archival footage with dramatic vignettes starring Alec Baldwin, the film is a gripping look at a man who gambled everything in his pursuit of the American Dream. 

"The Dead Don't Die"

This film follows the small town of Centerville, where something is not quite right.  The moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming unpredictable, and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behaviors.  News reports are scary, and scientists are concerned.  But no one foresees the strangest and most dangerous repercussion that will soon start plaguing Centerville: the dead rise from their graves and feast on the living, and the citizens must battle for their survival.  Stars Bill MurrayAdam DriverTilda SwintonChloë SevignySteve BuscemiDanny GloverCaleb Landry JonesRosie PerezIggy PopSara DriverRZASelena Gomez, and Carol Kane.  Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch.  


This is an epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John's breakthrough years.  The film follows the fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John.  This inspirational story -- set to Elton John's most beloved songs and performed by star Taron Egerton -- tells the universally relatable story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture.  The film also stars Jamie Bellas Elton's longtime lyricist and writing partner Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as Elton's first manager, John Reid, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton's mother Sheila Farebrother. 


Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, this film is an unfiltered comedy about high school best friends and the bonds we create that last a lifetime.  Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming of age story for a new generation.  The story follows Dever and Feldstein's characters, two academic superstars and best friends who, on the eve of their high school graduation, suddenly realize that they should have worked less and played more.  Determined never to fall short of their peers, the girls set out on a mission to cram four years of fun into one night. From Director Olivia Wilde and starring Kaitlyn DeverBeanie FeldsteinJessica WilliamsLisa KudrowWill Forte, and Jason Sudeikis


"Toy Story 4"

Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that's Andy or Bonnie.  So, in this sequel, when Bonnie's beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky (voice of Tony Hale), declares himself as "trash" and not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a toy.

"Child's Play"

A contemporary re-imagining of the 1988 horror classic, this film follows Karen (played by Aubrey Plaza), a single mother who gifts her son Andy (played by Gabriel Bateman) a Buddi doll after moving to a new city.  This seemingly innocent Buddi doll becomes Andy’s best friend, unaware of its more sinister nature.  When the doll suddenly takes on a life of its own, Andy unites with other neighborhood children to stop the sinister toy from wreaking bloody havoc.


An electrifying thrill ride unfolding with propulsive energy, startling twists and breathtaking action, this film introduces Sasha Luss in the title role with a star-studded cast including Academy Award® Winner Helen Mirren, Cillian Murphy, and Luke Evans.  Beneath Anna Poliatova's striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the world's most feared government assassins.

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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