Cinema Chat: 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'The Cakemaker,' 'Mile 22,' And More

Aug 16, 2018

Michigan Theater Upstairs Lobby
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In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to discuss the latest movie news.  Plus, they'll preview all of the new films coming to your local movie house this weekend.

‘Aladdin’: Justin Paul and Benj Pasek Reveal Details of New Songs for Live-Action Reboot

If an Oscar, Tony, and Grammy weren’t enough for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, they can now say they’ve collaborated with musical legend Alan Menken.  The “La La Land” and “The Greatest Showman” duo are working with Menken on new songs for director Guy Ritchie’s upcoming live-action retelling of 1992’s “Aladdin,” starring Mena Massoud in the lead role, Will Smith as Genie, and Naomi Scott as Jasmine.

Pasek and Paul have finally revealed some new details about their songs for Aladdin. “We got to write a new song for Jasmine,” Paul tells Variety.  “Alan wrote a beautiful piece of music and [Scott] is incredible.”  They also wrote a duet for Aladdin and Jasmine.  “It’s a sweet song,” Paul said. They even got to write a new verse for the original film’s “Arabian Nights.”  “Aladdin” is set for release on May 24, 2019.

Celebrating Pasek & Paul – Sing Along The Greatest Showman – Friday, September 14

Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum in “The Greatest Showman,” the 2017 musical celebration of the life of one of America’s true original entertainment pioneers, the producer of the most famous touring circus in history, and the spiritual godfather of marketing.  Zac Efron plays Barnum’s playboy protégé, Zendaya is his trapeze-artist star.  Music and lyrics for "The Greatest Showman" are by UM Musical Theatre graduates and 2017’s showbusiness rock stars Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. They won the Oscar for Best Song for “City of Stars” from The Greatest Showman, wrote the songs for academy award nominated Best Picture “La La Land” and the Tony bestowed Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen.”


"Crazy Rich Asians"

At the State: This film is based on a global bestseller and follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanying her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore.  She's also surprised to learn that Nick's family is extremely wealthy and he's considered one of the country's most eligible bachelors.  Thrust into the spotlight, Rachel must now contend with jealous socialites, quirky relatives and something far, far worse - Nick's disapproving mother. 

"The Cakemaker"

At the Michigan: In this film, Thomas, a young German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who has frequent business visits in Berlin. When Oren dies in a car crash in Israel, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking for answers regarding his death.  Under a secret identity, Thomas infiltrates into the life of Anat, his lover's newly widowed wife.  The encounter with the unfamiliar reality will make Thomas involved in Anat's life in a way far beyond his anticipation, and to protect the truth he will stretch his lie to a point of no return.

"Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf"

At the Michigan: The documentary immerses viewers in landscape designer Piet Oudolf's work and takes us inside his creative process, from his beautifully abstract sketches, to theories on beauty, to the ecological implications of his ideas.  Intimate discussions take place through all four seasons in Piet's own gardens at Hummelo, and on visits to his signature public works in New York, Chicago, and the Netherlands, as well as to the far-flung locations that inspire his genius, including desert wildflowers in West Texas and post-industrial forests in Pennsylvania.


"The Odd Couple"

SavCo Hospitality Summer Classic Film Series is celebrating films from the year 1968!  This week’s selection is this American comedy, which will play Sunday, August 19 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, August 21 at 7:00 PM.  Two friends try sharing an apartment, but their ideas of housekeeping and lifestyles are as different as night and day.

Fatally Yours: A Film Noir Series

Special Guest Eddie Muller, president and founder of the Film Noir Foundation and host of TCM’s Noir Alley will kick off this film series with a special series introduction and a post-film discussion of the opening film, Orson Welles' "The Lady From Shanghai!"

 The ‘Femme Fatale’ is a character archetype that uses cunning, charm, and sexuality to provoke the downfall and disaster of men.  In Fatally Yours, we will celebrate the women that drive the plots of these 1940s crime thrillers that defined and inspired decades of film history.


"Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

At the Michigan: This film takes an intimate look at America's favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers.  A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.


An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women.


At the State: From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero.  It's the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington) is the first black detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.  Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan.  The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (played by Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime.


This film stars Daveed Diggs as Collin, who must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning.  He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (played by Rafael Casal), work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men's friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in.

"Eighth Grade"

This year’s Cinetopia Film Festival opening night film follows thirteen-year-old Kayla who endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school, the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year before she begins high school.

"Three Identical Strangers"

Three strangers are reunited by astonishing coincidence after being born identical triplets, separated at birth, and adopted by three different families.  Their jaw-dropping, feel-good story instantly becomes a global sensation complete with fame and celebrity, however, the fairy-tale reunion sets in motion a series of events that unearth an unimaginable secret -- a secret with radical repercussions for us all. 

"Sorry to Bother You"

The film takes place in a dystopian, not-too-distant future Oakland, California, where black telemarketer Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success.  This key propels him into a macabre universe of “powercalling” that leads to material glory. 


"Mile 22"

In a visceral modern thriller from the director of "Lone Survivor."  Mark Wahlberg stars as James Silva, an operative of the CIA's most highly-prized and least understood unit.  Aided by a top-secret tactical command team, Silva must retrieve and transport an asset who holds life-threatening information to Mile 22 for extraction before the enemy closes in.  Also stars Lauren Cohan from "The Walking Dead" and MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.

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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