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Cinema Chat: 'Destroyer,' 'Stan & Ollie,' 'Miss Bala,' And More

Jan 31, 2019

Michigan Theater View from the Stage
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins has returned from Sundance to warm your spirits.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," Russ joins WEMU's Patrick Campion to talk about the latest movie news and all of the flicks worth checking out at your local theater this weekend.


OPENING DOWNTOWN

"Destroyer"

At the State (opens Friday, February 1): Golden Globe® Award Nominated for Best Actress - Nicole Kidman!  In this film, Erin Bell went undercover to infiltrate a gang in the California desert with tragic results as a young cop.  Bell continues to work as a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, but feelings of anger and remorse leave her worn-down and consumed by guilt.  When the leader of that gang suddenly re-emerges, Erin embarks on an obsessive quest to find his former associates, bring him to justice and make peace with her tortured past.  Also stars Sebastian Stan, Bradley Whitford, and Toby Kebbell

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Stan & Ollie"

At the Michigan: Stars Golden Globe® Nominee for Best Actor John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan! This film follows Laurel and Hardy, the world’s greatest comedy team, who faced an uncertain future as their golden era of Hollywood films remain long behind them.  Diminished by age, the duo set out to reconnect with their adoring fans by touring variety halls in Britain in 1953.  The shows become an instant hit, but Stan and Ollie can’t quite shake the past as long-buried tension, and Hardy’s failing health start to threaten their precious partnership.

"On the Basis of Sex"

This film tells an inspiring and spirited true story that follows young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg (played by Felicity Jones) as she teams with her husband Marty (played by Armie Hammer) to bring a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination.  Also stars Justin TherouxKathy Bates, and Sam Waterston.

"Roma"

Nominated for 10 Oscars®, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress!  The most personal project to date from Academy Award-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón ("Gravity," "Children of Men," "Y Tu Mama Tambien"), this film follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City.  Delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s.

"Shoplifters"

At the State: Oscar® nominated for Best Foreign Language Film!  Understated yet ultimately deeply affecting, this film adds another powerful chapter to director Hirokazu Koreeda's richly humanistic filmography.  After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold.  At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu's wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces.  Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.

"If Beale Street Could Talk"

Nominated for 3 Oscars®, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay!  Directed by Barry Jenkins ("Moonlight").  Set in early-1970s Harlem, this film is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the Black family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers (played by screen newcomer KiKi Layne).  A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect, and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (played by Stephan James).  The couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Alonzo is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

"Vice"

Nominated for 8 Oscars®, including Best Picture and Best Actor!  This film explores the epic story about how a bureaucratic Washington insider quietly became the most powerful man in the world as Vice-President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.  Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, Tyler Perry as Colin Powell, Justin Kirk as Scooter Libby, Bill Camp as Gerald Ford. 

"The Favourite"

Nominated for 10 Oscars®, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress!  This film takes place in the early 18th century, while England is at war with the French.   A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne's ill health and mercurial temper.  When a new servant Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.  Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots.  

"Green Book"

Nominated for 5 Oscars®, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor!  In this film, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on "The Green Book" to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans.  Confronted with racism, danger-as well as unexpected humanity and humor-they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime. 

"Free Solo"

Oscar® Nominated for Best Documentary!  From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin comes this National Geographic Documentary Film, a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world's most famous rock... the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park... without a rope.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

"The Philadelphia Story"

This film plays Tuesday, February 5 at 7:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of the Katharine Hepburn film series.  This month, we will celebrate Hollywood’s leading lady for more than 60 years!  This classic romantic comedy focuses on Tracy Lord (played by Katharine Hepburn), a Philadelphia socialite who has split from her husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (played by Cary Grant), due both to his drinking and to her overly demanding nature.  As Tracy prepares to wed the wealthy George Kittredge (played by John Howard), she crosses paths with both Dexter and prying reporter Macaulay Connor (played by James Stewart).  Unclear about her feelings for all three men, Tracy must decide whom she truly loves.

"Hunter x Hunter: The Last Mission"

This film plays Wednesday, February 6 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater as a part of the Icons of Anime film series, back by popular demand!  The Battle Olympia tournament at Heaven’s Arena is about to begin!  Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio plan on watching the matches along with the other Hunters and VIPs in attendance. As they wait, a raid by the Shadow ends the festivities.  Skilled fighters fall one by one to their terrifying ability called On, a dark power derived from malice.  When their leader Jed captures Netero and declares death to all Hunters in the name of vengeance, Gon and Killua rush to defeat him!

Cinetopia Presents Direct from Sundance 2019

Our annual tradition where we play a Sundance exclusive film is back Thursday, February 7 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater.  What will the film be?  You’ll have to wait and see!

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX

"Miss Bala"

Golden Globe® Winner Gina Rodriguez finds a power she never knew she had in this film, opening in theaters Friday, February 1.  Based on the 2011 Mexican film of the same name, follows Gloria, who is a makeup artist from Los Angeles, as she is visiting her best friend Suzu in Tijuana, Mexico.  Suzu suddenly disappears at a nightclub and in the process of searching for and rescuing her, Gloria gets kidnapped and is forced to smuggle laundered money for a drug cartel.  She works her way into the good graces of their leader Lino as well as the DEA, which also takes part in this case.  Gloria must turn the tables on everyone to escape and finds a power she never knew she had as she navigates a dangerous world of cross-border crime.  Surviving will require all her cunning, innovation, and strength. 

GREAT FILMS (and OSCAR BAIT) OPENING SOON

"Cold War"

At the Michigan (Sneak Peek on Thursday, February 7 and opens Friday, February 8): Oscar® nominated for Best Foreign Language Film!  With brilliantly stark visual aesthetic to match its lean narrative, this film doesn't waste a moment of its brief running time -- and doesn't skimp on its bittersweet emotional impact.  This is a passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland.  With vastly different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatefully mismatched and yet condemned to each other.  Set against the background of the Cold War in 1950s Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, it's the tale of a couple separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate - an impossible love story in impossible times.  Written and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski ("Ida," "My Summer of Love").

2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films

At the Michigan (opens Friday, February 8): Includes Live-Action, Animated, and Documentary Nominees.

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— Patrick Campion is the WEMU Program Director.  You can contact Patrick at 734.487.3363, on twitter @WEMUPC, or email him at pcampion@emich.edu