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Cinema Chat: 'Don't Think Twice,' 'Fargo,' 'Blood Simple,' 'Pete's Dragon,' And More

Aug 12, 2016

The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

It's another hot week in August, so why not spend it in a nice, cool movie theater?  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and all the movies heading to your local theater this weekend.

Opening Downtown

"Don't Think Twice"

Mike Birbiglia’s funny, insightful and honest film looks at a common experience that’s an uncommon subject for a film: failure.  For eleven years, an improv group called The Commune has reigned as the big fish in the small pond of their New York improv theater.  They’re ingenious, they’re fast, and they build on each other’s ideas like best friends – which they also are.  Night after night, they kill onstage and wait for their big break.  Then scouts from a hit TV show come to a performance looking for talent.  Only two cast members get the nod, upsetting the dynamic of the group and leaving its future in doubt.  Relationships begin to crack as six friends face the truth that not all of them will make it, and for some, it may be time to give up on the dream and move on.  Written, directed by, and starring Mike Birbiglia, along with Keegan-Michael Key and Gillian Jacobs, the film presents a hilarious and honest look at the lives of professional funny people.  “Don’t Think Twice” opens Friday at the State.


Based on the novel by Philip Roth, this film takes place in 1951, as Marcus (Logan Lerman), a brilliant working class Jewish boy from Newark, travels on scholarship to a small, conservative college in Ohio, thus exempting him from being drafted into the Korean War.  But once there, Marcus's growing infatuation with his beautiful classmate Olivia (Sarah Gadon), and his clashes with the college's imposing Dean (Tracy Letts), put his and his family's best laid plans to the ultimate test.  “Indignation” opens Friday, August 19 at the Michigan, with special advance screenings on Thursday, August 18.

Continuing Downtown

"Hunt for the Wilderpeople"

The Cinetopia 2016 Audience Award winner is about Ricky, your typical misfit kid who loves causing trouble, and you will love every ounce of him.  When Ricky heads to his latest foster home, he connects with his sweet Aunt Bella and his new home in the New Zealand bush.  The tough one to read is Bella’s husband, Uncle Hec, who could do without the hip-hop loving young kid.  When an unfortunate situation puts Ricky at risk of getting ripped out of his newfound home, he decides to head out into the bush with his dog, Tupac, to escape the authorities. Despite his grumpiest efforts, Uncle Hec helps Ricky navigate the new landscape, and their escape turns into a hilarious and heartwarming adventure.  Sam Neill and newcomer Julian Dennison make the perfect pair in this coming-of-age buddy comedy. 

“Café Society”

Set in the 1930s, Woody Allen's bittersweet romance follows Bronx-born Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) to Hollywood, where he falls in love, and back to New York, where he is swept up in the vibrant world of high society nightclub life. Centering on events in the lives of Bobby's colorful Bronx family, the film is a glittering valentine to the movie stars, socialites, playboys, debutantes, politicians, and gangsters who epitomized the excitement and glamour of the age.  “Café Society” continues at the Michigan.

"Captain Fantastic"

Deep in the isolated forests of the Pacific Northwest, a devoted father (Viggo Mortensen) dedicates his life to transforming his six young children into extraordinary adults.  But when a tragedy strikes the family, they are forced to leave this self-created paradise and begin a journey into the outside world that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent and brings into question everything he's taught them.  “Captain Fantastic” continues at the State.

Special Screenings Downtown


The Summer Classic Film Series continues with a Coen Brothers double-header.  In “Fargo,” a pregnant police chief (Oscar winner Frances McDormand) is investigating a series of homicides across the frozen tundra. Against a sprawling Minnesota landscape, a car salesman (William H. Macy) hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife.  But when the scheme goes sour, and wood chippers get involved, the haphazard kidnapping plot turns deadly serious.  “Fargo” plays Sunday, August 14 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, August 16 at 7 PM at the Michigan.

August 21 & 23:  Sound of Music Sing-A-Long

August 28 & 30: Metropolis w/ Live Organ

September 5: Casablanca (Free for Students)

"Blood Simple"

In the Coen Brothers’ first film, M. Emmett Walsh plays Visser, an unscrupulous private eye hired by Texas bar owner Marty (Dan Hedaya) to murder Marty’s faithless wife Abby (McDormand) and her paramour. Visser is no more up-front with Marty than with anyone else; he makes some slight modifications of the original plan so that it better serves his own best interests.  False assumptions, guilt, and fear all lead to a frantic attempt to conceal evidence and the heart-pounding, irony-filled denouement.  “Blood Simple” plays Tuesday, August 16 at 9 PM at the Michigan.


Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) arrives in Las Vegas with only a suitcase and a dream of becoming a top showgirl.  She quickly befriends Molly (Gina Ravera), who works at the high-profile Stardust Hotel, and lands a job at a seedy strip club.  A chance meeting with Cristal (Gina Gershon), the Stardust’s marquee dancer, and her powerful boyfriend, Zack (Kyle MacLachlan), brings Nomi one step closer to realizing her dream.  But, as she ascends to the top, Nomi begins to wonder if it’s all worth it.  “Showgirls” plays Saturday at 11:59 PM at the State.

Opening at the Multiplex

"Florence Foster Jenkins"

This tells the true story of a New York heiress and socialite (Meryl Streep), who obsessively pursued her dream of becoming a great opera singer.  The voice she heard in her head was beautiful, but to everyone else, it was hilariously awful.  Her “husband” and manager, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), an aristocratic English actor, was determined to protect his beloved Florence from the truth.  But when Florence decided to give a public concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944, St. Clair knew he faced his greatest challenge.  “Florence Foster Jenkins” opens Friday.

"Pete's Dragon"

This is a reimagining of Disney's cherished family film.  For years, old Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.  To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a mysterious 10-year-old who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliot.  And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliot seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories.  “Pete’s Dragon” opens Friday.

"Sausage Party"

The raunchy animated comedy follows a misplaced sausage and his savory friends as they embark on an existential adventure through the aisles of a massive supermarket.  As the store's annual 4th of July sale draws near, the perishable pals must return to their rightful places on the shelves before the customers come flooding in to fill their carts.  Featuring the voices of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and many others, “Sausage Party” 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