89.1 WEMU

Cinema Chat: Fall Film Fest Dates, 'Blinded By The Light,' 'Good Boys,' And More

Aug 15, 2019

The State Theatre
Credit Brandon C / flickr.com

Summertime is almost in the rearview mirror, but more good flicks are still ahead.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest movie news and all of the new films coming to your local movies this weekend.


FALL FILM FESTIVAL SEASON IS ABOUT TO BEGIN!

Venice Film Festival (76th) – August 28-September 7

The Venice Film Festival, or Venice International Film Festival, is the oldest film festival in the world and one of the "Big Three" film festivals, alongside the Cannes Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival.  Founded in Venice, Italy, in August 1932, the festival is part of the Venice Biennale, an exhibition of Italian art founded by the Venice City Council on 19 April 1893.  The range of work at the Venice Biennale now covers Italian and international art, architecture, dance, music, theatre, and cinema.

Telluride Film Festival (46th) – August 30-September 2

This quirky but amazing festival was started in 1974 by Scott Brown, the Chairman of the Telluride Council for the Arts and Humanities, Bill and Stella Pence, Tom Luddy, and James Card of Eastman-Kodak Film Preserve.  It is operated by the National Film Preserve.  It announces none of the films that will be shown.

Toronto International Film Festival (44th) – September 5-15

The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world, attracting over 480,000 people annually.  Since its founding in 1976, TIFF has grown to become a permanent destination for film culture operating out of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, located in downtown Toronto

New York Film Festival (57th) – September 27-October 13

New York Film Festival is an annual film festival held every autumn in New York City, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.  Founded in 1963 (same year as the Ann Arbor Film Festival).

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"Where'd You Go, Bernadette?"

At the Michigan (Opens Thursday, August 15): Based on the runaway bestseller, this is an inspiring comedy about Bernadette Fox (played by Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett), a loving mom who becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family.  Bernadette’s leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.  Stars Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Emma Nelson, James Urbaniak, Judy Greer, Troian Bellisario, Zoë Chao, and Laurence Fishburne.

"Blinded by the Light"

At the State (Opens Friday, August 16): In this film, Javed is a British teen growing up in 1987 England.  Amidst the racial and economic turmoil, he writes poetry to escape his rundown hometown and the rules of his traditional Pakistani household.  But when a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed sees parallels to his working-class life in the powerful lyrics.  As Javed discovers an outlet for his own pent-up dreams, he also begins to express himself in his own voice.  

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

"Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"

This film plays Saturday, August 17 at 10:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of the Late-Night Series.  Bill (played by Alex Winter) and Ted (played by Keanu Reeves) are high school buddies starting a band.  However, they are about to fail their history class, which means Ted would be sent to military school.  They receive help from Rufus (played by George Carlin), a traveler from a future where their band is the foundation for a perfect society.  With the use of Rufus’ time machine, Bill and Ted travel to various points in history, returning with important figures to help them complete their final history presentation.

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

This film plays Sunday, August 18 at 1:30 PM and Wednesday, August 21 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.  All summer long, we will be celebrating generations of filmmakers and their nostalgic treasures!  The true story of fast-draws and wild rides, battles with posses, train and bank robberies, a torrid love affair, and a new lease on outlaw life in faraway Bolivia.  It is also a character study of a remarkable friendship between Butch – possibly the most likeable outlaw in frontier history – and his closest associate, the fabled, ever-dangerous Sundance Kid.  From Director George Roy Hill and starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

"Rush: Cinema Strangiato"

This film plays Wednesday, August 21 at 7:30 PM at the State Theatre.  The Holy Trinity of Rock returns to the big screen, when the first “Annual Exercise in Fan Indulgence” Cinema Strangiato brings Rush fans together in movie theatres worldwide this upcoming Wednesday.  Featuring R40+, this global fan event will give audiences a special look into some of the best performances from R40 LIVE, including songs such as “Closer to the Heart,” “Subdivisions,” “Tom Sawyer,” and more, as well as unreleased backstage moments and candid footage left on the cutting room floor.  R40+ also includes unseen soundcheck performances of the fan-favorite “Jacob’s Ladder,” exclusive new interviews with Tom Morello, Billy Corgan, Taylor Hawkins, producer Nick Raskulinecz, violinist Jonathan Dinklage, and more.  As a special bonus, fans will get a glimpse into the madness and passion that went in to the making of Geddy Lee’s new book, "Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass" – featuring a brand-new interview from the man himself.

LIMITED SPECIAL ENGAGEMENT

"Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am"

This film will continue to play at the State Theatre in remembrance of the late Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, who passed away Monday, August 5 at the age 88.  This documentary offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist.  From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ‘70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature.  Woven together with a rich collection of art, history, literature and personality, the film includes discussions about her many critically acclaimed works, including novels “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula” and “Song of Solomon,” her role as an editor of iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Them That Follow"

At the Michigan: Cinetopia 2019 Official Selection!  This film takes place deep in Appalachia, where Pastor Lemuel Childs (played by Walton Goggins) presides over an isolated community of serpent handlers, an obscure sect of Pentecostals who willingly take up venomous snakes to prove themselves before God.  As his devoted daughter, Mara (played by Alice Englert) prepares for her wedding day, under the watchful eye of Hope Slaughter (played by Academy Award® Winner Olivia Colman), a dangerous secret is unearthed, and she is forced to confront the deadly tradition of her father's church.  Also starring Kaitlyn DeverJim GaffiganThomas Mann, and Lewis Pullman

"Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love"

This film is renowned filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s ("The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," Lily Tomlin; "Kurt & Courtney" about American musicians Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love) most personal and romantic film of his storied career.  The documentary starts on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960, where Leonard Cohen, then a struggling and unknown fiction writer, and Marianne Ihlen, a single mother with a young son, became part of community of expat artists, writers and musicians.  Never-before-seen footage shot by Broomfield and legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebakermake for a unique portrait of an idyllic 1960’s bohemia.  It was a time that left a lasting imprint on both Marianne and Leonard, whose friendship would last another fifty years before their deaths in 2016.

"Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood"

Quentin Tarantino’s film visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore.  The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.  Also stars Bruce DernLuke PerryDakota FanningAl Pacino, and many more!

"Yesterday"

Jack Malik (played by Himesh Patel, BBC's "Eastenders") is a struggling singer-songwriter in a tiny English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James, "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again").  Then, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed... and he finds himself with a very complicated problem, indeed.  Also stars Ed Sheeran and Kate McKinnon.  

"Maiden"

At the State: This film is the story of how Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook in charter boats, became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World yachting competition in 1989.  Tracy's inspirational dream was opposed on all sides: her male competitors thought an all-women crew would never make it, the chauvinistic yachting press took bets on her failure, and potential sponsors rejected her, fearing they would die at sea and generate bad publicity.  But Tracy refused to give up: she remortgaged her home and bought a secondhand boat, putting everything on the line to ensure the team made it to the start line.  Although blessed with tremendous self-belief Tracy was also beset by crippling doubts and was only able to make it through with the support of her remarkable crew.  With their help she went on to shock the sport world and prove that women are very much the equal of men. 

"The Farewell"

Cinetopia 2019 Audience Award winner for Best U.S. Narrative!  In this film, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi (played by Awkwafina) reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself.  To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad.  As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate: a chance to rediscover the country she left as a child, her grandmother’s wondrous spirit, and the ties that keep on binding even when so much goes unspoken.

"Echo in the Canyon"

This film celebrates the explosion of popular music that came out of LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s as folk went electric and The ByrdsThe Beach BoysBuffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas gave birth to the California Sound.  It was a moment (1965 to 1967) when bands came to LA to emulate The Beatles, and Laurel Canyon emerged as a hotbed of creativity and collaboration for a new generation of musicians who would soon put an indelible stamp on the history of American popular music.  Featuring Jakob Dylan, the film explores the beginnings of the Laurel Canyon music scene.  Dylan uncovers never-before-heard personal details behind the bands and their songs and how that music continues to inspire today. 

"Midsommar"

From the visionary mind of Ari Aster ("Hereditary") comes a dread-soaked cinematic fairytale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.  Dani and Christian are a young American couple with a relationship on the brink of falling apart.  But after a family tragedy keeps them together, a grieving Dani invites herself to join Christian and his friends on a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village.  What begins as a carefree summer holiday in a land of eternal sunlight takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that render the pastoral paradise increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing. 

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX FRIDAY, AUGUST 16

"Good Boys"

After being invited to his first kissing party, 12-year-old Max (played by "Room's" Jacob Tremblay) is panicking because he doesn't know how to kiss.  Eager for some pointers, Max and his best friends Thor (played by Brady Noon, HBO's "Boardwalk Empire") and Lucas (played by Keith L. Williams, Fox's "The Last Man On Earth") decide to use Max's dad's drone -- which Max is forbidden to touch -- to spy (they think) on a teenage couple making out next door.  But when things go ridiculously wrong, the drone is destroyed.  Desperate to replace it before Max's dad (played by Will Forte, "The Last Man on Earth") gets home, the boys skip school and set off on an odyssey of epically bad decisions involving some accidentally stolen drugs, frat-house paintball, and running from both the cops and terrifying teenage girls.

"The Angry Birds Movie 2"

The flightless angry birds and the scheming green piggies take their beef to the next level!  When a new threat emerges that puts both Bird and Pig Island in danger, Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), Chuck (voiced by Josh Gad), Bomb (voiced by Danny McBride), and Mighty Eagle (voiced by Peter Dinklage) recruit Chuck's sister Silver (voiced by Rachel Bloom) and team up with pigs Leonard (voiced by Bill Hader), his assistant Courtney (voiced by Awkwafina), and techpig Garry (voiced by Sterling K. Brown) to forge an unsteady truce and form an unlikely super team to save their homes.

"47 Meters Down: Uncaged"

This film follows the diving adventure of four teenage girls (played by Corinne Foxx, Sistine Stallone, Sophie Nélisse, and Brianne Tju) exploring a submerged Mayan city.  Once inside, their rush of excitement turns into a jolt of terror as they discover the sunken ruins are a hunting ground for deadly Great White Sharks.  With their air supply steadily dwindling, the friends must navigate the underwater labyrinth of claustrophobic caves and eerie tunnels in search of a way out of their watery hell.

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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