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Cinema Chat: Frances Ha, Before Midnight, Man of Steel and More!

Jun 13, 2013

Credit The Michigan Theater

Michigan Theater Executive Director Russ Collins paid his weekly visit with David Fair for this week's installment of Cinema Chat, and began the conversation discussing the return of one of the University of Michigan's most successful exports to Hollywood.

Opening Downtown

“Frances Ha” stars Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote the film with director Noah Baumbach) as Frances, a New Yorker, who doesn’t really have an apartment, is an apprentice for a dance company, but she’s not really a dancer. She is a dreamer who keeps dreaming even after reality steps in. Frances wants so much more than she has but lives her life with unaccountable joy and lightness. Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly says, “Shot in inky black and white and bristling with performances that feel captured on the fly, Baumbach’s best film since 2005′s “The Squid and the Whale” is both a nod and a throwback to the French New Wave.” “Frances Ha” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

In “Before Midnight,” we can again enjoy Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Kevin Bacon) 9 years after their last charming relationship opus “Before Sunset.” Almost two decades have passed since that first meeting on a train bound for Vienna,  We now find them in their early 40′s in Greece. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story. Farren Smith Nehme of the New York Post says, “Finding romance is easy. Staying together is hard. Making a movie this warm, funny, and rigorously truthful about lovers trying to remain partners is even harder.”Before Midnight” opens Friday at the State Theatre.

“Kon Tiki” is a feature film based on the legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4,300 miles crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947. With the world media watching, the crew navigates the Kon-Tiki across the Pacific Ocean using the stars and driven by the currents and wind. While taking on thunder storms, sharks and the dangers of the wide open sea, its six brave men struggle against nature trying to get the Kon-Tiki across to the Polynesian shore. Tom Long of the Detroit News says, “Kon-Tiki” is awesome in the true sense of the word: You sit in awe of the bravery, audacity, stupidity and natural power on display. Ah, to imagine and dream. And to go forth.” “Kon Tiki” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

Special Screenings Downtown

With “Blazing Saddles,” Mel Brooks scored his first commercial hit in this Western spoof starring Cleavon Little as the newly hired (and conspicuously black) sheriff of Rock Ridge. Sheriff Bart teams up with Deputy Jim (Gene Wilder) to foil the railroad-building scheme of the nefarious Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman). The simple plot is just an excuse for a steady stream of gags, many of them unabashedly tasteless, that Brooks and his wacky cast pull off with side-splitting success. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said “It’s a crazed grab bag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken.” “Blazing Saddles” plays Sunday June 16 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, June 18 at 7 PM as part of the Summer Classics film series!

Cinetopia a BIG Success

Over 30 filmmakers came and loved Ann Arbor/Detroit and had high praise for the second annual Cinetopia Festival. Over 8,500 ticket holders raved about the 45 films enjoyed at the Michigan and State Theaters, the rooftop cinema at the Maynard Street parking structure, as well as events and screenings on the University of Michigan campus and at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Film Theater. Record attendance and acclaim this year means there will be a third Cinetopia Festival, so mark your calendar for June 4-8, 2014.

Awards at this year’s festival went to “Blancanieves” and “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” which were the Audience Award winners for narrative and documentary films (respectively). The Cinetopia Spirit Awards, given for special merit by the festival’s programming team went to “Commencement” and “I Am Divine.” The four award winning films will have return engagements at the Michigan Theater later this summer.

Opening at the Cineplex

In “Man of Steel” a young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. He learns the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind. Alonso Duralde of The Wrap says, “Now that the requisite origin story has been accomplished, the movie lays the ground for some thrilling sequels featuring a Superman who’s both exactly what people want to see and a significantly different take on a well-established character.” “Man of Steel” opens Friday.

“This is the End” follows 6 famous friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside, dwindling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and the true meaning of friendship and redemption. “This is the End” opened Wednesday.

See you at the movies!