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Cinema Chat: 'The Happy Prince,' 'Mirai,' 'The Possession Of Hannah Grace,' And More

Nov 29, 2018

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

The holidays are inching closer, and the movies keep on coming!  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 hitting the silver screen over the next week. 


"The Happy Prince"

At the Michigan: The last days of Oscar Wilde and the ghosts that haunted them are vividly evoked in Tthis film, Rupert Everett's directorial debut.  Everett gives a career-defining performance as Wilde, physically and emotionally embodying the literary genius as he lives out his last days in exile in Europe.  His body ailing and heavy, his mind spinning, he survives by falling back on the flamboyant irony and brilliant wit that defined him.  As the film travels through Wilde's final act and journeys through England, France, and Italy, desire and loyalty face off, the transience of lust is laid bare, and the true riches of love are revealed.  


At the State: Mamoru Hosoda, the Japanese director of hit animated features "Summer Wars" and "Wolf Children," has reunited with high-profile banner Studio Chi-zu for this film.  When four-year-old Kun meets his new baby sister, his world is turned upside down.  Named Mirai (meaning “future”), the baby quickly wins the hearts of Kun’s entire family.  As his mother returns to work, and his father struggles to run the household, Kun becomes increasingly jealous of baby Mirai… until one day he storms off into the garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future, including his sister Mirai, as a teenager.  Together, Kun and teenage Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible story.  But why did Mirai come from the future? 


"The Great Buster"

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the film plays December 2, 3 and 5 at the Michigan Theater!  Filled with stunningly restored archival Keaton films from the Cohen Film Classics library, this film celebrates the life and career of one of America's most influential and celebrated filmmakers and comedians, Buster Keaton, whose singular style and fertile output during the silent era created his legacy as a true cinematic visionary.  Keaton's beginnings on the vaudeville circuit are chronicled in this film, as is the development of his trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the lifelong moniker of "The Great Stone Face," all of which led to his career-high years as the director, writer, producer, and star of his own short films and features.  


"The Room"

This film plays Friday, November 30 at 10:00 PM at the Michigan Theater, sponsored by the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase.  Johnny is a successful banker who lives happily in a San Francisco townhouse with his fiancée, Lisa.  One day, inexplicably, she gets bored of him and decides to seduce Johnny's best friend, Mark.  From there, nothing will be the same again.  A bona fide classic of midnight cinema, this film by Tommy Wiseau is a misguided masterpiece that subverts the rules of filmmaking with a boundless enthusiasm that renders such mundanities as acting, screenwriting, and cinematography utterly irrelevant.

"Little Women"

The Holiday Classic Film Series presented by Old National Bank and Sesi Lincoln continues this week with this film, which plays Saturday, December 1 at 1:30 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Free and open to the public! Louisa May Alcott’s classic is adapted for the screen starring Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, and Gabriel Byrne.  In post-Civil War America, the March sisters confront growing pains, financial shortages, family tragedies, and romantic rivalries.  Jo struggles for independence and sometimes clashes with her beloved mother and her sisters Meg, Amy, and Beth, while also contending with their cranky Aunt March, their impulsive neighbor Laurie, and kindly linguistics professor Friedrich Bhaer.  Nominated for 3 Academy Awards including Best Actress in a Leading Role (Winona Ryder), Best Costume Design, and Best Music, Original Score.

"Point of No Return"

This film plays Monday, December 3 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater and is free and open to the public!  Sponsored by the University of Michigan Planet Blue Ambassador Program, this documentary explores the first attempt to fly an experimental solar-powered plane around the world to raise awareness about clean energy.  There will also be a post-audience discussion.


This event plays Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Presented in partnership with Tiny Lions and the Humane Society of Huron Valley, CatVideoFest is committed to raising awareness and money for cats in need.  Each year, we create a light and playful reel of the best online cat videos, showcasing the hilarious antics we love in our cats (including some animations, music videos, art projects and other media).  A percentage of the proceeds from each event go to local animal shelters and/or organizations.  10% of total ticket sales for the Ann Arbor screening will go to Tiny Lions Cat Cafe!


"Green Book"

At the Michigan: 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. 


In this film, fourteen-year-old Joe (played by newcomer Ed Oxenbould) is the only child of Jeanette (played by Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) in a small town in 1960s Montana.  Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and Jerry decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.  Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother's struggle as she tries to keep her head above water.  This film is also adapted from Richard Ford's novel of the same name. 

"Beautiful Boy"

At the State: Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, this film chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.  Teenager Nicolas Sheff seems to have it all -- good grades, editor of the school newspaper, actor, artist and athlete.  When Nic's addiction to meth threatens to destroy him, his desperate father does whatever he can to save his son and his family.  Starring Steve CarellTimothée ChalametMaura Tierney, and Amy Ryan.

"Boy Erased"

This film tells the story of Jared (played by Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (played by Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19.  Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program - or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith.  This is the true story of one young man's struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity. 

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

Based on a true story, this film stars Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer who made her living in the 1970's and 80's profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder, and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen.  When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (played by Richard E. Grant). 

"Free Solo"

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.

"A Star is Born"

Bradley Cooper plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers--and falls in love with--struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga).  She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer... until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight.  But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.


"The Possession of Hannah Grace"

Opening this Friday, November 30 in theaters and is the only new nationwide release in this rather slow, post-Thanksgiving week.  In this thriller by Sony Pictures, a shocking exorcism spirals out of control, claiming the life of a young woman.  Months later, Megan Reed (played by Shay Mitchell, star of television series "Pretty Little Liars") is working the graveyard shift in the morgue when she takes delivery of a disfigured cadaver.  Locked alone inside the basement corridors, Megan begins to experience horrifying visions and starts to suspect that the body may be possessed by a ruthless demonic force.

"Ralph Breaks the Internet" and "Creed II" dominated the multiplex box office last week, will likely hold the top chart positions this week as well.

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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