Cinema Chat: 'In The Heights' Opens Big In Ann Arbor, 'The Sparks Brothers,' 'F9,' And More

Jun 17, 2021

Michigan Theater Balcony
Credit The Michigan Theater / Facebook

It's another Thursday loaded with movie news, but one of the voices you'll hear is a little different. For this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Michael Jewett steps in for David Fair to talk about all things movies with Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins.


"IN THE HEIGHTS" OPENS TO GOOD-SIZED, APPRECIATIVE AUDIENCES

As the rest of the world wrings their hands about disappointing sales for IN THE HEIGHTS we can claim the best gross in the state of Michigan at the Michigan Theater! IN THE HEIGHTS also did significantly better than the national average at the Cinemark and Saline Emagine (Credit Cinema Chat!).

The audience reaction locally and nationally was very strong. 95% of audiences nation-wide liked the film and the general audience consensus is: “Casting, choreography, songs, and story all come together IN THE HEIGHTS to offer pure joy in modern movie musical form.” Grassroots raves for IN THE HEIGHTS were exceeded only by the praise of critics which provided 97% positive reviews with a critical consensus of: “Lights up for IN THE HEIGHTS, a joyous celebration of heritage and community fueled by dazzling direction and singalong songs.”

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"The Sparks Brothers" -- OPENS FRIDAY, JUNE 18 AT THE STATE

This is a 2021 documentary film directed by Edgar Wright. The film is about Ron and Russell Mael, members of the pop and rock duo Sparks. The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Cast includes: Ron Mael & Russell Mael, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Beck, Flea, Jonathan Ross, Patton Oswalt, Scott Aukerman, Jason Schwartzman, Tony Visconti, Mike Myers, Giorgio Moroder, Fred Armisen, Neil Gaiman, Earle Mankey, Harvey Feinstein, Todd Rundgren, Björk, Simon Pegg as the voice of John Lennon, Nick Frost as the voice of Ringo Starr. Additionally interviewed are many other collaborators and fans of the band; over 80 individuals are interviewed.

Principle photography began in May 2018, with Jake Polonsky as cinematographer, beginning with covering the band's concert at the O2 Forum Kentish Town. In April 2020, Wright announced that the film was "nearly finished."

"Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It" -- OPENS FRIDAY, JUNE 18 AT THE STATE

It is a 2021 American documentary film, directed, produced, and edited by Mariem Pérez Riera. The film follows Rita Moreno, focusing on her early life and career. Norman Lear, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Michael Kantor serve as executive producers.

The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival on January 29, 2021.

For over 70 years, Rita Moreno has inspired audiences with her performances, the film follows her journey from her childhood to stardom. In July 2019, it was announced PBS would produce and distribute a documentary film revolving around Rita Moreno with Norman Lear and Lin-Manuel Miranda set to executive produce.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"In the Heights" 

This is an upcoming American musical drama film directed by Jon M. Chu from a screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes. It is based on the stage musical of Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film stars Anthony RamosCorey HawkinsLeslie GraceMelissa BarreraOlga MeredizDaphne Rubin-VegaGregory Diaz IV, and Jimmy Smits.

Lights up on Washington Heights... The scent of a cafecito caliente hangs in the air just outside of the 181st Street subway stop, where a kaleidoscope of dreams rallies this vibrant and tight-knit community. At the intersection of it all is the likeable, magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.

"A Quiet Place Part II"

A 2020 American horror film and the sequel to the 2018 film, both of which follow a family that is forced to navigate and survive in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by blind monsters with an acute sense of hearing. The sequel was written and directed by John Krasinski under the studio Paramount Pictures. Emily BluntMillicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe reprise their roles from the first film, and Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou joined the cast. Krasinski also returns from the first film in a small role, seen in flashback sequences set before the first film.

"The Truffle Hunters"

Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science's efforts at cultivation. They're guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. They live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They're untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community.

The demand for white truffles increases year after year, even as the supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters' secrets are more coveted than ever. However, as it soon becomes clear, these aging men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life.

PLAYING VIRTUALLY

Science on Screen Series

Today (Thursday, June 17), join our Zoom conversation with University of Michigan Game Development Lecturer Austin Yarger in celebration of the 123rd birthday of M.C. Escher, and stream the documentary "M.C. Escher: Journey To Infinity" FREE beforehand! 

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX

"F9: The Fast Saga" -- OPENS FRIDAY, JUNE 25

This film sends the "Fast & Furious" franchise hurtling further over the top than ever, but director Justin Lin's knack for preposterous set pieces keeps the action humming.

Vin Diesel's Dom Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he's going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they've ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom's forsaken brother, Jakob (John Cena).

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—Michael Jewett is the WEMU weekday jazz host.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org