89.1 WEMU

Cinema Chat: 'Honey Boy,' 'Waves,' 'Playmobil: The Movie,' And More

Dec 5, 2019

Michigan Theater Marquee
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

The holidays are officially upon us, so let's spread some cinema-style cheer!  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 the big screen this weekend.


OPENING DOWNTOWN

"Honey Boy"-- OPENING TODAY AT THE STATE THEATRE

From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Alma Har’el brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father through cinema and dreams in this film.  Fictionalizing his childhood’s ascent to stardom, and subsequent adult crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har’el casts Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career.  LaBeouf takes on the daring and therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon.  Har’el’s feature narrative debut is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as medicine and imagination as hope.  

"Waves"-- OPENING DECEMBER 6 AT THE STATE THEATRE

From acclaimed director Trey Edward Shults ("Krisha" and "It Comes at Night"), this is a heartrending story about the universal capacity for compassion and growth even in the darkest of times.  Set against the vibrant landscape of South Florida, and featuring an astonishing ensemble of award-winning actors and breakouts alike, the film traces the epic emotional journey of a suburban black family—led by a well-intentioned but domineering father—as they navigate love, forgiveness, and coming together in the aftermath of a loss.  Starring Sterling K. Brown (NBC’s "This Is Us"), Kelvin Harrison Jr. ("Luce") and Lucas Hedges ("Boy Erased").  

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"-- OPENING DECEMBER 19 AT THE STATE THEATRE!  Tickets On Sale NOW (They are moving fast, get them before they are sold out!)

This film is produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams.  It will be the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following "The Force Awakens" (2015) and "The Last Jedi" (2017), and the final episode of the nine-part "Skywalker saga."  A year after the events of "The Last Jedi," the remnants of the Resistance face the First Order once again—while reckoning with the past and their own inner turmoil.  Meanwhile, the ancient conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its climax, altogether bringing the Skywalker saga to a definitive end.

"Fantastic Fungi"

This film will play December 12, 17 & 19 at the Michigan.  It is directed by Louie Schwartzberg and narrated by Brie Larson, is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.  Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael PollanEugenia BoneAndrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.  

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

"The Room"

This film plays tonight at 10:00 PM at the Michigan.  It is an independently-produced drama film released in 2003 and is the brainchild of enigmatic director and actor Tommy Wiseau.  The film is mainly focused on a love triangle between Johnny, his girlfriend Lisa, and Johnny’s best friend Mark.  It has often been cited by numerous publications as the worst film ever made, due to its meandering storyline, the introduction of subplots that are never resolved, the inept direction by Wiseau, as well as his unusual performance, technical issues that aren’t usually a problem with other movies, the cinematography, musical score, and just about any other aspect you could think of.

"Timeless"

This film plays Friday, December 6 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan, presented by Sun and Snow Sports.  Year after year, ski and snowboard enthusiasts of all ages look forward to the coming of winter.  This fall, Warren Miller Entertainment confirms that the joys of winter are eternal with its 70th full-length feature film presented by Volkswagen.  From the mountains of British Columbia, across the steeps of the Colorado Rockies, to the rooftop of the European Alps, Timeless explores winter stoke around the globe.  All ski and snowboard fans, young and old, are invited to come together to carry on the legacy of the official kickoff to winter.

"Love Actually"

This film plays Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7 at 10:00 PM at the Michigan as a part of our Late-Night Film Series.  Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love.  Among the characters explored are David (played by Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (played by Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (played by Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, and Harry (played by Alan Rickman), a married man tempted by his attractive new secretary.

"Black Christmas"

This film plays Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14 at 11:00 PM at the State also as a part of our Late-Night Film Series!  Before Director Bob Clark ("A Christmas Story") was making holiday movies about young kids and BB guns, he made one of the earliest slasher films that would go on to inspire John Carpenter’s "Halloween."

"A Christmas Story"

This film plays Sunday, December 8 at 1:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Holiday Classics Film Series – FREE and open to the public!  This series is sponsored by Old National Bank and Sesi Mazda with media support from Ann Arbor Family Press.  “You’ll shoot your eye out!”  Bob Clark directs this beloved and seasonally marathoned holiday classic that follows the wintry exploits of Ralphie Parker (played by Peter Billingsley), a young boy living in 1940s Ohio as he dodges bullies, visits Santa, witnesses his dad win a major award, and, most importantly, attempts to convince everyone that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

Holiday Classics – Kick off the holiday season with some FREE Holiday Classics Sundays at 1:30 PM at the Michigan!

"Stop Making Sense"

This film plays Monday, December 9 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Play it Loud! film series.  Director Jonathan Demme captures the frantic energy and artsy groove of Talking Heads in this concert movie shot at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983.  The band’s frontman, David Byrne, first appears on an empty stage, armed with only an acoustic guitar, and is gradually joined by bassist Tina Weymouth, drummer Chris Frantz, keyboardist Jerry Harrison, and a cadre of backup singers as they perform the band’s hits, culminating in an iconic performance featuring Byrne in an enormous suit.

Play it Loud! – Leave your year ringing this December on Mondays at 7:30 PM at the Michigan!

"Autonomy"

This film plays Tuesday, December 10 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of Science on Screen, an initiative of The Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Celebrated journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell leads the first comprehensive documentary look at self-driving cars in Autonomy.  The film is a cinematic exploration of the world of automated vehicles — from their technical history to the personal narratives of those affected by them to the many unanswered questions about how this technology will affect modern society.  It features interviews with industry pioneers and scenes with cutting-edge “AVs” in action around the world.  Inspired by a special issue of Car and Driver, the film reinforces the context of where the “car” meets the coming revolution in mobility, presenting an essential primer on the subject and how it will affect you.  This screening will also feature a post-film discussing with special guest Benjamin Kuipers, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering.

"No Small Matter"

This film plays Wednesday, December 11 at 6:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of our Independent Thinker Film Series, which is a film and discussion series FREE for kinds 18 & under that explores learning and child development and societal forces impacting them.  Sponsored by the independent schools of Ann Arbor, including Greenhills School, Ann Arbor Academy, Emerson School, Summers Knoll, Rudolf Steiner School, and Daycroft School.  The film confronts America’s most pressing problems with an unlikely but powerful weapon: babies and young children.  From home to childcare to preschool, high-quality early care and education has far-reaching impacts, and groundbreaking science to back it up.  With a healthy dose of humor and a surprising edge, the film reveals the tragic cost of getting this wrong and the huge payoff—for our kids, our families, and our country—of getting it right.  There will also be a post-film discussion lead by Tim Wilson, co-founder and Executive Director of Washtenaw Promise, former teacher, and Head of School at Emerson School.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Dark Waters"

At the Michigan: An American legal thriller film based on the article "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare," published in The New York Times Magazine!  Inspired by a shocking true story, a tenacious attorney (played by Mark Ruffalo) uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths due to one of the world’s largest corporations.  In the process, he risks everything – his future, his family, and his own life – to expose the truth.  Also stars Anne HathawayTim Robbins, and Bill Camp.  

"Knives Out"

Acclaimed writer and director Rian Johnson ("Brick," "Looper," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi") pays tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie in this film.  When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig) is enlisted to investigate.  From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death.  Also stars Chris EvansAna de ArmasJamie Lee CurtisToni ColletteDon JohnsonMichael ShannonLaKeith StanfieldKatherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell.

"The Irishman"  

From Martin Scorsese comes the biographical crime thriller, which had its world premiere at the 57th New York Film Festival.  This film follows Frank Sheeran (played by Robert De Niro) as he recalls his past years working for the Bufalino crime family.  Now older, the WWII veteran once again reflects on his most prolific hits and, in particular, considers his involvement with his good friend Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance in 1975.  Also stars Al Pacino and Joe Pesci

"Jojo Rabbit"

At the State: Writer-director Taika Waititi ("Thor: Ragnarok," "Hunt for the Wilderpeople") brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (played by Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.  Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism. 

"Parasite"

Winner of the Palme D’or Award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival!  Bong Joon Ho brings his work home to Korea in this pitch-black modern fairytale.  Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth.  And the Kim Family, rich in street smarts but not much else.  Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kims sense a golden opportunity.  Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist, to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. 

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX THIS WEEKEND

"Playmobil: The Movie"

When her younger brother disappears into the colorful and animated world of Playmobil, Marla is forced to abandon her organized and structured life to rescue him.  Finding herself on an incredible and unpredictable adventure within this new world, Marla begins to see potential she never dreamed of.  This film also features voices from Daniel Radcliffe, Adam Lambert, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, and Kenan Thompson!

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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