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Cinema Chat: 'The Interview', 'The Imitation Game', 'Into the Woods', Unbroken', 'Big Eyes' And More

Dec 25, 2014

Credit Michigan Theater / michtheater.org

Russ Collins and the organization he heads, the Art House Convergence, made global news this week by agreeing to show the controversial movie 'The Interview'. Listen to the story, and read the letter to Sony, below, that created a viral response. 

This is the letter Russ Collins sent to the leadership at Sony Pictures. The result is that the movie "The Interview" is now available, after Sony had decided to pull the movie amid a hacking scandal and threats to movie theaters. 

Michael Lynton

Chairman and CEO

Sony Entertainment, Inc.

Amy Pascal


Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group

Dear Mr. Lynton and Ms. Pascal

Your Art House motion picture colleagues wish to support you and your company at this difficult time. We empathize with the ruthless attack your company suffered and we want to help in our small but powerful way.

The enormity of the attack your company has suffered and the difficulty of the decisions you have been forced to make in recent days are nearly unimaginable; similarly, the monumental nature of the business disruption your company has endured in recent weeks. Your life, and possibly your judgment, has been disrupted beyond comprehension. The financial bottom line impact will be, frankly, unfathomable for an independent Art House to comprehend. However, in life and art values are the ultimate “bottom line” and striving for freedom and goodness are the, sometimes conflicting, but paramount values of enlightened societies.

We understand that “The Interview” is, on one level, “just a movie,” meaning in terms of human history a probably facile entertainment and business investment. But circumstance has propelled this work into a nexus of values, both societal and artistic. It is also, as an artistic and national community, an opportunity to respond clearly to the behavior of a pathetic international bully opposed, by word and deed, to the values of freedom.

We, the independent Art House community, will gladly exhibit “The Interview,” as a special, one-day showing without pecuniary expectation, or as regular part of our cinema programming. We do this primarily to express the value and power of freedom, but also to support you, our artistic and business colleague, during a time of great vexation.

Most Sincerely -- Russ Collins

Opening Downtown

The Imitation Game

“The Imitation Game” begins during the winter of 1952, when British authorities entered the home of mathematician and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of 'gross indecency', an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality — little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, Turing was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany's World War II Enigma machine. James Rocchi of Film.com says, “Strong, stirring, triumphant and tragic, ‘The Imitation Game’  may be about a man who changed the world, but it's also about the world that destroyed a man.” “The Imitation Game” opens Christmas day at the Michigan Theater.

The Interview

Critics Consensus: Unfortunately overshadowed by controversy (and under-screened as a result), The Interview's screenplay offers middling laughs bolstered by its two likable leads.

In the action-comedy The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show "Skylark Tonight." When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate                          Kim Jong-un. Opens Christmas day at the State Theatre.

Still Playing Downtown

Wild, Birdman, Interstellar

Golden Globe nominees and sure bets to bring in Oscar nominations are still playing downtown!  Make sure you catch “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon, playing at the Michigan Theater; “ “Birdman” starring Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Edward Norton; “Interstellar” with Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain.

Special Screenings

Mary Poppins

Temple Beth Emeth presents 50th anniversary screening of “Mary Poppins,” starring Julie Andrews as the Edwardian-era magical nanny who visits London family in London and employs her unique brand of childcare and family theapy to improve the family’s dynamic. Also starring Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, and Glynis Johns. “Mary Poppins” plays Thursday, December 25 at 10:30 AM.

Opening at the Multiplex

Into the Woods

"Into the Woods" is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

Alonso Duralde of TheWrap says, “The stage musical delightfully reminded audiences that while happy endings are possible, you should always be careful about what you've wished for. Now comes the movie version, and it's a singing and dancing manifestation of both of those ideas.” “Into The Woods” opens today.


Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces “Unbroken,” an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini, who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII-only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter says, “This will be a tough film for some to take. But it also has strong appeal as an extraordinary survival story, and Laura Hillenbrand's first-rate book that inspired it has not been on the best-seller lists for four years for nothing.” “Unbroken” opens today.

Big Eyes

Directed and produced by Tim Burton, “Big Eyes” is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist earned staggering notoriety by revolutionizing the commercialization and accessibility of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The truth would eventually be discovered though: Keane's art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly says, “Despite its sharp feminist sting, ‘Big Eyes’ never loses its light touch. Maybe the lesson here is that Burton should venture out of his dark, creepy comfort zone more often.” “Big Eyes” opens today.

The Gambler

In “The Gambler” Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster and offers his own life as collateral. Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother (Jessica Lange) in his wake. He plays both sides, immersing himself in an underground world while garnering the attention of Frank (John Goodman), a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett's future. “The Gambler” opens today.