Cinema Chat: 'The King,' 'BlackKkKlansman,' 'The Spy Who Dumped Me,' And More

Aug 2, 2018

Michigan Theater View from the Stage
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons /

Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins is back from vacation and ready to talk movies!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," he joins WEMU's David Fair to talk about the latest Hollywood news and about the newest films hitting the silver screen this weekend.

J.J. Abrams Shares First Star Wars 9 Set Photo as Shooting Begins

J.J. Abrams is now officially active on Twitter and for his first-ever tweet, he announced that Star Wars 9 has started filming while also talking about Carrie Fisher and shouting out Rian Johnson and George Lucas.  As most directors and celebrities are either deleting their Twitter accounts or trying to sanitize them, J.J. Abrams has decided to stick his toes in the social media pool for the first time.  In addition to the kind words, Abrams also posted a picture from the set. It was announced last week that Star Wars 9 was going to begin shooting on this day and J.J. Abrams confirmed the news with his first time on Twitter.  In the tweet, the director states that filming is bittersweet without Carrie Fisher, but reveals that the cast and crew are all ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

Unseen ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ Sketches Unearthed in Michael Palin’s Archives

A Wild West bookshop and an amorous pink knight never made it into “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” alongside the killer rabbit of Caerbannog and the Knights Who Say “Ni!, but the unused sketches have been unearthed in the private archives of Python member Michael Palin.  The British Library confirmed the find to Variety, which was first reported by The Times of London.  The sketches were written for “Holy Grail” but did not make the cut. Palin said that the Pythons – himself, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones – often produced more material than was needed, and in this case “the story of the knights [of the Round Table] was enough.”  “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was released in 1975.  An absurdist take on Arthurian legend, it was helmed by Jones and Gilliam.  It has remained popular with sing-along versions and anniversary releases and was the basis for the musical “Spamalot."

"Doctor Sleep" – The Stephen King “Shining” sequel is being prepared

Mike Flanagan is directing "Doctor Sleep," which stars Ewan McGregor as grown-up Danny Torrance, and Rebecca Ferguson plays Rose The Hat, head of a cult that feeds on the “steam” created by young people who have a touch of the “shining.”  "Doctor Sleep" begins as Torrance carries the trauma of the Overlook Hotel into adulthood.  He’s become a reflection of his murderous father, with lingering rage and a drinking problem that dulls his pain as well as his “shining” powers. Those powers return when he embraces sobriety and uses his gift to help the dying at a hospice. He establishes a psychic connection with a young girl who shares his extreme abilities and is being targeted by a scary group with similar abilities.  They’ve found that their powers grow if they inhale the “steam” that comes off others with the power to shine, when they are suffering painful deaths.

There are direct connections in the story to the Overlook Hotel and the incidents there that informed "The Shining," which Stanley Kubrick directed in the classic 1980 Warner Bros film that starred Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd and Scatman Crothers.  Kevin McCormick is overseeing "Doctor Sleep" for Warner Bros.


"The King"

At the Michigan: This film takes viewers on a musical road trip across America in the Elvis Presley's 1963 Rolls-Royce.  From Memphis to New York, Las Vegas, and beyond, the journey traces the rise and fall of Elvis as a metaphor for the country he left behind.  Two-time Sundance Grand Jury winner Eugene Jarecki paints a visionary portrait of the state of the American Dream and a penetrating look at how the hell we got here.  A diverse cast of Americans, both famous and non, join the journey.


At the State: From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero.  It's the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington) is the first black detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.  Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan.  The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (played by Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime.  Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream.


"Funny Girl"

SavCo Hospitality Summer Classic Film Series continues this month by celebrating films from the year 1968!  Starting out will be the musical comedy-drama film, which will play Sunday, August 5 at 1:30 PM and Tuesday, August 7 at 7:00 PM.  The life of Fanny Brice (played by Barbra Streisand), famed comedienne and entertainer of the early 1900s.  We see her rise to fame as a Ziegfield girl, subsequent career, and her personal life, particularly her relationship with Nick Arnstein.


"Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

At the Michigan: This film takes an intimate look at America's favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers.  A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.


An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women.

"Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot"

Moving from the Michigan to the State: John Callahan (played by Joaquin Phoenix) ends in a catastrophic car accident after an all-night drinking bender, but the last thing he intends to do is give up drinking.  However, when he reluctantly enters treatment with encouragement from his girlfriend and a charismatic sponsor (played by Jonah Hill), Callahan discovers a gift for drawing edgy, irreverent newspaper cartoons that develop an international following and grant him a new lease on life. 


At the State: This film stars Daveed Diggs as Collin, who must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning.  He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (played by Rafael Casal), work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men's friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in.

"Eighth Grade"

This year’s Cinetopia Film Festival opening night film follows thirteen-year-old Kayla who endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school, the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year before she begins high school.

"Three Identical Strangers"

Three strangers are reunited by astonishing coincidence after being born identical triplets, separated at birth, and adopted by three different families.  Their jaw-dropping, feel-good story instantly becomes a global sensation complete with fame and celebrity, however, the fairy-tale reunion sets in motion a series of events that unearth an unimaginable secret -- a secret with radical repercussions for us all. 

"Sorry to Bother You"

The film takes place in a dystopian, not-too-distant future Oakland, California, where black telemarketer Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success.  This key propels him into a macabre universe of “powercalling” that leads to material glory. 


"The Spy Who Dumped Me"

Opens this Friday, August 3 in theaters!  Audrey (played by Mila Kunis) and Morgan (played by Kate McKinnon), two thirty-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey's ex-boyfriend shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail.  Surprising even themselves, the duo jump into action, on the run throughout Europe from assassins and a suspicious-but-charming British agent, as they hatch a plan to save the world.

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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