There's a lot happening in film this week, including a chance to expand your own knowledge on the art of cinema! In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to discuss the latest movie news and all of the new flicks arriving at your local theater this weekend.
MOVIES 101 IS BACK IN SESSION
Motion pictures have their own special language that enables them to communicate action, ideas, and emotions. During four, three-hour sessions, we will look closely at four basic linguistic tools that most films use. We will use examples drawn from classic and contemporary films and will show a complete feature film during each meeting. This week kicks off this adult education program with the session titled "Mise-en-Scene," which is a term that refers to everything in the implied world of the film. This includes people, costumes, sets, props, lighting, some sound, color and the way these elements are viewed through the camera’s lenses as it moves about. We will look at various approaches to mise-en-scene including selections from "Casablanca," "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," "Double Indemnity," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Mr. Turner." After the lecture, we will screen "Casablanca" in its entirety. This class will meet from 12:00—3:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 23 at the Michigan Theater and will be taught by Dr. Henry Aldridge, Emeritus Professor of Film Studies at EMU and an active volunteer at the Michigan Theater. To register, visit michtheater.org/movies-101.
DIRECT FROM SUNDANCE – Two Special Films With Michigan Connections Coming February 26 & 27
For the 15th year, the Michigan Theater and the Cinetopia Film Festival will bring a film directly from the Sundance Film Festival. The Michigan Theater’s national reputation provides the opportunity to get great films from Sundance even before a distribution deal is set. This year there are two great films:
Richard Jenkins plays a career fast-food worker whose pride in his job is upended as he trains his young replacement in [Ann Arbor native] Andrew Cohn's serio-comedy about the politics of class, identity and race. …This funny-sad chamber piece … [has a] perceptive script and the incisively etched characterizations of a sterling ensemble make it warmly satisfying. Stanley (Jenkins) is a high school dropout who has worked the graveyard shift at Oscar's Chicken & Fish for 38 years in Albion, Michigan …
Stanley is entrusted with the training of his replacement Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie), a once-promising young African American writer… Jevon is clearly too smart to be slinging sandwich patties for minimum wage … While the setup seems to point to the two polar opposites finding a mutually respectful, even friendly, middle ground that opens both their eyes to other realities, Cohn has subtler, less predictable ideas in mind. To some extent, Stanley and Jevon do break the ice, but issues of racial bias, class and misguided assumptions about privilege all factor into the way the writer-director subverts expectations.
The Last Shift announces a promising voice [in writer/director Andrew Cohn]. It also stars Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Birgundi Baker, Allison Tolman and Ed O'Neill. Plays the Michigan Theater Wed., Feb. 26.
DINNER IN AMERICA – Direct from Sundance AND Detroit
There are bits of “Repo Man,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” [the movies of Michigan-native Joel Potrykus} and other literally or just philosophically “punk rock” cult comedies in the DNA of [Director] Adam Carter Rehmeier’s rude yet ingratiating “Dinner in America” [which was made entirely in Detroit] … This rambunctious mix of anarchic humor and misfit romance …[has an] infectiously high-energy execution.
Best of all, it’s got a knockout lead performance by Kyle Gallner (soon to headline CBS All Access series “Interrogation”), who turns an admittedly showy role into something quite likely to become the favorite movie character ever for a small but fervent minority. As the saying goes, a star is born. …this playfully surreal “Dinner” [will premiere at the Michigan Theater on Thursday, February 27].
Set against the splendor of the Winter Olympic Games, an intimate and unexpected love story develops between two lonely hearts, each at their own crossroads in life. Penelope (played by Alexi Pappas) is a first time Olympian and introverted cross-country skier, who, after finishing her event early on in the games, finds herself spending time in Athletes Village with the gregarious and outgoing volunteer dentist, Ezra (played by Nick Kroll). While both are eager to form connections at the Olympic Games, they are held back by the very thing that has propelled them to this point; what do you do once your lifelong dream has come true, and you're faced with taking the next step? As Penelope and Ezra navigate the vulnerable slopes, they push one another to embrace qualities they lost sight of in pursuit of their dreams. Will they be able to help each other take of leap of faith into the unknown? The first movie ever filmed on location during the Olympics in Athletes Village, it offers audiences a never-before-seen side of the Games and the people whose entire lives are shaped by them.
"Ága" - PLAYS FEBRUARY 21 & 24 AT THE MICHIGAN
2020 Academy Awards® Best International Feature Film Official Selection of Bulgaria! In a yurt on the snow-covered fields of the North, Nanook and Sedna live following the traditions of their ancestors. Alone in the wilderness, they look like the last people on Earth. Nanook and Sedna’s traditional way of life starts changing — slowly, but inevitably. Hunting becomes more and more difficult, the animals around them die from inexplicable deaths and the ice has been melting earlier every year. Chena, who visits them regularly, is their only connection to the outside world — and to their daughter Ága, who has left the icy tundra a long time ago due to family feud. When Sedna’s health deteriorates, Nanook decides to fulfill her wish. He embarks on a long journey in order to find Ága.
"Varda By Agnès" - PLAYS FEBRUARY 21 & 23 AT THE MICHIGAN
An unpredictable documentary from a fascinating storyteller, Agnès Varda’s new feature sheds light on her experience as a director, bringing a personal insight to what she calls “cine-writing." Agnès Varda was a Belgian-born French film director, photographer, and artist. Her work was pioneering for, and central to, the development of the widely influential French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN
This film plays Friday, February 21 at 9:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Late-Night Film Series. The first feature-length film from the acclaimed studio Trigger, creators of the hit series "Kill la Kill" and "Little Witch Academia," and director Hiroyuki Imaishi, the film uses a bold cel-shaded visual style to tell a blistering action-adventure story and is the spiritual successor to many of director Imaishi’s former works. Thirty years have passed since the appearance of the Burnish, a race of flame-wielding mutant beings, who destroyed half of the world with fire. When a new group of aggressive mutants calling themselves Mad Burnish appears, the epic battle between Galo Thymos, a new member of the anti-Burnish rescue team Burning Rescue, and Lio Fotia, the leader of Mad Burnish begins.
Late-Night – Fridays at 9:30 PM grab some popcorn and come watch our favorite late-night movies.
This film plays Saturday, February 22 at 1:00 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Korean Cinema Now Film Series presented by the Nam Center for Korean Studies. FREE and open to the public! At a critical point in the Korean War, a small, inexperienced battalion of student soldiers are tasked with liberating the strategic location of Incheon. With little ammunition, low food supplies and second-hand weapons, the soldiers head for the frontlines of Jangsari beach. Based on the true story of forgotten heroes of the Korean War, can the student soldiers successfully carry out their mission and turn the tide of the war?
This event plays Sunday, February 23 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan. In this new production, the leading choreographer Alexei Ratmansky gives an unprecedented perspective to one of the oldest and greatest works of the classical repertoire, offering the public the opportunity to discover again this iconic ballet that addresses the universal romantic themes. The young peasant girl Giselle dies of a broken heart when she learns that the man she loves, Albrecht, has betrayed her. The Wills, vengeful spirits of jilted brides, rouse her spirit and induct her into their clan. They condemn Albrecht to dance until he dies of exhaustion, but Giselle’s true love spares him that fate, and she is released from the power of the Wills.
This film plays Tuesday, February 25 at 9:30 PM at the Michigan as the finale of the Jim Jarmusch Retrospective film series, which celebrated one of American cinema’s most idiosyncratic filmmakers. From Writer/Director Jim Jarmusch – Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them? Starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, and Anton Yelchin.
This film plays Thursday, February 27 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Art of the Camera Film Series, sponsored by The University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies. Gory revenge is raised to the level of visual poetry in Toshiya Fujita’s stunning film. A major inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s "Kill Bill" saga, this endlessly inventive film, set in late nineteenth-century Japan, charts the single-minded path of vengeance taken by a young woman (Meiko Kaji) whose parents were the unfortunate victims of a gang of brutal criminals. Fujita creates a wildly entertaining action film of remarkable craft, an effortless balancing act between beauty and violence. This screening will include a 10-minute introduction from a University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies lecturer about the featured cinematographer Masaki Tamura.
Art of the Camera – Celebrating Japan’s great cinematographers Thursdays at 7:30 PM from January to April.
This film plays Monday, February 24 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan. A bizarre, retro comedy shot entirely on VHS, the film takes us back to a simpler time, when twelve-year-old Ralph mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late-night shows over his parents’ wedding tape. The result is a nostalgic wave of home shopping clips, censored pornography, and nefarious true-crime tales that threaten to unkindly rewind Ralph’s reality.
At the Michigan: 2019 American documentary film directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, about Chinese company Fuyao's factory in Moraine, a city near Dayton, Ohio, that occupies Moraine Assembly, a shuttered General Motors plant. The film had its festival premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It is distributed by Netflix and is the first film produced by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions, and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Strong critical praise: "It’s a great, expansive, deeply humanist work, angry but empathetic to its core. It gestures toward the end of the working world we know – and to the rise of the machines." The film won Best Documentary Feature at the 2020 Academy Awards.
For the 15th consecutive year, the Oscar-Nominated Short Films will play the Michigan Theater, with all three categories offered – Animated, Live Action, and Documentary. This is your annual chance to predict the winners (and have the edge in your Oscar pool)! A perennial hit with audiences around the country and the world, don’t miss this year’s selection of shorts.
- Daughter (Dcera) – Czechia
- Hair Love – USA
- KitbullUSA – USA
- Mémorable – France
- Sister – USA
- A Sister – Belgium
- Brotherhood – Tunisia, Canada
- Nefta Football Club – France
- Saria – USA
- The Neighbors' Window – USA
- In the Absence – USA
- Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl) – UK
- Life Overtakes Me – USA
- St. Louis Superman – USA
- Walk Run Cha-Cha – USA
Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actress and Winner of Best Costume Design! Writer-director Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird") has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott and unfolds as the author's alter ego, Jo March, reflects and forth on her fictional life. In Gerwig's take, the beloved story of the March sisters - four young women each determined to live life on her own terms -- is both timeless and timely. Portraying Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth March, the film stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, with Timothée Chalamet as their neighbor Laurie, Laura Dern as Marmee, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March.
At the State: Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. Inspired by the motion picture "Force Majeure" by Ruben Östlund. Stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell, and Zach Woods.
Nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Director and Best Picture and Winner of Best Cinematography, Visual Effects, and Sound! In this film, at the height of WWI, two young British soldiers, Lance Corporal Schofield (played by "Captain Fantastic’s" George Mackay) and Lance Corporal Blake (played by "Game of Thrones’" Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers, Blake’s own brother among them.
Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress and Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay! 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.
Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best International Film and Winner of Best Director, International Film, Picture, and Original Screenplay! 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. We are also play a special black and white cut of this film!
OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX THIS WEEKEND
Adapted from the beloved literary classic, this film vividly brings to the screen the story of Buck, a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team--and later its leader--Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master. Stars Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens ("Her Smell"), Omar Sy ("Chocolat"), and Bradley Whitford ("Get Out," "The Cabin in the Woods").
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