Cinema Chat: Remembering Lisa Barry and Stephen Sondheim, 'C'mon C'mon,' and more

Dec 2, 2021

The Michigan Theater
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

WEMU's Michael Jewett continues filling in for David Fair in our weekly chat with Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins about all things cinema. Plus, the two of them take time to remember legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim and WEMU's very own Lisa Barry.


LIVE ON STAGE: ANAIS MITCHELL & BONEY LIGHT HORSEMAN AT THE MICHIGAN THEATER

TICKETS NOW ON SALE THROUGH TICKETMASTER! Anaïs Mitchell is on tour is and coming to Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater on February 7, 2022. She'll be performing with a band (including JT Bates on drums and Michael Lewis on bass) and will play brand new music alongside older favorites including selections from "Hadestown." Bonny Light Horseman Anais’s band with Josh Kaufman and Eric Johnson will open! Beyond roots and folk music fans, Anais Mitchell is best known as the writer, composer and lyricist of "Hadestown," the smash Tony-Award winning musical, now playing on Broadway and coming to Detroit’s Fisher Theatre November 23-December 5. Tickets for Anais Mitchell and Bonny Light Horsemen on sale now to Michigan Theater members and to the general public on TicketMaster.

DAVID SEDARIS LIVE AT THE MICHIGAN THEATER

NPR and This American Life storyteller will be live on stage at the Michigan Theater on Tuesday, December 7. Show is sold out, but check the Michigan Theater website for last minute ticket availability

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"C'mon C'mon" -- OPENS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3 AT THE STATE THEATRE

A 2021 American black-and-white drama film written and directed by Mike Mills. It stars Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, Scoot McNairy, Molly Webster, Jaboukie Young-White, and Woody Norman. The film had its world premiere at the 48th Telluride Film Festival. It has received critical acclaim from critics.

Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his young nephew (Woody Norman) forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when they are unexpectedly thrown together in this delicate and deeply moving story about the connections between adults and children, the past and the future, from writer-director Mike Mills.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Julia"

This film tells the story of the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the film traces Julia Child's surprising path, from her struggles to create and publish the revolutionary "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (1961) which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, to her empowering story of a woman who found fame in her 50s, and her calling as an unlikely television sensation.

"The Power of the Dog"

This is a 2021 western drama film written and directed by Jane Campion, based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Thomas Savage. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten DunstJesse PlemonsKodi Smit-McPheeThomasin McKenzieGenevieve LemonKeith Carradine, and Frances Conroy. It had its world premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival.

Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil's romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past and in the land: He can castrate a bull calf with two swift slashes of his knife; he swims naked in the river, smearing his body with mud. He is a cowboy as raw as his hides. The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, reveling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter -- all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her. As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form -- he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil's cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot twisting further into menace?

"House of Gucci"

This is a 2021 American biographical crime drama film directed by Ridley Scott, based on the 2001 book "The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed" by Sara Gay Forden. The film stars Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani, the wife of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), as their romance transforms into a fight for control of the fashion brand Gucci; Jared LetoJeremy IronsSalma Hayek, and Al Pacino also star.

Ridley Scott had wanted to do a film about the Gucci dynasty since acquiring the rights to Forden's book in the early 2000s. The project languished for several years and went through a handful of directors and rumored actors before Scott and Gaga were confirmed as attached in November 2019. Much of the rest of the cast joined the following summer, and filming began in Italy in February 2021, lasting through May.

The film is inspired by the shocking true story of the family behind the Italian fashion empire. When Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel the family legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately... murder.

"King Richard"

This is a 2021 American biographical drama film directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin, and follows the life of Richard Williams, the father and coach of famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. It stars Will Smith in the title role, Aunjanue EllisSaniyya SidneyDemi SingletonTony Goldwyn, and Jon Bernthal.

Armed with a clear vision and a brazen 78-page plan, Richard Williams is determined to write his daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on Compton, California's neglected tennis courts--rain or shine--the girls are shaped by their father's unyielding commitment and their mother's balanced perspective and keen intuition, defying the seemingly insurmountable odds and prevailing expectations laid before them. Based on the true story that will inspire the world, the film follows the uplifting journey of a family whose unwavering resolve and unconditional belief ultimately delivers two of the world's greatest sports legends.

"Belfast" 

This is a 2021 coming of age drama-comedy film written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. The film stars Caitríona BalfeJudi DenchJamie DornanCiarán HindsColin Morgan, and newcomer Jude Hill. The film, which Branagh has described as his "most personal film," centres on a young boy's childhood amidst the tumult of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the 1960s. Belfast had its world premiere at the 48th Telluride Film Festival on 2 September 2021, and also won the People's Choice Award at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.

"Spencer"

A 2021 biographical psychological drama film directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Steven Knight. The film stars Kristen Stewart as Diana, Princess of Wales (née Spencer), and follows Diana's decision to end her marriage to Prince Charles (played by Jack Farthing) and leave the British royal family. Timothy SpallSean Harris, and Sally Hawkins also star. Spencer had its world premiere in-competition at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on 3 September 2021.

The marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles has long since grown cold. Though rumors of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at the Queen's Sandringham Estate. There's eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game. But this year, things will be profoundly different. This film is an imagining of what might have happened during those few fateful days.

"Eternals"

A 2021 American epic superhero film based on the Marvel Comics race of the same name. It is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Chloé Zhao, who wrote the screenplay with Patrick BurleighRyan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo. It stars an ensemble cast including Gemma ChanRichard MaddenKumail NanjianiLia McHughBrian Tyree HenryLauren RidloffBarry KeoghanDon LeeHarish PatelKit HaringtonSalma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. In the film, the Eternals, an immortal alien race, emerge from hiding after thousands of years to protect Earth from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.

Chloé Zhao—who had also been in the running to direct Marvel's Black Widow (2021)— approached Marvel Studios about making the film as she had been a fan of the MCU. She wanted to work with the studio to bring her own take and world-building to the franchise.

Marvel Studios' latest film features an exciting new team of Super Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of "Avengers: Endgame," an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind's most ancient enemy, the Deviants.

"The French Dispatch"

A 2021 American comedy-drama anthology film written, directed, and produced by Wes Anderson from a story he conceived with Roman CoppolaHugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman. The film stars an ensemble cast featuring Benicio del Toro, Adrien BrodyTilda SwintonLéa SeydouxFrances McDormandTimothée ChalametLyna KhoudriJeffrey WrightMathieu AmalricStephen ParkBill Murray, and Owen Wilson. Its plot follows three different storylines, as the French foreign bureau of a fictional Kansas newspaper creates its final issue. Filming took place between November 2018 and March 2019, with cinematographer Robert Yeoman, in the city of Angoulême, France. Following a delay, the film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on July 12, 2021.

"Dune"

From director Denis Villeneuve, a mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, this film tells the story of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

IT'S THE HOLIDAY SEASON!

FREE Holiday Classics Series!

"Love Actually" – FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3 AT 10 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

 

This is a 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. It features an ensemble cast, composed predominantly of British actors including: Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Thomas Sangster (the boy, also was in "The Queen’s Gambit"), Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Laura Linney, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, and Claudia Schiffer.

Mostly filmed on location in London, the screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as the tales progress. The story begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, followed by an epilogue that takes place one month later.

It received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Frequently shown during the Christmas season, the film has proved more popular with audiences than critics, and it has been discussed as being arguably a modern-day Christmas staple.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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