With all of the movies being released, it's a movie trailer commanding the nations attention. In this week's "Cinema Chat,' David Fair and Michigan Theater Executive Director/CEO Russ Collins discuss the force of the phenomenon and preview this week's movie releases.
Yes, the release of the trailer for this latest, long-awaited installment in the “Star Wars” franchise — the seventh live-action film over all and the first since “Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” in 2005 — was a Death Star-sized display of corporate synergy for Walt Disney, which owns ESPN and the “Star Wars” studio Lucasfilms. And, the showing was, in essence, a promotion to purchase advance tickets for a movie that doesn’t even open in the United States until Dec. 18.
The two-and-a-half-minute trailer was also, for millions of loyal science-fiction fans, the fullest opportunity yet to revisit a galaxy a long time ago and far, far away — to see where the chronological story of “Star Wars” resumes following the events of 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” (a k a The Last One Before the Prequels).
Though a 90-second teaser trailer had been released last November, it offered only glimpses of unexplained new characters. (Please direct your thoughts and correspondence to the film’s notoriously secretive director, J.J. Abrams.) A second teaser trailer, released in April, showed Harrison Ford’s beloved “Star Wars” scoundrel, Han Solo, declaring, “Chewie, we’re home,” a snippet that set off thermal detonators in nostalgic hearts everywhere.
So what did this latest trailer add to our understanding of “The Force Awakens”? We still saw only fleeting glimpses of the characters and their worlds — thanks again, Mr. Abrams — and so far, Lucasfilm has been mum on further details.
In “Goodnight Mommy,” during the heat of summer, nine year old twin brothers await their mother’s return. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before and the children start to doubt whether this woman is actually who she says she is. “Goodnight Mommy” opens Friday at the State.
In “Coming Home,” Lu and Feng are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is arrested and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. He finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife no longer remembers him. “Coming Home” opens Friday at the Michigan.
“Meet the Patels” is a laugh-out-loud real life romantic comedy about Ravi Patel, an almost-30-year-old Indian-American who enters a love triangle between the woman of his dreams...and his parents. This hilarious and heartwarming documentary reveals how love is a family affair. “Meet the Patels” opens Friday at the State.
Special Screenings Downtown
In “The Second Mother,” when the estranged daughter of a hard-working live-in housekeeper suddenly appears, the unspoken class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray. “The Second Mother,” which played to appreciative audiences at 2015’s Cinetopia, plays Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at the Michigan.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” returns! A notorious horror film parody, the film is a fast-paced potpourri of camp, sci-fi and rock 'n' roll. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” plays both Friday and Saturday at 11:59 PM at the State Theatre. Tickets just $8!
“Nosferatu,” the first Dracula film, returns to the Michigan Theater, with live accompaniment on the historic Barton Organ! Roger Ebert said it best about this Michigan Theater Halloween tradition: “[Nosferatu] doesn't scare us, but it haunts us. It shows not that vampires can jump out of shadows, but that evil can grow there, nourished on death.” A classic silent film, “Nosferatu” plays Tuesday at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.
The Lusophone Film Festival: It continues Saturday with two screenings at the Michigan:
“Elena,” a family drama/documentary hybrid, at 12 PM,
“Obra,” a dark drama which reveals the skeletons in the ancestral closet of an aspiring architect, at 2 PM. Admission is free.
“The Shot Felt ‘Round The World” explores the development of the polio vaccine. Fewer than 370 polio cases were confirmed worldwide in 2014, which is a reduction of more than 99% since the 1980s. Presented by the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, “The Shot Felt ‘Round the World” plays Sunday at noon and 2 PM.
The Spielberg: Man and Monsters film series continues:
“Amistad” on Monday at 7 PM.“Amistad” tells the story of the mutiny aboard a slave ship traveling towards America, and the courtroom battle that follows. Oscar winners Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman lead the all-star cast.
“Aberdeen” introduces us to the extended Cheng family, which, like Aberdeen harbor's Chinese namesake, represents today's "Little Hong Kong" and its myriad of contradictions between traditions and modernity. Presented by U-M’s Confucius Institute, “Aberdeen” plays Tuesday at the State.
The Yours Truly, John Waters film series continues:
“Polyester.” This off-beat satire stars Divine as a lonely housefrau who escapes the numbing drudgery and horror of life with her freaky husband and hellish children by falling in love with a handsome owner of a drive-in (Tab Hunter). When the film was originally released, viewers were handed special scratch-and-sniff cards to participate in “Odorama,” a gimmick by which they could smell revolting odors at key moments in the story. “Polyester” plays Wednesday at the State.
"Rocks In My Pockets" is based on true events involving five women of director Signe Baumane's family, including herself, and their battles with depression and suicide. The animated film is packed with visual metaphors, surreal images and a twisted sense of humor. “Rocks in My Pockets” plays Thursday October 29. Director Signe Baumane will participate in a Q&A following the screening.
Opening at the Multiplex
“Jem and the Holograms” rock their way to the big screen in the live-action adaptation of the popular 1980s cartoon, about four aspiring musicians who take the world by storm. “Jem and the Holograms” opens Friday.
In “The Last Witch Hunter,” witches still live amongst us, vicious supernatural creatures intent on unleashing the Black Death upon the world, and Kaulder (Vin Diesel) must battle the Queen Witch to determine the survival of the human race. “The Last Witch Hunter” opens Friday.
“Steve Jobs” takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter. “Steve Jobs” opens Friday.
In “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,” using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan. “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” opens Friday.
In “Rock the Kasbah,” when Richie (Bill Murray), a has-been rock manager, finds himself abandoned, penniless, and without his passport in Kabul, he discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice and manages her through Afghanistan's version of "American Idol," the wildly popular "Afghan Star." “Rock the Kasbah” opens Friday.