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The Michigan Theater Foundation's 40th And Cinema Chat's 25th Anniversary And Movie News, Too!

Oct 24, 2019

This week's "Cinema Chat" is a special one!  WEMU's David Fair joined Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins on location at the Michigan Theater Wednesday night, where they celebrated 40 years of the Michigan Theater Foundation's creation and 25 years since "Cinema Chat" first aired here on WEMU!


A HUGE CELEBRATION TOOK PLACE AT THE MICHIGAN THEATER

Last night, we celebrated the Michigan Theater’s 40th anniversary as a non-profit organization (the Michigan Theater itself is nearly 92 years old).  Community volunteers, community leaders, and philanthropists banded together in 1979 to save the Michigan Theater from becoming a Food Court.  That’s right, the Michigan Theater was about to be sold to developers who wished to turn it into a short-lived retail dining concept – the food court.  Instead, via passionate community action, the Michigan Theater was saved and restored.  Earlier this month, the theater’s Barton Theater Organ--much of the reason the Michigan Theater was saved in the first place--was switched on after being entirely rebuilt from scratch.  It sounds amazing, wonderfully powerful, in tune, and literally like it is a brand new instrument! 

Also being celebrated last night was 25 years of Cinema Chat with Dave Fair and Russ Collins, as well as a few recent awards bestowed on the Michigan Theater Foundation and on Russ.  The League of Historic American Theatres' Outstanding Individual Contribution Award for Russ and the State Theatre’s historically sensitive renovation received the City of Ann Arbor’s Historic Preservation Award and a State History Award.

It was truly a warm community night of celebration at the Michigan Theater.

UPCOMING FILM SERIES

Journalism on Screen – Mondays at 7:30 PM at the State!

Each film in this series is followed by a Q&A with Robert Yoon, Howard R. Marsh, Visiting Professor of Journalism at the University of Michigan and former CNN Director of Political Research, and Zoe Clark, Program Director of Michigan Radio and Co-Host of 'It's Just Politics'.'

Les Femmes Essentielles  –  Tuesdays at 7:30 PM at the State!

This series features three of the most legendary actresses of French cinema from three of the most impactful filmmakers of the French New-Wave.

Late Nights – Fridays & Saturdays at 10:00 PM at the State!

Grab some popcorn and come watch our favorite late night movies.

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"The Lighthouse"

At the Michigan (Opens Thursday, October 24): From Robert Eggers, the visionary filmmaker behind modern horror masterpiece "The Witch," comes this hypnotic and hallucinatory tale shot in black-and-white.  This film follows two lighthouse keepers (played by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.  The two are faced with solitude and start to lose their sanity and become threatened by their worst nightmares. 

"Dolemite is My Name"

NEW ADDITION!  At the State (Opens Friday, October 25): In this film, floundering comedian Rudy Ray Moore (played by Academy Award nominee Eddie Murphy) has an epiphany that turns him into a word-of-mouth sensation: step onstage as someone else.  Borrowing from the street mythology of 1970s Los Angeles, Moore assumes the persona of Dolemite.  However, his ambitions exceed selling bootleg records deemed too racy for mainstream radio stations to play.  Moore convinces a social justice-minded dramatist (played by Keegan-Michael Key) to write his alter ego a film, incorporating kung fu, car chases, and Lady Reed, who becomes his unexpected comedic foil.  Despite clashing with his pretentious director, D'Urville Martin (played by Wesley Snipes), and countless production hurdles at their studio, Dolemite becomes a runaway box office smash and a defining movie of the Blaxploitation era. 

"First Love"

At the State (Opens Friday, October 25): This film is the prolific auteur, Takashi Miike, at his most fun and anarchic, a noir-tinged yakuza film blending genres in the story of a young boxer and a call girl, who fall passionately in love while getting innocently caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme over the course of one night in Tokyo. 

"Parasite"

At the State (Opens NEXT Thursday, October 31): Winner of the Palme D’or Award at the 2019 Cannes Film FestivalBong 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. 

"Jojo Rabbit"

At the State (Opens NEXT Thursday, October 31): 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.  Also, don’t miss "The Great Dictator," a Charlie Chaplin satire playing in associating with this film on Thursday, November 21 at 7:30 PM! 

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

"The Blair Witch Project"

This film plays Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26 at 10:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of the Late-Night Horrors Film Series.  Found video footage (one of the first films of its kind) tells the tale of three film students who’ve traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a legendary local murderer.  Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale’s veracity.  But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.

"Manon: The Met Live in HD"

This event plays Saturday, October 26 at 12:55 PM at the Michigan Theater.  Exhilarating soprano Lisette Oropesa stars as the irresistible title character, the tragic beauty who yearns for the finer things in life, in Laurent Pelly’s revealing production. Tenor Michael Fabiano is the besotted Chevalier des Grieux, whose desperate love for Manon proves their undoing. Maurizio Benini conducts Massenet’s sensual score.  Don’t miss the chance to experience thrilling live opera transmissions, special interviews, and behind-the-scenes features as well!

"Spirited Away"

This film plays Monday, October 28 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.  In this animated feature by noted Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, 10-year-old Chihiro and her parents stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park.  After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro meets the mysterious Haku, who explains that the park is a resort for supernatural beings who need a break from their time spent in the earthly realm, and that she must work there to free herself and her parents.  Also featuring additional bonus content!

"Under the Shadow"

This film plays Tuesday, October 29 at 9:00 PM at the Michigan Theater as the finale of Halaloween: A Muslim Horror Film Fest presented by The Global Islamic Studies Center.  Free and open to the public!  Set in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war, this movie is celebrated as a meditation on the fallout of the Iranian Revolution from a feminine perspective.  A woman and her daughter hunker down in their Tehran apartment during the Iraqi bombardment.  Did the missile that struck their building bring a jinn into their lives? Jump scares, demonic kids, revolutionary misogyny, mother-daughter and husband-wife tension, and violence against furniture as a mom fights to save her child.

"Memory: The Origins of Alien"

This film plays Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30 PM & 9:45 PM at the State Theatre as the finale of Doctoberfest Film Series.  A contemplation on the symbiotic collaborative process of movie-making, the power of myth, and the collective unconscious, the film unearths the largely untold origin story behind Ridley Scott's cinematic masterpiece and reveals a treasure trove of never-before-seen materials from the O'Bannon and Giger archives -- including original story notes, rejected designs and storyboards, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, and O'Bannon's original 29-page script from 1971, titled "Memory."  Pair this film with our Founder’s Porter, a dark beer that tastes like the comfort and warmth of home, where our astronaut heroes on-screen so desperately want to return.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool"

At the Michigan: A Cinetopia Film Festival 2019 Favorite!  Miles Davis: Horn player, bandleader, innovator.  Miles was a singular force of nature, the very embodiment of cool.  The central theme of Miles Davis’ life, and of this film is Davis’ restless determination to break boundaries and live life on his own terms.  This documentary feature explores archival photos and home movies shot by Miles and his colleagues, his manuscripts and Miles’ original paintings, to explore the man behind the music.  Featuring interviews with some of the most well-known musicians on the planet, including Jimmy CobbLee KonitzHerbie HancockWayne Shorter, Ron CarterCarlos SantanaThe Roots, and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers; the film explores why Miles continues to be a relevant voice in today’s world.  

"Tel Aviv On Fire"

Salam, a charming 30-year-old Palestinian living in Jerusalem, works as a trainee on the Palestinian popular soap opera "Tel Aviv on Fire," produced in Ramallah.  Every day, to reach the TV studios, Salam has to go through a rather difficult Israeli checkpoint.  There, he meets the commander of the checkpoint, Assi, whose wife is a big fan of the soap opera.  In order to please him, Assi puts pressure on Salam to change the end of the show.  Salam quickly realizes that Assi's ideas could be promoted to him as a screenwriter.  Salam's creative career is suddenly boiling, until Assi and the soap opera producers and financiers disagree on how it should end.  Stuck between an army colonel and Arab support, Salam can solve his problems with a final master stroke.

"Monos"

At the State: Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival!  Alejandro Landes' third feature is a survivalist saga set on a remote mountain in Latin America.  Belonging to a rebel group called “the Organization,” a ragtag band of child soldiers, brandishing guns and war names like Rambo, Wolf, Lady, and Bigfoot, occupies a derelict ruin atop a remote mountain where they train themselves, watch over a “conscripted” milk cow, and hold hostage a kidnapped American engineer, Doctora (Julianne Nicholson).  But after an attack forces them to abandon their base, playtime is over for the motley young crew. 

"Joker"

Winner of the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival!  Director Todd Phillips' film centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen.  Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society.  A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him.  Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.  

"Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice"

In this film, Ronstadt is our guide through her early years of singing Mexican canciones with her family; her folk days with the Stone Poneys; and her reign as the "rock queen" of the '70s and early '80s.  She was a pioneer for women in the male-dominated music industry; an early advocate for human rights, and had a high-profile romance with California governor Jerry Brown.  Ultimately, her incredible voice was lost to Parkinson's disease, but her music and influence remain as timeless as ever.

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX THIS WEEKEND

"The Current War: Director's Cut"

This film will open in theaters Friday, October 25 nationwide!  Three brilliant visionaries set off in a charged battle for the future in the epic story of the cutthroat competition that literally lit up the modern world.  Benedict Cumberbatch is Thomas Edison, the celebrity inventor on the verge of bringing electricity to Manhattan with his radical new DC technology.  On the eve of triumph, his plans are upended by charismatic businessman George Westinghouse (played by Michael Shannon), who believes he and his partner, the upstart genius Nikolai Tesla (played by Nicholas Hoult), have a superior idea for how to rapidly electrify America: with AC current.  As Edison and Westinghouse grapple for who will power the nation, they spark one of the first and greatest corporate feuds in American history, establishing for future Titans of Industry the need to break all the rules.

"Countdown"

In the upcoming horror film, a nurse (played by Elizabeth Dean Lail, most known for her recurring role on ABC’s "Once Upon a Time" and Lifetime’s "You") downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die and it tells her she only has three days to live.  With time ticking away and a figure haunting her, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.  Also stars Tichina Arnold ("The Last Black Man in San Francisco"), P.J. Byrne ("The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Green Book"), and comedian Tom Segura.  This will open in theaters Friday, October 25 nationwide as well!

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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 dfair@emich.edu