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Cinema Chat: New films and holiday classics open downtown for the Thanksgiving weekend

Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins at the WEMU studio with a "White Christmas" sing-along bag.
David Fair
/
89.1 WEMU
Michigan Theater Foundation executive director Russ Collins at the WEMU studio with a "White Christmas" sing-along bag.

OPENING THIS WEEK

"Napoleon" — NOW PLAYING AT THE MICHIGAN AND MULTIPLEX

An epic historical drama film directed and produced by Ridley Scott and written by David Scarpa. Based on the true story of Napoleon Bonaparte, primarily depicting the French leader's rise to power as well as his relationship with Empress Joséphine, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon and Vanessa Kirby as Joséphine.

It details the checkered rise and fall of the iconic French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, played by Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix. Against a stunning backdrop of large-scale filmmaking orchestrated by legendary director Ridley Scott, the film captures Bonaparte's relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his one true love, Josephine, showcasing his visionary military and political tactics against some of the most dynamic practical battle sequences ever filmed.

"Saltburn" — NOW PLAYING AT THE STATE

Academy Award winning filmmaker Emerald Fennell (Best Original Screenplay for “Promising Young Woman”) brings us a beautifully wicked tale of privilege and desire. Struggling to find his place at Oxford University, student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family's sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

Warner Bros. Cartoon Shorts — PLAYS FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 AT 11:30 AM AT THE MICHIGAN

Enjoy a laugh with friends and family as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and all of the Looney Tunes gang take over the silver screen of the historic main theater. The Michigan Theater will show a selection of Warner Bros. cartoons for all ages and offer the perfect pit-stop during the start of the busy holiday shopping season.

"White Christmas" — PLAYS FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 AT 7:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Sing-along presented with on-screen lyrics!!!! Everyone who attends gets a free goodie bag!!!

Singers Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) join sister act Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont. There, they run into Gen. Waverly (Dean Jagger), the boys' commander in World War II, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So, what's the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that's sure to put Waverly and his business in the black! From director Michael Curtiz ("Casablanca").

"Black Christmas" — PLAYS FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 AT 9:30 PM AT THE STATE

Part of the Late Nights at the State series

A Canadian slasher film produced and directed by Bob Clark and written by A. Roy Moore. It stars Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Lynne Griffin and John Saxon. The story follows a group of sorority sisters who receive threatening phone calls and are eventually stalked and murdered by a deranged killer during the Christmas season. Gilda Radner was offered the role of Phyllis Carlson. She accepted the part, but dropped out one month before filming began owing to Saturday Night Live commitments and was replaced by Andrea Martin.

Inspired by the urban legend "the babysitter and the man upstairs" and a series of murders that took place in the Westmount neighborhood of Montreal, Quebec, Moore wrote the screenplay under the title "Stop Me." The filmmakers made numerous alterations to the script, primarily the shifting to a university setting with young adult characters. It was shot in Toronto in 1974 on an estimated budget of $686,000 and was distributed by Warner Bros. in North America.

Upon its release, the film received mixed reviews, but it has since received critical re-appraisal, with film historians noting it for being one of the earliest slasher films, which influenced John Carpenter's "Halloween" (1978).

"The Muppet Christmas Carol" — PLAYS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26 AT 1:30 PM (FREE!!!!)

Part of the Holiday Classics Film Series

The Muppets perform the classic Dickens holiday tale, with Kermit the Frog playing Bob Cratchit, the put-upon clerk of stingy Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine). Other Muppets -- Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear and Sam the Eagle -- weave in and out of the story, while Scrooge receives visits from spirits of three Christmases -- past, present and future. They show him the error of his self-serving ways, but the miserable old man seems to be past any hope of redemption and happiness. From director Brian Henson. The film will include the addition of the song “When Love Is Gone,” previously cut from its original theatrical release!

Holiday Classics Coming Soon

"The Big Chill" — PLAYS MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27 AT 7:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Part of the Films We Love series

From writer/director Lawrence Kasdan, this compassionate "comedy of values" probes the growing pains of seven college housemates from the 1960s who have drifted apart and then reunite at the funeral of a friend. Having entered adulthood as non-conformists, most now belong to the establishment. Harold (Kevin Kline) has "grown up" to be a running-shoe magnate; Michael (Jeff Goldblum), a gossip magazine journalist; Sam (Tom Berenger), TV's hottest private eye; and Nick (William Hurt), a drug dealer. Among the women, Sarah (Glenn Close) is a doctor; Meg (Mary Kay Place), a lawyer; and Karen (JoBeth Williams), a wife and mother in the suburbs. Stunned by the death of their peer, sensing their own mortality and the loss of their innocence, each takes the opportunity to reevaluate his or her life and re-establish their bond.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Next Goal Wins"

A biographical sports comedy-drama film directed by Taika Waititi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Iain Morris. It is based on the 2014 documentary of the same name by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison about Dutch-American coach Thomas Rongen's efforts to lead the American Samoa national football team, considered one of the weakest football teams in the world, to qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The film stars Michael Fassbender as Rongen, alongside Oscar Kightley, Kaimana, David Fane, Rachel House, Beulah Koale, Will Arnett, and Elisabeth Moss. The film premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

Written/directed by Academy Award Winner Taika Waititi ('Jojo Rabbit'), the film follows the American Samoa soccer team, infamous for their brutal 31-0 FIFA loss in 2001. With the World Cup Qualifiers approaching, the team hires down-on-his-luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) hoping he will turn the world's worst soccer team around in this heartfelt underdog comedy.

"The Holdovers" 

From acclaimed director Alexander Payne, this film follows a curmudgeonly instructor (Paul Giamatti) at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during Christmas break to babysit the handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually he forms an unlikely bond with one of them — a damaged, brainy troublemaker (newcomer Dominic Sessa) — and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).

"Priscilla"

A 2023 American biographical drama film written, directed, and produced by Sofia Coppola, based on the 1985 memoir "Elvis and Me" by Priscilla Presley (who serves as an executive producer) and Sandra Harmon. It follows the life of Presley (played by Cailee Spaeny) and her relationship with Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi). Priscilla premiered at the 80th Venice International Film Festival.

In this ravishingly detailed portrait of love, fantasy, and fame, writer/director Sofia Coppola tells the unseen side of a great American myth in Priscilla Beaulieu and Elvis Presley's long courtship. When teenage Priscilla Beaulieu meets Elvis Presley at a party, the man who is already a meteoric rock-and-roll superstar becomes someone entirely unexpected in private moments: a thrilling crush, an ally in loneliness, a gentle best friend. Through Priscilla’s eyes, writer/director Sofia Coppola tells the unseen side of a great American myth in Elvis and Priscilla's long courtship and turbulent marriage, from a German army base to his dream-world estate at Graceland, in this deeply felt and ravishingly detailed portrait of love, fantasy, and fame.

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