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Cinema Chat: 'Maestro' and 'The Boy and the Heron' open at the State, plus a whole lot of special holiday screenings!

Holiday snacks at the Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater
Holiday snacks at the Michigan Theater


Friday, December 8 at 7 PM at the Michigan

Since bursting to national acclaim after appearing as semi-finalists on ‘America’s Got Talent’ and winning the top honors on TRU TV’s ‘Fake Off’, Lightwire Theater has gone on to enthrall audiences worldwide with their unique combination of skill and grace as told through the technological innovations of moving light characters.

Follow the story of a young bird, named Max and his family, as they begin their journey south for the winter. When Max gets blown off course and ends up at the North Pole…..his adventure begins! Dancing toy soldiers, caroling worms and performing poinsettias, light up the stage. Audiences of all ages will treasure this magical and captivating tale of family, friendship and hope set to timeless holiday hits, including Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey and Tchaikovsky.

People of all ages will be captivated by the dazzling visuals and unique menagerie of characters that magically appear out of the darkness. Combining the arts of puppetry, theater and dance with the music of timeless holiday hits, this magical and captivating tale of family, friendship and hope creates a truly one-of-a-kind, inspired and exhilarating holiday experience that will be a treasured memory for years to come.



A 2023 American biographical drama film that centers on the relationship between American composer Leonard Bernstein and his wife Felicia Montealegre. It was directed by Bradley Cooper, from a screenplay he wrote with Josh Singer. It was produced by Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Cooper, among others. The film stars Cooper as Bernstein alongside Carey Mulligan as Montealegre; Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, and Sarah Silverman appear in supporting roles. Maestro premiered at the 80th Venice International Film Festival on September 2, 2023, where it was nominated for the Golden Lion.

"The Boy and the Heron" — OPENS TONIGHT AT THE STATE

Has screenings of both the subtitled and dubbed versions of the film.

A 2023 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Produced by Studio Ghibli, loosely based on the 1937 novel of the same name by Genzaburō Yoshino, but the film has an original story that is not connected to the novel. Described as a "big fantastical film", it follows a boy named Mahito Maki (Soma Santoki) during the Pacific War who discovers an abandoned tower in his new town after his mother's death and enters a fantastical world with a talking grey heron.

Miyazaki announced his retirement in September 2013 but later reversed this decision. Production spanned approximately seven years, facing delays as it navigated challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and Miyazaki's slowed animation pace. According to producer Toshio Suzuki, this is the most expensive film ever produced in Japan. The screenplay draws heavily from Miyazaki's childhood and explores themes of coming of age and coping with a world marked by conflict and loss. Joe Hisaishi composed the film's score, while Kenshi Yonezu wrote and sang the film's theme song, "Spinning Globe".



Part of the Late Nights at the State series

A 2006 American romantic comedy film written, produced and directed by Nancy Meyers. It was filmed in both California and England and stars Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz as Iris and Amanda, two lovelorn women from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, who arrange a home exchange to escape heartbreak during the Christmas and holiday season. Jude Law and Jack Black were cast as the film's leading men Graham and Miles, with Eli Wallach, Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, and Rufus Sewell playing key supporting roles.

Two women, one (Cameron Diaz) from America and one (Kate Winslet) from Britain, swap homes at Christmastime after bad breakups with their boyfriends. Each woman finds romance with a local man (Jude Law, Jack Black) but realizes that the imminent return home may end the relationship.


A Michigan made film! On the verge of a mid-life crisis, a former stand-up comedian believes an appearance on a popular late-night show will save his career but ends up learning the journey is more rewarding than the destination. With writer/director Alex Grossman and actress Nicole Forester in attendance for the 7:00 PM screening.


Part of the Late Nights at the State series

From director Joe Dante and screenwriter Chris Columbus. A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the "mogwai" but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens, and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.

"Dr. Seuss' The Grinch" — PLAYS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10 AT 1:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN (FREE!!!)

Part of the Holiday Classics Film Series

From directors Scott Mosier, Yarrow Cheney and Illumination Entertainment ("Despicable Me" franchise, The Lorax) – The Grinch and his loyal dog, Max, live a solitary existence inside a cave on Mount Crumpet. His main source of aggravation comes during Christmastime when his neighbors in Whoville celebrate the holidays with a bang. When the Whos decide to make Christmas bigger and brighter, the disgruntled Grinch realizes there is one way to gain peace and quiet. With help from Max, the green grump hatches a scheme to pose as Santa Claus, steal Christmas and silence the Whos' holiday cheer once and for all. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as The Grinch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury, and Pharrell Williams.

Holiday Classics Coming Soon

"Fiddler on the Roof" — PLAYS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10 AT 4:15 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Part of the Films We Love series

A lavishly produced and critically acclaimed screen adaptation of the international stage sensation tells the life-affirming story of Tevye (Topol), a poor milkman whose love, pride and faith help him face the oppression of turn-of-the century czarist Russia. From director Norman Jewison.

"Bridget Jones's Diary" — PLAYS MONDAY, DECEMBER 11 AT 7:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Part of the Films We Love series

At the start of the New Year, 32-year-old Bridget (Renée Zellweger) decides it's time to take control of her life -- and start keeping a diary. Now, the most provocative, erotic and hysterical book on her bedside table is the one she's writing. With a taste for adventure, and an opinion on every subject - from exercise to men to food to sex and everything in between - she's turning the page on a whole new life. From director Sharon Maguire and also starring Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.


Part of the Films We Love series

Celebrating its 20th anniversary! Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa's elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn't fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. As it happens, this is Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a cynical businessman. After a DNA test proves this, Walter reluctantly attempts to start a relationship with the childlike Buddy with increasingly chaotic results. From director Jon Favreau.

Screening will feature a classic Looney Tunes holiday short, a Warner Bros. centennial sizzle reel and a new Looney Tunes mashup cartoon short.


"Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce"

A 2023 American documentary concert film written, directed, and produced by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. The film chronicles the development and execution of the Renaissance World Tour, Beyoncé's record-breaking 2023 stadium tour in support of her seventh studio album "Renaissance" (2022).

According to its official summary, the film highlights the creation of the album and tour production, as well as Beyoncé's "creative mind and purpose to create her legacy and master her craft." Her husband, Jay-Z, and three children, Blue Ivy, Rumi and Sir Carter, are featured in the film. Diana Ross, Megan Thee Stallion, and Kendrick Lamar also make appearances. The film was met with positive reviews, with praise for the concert footage, Beyoncé's stage presence, production and the behind-the-scenes elements.

The film accentuates the journey of RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR, from its inception to the opening in Stockholm, Sweden, to the finale in Kansas City, Missouri. It is about Beyoncé's intention, hard work, involvement in every aspect of the production, her creative mind and purpose to create her legacy, and master her craft. Received with extraordinary acclaim, Beyoncé's RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR created a sanctuary for freedom, and shared joy, for more than 2.7 million fans.

"Dream Scenario"

A 2023 American black comedy fantasy film written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli. The film stars Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Tim Meadows, Dylan Gelula, and Dylan Baker. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2023, and received positive reviews from critics.

Hapless family man and biology professor Paul Matthews (Nicolas Cage) finds his life turned upside down when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams. But when his nighttime appearances take a nightmarish turn, Paul is forced to navigate his newfound stardom, in this wickedly entertaining comedy from writer-director Kristoffer Borgli ("Sick of Myself") and producer Ari Aster.


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.


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.

"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).



Based on the extraordinary character at the center of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," Roald Dahl’s most iconic children's book and one of the best-selling children's books of all time, "Wonka" tells the wondrous story of how the world's greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka we know today. From director Paul King ("Paddington") and starring Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant.


From director Yorgos Lanthimos ("The Favourite," 2018) and starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe. Brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist, a young woman runs off with a lawyer on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, she grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation.

"The Color Purple" — OPENS MONDAY, DECEMBER 25

A musical adaptation of Alice Walker's novel about the life-long struggles of an African American woman living in the south during the early 1900s. From director Blitz Bazawule, aka Blitz the Ambassador, and starring Fantasia Barrino ("American Idol"), Taraji P. Henson ("Hidden Figures"), Halle Bailey ("The Little Mermaid"), Danielle Brooks ("Orange is the New Black"), Colman Domingo ("Selma," "If Beale Street Could Talk," "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom"), Corey Hawkins ("In the Heights"), H.E.R. and producers Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Quincy Jones.

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Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Nick Alderink is the cinema program director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theatre in Ann Arbor.
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