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Cinema Chat: 'The Fall Guy' and 'The People's Joker' open downtown, plus a celebration of all things 'Star Wars'

Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater
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23rd Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival — PLAYS MAY 5-26

In-person or online

Presenting: 19 feature films, 16 virtual films, 7 in-person events – 3 films will be offered in-person only

For the online screenings will be on Eventive, a virtual streaming platform.

Coming to the State Theatre this weekend:

Cinetopia Film Festival – PLAYS JUNE 13-23

Early Bird passes on sale now!



A 2024 American action-comedy film directed by David Leitch and written by Drew Pearce, loosely based on the 1980s TV series about stunt performers. The film follows a stuntman working on his ex-girlfriend's directorial debut action film, only to find himself involved in a conspiracy surrounding the film's lead actor. It stars Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Teresa Palmer, Stephanie Hsu, and Winston Duke.

He's a stuntman, and like everyone in the stunt community, he gets blown up, shot, crashed, thrown through windows and dropped from the highest of heights, all for our entertainment. And now, fresh off an almost career-ending accident, this working-class hero has to track down a missing movie star, solve a conspiracy and try to win back the love of his life while still doing his day job. What could possibly go right?


When a group of friends recklessly violates the sacred rule of Tarot readings -- never use someone else's deck -- they unknowingly unleash an unspeakable evil trapped within the cursed cards. One by one, they come face to face with fate and end up in a race against death to escape the future foretold in their readings.


A 2022 American parody superhero film directed by Vera Drew and written by Drew and Bri LeRose. The film premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. The film unofficially parodies characters from the Batman comics, and the main character is a transgender woman based on the Joker, played by Drew. The film also features Scott Aukerman, Tim Heidecker, Maria Bamford, David Liebe Hart, Robert Wuhl, and Bob Odenkirk in supporting roles.

In the absurdist autobiographically inspired dark comedy, a aspiring but unsuccessful clown (Vera Drew as Joker the Harlequin) grapples with her gender identity while unsuccessfully attempting to join the ranks of Gotham City's sole comedy program in a world where comedy has been outlawed. Uniting with a ragtag team of rejects and misfits, Joker the Harlequin forms an illegal anti-comedy troupe that puts her on a collision course with the devious caped crusader controlling the city.

"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (25th Anniversary Screening) — OPENS FRIDAY, MAY 3 AT THE STATE

Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ahmed Best, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August and Frank Oz. It is the fourth film in the Star Wars film series, the first film of the prequel trilogy and the first chronological chapter of the "Skywalker Saga".

Set 32 years before the original trilogy (13 years before the formation of the Galactic Empire), during the era of the Galactic Republic, the plot follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they try to protect Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo in hopes of securing a peaceful end to an interplanetary trade dispute. Joined by Anakin Skywalker—a young slave with unusually strong natural powers of the Force—they simultaneously contend with the mysterious return of the Sith, who were especially good a using the dark side of the force.

Following the release of "Return of the Jedi" (1983), talks of a follow-up were proposed, but George Lucas was unmotivated to return to the franchise. During the hiatus, the backstories he created for the characters, particularly Anakin's, sparked interest in him to develop a prequel trilogy during the 1990s.

After he determined that computer-generated imagery (CGI) had advanced to the level he wanted for the prequel trilogy's visual effects, Lucas began writing "The Phantom Menace" in 1993, and production began in 1994. Filming started in June 1997—at locations at Leavesden Film Studios and the Tunisian desert—and ended in September.

The film marked Lucas's first directorial effort after a 22-year hiatus following the original "Star Wars" in 1977.



Part of the Late Night Classics series

In Detroit, a pop culture nerd steals cocaine from his new wife's pimp and tries to sell it in Hollywood, prompting the mobsters who own the drugs to pursue the couple. From director Tony Scott, screenwriters Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, and starring Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt and Christopher Walken.

"Macbeth: Ralph Fiennes & Indira Varma" — PLAYS TONIGHT AT 7 PM AND SUNDAY, MAY 5 AT 1 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Tony and BAFTA Award winner Ralph Fiennes ("Antony & Cleopatra," "Schindler's List," "Coriolanus") and Olivier Award winner Indira Varma ("Present Laughter," "Game of Thrones," "Luther") star in a brand-new ‘full-voltage visceral’ (Daily Telegraph) production of William Shakespeare’s "Macbeth." Filmed live at Dock X, a custom-built theatre space in London, this critically acclaimed staging of Macbeth ‘that quickens the pulse, then goes for the jugular’ (Financial Times) will be unmissable on the big screen.

Directed by Simon Godwin ("Antony & Cleopatra," "Romeo & Juliet," "Hansard") with set and costume design by Frankie Bradshaw ("Jerusalem," "Blues for an Alabama Sky"), this is a cinematic and ‘beautifully staged’ (WhatsOnStage) production that brings ‘Shakespeare’s tragedy pulsing into the present day’ (The I).

"Escape from New York" — PLAYS FRIDAY, MAY 3 AT 9:30 PM AND THURSDAY, MAY 9 AT 7:30 PM AT THE STATE

Part of the Late Night Classics series

In 1997, a major war between the United States and the Soviet Union is concluding, and the entire island of Manhattan has been converted into a giant maximum-security prison. When Air Force One is hijacked and crashes into the island, the president (Donald Pleasence) is taken hostage by a group of inmates. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a former Special Forces soldier turned criminal, is recruited to retrieve the president in exchange for his own freedom. From writer/director John Carpenter.


Featuring a post-film Q&A with star Andrea Peet

Witness the incredible true story of the first person with ALS to complete a marathon in all 50 states! Given the terminal diagnosis of ALS at only 33 years old, Andrea Lytle Peet set a goal that should have been impossible. Celebrated by critics as "one of the great discoveries of 2023", the award-winning documentary is "a joyous ride we all need to take."

This event is hosted by Active Against ALS, a local non-profit dedicated to raising funds for ALS research while promoting physical activity, generating awareness of ALS and building a compassionate community.

"Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" — PLAYS THURSDAY, MAY 9 AT 7:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

A 2002 American epic space opera film directed by George Lucas and written by Lucas and Jonathan Hales. The film stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Frank Oz.

The story is set ten years after The Phantom Menace, as thousands of planetary systems slowly secede from the Galactic Republic and join the newly formed Confederacy of Independent Systems, led by former Jedi Master Count Dooku. With the galaxy on the brink of civil war, Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates a mysterious assassination attempt on Senator Padmé Amidala, which leads him to uncover a clone army in service of the Republic and the truth behind the Separatist movement. Meanwhile, his apprentice Anakin Skywalker is assigned to protect Amidala and develops a secret romance with her. Soon, the trio witness the onset of a new threat to the galaxy: The Clone Wars.

"Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" — PLAYS FRIDAY, MAY 10 AT 9 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Nearly three years have passed since the beginning of the Clone Wars. The Republic, with the help of the Jedi, take on Count Dooku and the Separatists. With a new threat rising, the Jedi Council sends Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to aid the captured Chancellor. Anakin feels he is ready to be promoted to Jedi Master. Obi-Wan is hunting down the Separatist General, Grievous. When Anakin has future visions of pain and suffering coming Padmé's way, he sees Master Yoda for counsel. When Darth Sidious executes Order 66, it destroys most of all the Jedi have built. Experience the birth of Darth Vader. Feel the betrayal that leads to hatred between two brothers. And witness the power of hope.

From writer/director George Lucas and starring Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ian McDiarmid.

"Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" — PLAYS SATURDAY, MAY 11 AT 7:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

The Imperial Forces -- under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) -- hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), captain of the Millennium Falcon, work together with the companionable droid duo R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy. From writer/director George Lucas.

"Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" — PLAYS SATURDAY, MAY 18 AT 7:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

The adventure continues in this "Star Wars" sequel. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) face attack by the Imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda. Only with the Jedi master's help will Luke survive when the dark side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader (David Prowse). From director Irvin Kershner and screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett.

"Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" — PLAYS SATURDAY, MAY 25 AT 7:30 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) battles the horrible Jabba the Hutt and the cruel Darth Vader to save his comrades in the Rebel Alliance and triumph over the Galactic Empire. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) reaffirm their love and team with Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), the Ewoks and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 to aid in the disruption of the Dark Side and the defeat of the evil emperor. From director Richard Marquand and screenwriters George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan.


"The Beast"

A 2023 science fiction romantic drama film directed and written by Bertrand Bonello, loosely based on Henry James's 1903 novella "The Beast in the Jungle." It stars Léa Seydoux and George MacKay, with Guslagie Malanda and Dasha Nekrasova in supporting roles. The film had its world premiere on 3 September 2023 at the 80th Venice International Film Festival.

In the near future, where emotions have become a threat, Gabrielle finally decides to purify her DNA in a machine that will plunge her into her past lives and rid her of all strong feelings. She then meets Louis and feels a powerful connection, as if she had always known him. The story unfolds over three distinct periods: 1910, 2014 and 2044.

The film ends with a QR code that encodes a link to a video with the end credits.


A 2024 American romantic sports film directed by Luca Guadagnino. The plot follows a professional tennis champion (Mike Faist) who plots a comeback with the help of his wife (Zendaya), a former tennis prodigy who retired after an injury, as he goes up against another player (Josh O'Connor), who also happens to be his former best friend and wife's former lover.

Tashi Duncan, a former tennis prodigy turned coach after a career-ending injury, is married to a champion on a losing streak. Her strategy for her husband's redemption takes a surprising turn when he must face off against his former best friend, who is also Tashi's former boyfriend.

"Civil War"

A 2024 dystopian film written and directed by Alex Garland. The film stars Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Nick Offerman. Its plot follows a team of journalists who travel across the United States during a rapidly escalating Second American Civil War, which has engulfed the entire nation.

It had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 14, 2024.

"Wicked Little Letters"

A 2023 British black comedy mystery film directed by Thea Sharrock and written by Jonny Sweet. The film stars Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Anjana Vasan, Joanna Scanlan, Gemma Jones, Malachi Kirby, Lolly Adefope, Eileen Atkins, and Timothy Spall.

Based on a true scandal, it follows an investigation into the anonymous author of numerous crude insulting letters sent to the residents of seaside town Littlehampton.

The film premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

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Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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