Cinema Chat: 'American Honey,' 'Songs From The North,' 'Dekalog,' 'The Accountant,' And More

Oct 13, 2016

The Michigan Theater
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

The fall pledge drive just wrapped up, so let's unwind with a trip to your local movie house.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and all the films coming to the silver screen this weekend.


Now Playing Downtown

"The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years"

This film is based on the first part of The Beatles’ career (1962-1966), the period in which they toured and captured the world’s acclaim. The film explores how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr came together to become this extraordinary phenomenon and delves into their inner workings: how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together.  Directed by Ron Howard, “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years” now playing at the Michigan Theater.

"The Birth of a Nation"

Critics Consensus: "The Birth of a Nation" overpowers its narrative flaws and uneven execution through sheer conviction, rising on Nate Parker's assured direction and the strength of its vital message.

Set against the antebellum South, the film follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat's preaching to subdue unruly slaves.  As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.

Opening Downtown

"American Honey"

Star (Sasha Lane), a teenage girl from a troubled home, runs away with a traveling sales crew that drives across the American Midwest selling magazine subscriptions door to door.  Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of whom is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group’s lifestyle of hard partying, law-bending and young love.  Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, “This film is the real deal. It will bring you into a world that exists parallel to yours, right outside your car window as you run errands on Main Street.”  “American Honey” opens Friday.

"Operator"

This film won the Director’s Award for narrative film at this year’s Cinetopia Film Festival, and we’re delighted to bring it back!  Written and directed by Ann Arbor natives Logan Kibens and Sharon Greene, the film tells the story of Joe (Martin Starr), who on the surface is a balanced, everyday guy, all thanks to the support of his level-headed wife Emily (Mae Whitman) and his obsession with the quantifiable self.  Charts, calculations, and formulas all help him understand what he is doing, why he is doing it, and what he is capable of offering to those around him.  After a major project at work goes awry, Joe enlists the help of his wife, crossing streams to achieve the satisfaction of his client, but also putting Joe’s home life into a conundrum.  “Operator” opens Friday.  

"Hiernonymous Bosch: Touched by the Devil"

In the fascinating documentary,a team of Dutch art historians crisscrosses the globe to unravel the secrets of the great painter’s art as they preparation for a special exhibition devoted to his work.  The experts shuttle between Den Bosch, Madrid and Venice, cutting their way through the art world’s tangle of red tape, in a battle against the obstacle of countless egos and conflicting interests.  “Hieronymous Bosch: Touched by the Devil” plays Tuesday-Thursday.  

Special Screenings Downtown  

"Songs from the North"

This is an essay film which offers an unique look at the enigma of North Korea, a country typically seen through the distorted lens of jingoistic propaganda and derisive satire. Interweaving footage from director Soon-Mi Yoo’s three visits to North Korea together with songs, spectacle, popular cinema, and archival footage, the film attempts to understand the psychology and popular imagery of the North Korean people.  “Songs from the North” plays Thursday, October 13 at 7:30 PM.  Admission is free.

"Dekalog" 

The masterwork by Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski is one of the twentieth century’s greatest achievements in visual storytelling.  Originally made for television, “Dekalog” focuses on the residents of a housing complex in late-Communist Poland, whose lives become subtly intertwined as they face emotional dilemmas that are at once deeply personal and universally human. The series’ ten hour-long films, drawing from the Ten Commandments for thematic inspiration and an overarching structure, grapple deftly with complex moral and existential questions concerning life, death, love, hate, truth, and the passage of time.

The series is Kieślowski's most acclaimed work, has been said to be "the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television," and has won numerous international awards, though it was not widely released outside Europe until the late 1990s.  Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick wrote an admiring foreword to the published screenplay in 1991.

Dekalog: Parts 1 & 2 -- Plays Friday, October 14 at 4:30 PM at the Michigan.

Dekalog: Parts 3 & 4 -- Plays Friday, October 14 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan.

Dekalog: Parts 5 & 6 -- Plays Saturday, October 15 at 2:30 PM at the Michigan.

Dekalog: Parts 7 & 8 -- Plays Sunday, October 16 at 3:30 PM at the Michigan.

Dekalog: Parts 9 & 10 -- Plays Sunday, October 16 at 6:00 PM at the Michigan.  

"Sixteen Candles"

The Kids in America: ‘80s Teen Classics film series continues with “Sixteen Candles.”  With the occasion overshadowed by her sister’s upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha (Molly Ringwald) faces her 16th birthday with typical adolescent dread.  Samantha pines for studly older boy Jake (Michael Schoeffling) but worries that her chastity will be a turnoff for the popular senior. Meanwhile, Samantha must constantly rebuff the affections of nerdy Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), the only boy in the school, unfortunately, who seems to take an interest in her.  “Sixteen Candles” plays Monday, October 17 at 7 PM.  

"The Blues Brothers"

After his release from prison, Jake (John Belushi) reunites with his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) — collectively known as the “Blues Brothers.” Jake’s first task is to save the orphanage the brothers grew up in from closing, by raising $5,000 to pay back taxes. The two are convinced they can earn the money by getting their old band back together. However, after playing several gigs and making a few enemies, the brothers face daunting odds to deliver the money on time.  “The Blues Brothers” plays Thursday, October 20 at 9:30 PM as part of the ‘80s After Dark film series.  

Opening at the Multiplex  

"The Accountant"

Christian (Ben Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people.  Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations.  Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars.  But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.  “The Accountant” opens Friday. 

"Kevin Hart: What Now?"

Comedian Kevin Hart takes center stage in this film, which captured his groundbreaking, record-setting, sold-out performance filmed outdoors in front of 50,000 people at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field - marking the first time a comedian has ever performed to an at-capacity football stadium.  Footage from his historic 2015 show is mixed with skits starring Halle Berry and Don Cheadle.  “Kevin Hart: What Now?” opens Friday.

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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