Cinema Chat
8:55 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Cinema Chat: Berlin Film Festival, BAFTA, The Past, Pompeii, 3 Days To Kill And More

There is plenty of Hollywood and movie related news this week, and there are some new films opening this weekend. 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and Michigan Theater Executive Director and CEO, Russ Collins, have the breakdown for you. It's Cinema Chat and you can listen right here:

Credit Michigan Theater

Opening Downtown

Cannes International Film Festival Award-Winner “The Past,” directed by Oscar-Nominee Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”), follows Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) as he returns to Paris from Tehran, upon his estranged French wife Marie’s (Bérénice Bejo) request, in order to finalize their divorce procedure so she can marry her new boyfriend Samir (Tahar Rahim). During his tense, brief stay, Ahmad discovers the conflicting nature of Marie’s relationship with her teenage daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet). Ahmad’s efforts to improve this relationship soon unveil a secret from their past. Tom Long of the Detroit News says “Farhadi has pulled off the dysfunctional family mystery trick twice now, brilliantly, and perhaps three times in a row would be too much. But it's doubtful he will leave behind the fertile ground of family ties and modern messiness. He sees so much there.” “The Past” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

Manohla Dargis, New York Times -- [Director]  Mr. Farhadi's filmmaking is so fluid, and the performers, Ms. Bejo, in particular, are so attractive.

Claudia Puig, USA Today -- Almost hypnotically compelling, spinning an intricate web of predicaments, emotional reactions and resolutions in a domestic drama that leaves the viewer reeling by its conclusion.

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal -- The layers have layers in Mr. Farhadi's narratives. The title itself is layered with irony; the past is never past, but always shaping the present.

Oscar contenders abound downtown

If you are still waiting to fill out that Oscar ballot, don’t fret – plenty of Oscar contenders are still playing downtown! The Animated and Live Action nominees for short films continue this week at the Michigan - check the theater’s website (michtheater.org) for schedule details.  “Nebraska,” nominated for six Academy Awards, returns this week to the State Theatre; other films of Oscar acclaim playing at the State include “Philomena,” nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress; “American Hustle,” nominated for 10 Academy Awards; and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” nominated for 2 Academy Awards.  AND “The Wind Rises” directed by the famous Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki opens next Friday, February 28!

Opening at the Multiplex

"Pompeii” tells the epic story of Milo (Kit Harington), a slave turned invincible gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love Cassia (Emily Browning), the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant, who has been unwillingly betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts in a torrent of blazing lava, Milo must fight his way out of the arena in order to save his beloved as the once magnificent Pompeii crumbles around him. “Pompeii” opens Friday.

A kitschy apocalyptic peplum whose visual epiphanies -- of which there are definitely a few -- cannot outdo a B- (or C- or D-) grade scenario that will have lots of eyes rolling by the time the big stack finally blows. -- Jordan Mintzer. Hollywood Reporter

While hardly high art, "Pompeii" certainly recognizes what mass audiences want from a "Game of Thrones"-style sword-and-scandal saga, delivering especially high marks as either a sudsy indulgence for teenage girls or beefcake offering to gay men. -- Peter Debruge, Variety

In “3 Days to Kill” Kevin Costner is a dangerous international spy, who is determined to give up his high stakes life to finally build a closer relationship with his estranged wife and daughter, whom he's previously kept at arm's length to keep out of danger. However, he must complete one last mission, even if it means juggling the two toughest assignments yet: hunting down the world's most ruthless terrorist and looking after his teenage daughter for the first time in ten years while his wife is out of town. “3 Days to Kill” opens Friday.

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Special Screenings

Hitchcock: the Master of Suspense series continues: This week the Michigan’s Alfred Hitchcock series continues with the only two films from Hitchcock’s career to be nominated for Best Picture. “Rebecca,” the 1940 Academy Award Best Picture Winner starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, plays on Sunday February 23 at 4 PM. On Tuesday, February 25 at 7 PM, catch “Foreign Correspondent,” nominated for Best Picture in 1940 (but ultimately losing to “Rebecca”) and starring Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. Check out the rest of the series at www.michtheater.org/hitchcock.

“Knights of Badassdom” follows three best friends (Peter Dinklage, Steve Zahn and Ryan Kwanten) and dedicated LARPers (Live Action Role Players) as they take to the woods to reenact a Dungeons and Dragons-like scenario fresh out of the mythical Middle Ages. Trouble arises after they unwittingly conjure up some serious evil in the form of a blood-lusting Succubus from the pits of hell. Fantasy and reality collide on the Fields of Evermore in an all-out epic battle of make-believe wizards, demons and assorted mythical creatures. “Knights of Badassdom” plays tonight at 9:30 PM. Presented by GwinnDance Film Festival.

The Korean Cinema Now Series, presented by the UM Nam Center for Korean Studies, continues this week with “The Thieves.” Five thieves at the top of their game assemble for their biggest job yet. Popie is the muscle and brains; Pepsee is the safecracker. Yenicall climbs walls, Zampano is the strategy man, and Chewingum is the master of disguise. But this new score - it's hot. Maybe too hot. But who can resist the Tear of The Sun: a 318-carat diamond, worth 20 million dollars, and locked away in a casino? “The Thieves” plays Saturday, February 22 at 2 PM. Free admission!

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