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Cinema Chat: Cinetopia Wrap-Up, 'Let The Sunshine In,' 'Incredibles 2,' And More

Jun 14, 2018

Michigan Theater View from the Stage
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Another Cinetopia is in the books, but there's still plenty to talk about in the world of film.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to talk about the movie business and the newest flicks hitting theaters this weekend.


CINETOPIA FILM FESTIVAL – 2018 Wraps Up  

HIGHLIGHTS

"Eighth Grade" -- opening night! Special guest Director Bo Burnham.  LOVED this film @ Sundance!!

"A Boy.  A Girl.  A Dream: Love On Election Night" directed by Qasim Basir.  The screening will be at the Michigan Theater.  Qasim, also known as “Q,” is from Ann Arbor (Huron High graduate).  Staring Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good.  Samantha Tanner co-wrote the film.  There will be romance flickering on the screen and last year, Q and Samantha created additional romantic excitement when they became engaged during Cinetopia last year at the screening of Q’s film “Destined.” 

"American Animals" – art heist thriller by BAFTA winning dir. Bart Layton

"Woman Walks Ahead" – In the wild west female artist (Jessica Chastain) goes Dakotas to Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes) portrait.  Also stars Sam Rockwell.

"The Big House" – great doc on UM Football Stadium

"The Guilty" – Danish thriller

"Secretopia" – Friday @ the Michigan (DON’T TELL--it’s a secret but it's "The Russian 5")

"Butterflies" – Turkish comedy

"Savage Youth" – Crime drama, directed by EMU grad Michael Curtis Johnson – whose Hunky Dory was a hit at the 2016 Cinetopia Festival.

"Night is Short, Walk On Girl" – Japanese anime

"Soufra" – Heartwarming documentary on Middle Eastern food truck

"Blindspotting" – written and starring Daveed Digs ("Hamilton")

"Love, Gilda" – closed the festival

PETER BAULAND, UM ENGLISH PROFESSOR AND FRIEND OF THE MICHIGAN THEATER, PASSED AWAY THIS WEEK

Peter Bauland was a popular English professor at the University of Michigan.  For two decades, he taught U of M film class at the Michigan Theater.

As a 5-year old child, Peter fled Germany with his parents and built a life in Philadelphia, PA.  Peter thrived at Pennsylvania public schools and universities.  He served in the US Army as a translator in Germany, as a young adult had a few gigs as a professional actor playing alongside luminaries like Angela Lansbury in summer “Straw Hat” theater companies.  Ultimately, he earned a PhD in English and embarked on a 55-year career as an English professor.  He established his professional legacy in the English department at the University of Michigan. 

Throughout his career, Peter was recognized repeatedly as a favorite among students.  He adored film and developed his passion into a curriculum highlighting film as literature.  Peter worked with the Michigan Theater providing students the opportunity to see great classic film in an academic context, in a classic movie palace from the halcyon days of the movies.  He continued enjoying the pursuit and sharing of knowledge throughout the remainder of his life. 

Peter is survived by Abby, his wife of 57 years, a daughter and son and two granddaughters.  Personally, I am having hard time imagining never seeing Peter again at the Michigan Theater.  He was a great and wise friend who touched thousands and thousands of people through teaching, acting, and participating in the Ann Arbor community he loved.

HISTORIC MICHIGAN THEATER TO CLOSE FOR THE MONTH OF JULY FOR RENOVATIONS

With the State Theatre renovated completed and recently awarded the Preservation Project of the Year Award by Ann Arbor’s Historic District Commission, additional capital improvement work will be done in the historic auditorium of the Michigan Theater.  The Michigan Theater’s auditorium will close briefly, for the month of July, so new seats can be installed on the theater’s main floor.  A perimeter heating systems will also be modernized, restoration work on the historic theater pipe organ will be done, paint and plaster work will be repaired and touched up and a massive remodeling of the projection booth will bring the technical capabilities of the historic theater into the 21st century.  The Historic Michigan Theater Auditorium is expected to reopen in early August.  However, the Barton theater pipe organ will continued to be rebuilt into early autumn.

Remaining open throughout the historic auditorium renovation will be the theater’s Grand Foyer, the 200-seat Screening Room, and the Annex Theatre.  The renovation work is being paid for with funds raised during the Michigan Theater Foundation State and Michigan Project Capital Campaign

OPENING DOWNTOWN

"Let the Sunshine In"

At the Michigan: The film stars Juliette Binoche who delivers a luminous performance in the deliciously witty, sensuously romantic new film from acclaimed director Claire Denis ("White Material").  Isabelle (Binoche) is a divorced Parisian painter searching for another shot at love, but refusing to settle for the parade of all-too-flawed men who drift in and out of her life.  What reads like a standard romantic comedy premise is transformed, in the hands of master filmmaker Denis, into something altogether deeper, more poignant, and perceptive about the profound mysteries of love.

"The Seagull"

This film stars Saoirse Ronan, Corey Stoll, and Annette Bening in the adaptation of Anton’s Chekhov’s classic play directed by Tony-winner Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening”) and written by Tony-winner Stephen Karam (“The Humans”).  One summer at a lakeside Russian estate, friends and family gather for a weekend in the countryside.  While everyone is caught up in passionately loving someone who loves somebody else, a tragicomedy unfolds about art, fame, human folly, and the eternal desire to live a purposeful life.

"Beast"

At the State: This film is set in a small island community where a troubled young woman falls for a mysterious outsider who empowers her to escape her oppressive family.  But when he comes under suspicion for a series of murders, she defends him at all costs.  The Critical Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads: “'Beast' plays like bleak poetry, unfurling its psychological thrills while guided by its captivating leads and mesmerizing, visceral visuals.”

And Thursday, June 21, "Won’t You Be My Neighbor" and Cinetopia favorite "American Animals" will also open at the State Theatre!

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

"Four Games in Fall"

At the Michigan this Friday, June 15, at 7:00pm, this film tackles the highly topical issues of media manipulation, science for hire, and perversion of the legal system, all through the lens of the Deflategate scandal.  The film uses interviews with attorneys, journalists, professors, and fans to take a fresh look at how the story unfolded in the media and how sophisticated public relations tactics were utilized to direct public opinion on the scandal. 

"A Letter to Momo"

And on Sunday, June 15 at 1:00pm, the Michigan will take part in Ann Arbor Japan Week with a free screening of this film.  From the creators of "Ghost in the Shell" and the director of "Jin-Roh" comes this supernatural anime classic featuring thousands of squirming, morphing ghosts and spirits.  Momo is recovering from her father's death and her mother's decision to move their family from Tokyo to a remote island, when she discovers a message from her father that causes strange events to occur.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

"Hereditary"

At the State: This film stars Toni Collette in a modern horror thriller that, according to Rotten Tomatoes, “uses its classic setup as the framework for a harrowing, uncommonly unsettling horror film whose cold touch lingers long beyond the closing credits.”  In the film, Collette plays  Ellen who begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about her ancestry when the matriarch of her family passes away.  The more her family discovers, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.

"First Reformed"

This film stars Ethan Hawke as the priest of a small congregation in upstate New York who grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past.  Written and directed by Paul Schrader (Writer of "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull"), the film also stars Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer, who makes a successful transition into drama.

"The Rider"

At the Michigan: This film stars Brady Jandreau in the film based on his own true story as a once-rising star of the rodeo circuit who is warned that his competition days are over after a tragic riding accident.  Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete.  In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.

"RBG"

An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women.

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX

"Incredibles 2"

Everyone's favorite family of superheroes is back--but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of "normal" life.  It's a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack's emerging superpowers.  When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again--which is easier said than done.

"Tag"

One month of every year, five highly competitive friends hit the ground running for a no-holds-barred game of tag -- risking their necks, their jobs, and their relationships to take one another down.  This time, the game coincides with the wedding of the only undefeated player.  What should be an easy target soon becomes an all-out war as he knows they're coming to get him.  Starring Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Ed Helms, and Hannibal Buress.

"Gotti"

This film stars John Travolta as John Gotti, who rose to the top of the New York underworld to become the boss of the Gambino crime family.  His life takes a tumultuous turn as he faces tragedy, multiple trials, and a prison sentence.

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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