Cinema Chat: Golden Globes Recap, 'High And Low,' 'Tower,' 'Live By Night,' And More

Jan 12, 2017

Michigan Theater Upstairs Lobby
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

The 2017 Golden Globes have been handed out, so let's celebrate the victors with a good movie!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's Patrick Campion talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the movie business and the flicks coming to the silver screen this weekend.


The Best and Worst of the Golden Globes

It was a night of facial hair and sparkles, fairy princess frocks, and character dressing, with the characters and the (Hollywood) royals dressed straight from the silver screen playbook. The 2017 Golden Globes included: Meryl Streep’s pointed acceptance speech, Jimmy Fallon’s lackluster hosting, funny presenters, and awkward flubs. 

Meryl Streep used her speech to call out President-elect Donald J. Trump for seeming to mock a disabled New York Times reporter and to warn that a free press would need to be defended.

“This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she said.  “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence.  And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Trump said he was “not surprised” to come under attack from “liberal movie people.”

The most enthusiastic winners were the young ‘La La Land’ team.  Even cynical awards show-watchers had to smile when the songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, ages 31 and 32, came bounding onto the stage to collect their Globe for the moody “La La Land” tune, “City of Stars.”  The young men had clearly not yet received the show business memo that awards are to be accepted with practiced (false) modesty and coolness. “We need to calm down!” shouted Mr. Paul.  “We’re so nervous!”  They charmingly dedicated their best song award to “musical theater nerds everywhere.” (Mr. Pasek and Mr. Paul also wrote the music for the celebrated “Dear Evan Hansen.”)  The same kind of emotion could also been seen whenever the cameras passed the “La La Land” table, where the two producers who shepherded the film the longest, Fred Berger and Jordan Horowitz, ages 35 and 36, could be seen melting down with joy as their film racked up one prize after another.  Add in multiple trips to the stage by the film’s director, Damien Chazelle, 31, and it felt like an arrival moment for a new set of Young Turks.  On to the Oscars?

There’s no movie called “Hidden Fences.”  There’s “Fences,” starring Viola Davis and Denzel Washington, and there’s “Hidden Figures,” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.  First, Jenna Bush Hager said it on NBC’s red carpet show when she was interviewing Pharrell Williams (who is a producer of “Hidden Figures”), and then Michael Keaton said it onstage.  Look alive out there, folks.

Continuing Downtown

"La La Land"

This film tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.  “La La Land” won seven Golden Globes including Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director, and Best Comedy/Musical.

"Manchester by the Sea"

After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised.  

"Jackie"

This is a searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman).  The film places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband's assassination.  Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband's legacy and the world of "Camelot" that they created and loved so well.  Also starring Peter SarsgaardGreta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup.

Special Screenings Downtown

"The Peanuts Movie"

Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home to win the love of his life.  “The Peanuts Movie” plays in 3D on Sunday, January 15 - part of the Toyota Family-Friendly Film Series.  Free admission for kids 12 & under!

"High and Low"

The Michigan Theater heads to the dark side with our latest film series: KURO - The Dark Edge of Japanese Filmmaking.  Japanese Noir eschews the structure, grit and pulpiness of its original Western machinations; instead, the genre pushes artistic and creative boundaries, while grappling with post-war culture change.  But whether it’s American or Japanese, there is always a universal feeling of isolation, a misunderstood “hero” looking for inner peace, and good people caught in bad situations.  The series begins with “High and Low,” master director Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of the detective novel King’s Ransom, a police procedural with Shakespearean flourishes. Kingo Gondo leveraged everything he has to overtake a company.  But when cold-blooded kidnappers target his family, all his work slowly crumbles around him.  “High and Low” plays Monday, January 16 at 7 PM.

"Tower"

On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the iconic University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes in what was a previously unimaginable event. This film combines archival footage with rotoscopic animation of the dramatic day, based entirely on first person testimonies from witnesses, heroes and survivors, in a seamless and suspenseful retelling of the unfolding tragedy.  “Tower” plays Tuesday, January 17.  100% positive reviews -- Critics Consensus: Tower probes into a painful chapter of American history with sensitivity and grace -- and revisits its events from a valuable new perspective.

"Fire at Sea"

The first documentary to ever win the top award at the Berlin International Film Festival, this film takes place in Lampedusa, a once peaceful Mediterranean island that has become a major entry point for African refugees into Europe.  We meet Samuele, a boy who lives simply, climbing rocks by the shore and playing with his slingshot.  Yet nearby, we also witness thousands of men, women, and children trying to survive the crossing from Africa in boats that are too small for such a journey.  Placed side by side, these realities create a remarkable third narrative that jolts us into a new understanding of what is really happening in the Mediterranean today.  “Fire at Sea” plays Thursday, January 19.  94% positive reviews -- Critics Consensus: Fire at Sea offers a clear-eyed yet empathetic look at a corner of the world whose terrain may be unfamiliar to many, but whose people's story remains universal.

Opening at the Multiplex

"Patriots Day"

An account of the Boston Marathon bombing, this film is the powerful story of a community's courage in the face of terror.  In the aftermath of an unspeakable attack, Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) joins courageous survivors, first responders, and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers before they strike again.  “Patriots Day” opens Friday.  80% positive reviews – Critics Consensus: Patriots Day offers a stirring, solidly crafted tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy without straying into exploitative action thriller territory.

"Live by Night"

Ben Affleck writes, produces, and stars in the adaptation of Dennis Lehane's sprawling crime novel centering on the prodigal son of a prominent police chief and his gradual descent into the criminal underworld.  “Live By Night” opens Friday.  34% positive reviews – Critics Consensus: Live by Night boasts visual style and an impressive cast, but they're lost in a would-be crime saga that finds producer, director, and star Ben Affleck revisiting familiar themes to diminishing effect.

"Sleepless"

Jamie Foxx stars as undercover Las Vegas police officer Vincent Downs, who is caught in a high stakes web of corrupt cops and the mob-controlled casino underground.  When a heist goes wrong, a crew of homicidal gangsters kidnaps Downs' teenage son.  In one sleepless night, he will have to rescue his son, evade an internal affairs investigation, and bring the kidnappers to justice.  “Sleepless” opens Friday.  No Internet reviews.

"The Bye Bye Man"

This is a chilling horror-thriller that exposes the evil behind the most unspeakable acts committed by man. When three college friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, they discover that there is only one way to avoid his curse: don't think it, don't say it.  But once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control.  Is there a way to survive his possession?  “The Bye Bye Man” opens Friday.  No Internet reviews.

"Monster Trucks"

Looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into, Tripp (Lucas Till) builds a Monster Truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars.  After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town - and a most unlikely friend.  “Monster Trucks” opens Friday.  It's certainly more entertaining than it has a right to be, but its milquetoast weirdness never goes full throttle. -- Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

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— Patrick Campion is the WEMU Program Director.  You can contact Patrick at 734.487.3363, on twitter @WEMUPC, or email him at pcampion@emich.edu.