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Cinema Chat: Jewish Film Festival, Nymphomaniac, Elaine Stritch, and more!

May 1, 2014

Cinetopia Returns!

The third annual Cinetopia International Film Festival returns to Ann Arbor and Detroit starting June 4th and running until the 8th! Featuring the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the best film festivals around the world, including Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, and Berlin, this year’s festival will have 110 screenings at 10 venues throughout Detroit and Ann Arbor, including Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts, College for Creative Studies, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Michigan Theater, State Theater, and University of Michigan’s Modern Languages Building. The complete film schedule will be announced on May 1st. Tickets and passes go on sale to the general public on Friday, May 9th. Visit cinetopiafestival.org for more information!

Credit Michtheater.org

And Cinetopia is not the only Film Festival coming soon: The Jewish Film Festival, May 4-8

The Jewish Film Festival is an annual event celebrating film and the impact and influence which Jewish culture has played on society, current movies and filmmakers of today. It also provides a forum for discussion about films from around the world that illuminate Jewish issues and principles. The festival’s goal is to enhance a sense of community and inclusion for a broad range of audience members. There is something to see for everyone during the Festival! The Jewish Film Festival takes place Sunday – Thursday, May 4th – 8th at the Michigan Theater.

Opening at the Multiplex

In “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) confronts his biggest, most important battle: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he, and when his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” opens Friday.

Claudia Puig, USA Today -- Aerial sequences are often thrilling. However, interpersonal relations are front and center in this installment.

Ty Burr, Boston Globe -- I'm still not convinced we needed a new Spider-Man series, but at least this installment is interestingly mediocre instead of actively bad.

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly -- It's a Marvel spectacle that manages to deftly balance razzle-dazzle, feel-it-in-your-gut slingshot moments of flight and believable human relationships. There's psychological weight to go with all of the gravity-defying, webslinging weightlessness.

Opening Downtown

“Nymphomanic: Volumes 1 & 2,” from director Lars Von Trier, follows a woman with a skewed sexual desire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as she recounts her erotic experiences to the man (Stellan Skarsgard) who saved her after a beating.  “Nymphomaniac: Volumes 1 & 2” marks Lars von Trier’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed film “Melancholia” (2011), and is his third consecutive collaboration with Charlotte Gainsbourg. It is unsurprising that the films contain graphic depictions of sexuality, but David Denby of The New Yorker says “A provocation worth talking about. An obsessive, violent, and at times remarkably eccentric sex epic that is often brilliant and never simple-minded or dull. It remains formidable throughout its four-hour length and demanding to think about afterward.” “Nymphomanic: Volumes 1 & 2” plays one day only, Saturday, May 3rd at the Michigan Theater.

“Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” is a ferocious, funny and poignant portrait of actress Elaine Stritch, who after a highly successful career on stage and screen now lives in Birmingham, Michigan. This uncompromising Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress showcases both her on and off stage life via rare archival footage and intimate cinema vérité of Ms. Stritch living and discussing her career. By turns bold, hilarious and moving, the film’s journey connects Stritch’s present to her past, and an inspiring portrait of a one-of-a-kind survivor emerges.  Nathan Lane, Cherry Jones, Tina Fey, James Gandolfini, John Turturro, Hal Prince, and George C. Wolfe all appear in the film to pay tribute to a one-of-a-kind Broadway legend. “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” plays one day only, Wednesday, May 7th at 2:15 and 6:45 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Hitchcock Screenings Downtown

“Champagne,” a newly restored silent film from the British Film Institute presented with live organ accompaniment, follows a spoiled heiress as she defies her father by running off to marry her lover. But Daddy has a few tricks up his sleeve. Starring Betty Balfour and Jean Bradin, “Champagne” plays Sunday, May 4th at 5:00 PM.

In 2012, the unthinkable happened. “Citizen Kane” finally lost its #1 place in the Sight and Sound critics’ poll as the best film of all time. Its replacement was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film “Vertigo.” One of three great midcentury films by this famous director, critics originally questioned the casting of fifty-year-old Jimmy Stewart with a much younger Kim Novak, and also disliked the film’s length and slow pace. Yet over the years, “Vertigo” has come to be viewed as perhaps Hitchcock’s masterpiece and certainly one of the outstanding American films of the era. “Vertigo” plays Tuesday, May 6th at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater.