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Cinema Chat: Sundance Film Festival, Nebraska, Kill Your Darlings and More

Dec 12, 2013

There are some great movies  opening up this week! In this week's installment of Cinema Chat, WEMU's David Fair and Michigan Theater Director Russ Collins look into those. The conversation first covers some news out of Hollywood and Ann Arbor. Cinema Chat is a regular feature heard each Thursday during Morning Edition on 89.1 WEMU.

Opening Downtown

Director Alexander Payne is best known for his screenwriting and directing work on “The Descendants,” “Sideways,” and “About Schmidt.” In his new film “Nebraska,” an aging, addled father (2013 Cannes Film Festival Best Actor-winner Bruce Dern) makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his bemused and befuddled son (Will Forte) in order to claim what the father thinks, despite all the information to the contrary, is a million dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize. A few weeks ago the Michigan Theater did a special preview screening of “Nebraska” which was warmly received for its humor and its excellence performances. Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald says Payne “remains a deeply humanist filmmaker: He loves people no matter their flaws, and he once again conveys that sympathy through a beautiful, haunting film that initially feels slight but grows large in your memory.” “Nebraska” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

I saw “Kill Your Darlings” at Sundance this year and thoroughly enjoyed this previously untold story that brought together Beat Generation icons Allen Ginsberg (“Harry Potter’s” Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster) as students at Columbia University in 1944. What develops is a story of friendship and murder that led to the birth of an entire generation. Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune says the film “is a true-crime murder mystery, a love letter to the wild-living artists of the Beat Generation, and a portrait of the artist as an adolescent.” “Kill Your Darlings” plays December 13th and 16th-19th at the Michigan Theater.

Continuing Downtown

“When Comedy Went to School” is an entertaining portrait of this country’s greatest generation of comics – the generation that includes the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl, and Jerry Stiller. “When Comedy Went to School” plays Wednesday, Dec. 18th at the Michigan Theater.

Opening at the Cineplex

The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” opens Friday.

In “Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas,” Madea gets coaxed into helping a friend pay a surprise visit to her daughter for Christmas, but the biggest surprise is what they'll find when they arrive. As the small, rural town prepares for its annual Christmas Carnival, new secrets are revealed and old relationships are tested while Madea dishes her own brand of Christmas Spirit to all. “Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas” opens Friday.

Special Holiday Screenings Downtown

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is a re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies, and is a darkly comic gem soon to be required perennial holiday viewing. It's the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an 'archeological' dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. This modern fable is a wildly humorous nightmare - a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality. “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” plays at the Michigan Theater on Friday, December 13th at 7 and 10 PM.

In “Gremlins,” there are three simple rules for caring for your Mogwai: First of all, keep him out of the light, he hates bright light, especially sunlight, it'll kill him. Second, don't give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight. What happens if you break these rules? Find out at the State Theater on Saturday, December 14th at 11:59 PM.

Director Jon Favreau and Will Ferrell team up in “Elf,” the story of a regular-sized man who was raised as an elf. When the news is finally broken to Buddy that he’s not a real elf, he decides to head back to his place of birth, New York City, in search of his biological family. Also starring Ed Asner, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel, and Bob Newhart, “Elf” plays on Sunday at 1:30 PM at the Michigan Theater and admission is free!