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Cinema Chat: 'Wonder Wheel,' 'The Shape Of Water,' 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi,' And More

Dec 14, 2017

Michigan Theater Balcony
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

There's nothing like a good flick to chase away the winter blues!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair talks to Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins about the latest movie news and all of the new films hitting theaters this weekend.


Opening Downtown

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

The new State Theatre is officially open for business and tonight we’ll premiere 3 pre-sold out shows of the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise.  From Writer/Director Rian Johnson, an indie film success story known for acclaimed works "Brick" and "Looper," "The Last Jedi" returns Mark Hamill to the role of Luke Skywalker and features the last on-screen performance of Carrie Fisher as General Leia.  Since its premiere in Los Angeles last weekend, it is already receiving critical acclaim and its quality and tone has been compared to "The Empire Strikes Back," widely considered the best in the series.

"Wonder Wheel"

At the Michigan Theater, the latest from Woody Allen is set at Coney Island in the 1950s where four peoples’ lives interconnect.  Kate Winslet plays Ginny, a former actress who’s now working as a waitress at the Coney Island Amusement Park, where her husband Humpty, played by Jim Belushi, also works as a carousel operator.  Juno Temple plays Humpty’s long-estranged daughter Caroline, who has to hide out from gangsters in her father’s apartment and Justin Timberlake plays Mikey, a young lifeguard who dreams of being a playwright.  Though the film only has a 32% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone has said: “Woody's Allen's period drama feels more like a stage play than a film - its claustrophobic atmosphere can be stifling.  But Kate Winslet is a bonfire that burns through every scene.”

"The Shape of Water"

And next week, Thursday, December 21, the Michigan Theater will open the latest film from Director Guillermo del Toro and now nominated for 7 Golden Globes, including Best Picture – Drama.  Set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962, the film takes place in a hidden high-security government laboratory where lonely Elisa, played by Sally Hawkins, works in a trapped life of isolation.  However, Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer, discover a secret classified experiment.

Continuing Downtown

Following the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations, films at the Michigan and State Theatre continue to gain momentum and excitement from dedicated moviegoers.

"The Disaster Artist"

A nominee for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, this film has been the driving force for attendance at the new State Theatre thus far.  From Director James Franco, it tells the story of the making of the 2003 cult melodrama "The Room," considered to be “the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” and has been screened as an annual tradition at the Michigan and State Theatre since its realease.  Co-starring in the film is James’ brother Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, and Alison BrieAdam Graham of the Detroit News has said: “'The Disaster Artist'" is a sweet, emotionally engaging tribute to friendship, the movies, and the importance of dreams.”

"Lady Bird"

Nominated for 4 Golden Globe awards, including Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, this film has moved from the Michigan Theater and is now playing full time at the State.  Though despite its many achievements, Greta Gerwig’s lack of nomination for Best Director has been called a snub amongst critics and journalists.

"The Square"

And nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, this film also continues to play at the State Theatre.  This Swedish comedy/drama from filmmaker Ruben Ostlund takes place at a contemporary art museum that falls under disaster when a public relations team is sent in to build some buzz over the latest installation.

"Loving Vincent"

Audiences at the Michigan Theater will be excited to hear this film will continue to play with show times in the Screening Room and Main Theater this week after being nominated for Best Picture – Animated.

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

This film currently leads films playing at the Michigan with 6 Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture – Drama, Best Director for Martin McDonagh, and Best Actress for Frances McDormand.

Special Screenings Downtown

"Saboteur"

One of the lesser known titles in the work of Alfred Hitchcock, plays tonight, December 14 at 4:00 PM, as a part of our 1942 mini-series at the State Theatre in celebration of the year we first opened to the public.  It stars Robert Cummings as a man who is accused of setting a deadly fire at an airplane plant in an act of sabotage.

"It's a Wonderful Life"

Our final screening of the Holiday Classic Film Series is this Sunday, December 17 at 1:30 PM with our annual showing of the 1946 Frank Capra bittersweet classic starring James Stewart as George Bailey, a down-on-his-luck father with unfulfilled dreams.  When an angel visits him on Christmas Eve, George wishes he’d never been born and comes to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted.

"Victoria"

Plus, next Monday, December 18, join us for the season 2 preview of the PBS Masterpiece drama, starring Jenna Coleman of "Doctor Who" fame as a young Queen Victoria.  In Season 2. Dame Diana Rigg of "Game of Thrones" joins the cast to play the Duchess of Buccleuch. The screening will start at 7:30 PM, and Victoria costume attire is encouraged!

Opening at the Multiplex

"Ferdinand"

From 20th Century Fox Animation, stars professional wrestler John Cena, SNL star Kate McKinnon, and "Hamilton" alum Daveed Diggs in “the story of a giant bull with a big heart.  After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home.  Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team for the ultimate adventure.  Set in Spain, Ferdinand proves you can't judge a bull by its cover.” (Rotten Tomatoes)

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" will play at all the local cinemas!!

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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