To listen to this week’s Cinema Chat from WEMU 89.1, visit http://wemu.org/post/cinema-chat-ann-arbor-film-fest-continues-death-stalin-pacific-rim-uprising-and-more

 

ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL – through Sunday

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest avant-garde and experimental film festival in North America, is internationally recognized and each the festival engages audiences with remarkable cinematic experiences. The six-day festival presents 40 programs with more than 180 films from over 20 countries of all lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction, and performance-based works.

Thousands of influential filmmakers and artists have exhibited early work at the AAFF, including Kenneth Anger, Brian De Palma, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, George Lucas, Les Blank, Matthew Buckingham, and James Benning.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival receives more than 3,000 submissions annually from more than 65 countries and serves as one of a handful of Academy Award®-qualifying festivals in the United States. Our awards program presents more than $20,000 in cash and film stock/services to filmmakers.

Opened Tuesday, playing through Sunday, when it closes with the Winners and Highlights screenings. Yesterday, Academy Award winning special effects artist John Nelson (Blade Runner 2049, Gladiator) presented a very cool illustrated presentation about how digital effects are built for modern movies.

For a detailed schedule of films and events go to: aafilmfest.org

MARK YOU CALENDAR – Cinetopia Film Festival, May 31-June 10.  Passes now on sale at “cinetopiafestival.org

OPENING DOWNTOWN

Following its Midwest Premiere at the Cinetopia Presents Direct From Sundance event earlier this month with over 1,000 in attendance, The Death of Stalin returns by popular demand! This historical political satire from Writer/Director Armando Iannucci, best known for his previous comedy In The Loop and creator of the Emmy Award winning Veep, follows the Soviet dictator’s last days as well as the chaos of the regime after his death. With an all-star cast led by Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, and Jeffrey Tambor, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said “Armando Iannucci’s hilarious, profane satire about politburos pole-positioning for power could not be more timely. It’s the funniest, fiercest comedy of the year.”

 

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

With four films left to present, the Lone Wolf and Cub mini-series will continue at the State Theatre with screenings every night at 7:00 PM through Sunday, March 25. Based on the acclaimed manga, this series tells the story of a wandering assassin and his 3-year-old son through the wilds of Japan. Still to come: Baby Cart in Peril tonight, Baby Cart to Hades on FridayBaby Cart in the Land of Demons on Saturday, and White Heaven in Hell on Sunday.

The “Ghibli for Kids” series also continues at the State Theatre, with Spirited Away playing this Saturday, March 24 at 1:30 PMand because it’s also part of the Toyota Family-Friendly Film Series Presented by the Benard L. Maas Foundation, kids 12 & under get in free! During her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.

And a special midnight screening of the original 1982 Blade Runner will take place at the State this Saturday, March 24 at 11:59 PM in celebration of John Nelson, who won an Oscar for his work on Blade Runner 2049 and returned home to present a lecture this week at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. In this neo-noir sci-fi cult classic, Harrison Ford stars at Rick Deckard, a blade runner who must pursue and terminate four replicants that stole a ship and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

At the Michigan Theater, the “Enter the Samurai” Film Series continues next Monday, March 26 at 7:00 PM with Red BeardIn this film written and directed by Akira Kurosawa, we take a break from samurais to show off one of the more dramatic pieces from the Japanese auteur. This film takes place in 19th century Japan where a rough tempered yet charitable town doctor trains a young intern. On Monday, April 2, we return to the samurai epics with Kurosawa’s Kagemusha.

Science on Screen returns next Wednesday, March 28 to present David LaChapelle’s 2005 Los Angeles dance documentary Rize at 7:30 PM. This presentation will also feature a post-film Q&A with Prof. Robin Wilson of the UM School of Music, Theatre & Dance and a founding member of the New York dance company Urban Bush Women.

And Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby will conclude our “Ferrell Child: The Films of Will Ferrell” series next week Thursday, March 29 at 9:30 PM. In this 2006 comedy, Ferrell plays the number one NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby who stays atop the heap thanks to a pact with his best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton, Jr (played by John C. Reilly). But when a French Formula One driver makes his way up the ladder, Ricky Bobby’s talent and devotion are put to the test

 

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

At the State Theatre, the Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film, A Fantastic Woman is back for another week! From Chile, the film stars Daniela Vega as Marina, a transgender woman who works as a waitress and moonlights as a nightclub singer, who faces scorn and discrimination after the sudden death of her older boyfriend. “Not only was it the first Oscar win for Chile, but the first Oscar win for a film with a transgender performer in the lead.” (Jude Dry, Indiewire)

New from Disney and Director Ava DuVernay (Selma), A Wrinkle In Time will also remain for families that haven’t seen this fantastic sci-fiction film which was adapted from the 1962 children’s novel. Starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and the young standout Storm Reid; Three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find their missing scientist father.

On its way to becoming the highest grossing superhero movie of all time, Black Panther is also held over and Best Picture winner The Shape of Water returns once again to continue an almost four month run!

And at the Michigan Theater, Three Billboards Outisde Ebbing, Missouri and Call Me By Your Name also remain with regular showtimes.

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX

Pacific Rim Uprising is the highly anticipated sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 action sci-fi epic and stars John Boyega as the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the monstrous “Kaiju.” But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through our cities and bring the world to its knees, he is given one last chance to live up to his father’s legacy

With a voice cast featuring Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, James McAvoy and more, Sherlock Gnomes is the sequel to the 2011 animated comedy Gnomeo & Juliet. After a string of garden gnome disappearances in London, Gnomeo & Juliet look to legendary detective Sherlock Gnomes to solve the case of their missing friends and family.

And the latest from Director Steven Soderbergh shot entirely on an iPhone 7, Unsane follows a young woman who is involuntarily committed to a mental institution where she is confronted by her greatest fear–but is it real or is it a product of her delusion?

That’s all for this week. See you at the movies!

 

From Russ Collins

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Exec.Dir., State & Michigan Theater – Ann Arbor

Founder/Director, Art House Convergence – Utah

Artistic Director, Cinetopia Festival – Detroit/A2