Listen to this week’s Cinema Chat from WEMU 89.1 at http://wemu.org/programs/cinema-chat

NETFLIX PULLS OUT OF THE 2018 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL FOLLOWING BAN CONTROVERSY

Netflix is officially removing itself from the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Ted Sarandos, the streaming giant’s Chief Content Officer, said, “I don’t think there would be any reason to go out of competition. The rule was implicitly about Netflix, and Thierry [Frémaux] made it explicitly about Netflix when he announced the rule.” Sarandos criticized Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux decision to only allow films with French distribution to compete at the festival. Netflix competed for the Palme d’Or in 2017 with “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories,” but their placement in competition caused controversy. Pedro Almodóvar, who was serving as the jury president, said films not released in theaters shouldn’t be considered for the Palme d’Or.

Netflix films that were being consideration for Cannes 2018 included Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” Jeremy Saulnier’s “Hold the Dark,” Paul Greengrass’ “Norway,” Orson Welles’ long-lost “The Other Side of the Wind,” and Morgan Neville’s Welles documentary “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.” As recently as last Saturday, Frémaux told IndieWire that Cannes was still negotiating with Netflix. “We’re still talking,” he said. “They are still welcome.” The Cannes Film Festival runs May 8 – 19.

FREEP FILM FESTIVAL 2018

The Freep Film Festival opened yesterday and runs through Sunday, April 15. It features more than 70 programs, including multiple world and Michigan premieres. The documentary-focused lineup puts a special emphasis on films with strong connections to Detroit and Michigan, though as the festival has gotten bigger, the programming has cast a wider net, too. Tickets are on sale now, at freepfilmfestival.com and at festival partner venues. More detailed information at freepfilmfestival.com.

OPENING DOWNTOWN

Finding Your Feet features an all-star British cast that includes Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous) Imelda Stauton (Harry Potter franchise), and Celia Imrie (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). On the eve of retirement, a middle class, judgmental snob discovers her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and is forced into exile with her bohemian sister who lives on an impoverished inner-city council estate. Critics Consensus: Finding Your Feet wears its heart on its sleeve, elevating undemanding material with a feel-good romance and sweet performances from its over-qualified cast.

Borg vs. McEnroe tells the story of the 1980s tennis rivalry between the Björn Borg and John McEnroe, starring Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason as the tennis legends. Time Out said, “The final match is an absolute nail-biter, reminding tennis fans how electric this sport can be.” Critics Consensus: Borg vs McEnroe makes tennis improbably cinematic — and brings the absolute best out of Shia LaBeouf, who delivers some of the best work of his career.

And a 2018 nominee for Best Foreign Language film, Loveless, from Russia, is about a couple going through a divorce that must team up to find their son who has disappeared during one of their bitter arguments. Adam Graham of Detroit News said “The whole story can be seen as a metaphor for Putin’s Russia and the way the country has lost its humanity.” Critics Consensus: Loveless uses its riveting portrait of a family in crisis to offer thought-provoking commentary on modern life in Russia — and the world beyond its borders.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

“And Now For Something Completely Different”, our new film series celebrating the films of Monty Python continues tonight at 9:30 PM with Life of Brian, about an average young Jewish man, who through a series of ridiculous events, gains a reputation as the Messiah. Rife with Monty Python’s signature absurdity, the tale finds Brian’s life paralleling Biblical lore, albeit with many more laughs. Next week, the series will continue at the same time with Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

In anticipation of The Fab Faux returning to the Michigan on April 21, Deconstructing The Beatles: Stg. Pepper will screen at the State Theatre on Sunday, April 15 at 7:00 PM. In the film, composer, musician, and Beatles expert Scott Freiman looks at Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from multiple angles, exploring the history behind the music, as well as conducts an educational journey into the creative process of The Beatles performances and recording sessions.

Fans of The Beatles can also attend a free lecture at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library tonight at 7:00 PM, where Walter Everett, Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, will present his own analysis of the album.

Next Monday, April 16, the “Enter the Samurai” Film Series concludes with The 47 Ronin, Parts 1 & 2. Produced over a two-year period, Kenji Mizoguchi’s version was too big to be confined to a single film. Thus, it was released in two parts, each running between 105 and 115 minutes. The story begins in feudal Japan in December of 1701, when warrior leader Lord Asano is tricked into committing suicide and Oishi, Asano’s loyal clansman, holds the wicked Lord Kira responsible. 14 months after Arano’s death, Oishi assembles 47 loyal Ronin (samurai) to exact vengeance.

And on Thursday, April 19, Detroit Public TV’s Great Lakes Bureau examines the controversy surrounding the Line 5 pipeline built by Enbridge Inc. more than 50 years ago in Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes. The screening begins at 7:15 PM and is FREE and open to the public!

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

At the Michigan: The Leisure Seeker stars Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren as a couple who take one last road trip from Boston to the Florida Keys before his Alzheimer’s and her cancer can catch up with them. Based on the novel of the same name by local author Michael Zadoorian.

And The Death of Stalin, the latest political comedic satire from Armando Iannucci, also continues, which depicts the chaos that fell on the Soviet regime after the death of their leader.

At the State Theatre: Wes Anderson’s latest stop-motion animated film, Isle of Dogs continues to draw tremendous crowds! When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. With a voice cast featuring Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeff Goldblum.

And Black Panther also continues for another week, Marvel’s latest and most successful comic book adaptation to date.

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX

Rampage, loosely adapted from the video game series of the same name, stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a primatologist who shares an unshakable bond with George, an extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But when a rogue genetic experiment gone awry and mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size, with other similarly altered animals, Okoye and his team must fight their way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.

In Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, a group of college friends travel to Mexico for one last getaway before graduation. There, a stranger convinces them to play a seemingly harmless game of truth or dare, but once the game starts, it awakens something evil — a demon which forces the friends to share dark secrets and confront their deepest fears. The rules are simple but wicked — tell the truth or die, do the dare or die, and if you stop playing, you die.

And in Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, an animated film featuring the voice talents of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gérard Depardieu, a stray dog is rescued off the streets by an American soldier and goes on to become a hero of World War I.

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