Listen to Cinema Chat with Russ Collins and David Fair Thursday mornings on WEMU 89.1, or visit https://www.wemu.org/programs/cinema-chat

 

OPENING DOWNTOWN

At the Michigan (Opens Thursday, September 26): In Judy, it is winter 1968 and showbiz legend Judy Garland arrives in Swinging London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town. It is 30 years since she shot to global stardom in The Wizard of Oz, but if her voice has weakened, its dramatic intensity has only grown. As she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through. Even her dreams of love seem undimmed as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband. Featuring some of her best-known songs, the film celebrates the voice, the capacity for love, and the sheer pizzazz of “the world’s greatest entertainer. Critics Consensus: Led by a deeply committed performance from Renée Zellweger, Judy captures the waning days of a beloved performer with clear-eyed compassion

At the State (Opens Friday, September 27): Aquarela takes audiences on a deeply cinematic journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water. Captured at a rare fast-frame high definition format, the film is a visceral wake-up call that humans are no match for the sheer force and capricious will of Earth’s most precious element. From the precarious frozen waters of Russia’s Lake Baikal to Miami in the throes of Hurricane Irma to Venezuela’s mighty Angel Falls, water is Aquarela’s main character, with director Victor Kossakovsky capturing her many personalities in startling cinematic clarity. The film will be shown in theaters at 48 frames-per-second, double the typical 24 frames-per-second, as projectors with the ability to project at 96-frames-per-second are extremely rare today, but when the time comes that the capacity is there, Aquarela will be one of the first films to be shown at that speed.. Critics Consensus: Patiently constructed and beautifully filmed, Aquarela views man’s relationship with water through a sobering — and awe-inducing — lens.

At the State (Opens ONE WEEK FROM TODAY, Thursday, October 3): Winner of the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival! Director Todd Phillips Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study. Critics Consensus: Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema.

 

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Donnie Darko plays Saturday, September 28 at 10:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of the Late-Night Series. During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) sleepwalks out of his house one night and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days. When Donnie returns home, he finds that a jet engine has crashed into his bedroom. Is Donnie living in a parallel universe, is he suffering from mental illness – or will the world really end?

How to Survive a Plague plays Monday, September 30 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater. The story of two coalitions-ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)-whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and ’90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making. Followed by a live Q&A!

Groundhog Day plays Monday, September 23 at 7:30 PM at the State Theatre as the finale of the Murray Mondays. Actor, writer, comedian and all-around interesting person, Bill Murray, celebrated his 69th birthday on September 21 so we looked back on three of most famous roles! A cynical TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again when he goes on location to the small town of Punxsutawney to film a report about their annual Groundhog Day. His predicament drives him to distraction, until he sees a way of turning the situation to his advantage.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night plays Tuesday, October 1 at 9:00 PM at the Michigan Theater as a part of Halaloween: A Muslim Horror Film Fest presented by The Global Islamic Studies Center. These screenings are free and will be every Tuesday at 9:00 PM in October! This film festival favorite was shot in Persian in the San Joaquin Valley, in brooding and beautiful black & white. It is often (accurately) described as a Western-vampire-noir. Gender revenge themes and mild violence.

Gone to the Village plays Wednesday, October 2 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater. This screening is free and open to the public! Nana Afia Kobi was 111 years old when she passed away on November 14, 2016. She served Asanteman and Ghana for 39 years. Gone to the Village captures the collective mourning and the performed history of Asante in contemporary Ghana. It is a multifaceted and multidirectional documentary that chronicles the fusion of oral traditions, political authority and national unity with the visual, musical and performative arts of Asante.

Mean Girls plays Thursday, October 3 at 7:00 PM at the State Theatre as a part of “Mean Girls Day.”  Teenage Cady Heron (played by Lindsay Lohan) was educated in Africa by her scientist parents. When her family moves to the suburbs of Illinois, Cady finally gets to experience public school and gets a quick primer on the cruel, tacit laws of popularity that divide her fellow students into tightly knit cliques. She unwittingly finds herself in the good graces of an elite group of cool students dubbed “the Plastics,” but Cady soon realizes how her shallow group of new friends earned this nickname.

Manhattan Short Film Festival 2019 plays Thursday, October 3 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater. Join us for the 22nd Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival, taking place in over 350 venues across 6 continents between Thursday September 26 and Sunday October 6, 2019. Upon entry, festival attendees are handed a Voting Card and an Official Program and asked to vote for the ONE Film they feel should win. Votes are tallied by each host venue then emailed to the festival’s NYC headquarters.

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

At the Michigan: The worldwide phenomenon Downton Abbey, becomes a grand motion picture event, as the beloved Crawleys and their intrepid staff prepare for the most important moment of their lives. A royal visit from the King and Queen of England will unleash scandal, romance and intrigue that will leave the future of Downton hanging in the balance. The television series Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country house. Over its 6 seasons, the series garnered 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys – even earning a Special BAFTA award and a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way.

In Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, Ronstadt is our guide through her early years of singing Mexican canciones with her family; her folk days with the Stone Poneys; and her reign as the “rock queen” of the ’70s and early ’80s. She was a pioneer for women in the male-dominated music industry; an early advocate for human rights, and had a high-profile romance with California governor Jerry Brown. Ultimately, her incredible voice was lost to Parkinson’s disease, but her music and influence remain as timeless as ever.

A the Sate: In Ad Astra, Astronaut Roy McBride (played by Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father (played by Tommy Lee Jones) and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos. Also starring Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland.

Nestled in an isolated mountain region deep within the Balkans, in Honeyland Hatidze Muratova is the last in a long line of Macedonian wild beekeepers, eking out a living farming honey in small batches to be sold in the closest city. Hatidze’s peaceful existence is thrown into upheaval by the arrival of an itinerant family, however Hatidze optimistically meets the promise of change with an open heart, offering up her affections, her brandy and her tried-and-true beekeeping advice. It doesn’t take long however, before Hussein, the itinerant family’s patriarch, senses opportunity and develops an interest in selling his own honey. This causes a breach in the natural order that provokes a conflict with Hatidze that exposes the fundamental tension between nature and humanity, harmony and discord, exploitation and sustainability. Even as the family provides a much-needed respite from Hatidze’s isolation and loneliness, her very means of survival are threatened.

In Brittany Runs A Marathon, Brittany Forgler is a hilarious, friendly, hot mess of a New Yorker who always knows how to have a good time, but at 27, her late-night adventures and early-morning walks-of-shame are starting to catch up to her. When she stops by a Yelp-recommended doctor’s office to score some Adderall, she finds herself slapped with a prescription she never wanted. Forced to face reality for the first time in a long time, Brittany laces up her Converse and runs one sweaty block. The next day, she runs two. Soon she runs a mile. Brittany finally has direction–but is she on the right path?

Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club in a return to where it all began with IT Chapter Two, the conclusion to the highest-grossing horror film of all time. Twenty-seven years after the Losers Club defeated Pennywise, he has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once more. Now adults, the Losers have long since gone their separate ways. However, kids are disappearing again, so Mike, the only one of the group to remain in their hometown, calls the others home. Damaged by the experiences of their past, they must each conquer their deepest fears to destroy Pennywise once and for all…putting them directly in the path of the clown that has become deadlier than ever.

 

PLAYING AT THE MULTIPLEX THIS WEEKEND

In Abominable, when teenage Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in Shanghai, she and her mischievous friends, Jin (voiced by Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and Peng (voiced by Albert Tsai), name him “Everest” and embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth. But the trio of friends will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish (voiced by Eddie Izzard), a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara (voiced by Sarah Paulson) to help Everest get home.

 

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

 

From Russell B. Collins  –  Mobile: +1-734-646-0528

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MICHIGAN THEATER FOUNDATION, 603 E. Liberty, A2, MI 48104

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Executive Dir., State & Michigan Theaters – Ann Arbor

Founding Dir., Art House Convergence – Los Angeles

Festival Founder, Cinetopia Festival – Metro-Detroit