t’s cold outside, so let a good movie keep you nice and warm!  For this week’s “Cinema Chat,” WEMU’s Michael Jewett sits in for Michigan and State Theater executive director Russ Collins to talk about all of the new films opening this weekend with WEMU’s David Fair.

 

OPENING DOWNTOWN

“The Song of Names” — OPENING FRIDAY, JANUARY 24 AT THE MICHIGAN

This film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Norman Lebrecht.  As Europe erupts into World War II, 9-year-old Martin comes to love his new brother Dovidl, a highly gifted violin prodigy of the same age and recent Polish-Jewish refugee to London.  But hours before Dovidl’s debut concert performance at the age of 21 he vanishes without a trace, causing shame and ruin for their family.  A lifetime later, a young violinist shows a 56-year-old Martin a stylistic flourish that could only have been taught by Dovidl.  This triggers Martin’s odyssey overseas in search of his lost brother, one that will lead to surprising revelations for both men and for Helen, the woman who stood between them.  Starring Tim Roth and Clive Owen.

“Les Misérables” — OPENING FRIDAY, JANUARY 24 AT THE STATE

Oscar-nominated for Best International Film!  Inspired by the 2005 riots in Paris, this film – directed by Ladj Ly – follows Stéphane (played by Damien Bonnard), a recent transplant to the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, as he joins the local anti-crime squad. Working alongside his unscrupulous colleagues Chris (played by Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (played by Djibril Zonga), Stéphane struggles to maintain order amidst the mounting tensions between local gangs.  When an arrest turns unexpectedly violent, the three officers must reckon with the aftermath and keep the neighborhood from spiraling out of control.

“Weathering with You” — OPENING FRIDAY, JANUARY 24 AT THE STATE

This highly-anticipated film is from director Makoto Shinkai and producer Genki Kawamura, the creative team behind the critically-acclaimed, global smash hit “Your Name,” which you can catch Friday, February 7 at 9:30 PM at the Michigan!  The summer of his high school freshman year, Hodaka runs away from his remote island home to Tokyo, and quickly finds himself pushed to his financial and personal limits.  The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future.  He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine.  Then one day, Hodaka meets Hina on a busy street corner.  This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky.

 

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DOWNTOWN

“Purple Rain”

This film plays Friday, January 24 at 9:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of our Late-Night Film Series.  Prince’s film debut–about a young Minneapolis-based musician who finds himself at odds with his abusive parents, a musical rival, a romantic interest, and his own band as he struggles to make it as an artist–was a box-office smash when it was released in 1984, largely off the strength of the original soundtrack.  Prince received two Grammys and an Oscar for the music underpinning the movie; the soundtrack also spent 24 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts.

Late-Night – Fridays at 9:30 PM grab some popcorn and come watch our favorite late-night movies.

“A Resistance”

This film plays Saturday, January 25 at 1:00 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Korean Cinema Now Film Series presented by the Nam Center for Korean Studies.  FREE and open to the public!  During Japanese colonial rule, YU Gwan-sun is imprisoned for starting the March 1 Movement, a peaceful protest for Korea’s independence.  Undaunted, YU unites her fellow inmates to resist Japan. The Japanese security chief senses the resistance, entices an inmate to find out YU Gwan-sun is behind it, then tortures her.  Later, Gwan-sun pretends to obey the Japanese while secretly planning another independence protest.  This movement spreads beyond prison to the streets, and YU is subjected to merciless torture again.  Though she dies two days before she is set to be released, her spirit is more liberated and free than ever.

“The Little Mermaid Sing-Along”

This film plays Sunday, January 26 at 3:00 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Not Just for Kids Live Performing Arts Series presented by Toyota sponsored by Emerson School and Comerica Bank.  In Disney’s beguiling animated romp, rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) is fascinated with life on land.  On one of her visits to the surface, which are forbidden by her controlling father, King Triton, she falls for a human prince.  Determined to be with her new love, Ariel makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula (voiced by Pat Carroll) to become human for three days.  But when plans go awry for the star-crossed lovers, the king must make the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter.

Found Footage Festival: Volume 9

This event plays Sunday, January 26 at 7:00 PM at the Michigan.  The Found Footage Festival is a one-of-a-kind event that showcases footage from videos that were found at garage sales and thrift stores and in warehouses and dumpsters across the country.  Curators Joe Pickett (“The Onion”) and Nick Prueher (“The Colbert Report”) take audiences on a guided tour of their latest and greatest VHS finds, providing live commentary and where-are-they-now updates on the people in these videotaped obscurities.  From the curiously-produced industrial training video to the forsaken home movie donated to Goodwill, the Found Footage Festival resurrects these forgotten treasures and serves them up in a lively celebration of all things found.

“Gosford Park”

This film plays Wednesday, January 29 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Whodunnit Wednesdays film series featuring a special Whodunnit Murder Mystery presentation before the film.  Concluding our “Whodunnit?” Film Series, Robert Altman takes on the genre with a cast featuring Maggie SmithMichael GambonHelen MirrenRyan PhillippeStephen FryKristin Scott ThomasKelly MacdonaldRichard E. Grant, and many more!  Set in the 1930’s, a group of wealthy aristocrats gathers for a relaxing weekend with their servants at a hunting resort in the English countryside. B ut when a murder occurs, each one of these interesting characters becomes a suspect.  With an original screenplay written by “Downton Abbey” creator Jullian Fellowes, winning the Academy Award in 2002, the film provided the backdrop and inspiration for the award-winning television show.

“An Autumn Afternoon”

This film plays Thursday, January 30 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan as a part of the Art of the Camera Film Series sponsored by The University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.  The last film by Yasujiro Ozu was also his final masterpiece, a gently heartbreaking story about a man’s dignified resignation to life’s shifting currents and society’s modernization.  Though the widower Shuhei (frequent Ozu leading man Chishu Ryu) has been living comfortably for years with his grown daughter, a series of events leads him to accept and encourage her marriage and departure from their home.  As elegantly composed and achingly tender as any of the Japanese master’s films, this is one of cinema’s fondest farewells.  Will also feature an introduction from a University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies lecturer about the featured cinematographer Yuharu Atsuta.

Art of the Camera – Celebrating Japan’s great cinematographers Thursdays at 7:30 PM from January to April.

 

CONTINUING DOWNTOWN

“63 Up”

At the Michigan: In the latest installment of the groundbreaking, award-winning documentary series from director Michael Apted (“Gorky Park,” “Gorillas in the Mist”), we return to visit the people whose lives have been followed since they were seven.  Featuring more of the original line-up than ever before, we discover what has happened to the group over the last seven years, what life has thrown at them in their sixties, and their hopes for the future.

“Little Women”

Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actress – Saoirse Ronan!  Writer-director Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott and unfolds as the author’s alter ego, Jo March, reflects and forth on her fictional life.  In Gerwig’s take, the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on her own terms — is both timeless and timely.  Portraying Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth March, the film stars Saoirse RonanEmma WatsonFlorence PughEliza Scanlen, with Timothée Chalamet as their neighbor Laurie, Laura Dern as Marmee, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March.

“Knives Out”

Oscar- nominated for Best Original Screenplay!  Acclaimed writer and director Rian Johnson (“Brick,” “Looper,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) pays tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie in this film.  When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig) is enlisted to investigate.  From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death.  Also stars Chris EvansAna de ArmasJamie Lee CurtisToni ColletteDon JohnsonMichael ShannonLaKeith StanfieldKatherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell.

“Fantastic Fungi”

This film, directed by Louie Schwartzberg and narrated by Brie Larson, is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.  Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael PollanEugenia BoneAndrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.

“1917”

At the State: Nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Director – Sam Mendes and Best Picture!  In this film, at the height of WWI, two young British soldiers, Lance Corporal Schofield (played by “Captain Fantastic’s” George Mackay) and Lance Corporal Blake (played by “Game of Thrones’” Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission.  In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers, Blake’s own brother among them.

“Uncut Gems”

From acclaimed filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie comes an electrifying crime thriller about Howard Ratner (played by Adam Sandler), a charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score.  When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.

“Jojo Rabbit”

Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress – Scarlett Johansson!  Writer-director Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”) brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (played by Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.  Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

“Parasite”

Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best International Film!  Bong Joon Ho brings his work home to Korea in this pitch-black modern fairytale.  Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth.  And the Kim Family, rich in street smarts but not much else.  Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kims sense a golden opportunity.  Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist, to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families.

 

OPENING AT THE MULTIPLEX THIS WEEKEND

“The Last Full Measure”

This film tells the true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger (played by Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen medic who personally saved over sixty men.  During a rescue mission on April 11, 1966, he was offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone heavily under fire, but he stayed behind to save and defend the lives of his fellow soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, before making the ultimate sacrifice in the bloodiest battle of the war.  Also stars William HurtChristopher PlummerDiane LaddSamuel L. JacksonPeter Fonda, and Ed Harris.

“The Turning”

For more than 100 years, a deeply haunting tale has been passed down to terrify audiences.  DreamWorks Pictures’ film takes us to a mysterious estate in the Maine countryside, where newly appointed nanny Kate is charged with the care of two disturbed orphans, Flora and Miles.  Quickly though, she discovers that both the children and the house are harboring dark secrets and things may not be as they appear.  Stars Mackenzie Davis and Finn Wolfhard.

“The Gentlemen”

This film follows American expat Mickey Pearson (played by Matthew McConaughey), who built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London.  When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business forever, it triggers plots, schemes, bribery, and blackmail to steal his domain out from under him.