A new 'Conan,' a new 'Fright Night,' a new 'Spy Kids,' and a restored 'African Queen' at the movies this week
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Editor's note: Comment on today's "Cinema Chat" for a chance to win free movie tickets to the Michigan Theater. Some time between now and 9 a.m. Monday, leave a comment on this column, written by the Michigan Theater's Russ Collins. Offer your opinion on a recent movie you've seen, or on anything Russ mentions. A winner will be randomly selected, and we’ll notify that person via the email address they signed up with. They will get two passes to a movie of their choice, courtesy of The Michigan Theater. Full rules here.
Opening at the multiplex
Based on the 1985 horror film of the same name, “Fright Night” follows Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) as he confronts trouble that arrives when intriguing stranger Jerry (Colin Farrell) moves in next door. He seems like a great guy, but there's something not quite right—and no one, including Charlie's mom (Toni Collette), seems to notice. After witnessing some very unusual activity, Charlie comes to an unmistakable conclusion: Jerry is a vampire preying on his neighborhood. Rosie Fletcher of Total Film says the film is “slick popcorn horror, faithful to the fun and flair of the original.” “Fright Night” opens Friday.
From director Robert Rodriguez, “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World” reunites the cast from the first three films and introduces "Aromascope," a technique that allows people to smell odors and aromas from the film via scratch-and-sniff cards (reminiscent of the infamous 1960’s Smell-O-Vision created by Hans Laube that made its only appearance in the 1960 film “Scent of Mystery”.) Marissa Cortez Wilson (Jessica Alba) has her world turned upside down when the maniacal Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) threatens to take over the planet and she's called back into action by the head of OSS, home of the greatest spies and where the now-defunct Spy Kids division was created. With a little help from a couple of very familiar Spy Kids, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara). “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World” opens Friday.
In “Another Earth,” Rhoda Williams is a bright young woman, accepted into MIT's astrophysics program, whose life becomes irrevocably intertwined with that of brilliant compose, John Burroughs on the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth. “Another Earth” had its world premiere at the 27th Sundance Film Festival, where Variety reported, "(It) has been deemed one of the more highly praised pics of the fest as it received a standing ovation after the screening and strong word of mouth from buyers and festgoers." Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel says, “The wildly improbable set-up is merely the jumping off point for an exploration of grief, guilt and redemption that plays out almost entirely between two people thrown together by circumstance.” “Another Earth” opens Friday at the State Theatre.
Classics playing downtown
Summer Classics continue with a new 35mm print of “The African Queen,” a sweeping film of cinematic action and romance that chronicles the adventures of Captain Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) and his passenger Rose Sayer (Katherine Hepburn) as they navigate a trecherous river in German East Africa during WWI. The film, shot mostly in Africa, united the formidable talents of the stars with those of director John Huston in an outstanding adaptation of the 1935 C.S. Forester novel of the same name. “The African Queen” plays Aug. 21 at 1:30 p.m.. and Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.
The Summer Docs series continues with “Sweetgrass,” a film that follows a group of shepherds who took a herd of sheep one final time through the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, part of the extreme northwest of the United States. Spanning 300 kilometers through expansive green valleys, fields of snow, and across hazardous, narrow ridges—this is a journey brimming with challenges. The high mountains and trecherous terrain include wolves and grizzly bears which only add to the already major feat of keeping hundreds of sheep together. “Sweetgrass” plays Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.
Russ Collins is executive director of the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Tune in to the audio version of “Cinema Chat” on WEMU radio (89.1-FM) each Thursday at 7:40 a.m. and 5:40 p.m., or listen to it online at WEMU's web site.