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Posted on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:12 a.m.

'The Hobbit,' 'The Guilt Trip,' 'Hitchcock,' and more at the movies this week

By Russ Collins

Sundance Film Festival at the Michigan Theater Jan. 31!

“The East,” a new thriller that will debut at the Sundance Film Festival, will be followed by a special Sundance Film Festival USA screening at the Michigan Theater on Thursday, January 31. At this special screening the director and an actor from the film will appear at the Michigan Theater. This special screening will also celebrate the theater's 85th anniversary (and I will celebrate my 30th anniversary at the Michigan Theater!?!).

“The East” stars Ellen Page, Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard and Julia Ormond. Also attending the screening will be the Sundance Film Festival Programming Director Trevor Groth. It is sure to be a very special night at the Michigan Theater. Reserved seats are on sale now at and all Ticketmaster outlets, including Briarwood Mall and all Walmart stores. Charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Opening at the cineplex


"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker says, "On balance, honor has been done to Tolkien, not least in the famous riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum, and some of the exploits to come will surely lighten the load." "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opens Friday.

In "The Guilt Trip," Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime—and who better to accompany him than his overbearing mother Joyce (Barbra Streisand)? After deciding to start his adventure with a quick visit at mom's, Andy is guilted into bringing her along for the ride. "The Guilt Trip" opens Wednesday, Dec. 19.

"Monsters, Inc.," one of Disney/Pixar's most beloved and visually imaginative feature films ever, returns to the big screen to delight a whole new generation of audiences and fans alike, this time in stunning 3D. This new 3D version of "Monsters, Inc." opens Wednesday, Dec. 19.

Opening downtown

Hidden behind Alfred Hitchcock's out-sized "master of suspense" persona was his creatively explosive romance with his steadfast wife and filmmaking collaborator, Alma Reville. Now, for the first time, Sacha Gervasi's "Hitchcock" lays bare their captivating and complex love story. It does so through the sly, shadowy lens of their most daring filmmaking adventure: the spine-tingling 1960 thriller "Psycho." Starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, and Toni Colette. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says, "Hopkins catches the essence of Hitchcock as artist and con man. And Mirren is stellar as his wife and secret weapon. The pleasure of their company adds sparkle to this unexpectedly poignant look at a career and a marriage." "Hitchcock" opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

"A Royal Affair" is the true story of an ordinary man who wins the queen's heart and starts a revolution. The film centers on the intriguing love triangle between the young but strong Queen Caroline Mathilda; the increasingly insane Danish King Christian VII; and Struensee, the royal physician who is a man of enlightenment and idealism. Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer says, "'A Royal Affair' is historical drama of the highest order—teeming with big ideas, and anchored by nicely nuanced performances." "A Royal Affair" opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

Special screenings downtown

"Shut Up and Play the Hits" is a look at LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy over a 48-hour period, from the day of the band's final gig at Madison Square Garden to the morning after the show. Proceeds from this event support 826michigan, a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization serving 2,500 students in Washtenaw County with free creative-writing and tutoring programs. "Shut Up and Play the Hits" plays Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

In "Donnie Darko," Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Donnie, a bright and willfully eccentric high school student who is visited by Frank, a monstrous six-foot rabbit. Donnie is informed that the world will come to an end in less than a month; moments later, the engine of a jet aircraft comes crashing through the ceiling of Donnie's room, making him think there might be something to Frank's prophesies after all. "Donnie Darko" plays on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11:59 p.m.

In "Miracle on 34th Street" Macy's supervisor Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) has to react when Santa falls down drunk in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. She reluctantly offers the job to a bearded Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) purporting to be the real Santa who hopes to win over Doris's skeptical 6-year-old daughter (Natalie Wood). "Miracle on 34th Street" plays Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:30 p.m. and admission is free!

See you at the movies!

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.



Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Is the Hobbit being shown in the traditional format or in the new one that Peter Jackson filmed in?