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Posted on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Denzel Washington in 'Safe House,' Oscar shorts, 'Star Wars' in 3D, and more at the movies this week

By Russ Collins

Win free movie tickets

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 downtown

Pina Bausch was one of the most innovative contemporary choreographers - a world dance treasure. Wim Wenders' (“Wings of Desire,” “Buena Vista Social Club”) Academy Award nominated 3D documentary film about her work, "Pina," is a breathtaking tribute: "Dance, dance, or we are lost."

Bausch and her Tanztheater Wuppertal elevated dance into brilliantly expressive realms, and Wenders’ film captures the raw, heart-stopping intensity of the movement in stunning 3D. “Pina” features interviews with and performances by Bausch's original company members. Guy Dixon of The Globe and Mail says, “Using 3D in as ungimmicky a way as possible, Wenders wants simply to immerse viewers in the dance, with all its physicality, protruding collar bones and earthy colors.” “Pina” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater for a limited run. See it this weekend.

Speaking of Academy Awards, the 2012 Oscar-nominated short films return to the Michigan Theater! Come and watch the best in live action, animated and documentary short films before the 84th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 26. The 2012 Oscar Nominated Short Films open Friday, Feb. 10 for a very limited run. Check the Michigan Theater website ( for the full lineup and showtimes.

Opening at the cineplex

“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” follows up 2008's "Journey to the Center of the Earth," as 17-year-old Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island. Unable to stop him from going, Sean's new stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), they set out to find the island and rescue its lone inhabitant. “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” opens Friday.

In “Safe House” Oscar winner Denzel Washington plays a dangerous renegade from the CIA who comes back onto the grid after a decade on the run. When the South African safe house he's remanded to is attacked by mercenaries, a rookie operative (Ryan Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead. “Safe House” opens Friday.

“Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” returns in 3D! Supervised by Industrial Light & Magic, the meticulous conversion has been done with utmost respect for the source material, and with a keen eye for both technological considerations and artistic intentions. “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” opens Friday.

In “The Vow” Paige and Leo (Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum) are a happy newlywed couple whose lives are changed by a car accident that puts Paige in a coma. Waking up with severe memory loss, Paige has no memory of Leo, a confusing relationship with her parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange), and an ex-fiancé (Scott Speedman) she may still have feelings for. Despite these complications, Leo endeavors to win her heart again and rebuild their marriage. “The Vow” opens Friday.

Special screenings

The State Theater’s late-night program brings James Cameron’s dystopic sci-fi epic to the big screen with a special double feature of “The Terminator” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Will the machines rise? Will Skynet go live? Find out on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11 p.m. at the State Theatre.

On World Happy Day - Feb. 11, 2012 - thousands of people will join together in communities across the globe to experience “Happy: The Movie.” A growing body of research shows that happy people are healthier and live longer - which is a good thing to celebrate! “Happy: The Movie” plays Saturday, at noon at the Michigan Theater and features a post-screening panel/audience discussion.

“Journey To Jamaa” is an award-winning short film that will transport you from experiencing extreme poverty to hope through the eyes of two children from Uganda. “Journey To Jamaa” plays Sunday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater and is free and open to the public.

Martin Bandyke's Moving Pictures Film Series continues with “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.” First-time director Sam Jones effectively documents the making of Wilco's fourth studio album, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” plays Monday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

Looking for something to do on Valentine’s Day? The Michigan Theater has you covered with a special screening of “From Here To Eternity,” one of the most romantic movies ever made! Directed by Fred Zinnemann, the film is set in Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and stars Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine, Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed. It won eight Academy Awards. “From Here To Eternity” plays on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m.

In celebration of the Fair Housing Center's 20th Anniversary, a screening of the award-winning short documentary “The Barber of Birmingham” will screen with an appearance by the film’s director/producer, Robin Fryday; Director of the Civil Rights Activists Committee in Birmingham, Alabama, Shirley Gavin Floyd; and FHC Cooperating Attorney John Obee. This special screening of “The Barber of Birmingham” plays Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

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.


Erich Jensen

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

Thank you for bringing back the Oscar "short films" nominees....year after year!


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Russ any chance you can give some kind of ratings or reviews of the movies, since doesn't include that in its movie showtime guide anymore?


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

My husband has been anxiously awaiting the Star Wars 3D movie - It will be the first 3D movie we've seen in theaters.


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

I hope you guys enjoy it, my first 3D was Avatar and it was pretty sweet


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

I saw a screening of Safe House on Tuesday. It's a great flick!


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

I love "The Terminator" and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"! I hadn't heard that the State would be doing a double feature of those films this weekend, so I'm glad I saw it in your article. This is going to be great -- I am so there!!


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

It's been on their marquee since at least Monday


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

I wish there were more animation festivals! I swear there used to be 2 or 3 a year back on the 90's (and I don't mean the Mike & sike....or whatever it was called). They were often international, on a variety of subjects and in many different styles.


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

Ha! Auto correct on Spike! Sorry!