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Posted on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 5:55 a.m.

'Gangster Squad,' 'Pink Flamingos,' midnight 'Blue Velvet,' and more at the movies this week

By Russ Collins

Opening downtown

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"Chasing Ice"

In "Chasing Ice," acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth's changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk. Ty Burr of the Boston Globe says, "As much as one may intellectually believe in climate change, to see it actually happening has the power to stun a viewer into wordlessness." "Chasing Ice" opens Friday at the Michigan.

"Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel" explores the 50-year reign of the "Empress of Fashion," a woman who launched Twiggy, advised Jackie Onassis, and established countless trends that have withstood the test of time. The film is an intimate portrait and a vibrant celebration of one of the most influential women of the 20th century. Mary Pols of Time magazine says the film "demonstrates that an almost hypnotic fabulousness can still emanate from the late great fashion editor, even via fuzzy old videotape viewed 23 years after her death." "Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel" opens Friday at the Michigan.

In "Chicken with Plums," Nasser Ali Khan, a world-renowned musician, has lost all taste for life. Finding no instrument worthy of replacing his beloved violin, he decides to confine himself to bed to await death. As he hopes for its arrival, he plunges into deep reveries, with dreams as melancholic as they are joyous. "Chicken with Plums" plays Jan. 16 and 17 at the Michigan Theater.

Opening at the multiplex

From the creators of "Scary Movie" comes "A Haunted House," a parody of the "Paranormal Activity" franchise. When newlyweds Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Kisha (Essence Atkins) move into their dream house, they quickly find they're not alone. But it's not the house that's haunted, but Malcolm's wife that is possessed with spirits—or as Malcolm calls it, "relationship baggage." "A Haunted House" opens Friday.

In "Zero Dark Thirty," an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devotes themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. The film reunites the Oscar winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal ("The Hurt Locker") for the story of history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man. "Zero Dark Thirty" opens Friday.

In "Gangster Squad," ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs LA, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and—if he has his way—every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It's enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop...except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen's world apart. "Gangster Squad" opens Friday.

Special screenings downtown

Presented by the Nam Center for Korean Studies, "Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time" follows a corrupted customs officer as he faces losing his job. His life turns around as he meets a gangster who has connection with the Yakuza. They quickly form a partnership, but it begins to crack when the Government steps up its war on crime. "Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time" plays Saturday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Michigan Theater and is free and open to the public!

"Blue Velvet" is director David Lynch's hallucinogenic mystery-thriller that probes beneath the cheerful surface of suburban America. "Blue Velvet" plays Saturday, Jan. 12 at 11:59 p.m. at the State Theatre.

"The Neverending Story" follows Bastian as he decides to play hooky and walks into a strange bookstore, where he discovers a book called "The Neverending Story". As Bastian reads the book, he's enveloped in the unfolding tale. "The Neverending Story" plays Sunday, Jan. 13 at 1:30 p.m. at the Michigan Theater with free admission for kids 12 and under!

"Reefer Madness," the unabashed propaganda film turned cult classic of comically bad cinema, and "Pink Flamingos," the first film from renegade filmmaker and noted aficionado of expressive bad taste John Waters, kick off the New Line and New Hollywood Cinema series, which focuses on Bob Shaye, University of Michigan alum and founder of the acclaimed independent motion picture production and distribution company, New Line Cinema. "Reefer Madness" and Pink Flamingos" play Monday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

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.

Comments

J. Sorensen

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.

Actually, Pink Flamingo's wasn't John Waters first movie, although it may be the first many remember but Multiple Maniacs & Mondo Trasho predated Flamingos. There were a few shorts as well.