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Posted on Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Fellini's last film, 'Despicable Me 2,' 'Lone Ranger,' and more at the movies

By Russ Collins

One night only: Fellini’s final film - first time in the USA

Master Italian director Federico Fellini‘s final film, “The Voice of the Moon,” was never released in the U.S., so don’t miss this rare opportunity to see it on the big screen from a rare 35mm print imported from Italy. Oscar-winner Roberto Benigni stars as the idiot-savant hero Ivo, a former mental patient who wanders through a world of strange dreams-and often stranger realities. “The Voice of the Moon” plays on Thursday, July 11 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

Opening downtown

Premiering to rave reviews at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, “The Kings of Summer” is a unique coming-of-age comedy about 3 teenage friends—Joe (Nick Robinson), Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and the eccentric and unpredictable Biaggio (Moises Arias)—who, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. Free from their parents’ rules, their idyllic summer quickly becomes a test of friendship as each boy learns to appreciate the fact that family—whether it is the one you’re born into or the one you create—is something you can’t run away from. Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic says, “Sometimes, a movie just has a magic about it, something that makes you look past implausibility and plot holes and whatever other shortcomings it may have and leaves you feeling good just for having seen it.” “The Kings of Summer” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

Opening at the cineplex


"Despicable Me 2"

Get ready for more Minion madness in “Despicable Me 2!” Chris Meledandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team create an all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of (former?) super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls, and the unpredictably hilarious Minions. Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger says, “Not only a fun cartoon but—that rare thing—a sequel which actually improves on the original.” “Despicable Me 2” opened Wednesday, July 3.

"The Lone Ranger," based on the famed 1933 radio show, which was created by Detroit radio station WXYZ, brings the famed masked hero to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice—taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption. “The Lone Ranger” opened Wednesday, July 3.

Special screenings downtown

Filmed intermittently over the course of a five-year period, David Lynch's “Eraserhead” stars Jack Nance as Henry Spencer, a man living in an unnamed industrial wasteland. Upon learning that a past romance has resulted in an impending pregnancy, Henry agrees to wed mother-to-be Mary (Charlotte Stewart) and moves her into his tiny, squalid flat. Their baby is born hideously mutated, a strange, reptilian creature whose piercing cries never cease. Mary soon flees in horror and disgust, leaving Henry to fall prey to the seduction of the girl across the hall (Judith Anna Roberts). Nathen Lee of the Village Voice says, “What a masterpiece of texture, a feat of artisanal attention, an ingenious assemblage of damp, dust, rock, wood, hair, flesh, metal, ooze.” “Eraserhead” plays Thursday, July 11 at 10 p.m. as part of the Summer Classics After Dark Series.

In “Dirty Dancing,” the year is 1963 and innocent 17-year-old Baby (Jennifer Grey) vacations with her parents at a Catskills resort. One evening, she is drawn to the staff quarters by stirring music. There she meets Johnny, the hotel dance instructor, who is as experienced as Baby is naive. Baby soon becomes Johnny's pupil in dance and love. When Johnny’s dance partner, Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), finds herself pregnant after a fling with one of the waiters, Baby volunteers to learn her steps and take her place; however, Baby’s father, Dr. Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach), will have none of it, convinced that Johnny is a low life and that his daughter is too young to understand her own feelings. Pauline Kael of the New Yorker said, “The dancing here brings out the sensual dreaminess of the songs. ‘Dirty Dancing’—what a great title!—is such a bubbleheaded, retro vision of growing up in the sixties (or any other time) that you go out of the theater giggling happily.” “Dirty Dancing” plays Sunday, July 7 at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, July 9 at 7 p.m. as part of the Summer Classic Film Series.

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.



Sat, Jul 6, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

I stopped going to the MI theater years ago too -- and the one time I tried to return, they ended up doing a "Sing along Les Miserables" the SECOND night it was showing -- that was the last straw. But more importantly, the sound is horrible -- everything echoes and often movies are at too low volume -- the lights never go fully out, parking is a pain... I do appreciate that people sit still and don't talk at the Michigan theater... But far and away a better art house experience is at the Maple Theater in Bloomfield Hills -- easy drive, and dark theaters, amazing sofa-type seats, great sound, free parking, and usually show the films a good week or two before the Michigan Theater seems to get them these days.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Before I got sidetracked responding emotionally to JRW, I intended to cheer the showing of Eraserhead. Been too long! What a great movie!!


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Michigan Theater is an excellent place to see ANY movie. It never occurred to me to care which room it's in. Seems like when they expect a smaller audience they use the smaller room. It's all good. I'm sorry you have had a bad experience. Please give them another try. (No I don't work there - just a longtime movie goer and A2 resident.)


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Oh...and BTW...I have seen listings where they say if it will be in the screening room.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

We stopped going to the MI Theater years ago (and stopped being members) when they added the "screening room" and then didn't tell the public ahead of time whether a film was showing in the small screening room or the large theater. Very manipulative. I remember calling the theater to ask, and they wouldn't tell you (if you could reach a person and not a recording). So, you'd go to the theater, pay the full price and then end up in the small, flat screening room on a small screen at no discount. Very misleading. I recall the explanations as: we don't know until the last minute, which is BS. TELL people where the film is going to be shown before they buy the ticket. Some people might enjoy a small, flat theater (little slope means you look at the back of heads) with a small screen and people talking all around you, but we do not, especially for the same high price as the large theater.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Huh. I find both spaces comfortable. A silly reason (just my opinion) for missing the best movies in town.