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Posted on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 5:44 a.m.

Public radio funding, a 'toon robot, Amelia Earhart and more

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 6 a.m. Wednesday, 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. We'll randomly select a winner and notify that person via the email address they signed up with. They will get two passes to a movie of their choice.

Public radio needs your help Did you know? Public radio is the number-one type of radio in the Ann Arbor area. Public radio is commercial free, but twice a year they ask for your financial support and this week is one of those pledge weeks. So pledge to your favorite public radio station today!

Why, you may ask, is a movie column promoting public radio? Two reasons: One, public radio is excellent, and it supports the arts and the learning infrastructure of our community. Two, I would very much like to encourage you to support the broadcast version of "Cinema Chat" on WEMU (89.1 FM) today between 6-9 a.m. or 4-6 p.m.

Every year, "Cinema Chat" is threatened with being pulled from radio airwaves unless we can prove there is listener support. Will you help save "Cinema Chat"? Please call 734-487-8936 at the times indicated above or pledge online at WEMU's web site. If you don’t listen to "Cinema Chat," but are an avid public radio listener, call in a pledge to your favorite station during pledge week. Movies this week Generally positive reviews have greeted “Astro Boy.” “A well-oiled CG-animated superhero pic that makes up in competence and vitality what it lacks in originality,” says the show business journal Variety. Set in futuristic Metro City, “Astro Boy” is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist (voiced by Nicolas Cage) in the image of the son he had lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving man, he embarks on a journey but then returns in time to save Metro City — a futuristic version of the city in Pinocchio. Playing at multiplexes everywhere. Variety did not, however, like “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”: “‘The Vampire's Assistant’ is too busy making impossible claims about just how spectacular its sequels will be to serve up a self-contained story with a satisfying finale.” However, it does feature John C. Reilly, who is always a compelling performer, and Salma Hayek… in a beard?! The plot involves a traveling freak show that recruits a young man who soon finds himself used as a pawn in a battle between vampires and their deadlier counterparts. Playing at multiplexes everywhere.

“Amelia,” directed by Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”) stars Hilary Swank as the female flying ace Amelia Earhart, the American pilot who disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 on her history-making flight around the world. Also features Ewan McGregor and Richard Gere. There is already Best Actress buzz for Ms. Swank’s performance in this adventure-romance. Playing downtown at the State Theatre and at the multiplexes.

Clive Owen stars in “The Boys Are Back.” The London Daily Mail raves, “one of the year’s best pictures … marvelous … extraordinary. Clive Owen is at the top of his game here giving a performance of Oscar stature.” After the death of his wife, Clive Owen’s character is left with two sons and zero ideas on how to run his house. Soon, the home devolves into chaos, and he must decide if his parenting plan wasn't such a good idea after all. Playing exclusively at the Michigan Theater downtown.

In “Paris,” the always enchanting Juliette Binoche plays the sister of a man who suffers from a serious heart ailment. This active man (Romain Duris), was a dancer, now confined to a sedentary life that allows him to observe the dance of Paris and Parisians from the balcony of his flat. One of my favorite critics, Roger Ebert, loved it, stating that, “every character has life and depth. It's unusual for an episodic film to involve us so well in individual lives; as the narrative circles through their stories, we're genuinely curious about what will happen next.” Playing exclusively at the Michigan for a limited engagement Oct. 24, 26 and 28. Two special screenings next week “Singin' In the Rain,” the best movie musical ever, will play on the big screen on Monday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Did you know the star of “Singin’ In the Rain,” Gene Kelly’s, daughter lives in Ann Arbor? Presented as part of the Michigan Theater’s American Musicals series. For Halloween you will have a special opportunity to see, “Nosferatu,” the first vampire movie (from 1922) presented a week from today, on Thursday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. It will be presented with a wonderfully creepy LIVE musical score created and played by Ann Arbor’s very own, world-renowned theater organist, Dr. Steven Ball. And oh yeah ... Yet another "Saw" sequel opens — “Saw VI.” No reviews available, but if you liked the first five, know this one opens Friday at a multiplex near you.

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 AM and 5:40 PM, or listen to it online at WEMU's web site.



Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 9:17 a.m.

I'm with d I'm looking forward to seeing "Ride across the Sky"


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 8:41 a.m.

"Amelia," "The Boys Are Back" & "Paris" are all movies I've been waiting for. Now to find the time to see them all!