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Posted on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Oscar winners screening downtown; 'The Lorax' at the cineplex; 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 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.

Oscar winners play downtown

“A Separation” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. Tomorrow this acclaimed Iranian film opens at the Michigan Theater. “A Separation” is a compelling drama about a couple faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease - then, unexpectedly, the parent’s caretaker dies. Who’s to blame? “A Separation” was the best-reviewed film of 2011. Andrew O’Hehir of says, “It's a deceptive, Hitchcockian mystery whose clues are laid out so carefully you'll probably miss them, and a complex philosophical fable in which every character is morally compromised.” “A Separation” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

“Rango,” the Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature Film, is a great film thanks to its witty mix of parody, intriguing characters, and sophisticated humor. When a pet chameleon who's suffering from an identity crisis crashes headfirst into the classic Western town of Dirt, he has the unique opportunity to completely reinvent himself. Dubbing himself Rango, he boasts of his own heroism and creates a spiral of deception that lands him an appointment as sheriff of a town in crisis. “Rango,” part of the Michigan Theater’s Family Friendly Film Series, plays March 4 and 5 at 1:30 p.m. at the Michigan Theater and is free for kids 12 and under!

“The Artist,” winner of 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor, Jean Dujardin, continues at the State Theatre. Do not miss it; it won’t be around town much longer.

Great and controversial indie films downtown

“Shame” stars Michael Fassbender as a New Yorker who shuns intimacy with women but feeds his desires with a compulsive addiction to sex. When his wayward younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment, it stirs memories of their shared painful past. Be warned, “Shame” is controversial and explicit. It opens Friday at the State Theater for a limited run.

“Pariah” stars Adepero Oduye as Alike (pronounced ah-lee-kay), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents and younger sister in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. At home, her parents' marriage is strained and there is further tension in the household whenever Alike's sexual identity becomes a topic of discussion. Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity—sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward. Stephen Holden of the New York Times says, “At its heart is an incandescent performance by Ms. Oduye, who captures the jagged mood swings of late adolescence with a wonderfully spontaneous fluency.” “Pariah” opens Friday at the Michigan Theater.

“Declaration of War,” the opening-night film at this year's Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival, is an exuberant and deeply moving film that follows a new couple, Romeo (Jeremie Elkaim) and Juliette (Valerie Donzelli), who must face the ultimate test when they discover their newborn child is very ill. “Declaration of War” plays Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4 at the Michigan Theater.

Opening at the cineplex

The 3D-CGI feature Dr. Seuss' “The Lorax” is an adaptation of Dr. Seuss' classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope. The animated adventure follows the journey of a boy as he searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. Dr. Seuss' “The Lorax” opens Friday.

In “Project X,” three high school seniors throw a birthday party to make a name for themselves, but as the night progresses, things spiral out of control as word of the party spreads. Drew McWeeny of Hitfix says the film “is a John Hughes movie from the '80s, right down to its final shot, but it's wrapped in a level of chaos and decadence that sums up the career of producer Todd Phillips with a gleeful degree of anarchy.” “Project X” opens Friday.

Special screenings downtown

Martin Bandyke's Moving Pictures Film Series continues with “Gimme Shelter,” a chronicle of The Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour. “Gimme Shelter” plays Monday, March 5 at 7 p.m.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival presents “Helicopter String Quartet,” one of the most certifiably eccentric musical events of the late 20th century. German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen designed and executed the concept of having four members of a string quartet playing an original piece by Stockhausen in four separate helicopters, all flying through the air simultaneously. “Helicopter String Quartet” screens Wednesday, March 7 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

“Miss Representation” uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. “Miss Representation” plays Tuesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

The University of Michigan Department of Philosophy presents “Memento,” director Christopher Nolan’s look at a man, suffering from short-term memory loss, who uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife. “Memento” plays Thursday, March 8 at 8 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.


Erich Jensen

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Hurray for Oscar winners, the Artist and Meryl Streep for Iron Lady!

Russ Collins

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3:59 a.m.

Russ here! Irishlaced - Yes, "The Artist" is well done fun, so go and see it! Not to everyone's taste and liking, but clearly a winner! Marjorie Lynn - I think the Iranian movie you are thinking of is "Circumstance." See you at the movies!

Marjorie Lynn

Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

I'm looking forward to seeing "A Separation" tomorrow night. When it won the Academy Award, I thought it was the same one I'd seen earlier about two Iranian sisters who separated--one to flee Iran to become a writer while her sister stayed to become a traditional housewife. I can't remember the name; Russ, can you?


Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

A SEPARATION and SHAME are two that I have been anticipating for some time. Might have to catch GIMME SHELTER, as well.


Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

I'm excited to see Miss Representation, I heard there's some important interviews. Miss Representation has a page on facebook that'd I'd recommend "liking", as well. Lots of interesting coverage/links for parents, educators, women studies students, or anyone who knows and loves a girl.


Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

I've heard that "The Artist" is really good. I'll have to get over to the State and catch it sometime soon.