February Films in Ann Arbor

Zone of Interest  

“Zone of Interest” is the first film in 10 years from British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer (“Under the Skin,” “Sexy Beast”). Based loosely on the novel by Martin Amis, the film centers on a commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Rudolf Hoss, and his family who live in affluence right next to the camp. Glazer filmed on the land where the real-life family lived, though the original house no longer exists and was re-built for this production. The film only suggests the atrocities going on, rather than showing them explicitly, and asks how could people have not only ignored, but gone about normal lives while this was happening? This film was nominated for five Oscars, including Best International Feature. It is in German with English subtitles.

Now playing at the Michigan Theater.

American Fiction  

Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk, a writer and professor who is tired of watching his books fail to sell while work that stereotypes African Americans make other authors rich and successful. Out of frustration, he intentionally writes a ridiculous book with the broadest caricatures possible only to find himself with a hit on his hands. Admittedly, it’s a premise that bears resemblance to Spike Lee’s 2000 movie “Bamboozled.” Most of the film focuses on Monk and his family, how it affects them, and the way labels limit and trap us. Jeffrey Wright is a standout and strong contender for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars. Nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score. 

Now playing at the State Theatre.

Kuroneko (Black Cat) 

During a time of civil war, a woman and her daughter-in-law are raped and murdered by samurais. Afterward, samurai returning home from the war through the area are found mysteriously murdered. Based on a Japanese folk tale, this is a stunning black and white ghost story that leans heavily into moody, gothic style — a must see on a big screen for those who love the genre. 1968 Japanese with English subtitles. This is part of the U-M Center for Japanese Studies Winter 2024 Film Series.

Playing at the Michigan Theater on Feb. 8.

Godzilla VS Hedorah  

An alien life form named Hedorah feeds on the earth’s pollution and grows into a smog-spewing, sludge-secreting monster. Godzilla fights the monster in a battle to save the Earth. This 1971 classic is part of the U-M Center for Japanese Studies Winter 2024 Film Series.

Playing at the Michigan Theater on Feb. 15.

Oscar Nominated Short Films

Don’t miss your chance to see this year’s Oscar nominated short films. All three categories — Animated, Live Action, and Documentary —  will be shown.

Opens Feb. 16 at the Michigan Theater. 

The Color Purple (1985) 

For one night only, the original 1985 film “The Color Purple” screens as part of Michigan’s Music by Quincy Jones Series. Starring Whoopie Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey and Rae Dawn Chong. 

Playing at the Michigan Theater Feb. 20. 

Perfect Days  

Legendary director Wim Wenders (“Paris Texas,” “Wings of Desire”) won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for this quiet study of a toilet cleaner content with a simple life in Tokyo, Japan. Koji Yakusho (“The Cure,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Babel”) won the best actor prize at Cannes for the portrayal of Hirayama, a methodical man who rarely speaks as he goes about his day cleaning Tokyo’s toilets while listening to his carefully curated music, photographing trees and reading at night, until his niece arrives and more of his past is gradually revealed. Nominated for an Oscar for Best International Film. 

Opens Michigan Theater on Feb. 23. 

Oscar Snubs

Two films that surprisingly didn’t get a nomination or, in the case of Godzilla Minus One,” more significant nominations. Highly recommended, even if you have to rent them!

Fallen Leaves

Set in Helsinki, two lonely people searching for love meet by chance in a karaoke bar. However, their path to happiness is met by obstacles from lost phone numbers to mistaken addresses, alcoholism, and a sweet stray dog. This movie was originally on the short-list for the Oscars but wound up without a nomination. 

Godzilla Minus One

The Academy has a lot to answer for on this one. “Godzilla Minus One” was only nominated for special effects, which is strange considering the film’s real magic trick is the ability to offer up a great story on par with any indie drama released this year. “Godzilla” is a historical drama wrapped in a monster movie with characters you truly care about. Made for a fraction of the cost of Marvel movies, it proves to Hollywood that hollowed out, onedimensional characters in a movie with action and special effects should be a thing of the past. 


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