Holiday Season Hits


I was recently in an intense discussion – is there any other kind about movies? – regarding the millennial generation’s equivalent to the Star Wars films in terms of popularity and influence. This was an intense discussion not only because it was about movies, but because I, as a hipster-wannabe college student in 1977, so vividly recalled being caught up in the Zeitgeist of the original Star Wars.

What about The Hunger Games series? Nah. The Harry Potter sagas? Well … maybe. Then, I countered that The Avengers flicks – especially if one throws in the other blockbusters set in the Marvel universe – have been bigger for 21st century youth.

Upon further reflection, the correct answer, of course, is … Star Wars. We will see why on December 18, when Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens debuts in theaters.

As I write this just past the midpoint of November, I see that local advance tickets for The Force Awakens are all but sold out for the opening weekend, which means I might have to act fast to gain entry to the very back row (or, worse, the very front) for a 10am Tuesday or Wednesday opening-week screening – if I’m lucky. At a time like this, I wish I were back to getting paid to see the latest movies in advance.

But I will be patient, for at some point, I will enjoy discussing the new Star Wars with my two college-age children. There are too few movies all three of us can get really excited about, even if my focus will be on Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill and theirs will be on John Boyega and Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong’o.

Meanwhile, there are no stormtroopers to be seen in the Flint Institute of Arts’ December movies – only stormy situations and relationships.

Leading off the month’s schedule in the Friends of Modern Art film series on December 4-6 is The Stanford Prison Experiment, which by the title sounds like a documentary, but is actually a scripted thriller. Billy Crudup heads the cast in a story based on a real-life experiment in which psychology students were randomly selected to take on roles as prisoners and guards in a mock penitentiary.

Following on December 11-13 is Grandma, which brings the great Lily Tomlin back to the screen in a road comedy about a broke, cranky oldster who attempts to bond with her daughter while unearthing long-buried secrets. Marcia Gay Harden, Sam Elliott, and Judy Greer are other notables in the cast.

The FIA’s competition for The Force Awakens will be an Israeli entry, The Farewell Party, playing December 18-20. In what Slant Magazine calls “a neatly balanced tragicomedy about the easily blurred line between assisted living and assisted death,” residents of a retirement home build a machine for self-euthanasia to help a terminally ill friend.

An additional FIA screening in December is An American Ascent, a documentary to be shown December 10 as part a monthly series of films about African American issues and culture presented in collaboration with Communities First, Inc. of Flint. The film documents the first African American expedition to climb Denali, North America’s highest peak.

Information on all screenings at the FIA is available by visiting or by calling 810.234.1695.


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