Mike's Letter


Fresh off the packed-house sneak preview of "Snowden" on Wednesday night, I am pleased to announce that today we begin the Traverse City run of Oliver Stone's brilliant new film at the Bijou. 

"Snowden" is classic, old-school political thriller filmmaking at its finest. Usually, a story like this is told 10 to 50 years after it happens, when people finally realize who the hero really was, when it's safe to make a movie like this. Rare is the film that dares to tackle its subject smack dab in the middle of his story, of his predicament, before there's a nice and tidy ending. 

"Apocalypse Now" and "The Deer Hunter" -- made years after the Vietnam War. "All the President's Men" -- gracing theaters years after Nixon resigns. These are great films, but also safe art, waiting until there is a consensus on how the story should be told, until the majority will back the filmmaker's viewpoint. Safe. Masterpieces. But safe. 

"Snowden" is not safe. And that heightens the danger, the consequences, the thrill of it all. It challenges you, in the way all great art does, to think about something, someone, in a way you haven't thought about them before. This is exciting cinema!

The director has collaborated with an American citizen the US government says is a felon and maybe a traitor. This puts the director in his own jeopardy. With a different attorney general in a different time, Oliver Stone might face arrest. 

I can tell you from my own experience: by going to Cuba to show Americans what their health care system is like, I broke the law because it was illegal to go to Cuba. And sure enough, I got served with a piece of paper from the Bush Administration notifying me of my lawbreaking. 

I will finish telling you this story some other time. My point is, often when the artist is threatened by authorities for telling her or his story, the art somehow rises to a new level, and, in the case of "Snowden," a great film is born.

Come see it at the Bijou. You may not agree with Ed Snowden, you may not agree with me, but I promise you from my heart, you'll love this film.

Over at the State, we've got an exciting triptych playing this week. We're holding over the sweet and wonderful "Maggie's Plan" AND the heartwarming hilarity of "Hunt for the Wilderpeople." 

We are also opening a documentary from Ron Howard, "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years," an amazing film with concert footage you've never seen before. And only in theaters do you also get to see a special showing of the newly remastered, restored 1965 Shea Stadium Concert following the documentary. 

We're not the old Olympia Stadium in Detroit where some of you saw The Beatles in the 60s, but I can't think of a better place to see this amazing movie than the State -- perfect picture, perfect sound, perfect audiences, eight days a week!

Hope you're enjoying the last week of summer. Don't forget to register to vote.


Michael Moore