The End of Kate Mantilini’s

Kate Mantilini’s diner in LA is closing tonight for good. I just heard the news earlier today. Apparently a dispute with the landlord (i.e., he wanted more money). It was one of the few places in LA I felt comfortable walking into. A lot of other people felt the same way, too. Most of you reading this live in Saginaw or Missoula or Perth. So you’ve probably never heard of Kate Mantilini’s, but I thought I might share this little slice of my “L.A. life” with you. I don’t live in L.A., don’t have a place to stay when I’m in L.A., but a large part of my life and work revolves around L.A. I had never even visited L.A. before my first movie was made — why would I? Even though both of my sisters moved to California ages ago, they didn’t live in L.A., so other than one trip to Orange County to take the kids to Disneyland, Los Angeles was basically “Chinatown,” “Baywatch,” “American Graffiti” and The Doors. But it soon became the place I went to get many of my movies and TV shows made, and over time, as I made close friends and got to work with some incredible people, I sorta fell in love with the place. Not enough to live there — after all, I like sky, fall colors, snow, fresh air, and a proper time zone — but I do love visiting there, driving around in the crazy traffic, cars stopping to let people cross in the middle of the street, hanging out backstage at Bill Maher’s, browsing through Book Soup, watching an old movie at the Egyptian, standing and looking down at Groucho’s star, thinking of Belushi when I pass by the Chateau. Florence and Normandy. The Ambassador Hotel. Each time I land I try to do my best Benjamin Braddock impersonation on the moving walkway to baggage claim. People out here seem, I dunno — happier? More relaxed? Too fit? Kate Mantilini’s is/was a pleasant, comfortable diner on the corner of Wilshire and Doheny, the border between the city of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Because it technically sits on the Beverly Hills side of the street, nobody calls it a “diner”, but that’s what it is. Eggs any time, fish-n-chips, meatloaf, root beer floats — it’s all there until 3 or 4 in the morning. Kate’s became the place for me to meet up with people, whether for work, or to comiserate, or maybe just for a hot turkey sandwich (White bread! In L.A.!). I had my first meal there with people who are now among my closest friends. I made the deal to do two of my movies there. Our “Sicko” premiere afterparty was there. It was also where I spent my final moments of pre-9/11 America, having some laughs in the wee morning hours with a friend who had just come from the record release party (records!) for the latest album by Megadeath. It was held in a Hollywood cemetery at midnight. I looked at my watch (a watch!), which I kept on Eastern Time, and it said “7:00am Sept. 11 2001”. We called it a night… clueless that we weren’t just calling an end to a “night.” From that point on, politically-speaking, night never lifted. And it was a year-and-a-half later, during dinner one March evening at Kate Mantilini’s, that someone came in and announced that the U.S. was at war with Iraq. A TV was turned on and the bombs were raining down on Baghdad. Nobody felt like eating — and didn’t. Larry, Tom, Terry, Jeff, Anne, Veronica, Tia, Carl, Meghan — where will we meet up now? I heard of a place called “Mao’s Kitchen” on Melrose and Fairfax. Wanna try that next time?

-michael moore

"CITIZEN KOCH—a raging, angry, rip-roaring, filled-with-righteous-fury-and-indignation indictment of big money in the U.S. political process, and so far, the best documentary of the year".—Tim Sika, President of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, KGO ABC Radio “ CITIZEN KOCH is a wonderfully realized documentary that provides essential must-know information in a smartly entertaining and entirely credible way. Congrats Tia Lessin and Carl Deal." –Jennifer Merin, Alliance of Women Film Journalists “Just back from a screening of " Citizen Koch." Frightening look at the reality of what Citizens United/the SCOTUS’ plutocrat wing wrought.” Joy Reid “You don’t have to be Michael Moore, Errol Morris, Werner Herzog or Morgan Spurlock to put across an intriguing non-fiction movie…If you fear the rightward turn of American politics and want to get more of a visceral look at how money shapes our country’s decision-making, you can’t go wrong by taking in “Citizen Koch.” – Harvey Karten, NY Film Critics Online

Here’s what the Drudge Report had to say 10 years ago this week:

MOORE BRINGS DOWN HOUSE: LONGEST STANDING OVATION ‘IN HISTORY OF CANNES’ FOR BUSH BASH FILM

20 mins standing ovation for FAHRENHEIT 9-11, yelling, screaming, cheering… ‘This is the longest standing ovation in the history of the festival! Unbelievable!’ declared Cannes stalwart Thierry Fremaux. Moore, raising fist, unable to speak over crowd, vows to fight… Controversial scene in film shows wounded American GI in Iraq talking about how Democrats must win election… Movie shows video of U.S. soldiers laughing as they place hoods over Iraqi detainees, with one of them grabbing a prisoner’s genitals through a blanket…

BREAKING: A Major Overhaul Today at MichaelMoore.com

Friends,

A few minutes ago I launched my new “non-website” website at MichaelMoore.com. Check it out! I’ve decided to dispense with the traditional website design and content and instead make it more personal by communicating with you from now on entirely through social media via FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblr and YouTube. And instead of you having to visit each of those sites separately, you can now read all of my feeds right here, on one page: MichaelMoore.com.

I’ll also have some standard stuff — links to news you might have missed, film and book recommendations, a FAQ, postings and pix from my daily walks, and a cool piece of video each day that I’ve stumbled upon.

The fact of the matter is that over the past few years I’ve come to rely mainly on Twitter and Facebook to post ideas, information and calls to action. I’ve also started submitting things on Instagram. I am a Baby Boomer, so none of this was easy! But once I got the hang of it, I loved it. I saw what amazing vehicles these things are in reaching millions of people — instantly. Before the invention of the web, there was no way for us to do an end-run around the powers-that-be if we wanted to have a national discussion on anything. If you didn’t own a newspaper, run a TV network or movie studio, or if you weren’t a book publisher, ideas transmitted to your fellow citizens had to be FILTERED by these gatekeepers. Just about the only way we could share our thoughts with the general public was to write a letter to the editor — and hope “they” would publish it.

Let’s be clear: Those in charge must rue the day the idea of social media was born. In one fell swoop it eliminated the need for the middle man: them. We could now talk to each other — and to the larger public — without permission or censorship or control. How dangerous is that?! If I uncover some wrongdoing — or have an idea that would shake the powerful at their core — I could instantly tell millions about it on Twitter or Facebook. No wonder the NSA is monitoring all of us. It’s scared the bejesus out of them! The only thing I wonder about now is how long this little experiment is going to last. Let’s make it for good.

So, starting now, check out my “all social media, all the time” comments and postings at MichaelMoore.com. Go there daily if you can. You can also post your comments, re-tweet something I’ve tweeted, or share a cool link with me that I can then share with millions. (Although you don’t personally need to join Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, I highly encourage you to do so.)

This is a new way to do a website. Every word I write on Twitter and Facebook is mine. I don’t have someone writing these things up for me — all posts you read are conceived and typed by yours truly. I have no website staff. I charge no one to use this. I refuse to allow ads on my site or to make money on it in any way. There are no investors and no outside money funding this. All costs come out of my pocket and no one reimburses me. How can I afford that? Because you’ve bought millions of copies of my books and millions of tickets to my films. So YOU paid for this. I thank you for that — and now I want you to use what you paid for!

Go check it out now. Let me know what you think. And come see me everyday! Some of it is even funny.

Yours,
Michael Moore
@MMFlint
MichaelMoore.com


P.S. Huge props to Robert Lenz and Matthew Govaere at Knicknack for this new concept and design — these guys are great. And many thanks to the two people who ran my website over the past ten years — Jonathan Schwarz and Eric Weinrib. They’ll still be part of this as I will be posting the great new work they’re now doing — Eric’s making a documentary, and Jonathan has been hired by one of the coolest web launches about to happen (more to be disclosed later!). I’m already feeling lonely. Somebody please tweet me a cat video.

Francis Richard Moore (August 23, 1921 – April 19, 2014)

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FRANCIS RICHARD MOORE, 92, of FLINT/DAVISON, MI

Passed away on Saturday, April 19, 2014, in Escondido, CA

He was Frank to all who knew and loved him, and there were many. Born on August 23, 1921, in a working class neighborhood on the east side of Flint, the son of Herbert R. Moore and Mary ‘Molly’ (Connors) Moore. Both sides of the family originally came from Ireland — the last to arrive being his grandfather, William Connors and grandmother Mary (Hogan) Connors, both of whom hailed from County Cork. The entire family was not only proud of being Irish, they were also grateful for its gifts of humor, Catholicism and music (though not necessarily in that order). Frank’s father, Herb (1891-1970), was a Marine Corps. veteran of World War I and a printing pressman by trade. His mother, Molly (1891-1987), in addition to giving birth to their seven children, worked as a laundry maid, a clerk, and a “Rosie the Riveter” assembly line factory worker during the second world war. The Great Depression had a major impact on the family, as it did for most of the families on the east side. Frank’s brother-in-law, Lavern, was a participant in the Great Flint Sit Down Strike of 1936-37 which launched the United Auto Workers union. Frank was the fourth of seven children and was baptized and educated at St. Mary’s Parish in Flint. He was a member of the St. Mary’s High School 1939 Class C State Championship basketball team – and he and his team were inducted into the Greater Flint Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. He also played football and baseball for St. Mary’s, and once faced the legendary Hal Newhouser, getting St. Mary’s only hit off him.

Frank enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942, became a member of the 1st Marine Corps Division, and was on the front lines throughout the most brutal battles of the South Pacific in World War II. After the war, he attended General Motors Institute on the G.I. Bill and worked for 35 years as assembly line worker at General Motors’ AC Spark Plug Division in Flint. He was a proud union member of UAW Local 651 and appreciated all that the union made possible for him and his family. Needless to say, it saddened him to see this way of life he and others fought so hard for taken away from the generations that came after him.

In 1950, Frank married Veronica Wall of Davison. They made their home in Davison where they raised a family of three children.  They were active members of St. John’s Catholic Church in Davison where, throughout the 1950s, Frank was the school’s football coach and in the 1960s was a cook at the weekly Friday Fish Fry. He was also a member of the St. Vincent DePaul Society where he worked with other men to assist the poor of the parish. He attended daily Mass at St. John’s and was much-beloved by parishioners who appreciated his good humor and kindness. He also, until he was 90, went each day to the parish gym to work out. He was most recently overjoyed with the selection of the new pope, Pope Francis I (and it didn’t hurt that the pope had chosen the name ”Francis” after his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi!). His faith was a cornerstone of his life and he lived by the golden rule, encouraging his children to “do good” for others. Frank and Veronica were married for 52 years until her passing in 2002. Frank was most proud of his children and grandchildren and their accomplishments, and he cherished who they were and the many, many years he had with them. They also loved him dearly and will never forget what he meant to them.

Frank’s fondest memories of Flint were going with his brothers to the Saturday night dances at the IMA, playing basketball and baseball for AC Spark Plug in the City League, working for Roosevelt’s WPA and the CCC, voting for his first time for Franklin Roosevelt, and being with his good friends Gene Rozyla and Bud Hillebrand. He also loved his adopted home of Davison, including the people he had morning coffee with at Archie’s, the guys he played golf with at Brookwood, and the parades that would pass by his house on Main Street. He liked meeting John Glenn, Mickey Rooney and Justin Verlander, walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards and at the Cannes Film Festival and watching Michigan and Michigan State make it to the Elite 8 in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Frank was proud of his country, but he also fiercely believed in peace. “Anyone” he would say, “who has seen war first-hand would not want to ever start one.” He supported those who worked for “the common man” and the “common good,” and he was thrilled to vote in the historic presidential election of 2008. On his 90th birthday, Frank moved near his daughter Veronica in California (he never expressed any regret at missing out on our exceptional Michigan winters). To the end, he greeted everyone each day with a smile, and he had simple hope that all would be well for the world. Those of us who loved him promised him that we would carry on with that hope – and him – in our hearts.

Frank is survived and missed by his son, Michael Moore of Traverse City and New York City; his daughter Anne Moore and son-in-law John Hardesty of Nevada City, CA; daughter Veronica Moore and son-in-law Rock Martineau of Escondido, CA; his grandchildren, Natalie Rose (husband Jon Irvin), Kelsey Binder (fiancé Joe Brazell), Leah Binder, and Molly Hardesty-Moore; his brother William Moore; his nieces Patricia (Heffernan) Simons, Kathy West, Kitty Wicklund, Pat Moore, Joanie Moore-Coudding, Mollie Koziorowski, Marijo Rosevear, Sandra Ducharme, Linda Keenum and Mary Ann Kidd; nephews Kelly Moore, Joe Doherty, Neil Doherty, Tom Doherty, Terry Doherty, Tom Wall and Bill Wall; many cousins, great-nieces and great-nephews; and his close friends Gene and Bud. Preceding Frank in death was his wife, Veronica; his dear brothers Lornie (killed in WWII) and Herbie; his beloved sisters Lura, Mary and Marjie; his parents Herb and Molly; and numerous other relatives he’s certain are with St. Patrick and the rest of the Irish in heaven.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated 11 AM Friday, April 25, 2014 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 404 N. Dayton St., Davison; Rev. Fr. Andrew A. Czajkowski celebrant. All are welcome. Burial will follow in St. John Catholic Cemetery, Davison. Visitation will be 2-4 and 6-8 PM Thursday at Allen Funeral Home, 9136 Davison Rd., Davison. There will be one hour of visitation prior to the Mass on Friday at the church. A Wake and Rosary will be held at 7 PM Thursday at the funeral home. Contributions may be made in Frank’s memory to Veterans for Peace Chapter 160 (assisting victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam) and the Flint Crossover Downtown Ministries (a progressive group providing aid to Flint’s poor).

Please share your thoughts with the family at Allen Funeral Home.

If Henry Ford Could Pay a $15 Minimum Wage 100 Years Ago, So Can We

In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama is going to call for a national minimum wage of $10.10. Then in their response the Republicans will say that’d be a huge disaster that would make the Washington Monument fall over, Mt. Rushmore explode, etc. But here’s what neither Obama or the GOP will tell you:

One hundred years ago this month Henry Ford began paying his workers a minimum of $15 an hour! (It was $5 for an eight hour day – which would be worth $116.48 now.) That’s right – in a much poorer America, one without TV, radio, phones or House of Cards on demand, Ford could afford it. In fact, Ford later said, he couldn’t afford not to: “The owner, the employees, and the buying public are all one and the same, and unless an industry can so manage itself as to keep wages high and prices low it destroys itself, for otherwise it limits the number of its customers. One’s own employees ought to be one’s own best customers.”

Tell THAT to anyone who says we can’t afford a minimum wage of $15 here in 2014 – 100 years later, in a country about eight times as rich per person. The CEOs will scream and weep now just like they did then, and just like then they’ll be wrong. Not only would it not destroy American businesses, it might be the only thing that can save them.

(To learn more about the national movement to raise the minimum wage to $15, check out 15 Now, led by Seattle’s new socialist city councilwoman Kshama Sawant; support Fast Food Forward; and follow Nick Hanauer, who was one of the first investors in Amazon and says that America’s real job creators are middle class workers.)

One of Ezra Klein’s Last Wonkblog Posts Made an Unwonky Mistake About My Obamacare Op-Ed

My New Year’s Day op-ed in the New York Times seems to have kickstarted a discussion about how to make Obamacare better. I hope you can read it if you haven’t already and get involved.

But it also attracted criticism from, surprisingly, the otherwise very smart and very cool Ezra Klein, who created the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. (He’s now leaving to create something on his own.)

Ezra wanted everyone to hear about 'What Liberals get wrong about healthcare':

Michael Moore greeted the introduction of Obamacare with an admission many liberals will cheer. “Obamacare is awful,” he wrote.

Its awfulness, Moore said, stems from “one fatal flaw: The Affordable Care Act is a pro-insurance-industry plan implemented by a president who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go.”

Like Moore, I’d prefer a more nationalized health-care system. But his analysis relies on a common mistake that distorts both the benefits of single-payer systems and the deficiencies peculiar to Obamacare…the problem with the Affordable Care Act isn’t the insurance industry. In fact, the main benefits of nationalized health care can be achieved in systems with hundreds, even thousands, of for-profit insurers…

Most countries rely on many, many insurers…It’s health-care providers – not insurers – who have too much power in the U.S. system [but politicians] routinely rail against for-profit insurers…

I read that line — “the problem isn’t the insurance industry” — and I wondered, is that true? Are there great universal healthcare programs in tons of other countries where insurance companies are – as under Obamacare – free to make a profit on basic health insurance? Have I been wrong about this for all these years (here’s a piece I did on universal health care on NBC’s TV Nation, some 20 years ago)?

Let’s ask the Washington Post:

…foreign health insurance plans exist only to pay people’s medical bills, not to make a profit. The United States is the only developed country that lets insurance companies profit from basic health coverage.

That’s by T.R. Reid, a longtime Post reporter who wrote a whole book about how other countries have created universal healthcare, called The Healing of America. In it he lists several “standard building blocks” they all use. They’re so important that Reid writes them in all caps. For instance:

NONPROFIT FINANCING

Another basic building block in the health care systems of every wealthy country – except the United States – is the principle that financing health care must be a nonprofit endeavor.

Why does this matter? Because what Ezra’s really worried about is how much doctors and hospitals charge Americans, which is part of what makes our healthcare system by far the most expensive on earth. What we need, he says, is for insurance companies to be more powerful so they can hold down costs.

But as T.R. Reid explains, you can’t make that happen when the insurance companies are run for-profit:

In the U.S., when Aetna or WellPoint declines to pay for a drug or a procedure, the money saved goes to enhance the insurer’s profit, not to pay for another person’s treatment. So people are less willing to tolerate cost controls.

And Ezra – what about that other thing you said – that other countries have “hundreds, even thousands” of companies providing insurance in other countries? It’s true that in nations like Japan, Germany or Switzerland they have insurance providers – except they’re NOTHING like corporations as we think of them in the U.S. It’s not just that they’re not making any profit for shareholders, they’re so heavily regulated that they’re essentially a group of public utilities welded into one system. Here’s what Reid says about them:

Japan has 3,000 payers. Germany has 220 payers. Switzerland has 70. But in many ways, the systems in these countries act like single payers…

So that’s why I said in the Times that single payer is the way to go.

After all this, you might be wondering what made me want to read The Healing of America in the first place. What caught my eye was this glowing blurb: “Extremely good, and extremely readable. It is the clearest and most useful contribution to the ongoing health care debate that I’ve read.”

Who wrote that blurb? Ezra Klein. I agree with him that the book is extremely good and extremely readable, but I think Ezra’s wrong about having read it.

P.S. In fairness to Ezra, it’s not quite true that NO countries let for-profit companies provide basic health insurance. One does: the Dutch. They decided they wanted to be like us, so in 2006 they changed their healthcare system. And now, all of a sudden, just four big corporations control almost everything.

Thank You, Library of Congress: ‘Roger & Me’ to Be Added to National Film Registry

This morning it was announced by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Boardthat my first film, ‘Roger & Me’, has been placed on the National Film Registry — the official list of films that are, according to an act of Congress, to be preserved and protected for all time because of their “cultural and historical significance” to the art of cinema.

It is, to say the least, a huge honor that for me ranks right up there with the Oscar and the Palme d’Or at Cannes. The National Film Registry is a slightly rarefied list of movies in the history of cinema. Of the tens of thousands of films that have been made since the 1890s, only 600 are on the preservation list. Today, in addition to ‘Roger & Me’, the films that were announced selection to the preservation list include ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Forbidden Planet’, ‘The Quiet Man’, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and ‘Judgment at Nuremberg’.

These films, plus ‘Roger & Me’ now join ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘The Graduate’, ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and a host of other classics that make up the National Film Registry.

The news comes at just the right moment for ‘Roger & Me’. The upcoming year, 2014, is the 25th anniversary of the film’s debut. But last year I learned that there was not a single print of ‘Roger & Me’ in existence. Anywhere. I was stunned. I had received a call from the New York Film Festival asking if I knew where they could find a 35mm copy of the film. They were told there were no usable prints in North America — all of them had been damaged or destroyed or had faded in color. How could the largest grossing documentary of all time in 1989 just have vanished? Poof. Gone. And if this could happen to ‘Roger & Me’, what kind of shape are other films — especially documentaries — in?

I called up the good people of Warner Bros. to help me fix the problem — and they did. In the end ten new prints were made and are now being donated to archival vaults at UCLA, the Motion Picture Academy, the Museum of Modern Art and the George Eastman House.   

But now, with the protection offered by the Library of Congress, ‘Roger & Me’ will be in good hands and around for a long time to come.

You should know that there is a serious film preservation crisis afoot and I’ve volunteered to help do something about it. I often hear of other films whose prints are all gone. I have personally paid to have new prints made for a number of films (‘Hair’ by Milos Forman, an old Roy Rogers classic, etc.) where not a single print exists. I have donated them to one of the above archival houses and I plan to keep doing this for other movies (Next up: Dalton Trumbo’s ‘Johnny Got His Gun’).

As for ‘Roger & Me’, if you haven’t seen it, check it out on iTunes or Amazon or (for a few hours for free) here. This movie, as most of you know, was my first chapter in a series of eight films that, in part, explore (often satirically) the crazy stupid thing we call “capitalism” — a never-ending quest by the wealthy to take as much as they can, while leaving the crumbs for everyone else to fight over. Today, according to the polls, more young people say they favor the ideals of socialism over capitalism. I hope to God I played a small role in making that happen, and I look forward to the day when the rich are forced to share the wealth created by their employees. It will happen. In our lifetime.

I thank the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board for this honor. And I encourage all of you to watch my film, a film that, sadly, is every bit as relevant today as when I made it 25 years ago.

I hope all of you are well and enjoying this holiday season. There is much work to do in 2014!

A Masterpiece — “12 Years a Slave” — Opens Today at the State Theatre in Traverse City, Michigan

Click here for this week’s full schedule for the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan.

The day has arrived. For two months I have eagerly awaited the day when we could dim the lights at the State Theatre, flip the switch on the Barco 4K, and project onto our screen the best film I’ve seen so far this year. It’s called “12 Years a Slave,” and saying it’s the best thing I’ve seen this year doesn’t really do it justice. Because this masterpiece of a movie will, years from now, be on many film lovers’ lists of their best films of all time. Yes, it’s not only that good, it’s that important, that necessary, that brilliant.

This past summer, the theme of the 9th annual Traverse City Film Festival was “One Great Movie Can Change You.” My friends, you are about to experience one of those films. You are about to see a movie the likes of which you have never seen before. I know that’s a bold statement to make, but I’m confident you will not disagree with me as you exit the State, stunned, after two hours and ten minutes of experiencing a masterwork of cinema.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it is best that you experience it fresh and first-hand. But I do want to make a few comments about this profound movie and the larger impact I believe it will have beyond its mere exhibition in movie theaters across America.

Stop and think about how few movies have been made about American slavery. Seeing that it is such a huge part of our history, you’d think that there would be many, many stories to tell. Sure, there was the TV show “Roots,” but other than “Amistad” and “Django Unchained,” there has been an obvious and deafening silence when it comes to this shameful part of our past.

So it fell to a group of foreigners — a British director and two UK actors, a German actor, an actress from Kenya — to tell OUR story. You can look at that and say, “Now that’s pretty pathetic,” or you can see “12 Years a Slave” for what it is — a gift, a true gift to us, from our friends from afar. Or perhaps it is a searing request of us — to no longer turn away from who we are and how we got here. To not sugar coat it. To not tsk-tsk it and offer platitudes of “yes, we were wrong, but that wasn’t us, that was those people who lived back then. We’re different. We elected a black man president!” Never mind that we got here by building the world’s greatest economy on the backs of slaves, and maintaining — to this very day — privileges that white people still carry. Why do African Americans remain, still, 150 years later, on the absolute bottom rung of the economic ladder? Probably just bad luck, huh?

But I’m not suggesting that you come see “12 Years a Slave” to listen to a sermon or take your medicine. The people who made this movie have no interest in that. They’re not interested in teaching you a lesson or having you sit through an after-school special. No, they want to show you that this wonderful art form can still produce, to borrow a phrase, heartbreaking works of staggering genius. Art that can both entertain and leave you so moved, so engaged, that the world cannot help but be a little better place once you have witnessed it.

We are proud to be able to present the premiere of northern Michigan’s exclusive run of “12 Years a Slave.” Small “markets” such as ours will not be getting this film for weeks to come. But we have it beginning today — and I look forward to seeing it with you at the State.

P.S. Do not stay away from this movie because you may think it’ll be “too hard to take.” You will not be paralyzed by this movie; rather, you’ll be moved in those ways you wish would happen more often at the movies. And whoever you take to it will never stop thanking you. As for kids, I’d say most tweens and teens not only can handle it, I sorta see it as our civic and cultural duty as adults to bring them to it. Yes, there are intense scenes of man’s inhumanity to man. Watching that is a small price to pay if it means that when it’s over, you leave knowing that there’s a historical reason why your kids in Traverse City can pick up some iced tea and Skittles on the way home, and actually make it home.

Plus, Brad Pitt’s in it.