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  • Issue of
  • Apr 6-12, 2005
  • Vol. 25, No. 25

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Old Boy

    Oldboy 3 1/2 stars This Korean film is a ferociously violent and compellingly twisted re-imagining of The Count of Monte Cristo. Kidnapped and locked away for 15 years by mysterious captors, an unassuming businessman is suddenly and inexplicably released. Left with nothing but a hunger for revenge, he sets out to find who imprisoned him and why. What he doesn’t realize is that his adversary’s diabolical plan is just beginning. Oldboy contains so much emotional intensity and brutal velocity that it’s hard not to get caught up in its convoluted maze of revenge, punishment, and karmic retribution.
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  • The Scene
  • The Ballad of Jack and Rose

    The Ballad of Jack And Rose 2 1/2 stars This latest intensely personal drama from director Rebecca Miller (daughter of playwright Arthur Miller) mixes heavy-handed metaphor with moments of true beauty and sorrow; it boasts beautifully rendered performances from the cast, but the script is pretentious and muddled. Daniel Day-Lewis is an ailing father, living with his 16-year-old daughter Rose on a hippie commune. When he invites his girlfriend and her children to come live with them, things backfire as Rose acts out. There are some interesting and worthwhile ideas about misguided idealism and emotional separation, but it’s undermined with clunky metaphors and an overly contrived plot. Perhaps Miller could learn a thing or two from her father.
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  • The Scene
  • Up and Down

    Up and Down 3 1/2 stars This Czech film from has separate and complicated stories that touch at certain points, in a manner that emphasizes randomness and the fact nothing is really under anyone’s control. The first details a couple’s adoption of a black market baby, the second shows a man who returns home to his tumultuous family after 20 years. It’s an uneven but sadly funny film that at its best moments harkens back to the mid ’60s golden age of the Czech cinema where this sort of funky social satire briefly flourished before the inevitable Soviet clampdown.
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  • The Scene
  • Melinda and Melinda

    Melinda and Melinda 2 stars Continuing his downward spiral into mediocrity, Woody Allen offers up an intriguing premise that falls flat in its execution. Two intertwining stories examine how a single set of circumstances can become comedy or tragedy. Unfortunately, the comedy isn’t very funny and the tragedy plays like a second-rate Neil LaBute play. Allen attracts yet another impressive cast then gives nothing interesting to do. This time, Will Ferrell is Woody’s stand-in, desperately fluttering his hands and stammering Allen’s trademark self-deprecating remarks. He does a fine job, but it’s a poor use of his formidable talents. The film is further proof that Allen’s best work is far behind him.
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  • The Scene
  • Game Over

    Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine 3 stars This documentary examines the famous bouts between Russian chess master Garry Kasparov and the IBM computer Deep Blue. It explores what happens when a man’s intelligence, tinctured with emotion, encounters a machine that seems capable of effectively imitating those qualities that we’ve always thought of as being uniquely human. The film’s biased revelation is bogus, because an unbeatable man is just as remarkable, if not more, as an unbeatable machine.
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  • The Scene
  • Off the Map

    Off the Map 3 1/2 stars Based on the play by the same name, Off The Map is a loving character study of the Grodens, a family living off the grid in Taos, New Mexico, in the ’70s. Superbly directed by Campbell Scott, the story is told through the eyes of the precocious 12-year-old daughter Bo (Valentina de Angelis), as she recalls the summer of father Charley’s (Sam Elliot) inexplicable and crippling depression and the strange arrival of an IRS agent who comes to stay with the family and never leaves. The film’s weaknesses, mostly with regard to the script, occasionally undermine the spell — but Scott has created something special with this poignant and intimate film.
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  • The Scene
  • My Beautiful Mari

    My Beautiful Girl, Mari 3 stars This Korean animated film is a mostly low-key and bittersweet story of childhood fears and fantasies. 12-year-old Namoo takes refuge in a fantasyland in the sky inhabited by a giant dog and an elusive sprite named Mari. Although it may sound like kiddie fare, the depiction of adolescent awkwardness is astute, and the visuals are subtle and playful, a combination of realism and Asian kitsch. Mari works best as a colorful mood piece, capturing that time in one’s life when it may seem as though anything’s possible. And though it’s a slight story, it does manage to conjure a lingering sadness.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Nothing bottled here but the wine

    With fresh ingredients and plenty of imports from the old country, the Barbieri family is attempting to re-create an Italian café in Grosse Pointe with Café Nini, the latest restaurant to bear the name Da Edoardo. They have Mokarabia coffee, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma and mortadella with pistachios — all that’s lacking is a glass of wine to sip with the panini. The menu is soups, salads and sandwiches, plus an easy-to-fathom, affordable list of coffees.
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