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  • Issue of
  • Sep 6-12, 2006
  • Vol. 26, No. 47

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • The Quiet

    This suburban psychological thriller is yet another variation on the really dysfunctional family genre made popular after American Beauty became a surprise hit in 1999. It takes place in a world where all the moms are doped up on prescription painkillers, the dads are incestuous monsters with no apparent source of employment and teenage girls have fouler mouths than porn stars. The jam-packed storyline revolves around Dot (Camilla Belle), a mute girl taken in by her godparents in the wake of her single father’s death. The upper-middle class Deers are more screwed-up than a family in a Tennessee Williams play: Mom Olivia (Edie Falco) is a near-comatose emotional wreck, daughter Nina (Elisha Cuthbert) is a vindictive cheerleader and dad Paul (Martin Donovan) is a lecherous creep. When Dot enters the picture, the family members — and others at school — begin using her a sort of surrogate confessional, admitting their darkest secrets to her, and when Nina reveals her plan to kill her evil dad. In the end, the film is redeemed only by dialogue so bad, it’s awesome. If only the film were a little less pretentious, it could’ve been an unintentional laugh riot, a Valley of the Dolls for Generation Y.
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  • The Scene
  • Factotum

    Bent Hamer’s Factotum is based on the novel by Charles Bukowski, starring Matt Dillon as Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s literary alter-ego, a lowlife alcoholic who’s beyond recovery or redemption. His passions in life encompass not only drinking and smoking but also writing, which allows him to maintain a modicum of idealism and dignity. Ruddy-faced and sporting a few extra pounds, Dillon shuffles and slurs his way through the film like a man who’s unconcerned with social expectations and unapologetic about his addictions. Still, he gives Chinaski surprising moments of poise and grace. Equally impressive is Lili Taylor as Jan, Henry’s on-again, off-again alcoholic lover. Factotum does a great job of capturing the author’s vulgar style and rebellious spirit. Hamer's offhand, no-frills approach complements Henry’s dismal, dreamlike shamble through life, without ever crossing the line into pathos.
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  • The Scene
  • Trust the Man

    Ah, just what the world needed: yet another pseudo indie-flick about neurotic, affluent thirtysomething Manhattanites who whine endlessly about their crumbling relationships while dining at posh downtown eateries, another entry in the irritating trend of filmmakers making pale tributes to Woody Allen’s glory days. The negligible storyline follows a pair of couples through the thicket of monogamous malaise as they struggle to keep the home fires burning while pursuing high profile media careers. The cast is full of attractive and talented actors who do their best to make their characters marginally likable, even as their crippling self-absorption becomes more unbearable with every passing minute. It’s always evident that beneath it all, these people are perfectly suited to blissfully annoy the shit out of each other as long as they live.
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  • The Scene
  • Crossover

    Though this new clumsily underground b-ball drama is set in the D, and actually filmed here, it has little more to offer than a rare chance to peek inside the abandoned husk of the old train station without dodging cops or hobo urine. Crossover is strictly amateurish from top to bottom, with bad acting, bad writing, bad direction and even bad lighting. Director Preston A. Whitmore II is only concerned with making the hoops scenes flashy, overloading them with slo-mo dunks and spastic editing. The clice plot follows street ballers Tech (Anthony Mackie) and Noah Cruise (Wesley Jonathan) as they grapple with issues of loyalty, family and fame. When they’re not trash-talking and slam-dunking, Cruise secretly wants to go to medical school, and Tech toys with the idea of going pro. Among the implausible pills we’re asked to swallow: Squeaky clean comedian Wayne Brady plays a sleazy sports agent and gambler, and Cruise, who can barely handle the English language, is up for an academic scholarship. The movie is not only technically incompetent but hypocritical, preaching a pro-education message while indulging in the glitzy rap video lifestyle it’s supposedly against.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Turning Pointe

    Just about everything at City Kitchen merits praise. One might quibble a bit about the price of the appetizers, but not their quality. The individual pizzas, baked in a wood-fired oven, are well worth a try, and the generously proportioned mains, most of which are priced in the low 20s, include fire-roasted Lake Superior whitefish, halibut with garlic spinach, beet coulis and whipped potatoes, pecan-crusted pickerel adorned with dried apples and cherry butter, and pan-seared sea scallops that come with those welcome oven-dried tomatoes and a mushroom risotto. Salmon, shrimp, perch, swordfish, and fish and chips, most of which are served with creative pairings of vegetables and starch, are among other maritime offerings. The wine list contains many good values for less than $30, and desserts include a tangy and smooth Key lime pie and a warm chocolaty truffle cake.
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