Browse by Year

  • Issue of
  • Feb 21-27, 2007
  • Vol. 27, No. 19

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Revolucion: Five Visions

    Documentary filmmaker and Michigan native Nicole Cattell’s timely rendering of five Cuban photographers is a poignant examination of what Cuba was and is 48 years after the revolution. From true-believers to and exiled surrealist, Cattell’s interweaving personal narratives paint a complex portrait of political and artistic expression. Not surprisingly, the film’s most interesting subjects are also the most conflicted in their feelings about Cuba.
  • Tags: ,
  • The Scene
  • Ghost Rider

    It’s tricky stuff adapting comic books to the screen. Writer-director Mark Steven Johnson made his first stab at the genre with Ben Affleck’s "Daredevil." Maligned by many critics, it really wasn’t that bad of a film. In this flick, Cage plays an Evel Knievel-style stunt rider who once sold his soul to Mephistopheles (a wildly miscast Peter Fonda) to cure his father of cancer. Bound to do the devil’s bidding as the Ghost Rider — a flaming skeleton on a pimped-out motorcycle — he hunts down and destroys renegade demons from hell. A weird mix of clunky video-game action, stupid humor and jumbled origin myth, Johnson’s script leaves no cliche unturned. He never settles on a consistent tone, bouncing between horror and camp, failing miserably at both. The movie is silly and stupid, and Cage’s wacky character additions (a fondness for jelly beans and Karen Carpenter) don’t help the situation.
  • Tags: ,
  • The Scene
  • Iraq in Fragments

    "You have to study the Iraqis to know them," says an old man taking a pull off a hookah about halfway through the new documentary Iraq in Fragments, right as an artillery shell sounds in the distance. "It’s impossible to change us with the barrel of a tank." Made over the course of three years in the U.S.-occupied country, director James Longley’s Oscar-nominated film suggests that we’ve got a lot of studying left to do. This isn’t one of those incendiary docs that popped up in the wake of Fahrenheit 9/11. Iraq in Fragments is far more measured, contemplative and atmospheric than the foaming-at-the-mouth lefty agitprop — however right some of it may be — that has pervaded the national discourse in the past two years or so. Like the best fictional filmmakers, Longley knows that by keeping his focus small, he can say much more about a nation’s conflicts — both with themselves and with their unwanted "liberators" — than he ever could by recording a bunch of talking heads making sweeping pronouncements.
  • Tags: ,
  • The Scene
  • Grim glitterati

    Every year it’s pretty much the same: Celebs grit their teeth and applaud for nominees they’ve never heard of and films they’ve never seen while members of the home audience take a bathroom break. A tradition since 1932, short subject films are the red-headed stepkids of the Oscars. When these awards — now divided into live action and animated categories — are given out on Sunday night, you and all but a handful of people at the Kodak Theater will be clueless about who deserved to win. With advent of YouTube, iFilm, Atomfilms and hundreds of other Web-based video sources, you’d think that short film nominees would have a built-in network of fans. Unfortunately, these Oscar contenders are all but hidden from public view, their releases tightly controlled and limited at best. If it seems bizarre that the Academy asks you to applaud anonymous work, you’re not alone. Can you imagine the TV ratings if the feature film categories were handled in the same way? The time has come for the Academy to require every nominated film to be widely accessible to general audiences. Until then, film fans will have to rely on institutions like the Detroit Film Theatre, which will be running the 2007 nominees for short live action and animated films.
  • Tags: ,
  • The Scene
  • Breaking and Entering

    Building on his work in "Closer," Law plays Will, another well-heeled Londoner with everything going for him, save an ability to appreciate his many gifts. He’s an architect with a lovely flat, and he has a stunning live-in girlfriend (Robin Wright Penn) and a talented stepdaughter who adore him, but just can’t seem to communicate or break through their lingering melancholy. Along with twitchy partner Sandy (Martin Freeman), Will is working on the gentrification of London’s shabby King’s Cross section, a multi-ethnic melting pot ready to boil over with crime, poverty and an influx of illegal immigrants. Some of these newcomers have taken to stealing the firm’s computers, then waiting to break in when the replacements arrive. Instead of just hiring security, Will conducts his own overnight stakeouts, and follows acrobatic young burglar Miro (Ravi Gavron) back to the grim council tenement where he lives with his gorgeous Bosnian mother Amira (Julliette Binoche). She is, of course, exotic, mysterious and sensual in a way that he’s not used to, and shortly they are embroiled in a complicated affair. In his first unadapted script in years, writer-director Anthony Minghella tries to be bold and challenging but comes off a bit arch and distant, with characters more fragile then an antique tea service. The actors are uniformly good, but they are locked into a rarified atmosphere that leaves scenes lifeless and stolid.
  • Tags: ,
  • The Scene
  • Breach

    From the opening frame, "Breach" is all business. It’s a thriller as brisk, economical and keenly honed as its central character. Robert Hanssen is a buttoned-down professional, a pious catholic, devoted family man and one of the most infamous espionage traitors in U.S. history. Hanssen spent 25 years as one of the FBI’s leading Soviet analysts, and for most of those years he was selling vital secrets to the very enemy he was monitoring. Chris Cooper absolutely shreds the screen as Hanssen, and, much as Ethan Hawke did with Denzel in "Training Day," Ryan Phillipe more than holds his own opposite Cooper, as Eric O’Neill, the ambitious but green operative who serves as point man on the bureau’s massive effort to snare Hanssen. The standard-issue spy movie themes of trust, deception, duty and paranoia get a workout here, but in a way that never seems forced or overdramatic, and Ray keeps the picture on an even keel.
  • Tags: ,

Food & Drink

Music

Best Things to Do In Detroit

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.