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  • Issue of
  • Mar 26 - Apr 1, 2008
  • Vol. 28, No. 24

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Steal a Pencil for Me

    There are illicit love affairs and then there’s Jack and Ina. Michèle Ohayon’s Steal a Pencil for Me kicks things off with the now-elderly Jack quipping, “I’m a very special holocaust survivor. I was in the camps with my wife and my girlfriend; and believe me, it wasn’t easy.” The comment pretty much sets the stage for Jack and Ina’s incredible story, unfortunately told in a less-than-remarkable film. Director Ohayon reduces Jack and Ina’s tale to romantic melodrama, filling her documentary with schmaltzy music, gauzy montages and embarrassingly bad voiceovers of their love letters. The documentary’s best moments come when the now-elderly lovers recount their traumatic experiences. You can’t help but wish that Ohayon had taken her cue from candid moments like these and delved deeper — that she had the courage to confront this inspirational couple’s pain and suffering as well as to honor their storybook romance.
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  • The Scene
  • Drillbit Taylor

    The idea of a screenplay co-written by Seth Rogen that focuses on three hapless high school kids may promise Superbad-style laughs, but dredging up the same three teenage archetypes that inhabited Superbad, the boys in this movie are trying to get revenge on two relentless bullies. They hire Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), who’s supposed to be in the Special Forces, but’s really just a homeless Army deserter. Their protector is, of course, just pulling one over on them. Disappointingly, the primary conflict here isn’t between the kids and the bullies, but between the boys’ faith in Drillbit and his duplicity.
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  • The Scene
  • Shutter

    This remake of a Thai horror flick is the story of newlyweds Ben and Jane Shaw (Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor), who move to Japan for Ben’s new photography job, but on their honeymoon accidentally hit a woman (Megumi Okina) with their car. She subsequently appears in many of Ben’s photos and proceeds to haunt the couple relentlessly. For all its imperfections, Shutter does one thing undoubtedly well: It scares the crap out of you.
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  • The Scene
  • Snow Angels

    We’ve all heard this downer story before: A small town, seemingly nice guy loses control of his marriage, becomes estranged from his wife, grows increasingly angry (and religious) and ends committing a murder-suicide. This could be a gripping drama, but, executed as it is, you have to wonder what in the world would attract a first-rate cast like Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale and Amy Sedaris to a disjointed and shallow rehash of domestic tragedies we see in countless news stories. Faithfully translated from Stewart O’Nan’s novel, each character, so carefully drawn by the talented cast, is only able to scratch the surface, leaving the darker undercurrents of their behavior wholly unexplored. The supporting cast is good. Amy Sedaris shines as Annie’s betrayed friend Barb, injecting every scene with lived-in humor and energy. Even better are Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby (Juno) as a pair of awkward teens in a budding romance. But, ultimately, Snow Angels disappoints because writer-director David Gordon Green has the talent to pull you along but doesn’t know where to take you.
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  • The Scene
  • The Counterfeiters

    Stefan Ruzowitzky’s slick thriller is a “Holocaust” film in name only. Based on a true story but undeniably gussied up for the screen, The Counterfeiters charts the survival tactics of Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a Jewish criminal-turned-concentration camp inmate, whose counterfeiting talents spare him the gas chambers. As a character study, the film plays like a Semitic version of 1965’s King Rat, showing us a compelling but unsympathetic protagonist forced into an impossible situation. But as a treatise on survivor ethics, Ruzowitzky’s movie is sketchy at best, simplifying its moral drama to melodramatic plot turns and trading in countless cinematic clichés. All told, The Counterfeiters is much less than the sum of its best parts.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Moving in

    In warm weather, a large, covered outdoor dining area allows outside dining. The bar serves beer, wine, juice and smoothies. For the harder stuff, examine the small but diverse wine selection and three Michigan craft brews. Salads and veggie-intensive appetizers fill a good portion of the menu. There are even a few unique pita pizzas. As with most Mediterranean cuisines, Lebanese is considered to be a very balanced, healthy diet. If meat is your thing, you can easily fill up with kebabs or shawarma. Lamb is prominent in the form of chops, shanks and kibbeh, a mixture of ground lamb and cracked wheat that can be ordered baked or raw. Of course, there are also a couple fish dishes. The ideal sampler is Anita’s “mixed mezza” — for $30 you get a plate of hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush and crunchy pickled vegetables with a touch of heat and a few other plates. Comes in a vegetarian version for $24. For an fine finish to a meal, order a pot of Turkish coffee and a tender, not-too-sweet piece of baklava. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Child friendly. No smoking.
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