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  • Issue of
  • Apr 23-29, 2008
  • Vol. 28, No. 28

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Chicago 10

    Watching Brett Morgen’s Chicago 10, one can’t help but long for the days when American citizens actually believed that political activism mattered. For those familiar with the unrest that surrounded the 1968 Democratic Convention, Chicago 10 is both slippery and superficial, ignoring much of the period’s historical context and putting the focus on history as performance. Taking a sensationalistic approach, Chicago 10 narrows the focus to on-the-street confrontations between protesters and police, then juxtaposes them with the ensuing show trial where protest leaders Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner and Bobby Seale were hauled before doddering U.S. District Court Judge Julius Hoffman and made into scapegoats. What makes Chicago 10 so groundbreaking (and divisive), is Morgen’s decision to re-create the carnival-like atmosphere of the trial from transcripts by using computer animated stand-ins voiced by Hollywood actors. Unfortunately, the motion-capture animation is barely a cut above computer-game technology from 10 years ago. The character stand-ins are cartoonishly awkward and inexpressive, sometimes undermining important moments in the trial. If for nothing else, Chicago 10 should be praised for breaking from documentary convention to present a more immediate and energetic take on the humor and outrage of the ’60s. The movie is blissfully free of talking-head interviews, predictable period music and somber narration. It’s also absent a depth of perspective or intellectual heft. Still, as a chronicle of that day, it serves as an inspiration to reject the “official” narrative of our nation and protest for change. Of course, that’s assuming anyone under 40 actually sees the movie.
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  • The Scene
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall

    Star and writer milks humor out of emotional nudity and flaccid manhood, both metaphoric and real. This is Segel’s first crack at a leading role, and to prove his commitment to the craft he drops his towel and plays the opening scene in the buff, as his Peter Bretter, a shlubby TV composer, gets abruptly dumped by his famous actress girlfriend, the titular gal played by Huntington Woods native Kristen Bell. His response is to sulk around the house, until his acerbic stepbrother (Bill Hader) goads him into booking a soothing vacation in Hawaii. In fine sitcom fashion, he books a room in the same plush resort that Sarah and her British rocker boy-toy are holed up in. The hotel’s staff quickly takes pity on Peter. Particularly concerned is the very comely Rachel (a glowing Mila Kunis) who sneaks him into a super-deluxe suite, and invites him to beachside parties. Of course, our main sad sack can’t see the hottie for the palm trees, and keeps droning on about his lost love in the most pathetic, needy, bleary-eyed display in recent movie memory, which turns out to be pretty damn amusing, if repetitive.
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  • The Scene
  • Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?

    The genial Morgan Spurlock conveys a savvy intelligence and aw-shucks guilelessness, and his ability to be simultaneously calculating and sincere distinguishes him from other filmmakers who put themselves at the center of documentaries. In this, his latest fusion of the personal and political, Spurlock is prompted by impending fatherhood to find the $25-million-dollar man, thereby making a scary world safer for his new child. He studies Arabic, familiarizes himself with Islamic and cultural rituals, takes security courses, and jets off to Egypt, Morocco, Israel and the West Bank, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and, finally, Afghanistan and Pakistan. With his own particular brand of relentless naïveté, he conducts man-on-the-street interviews throughout the Middle East, and also seeks out journalists, politicians, clerics, activists, soldiers, businessmen, students and average citizens for sit-down conversations. Spurlock’s lighthearted tone often clashes with his serious intent. It seems as though, his time, the talented filmmaker has bitten off more than he can chew.
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  • The Scene
  • Baby Mama

    When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were named the first female anchor team on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update,” they became the news. Written and directed by their SNL colleague, Michael McCullers, Baby Mama is tailor-made to their strengths and sensibilities. The comic personas of this odd-couple mesh perfectly with their characters: The uptight Fey, with her tendency to over-think everything and say too much, is the driven, self-sacrificing vice president of a good-for-you grocery chain; and the quicksilver Poehler, with her reckless physicality and whip-smart delivery, is the more-capable-than-she-appears, white trash opportunist with a heart of gold.
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  • The Scene
  • Beaufort

    The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers guarding Beaufort in southern Lebanon could just as easily be on a remote outpost of some post-apocalyptic landscape. Writer-director Joseph Cedar directs this taut script by Ron Leshem following an IDF unit’s final days at Beaufort. As eternal as their duty may seem, they’re actually short-timers: It’s 2000, and Israel is planning to pull out of Beaufort, which they’ve held since 1982. Liraz (Oshri Cohen), the stubborn and volatile officer in charge, expresses frustration at the bureaucratic delays and political machinations that keep his men in harm’s way as Hezbollah forces increases the frequency and severity of their attacks. But when it comes to the members of his unit (Liraz calls his soldiers “kids,” even though he’s only 22), he has to maintain morale until the final evacuation order.
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  • The Scene
  • The Forbidden Kingdom

    Watching any Jackie Chan and Jet Li spar is fascinating. Unfortunately, the lazily connected elements and dangling plot points will keep the many viewers amused but perplexed. Michael Angarano is Jason, a dweeby Boston kid whose Bruce Lee obsession is supported by the kindly elderly antiques dealer (Chan). Enter the bullies who make Jason a punching bag and devise a plan to rob the old man. Violence ensues, and, faster than you can say Last Action Hero, our boy grabs an enchanted golden staff and is transported into a fairy tale version of ancient China. There, he can set things right by returning the staff to its rightful owner. Confused? We are too.
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  • The Scene
  • The First Saturday in May

    The Kentucky Derby is often described as “the most exciting two minutes in sport.” But, stretched to fill out a 90-minute documentary, it starts to feel like a long slog across a muddy track. First-time filmmakers John and Brad Hennegan set out to chronicle the hype, hoopla, foolishness and escalating tensions leading up to the 2006 contest, but ended up trapped by the race’s epic result and tragic aftermath. And, yes, that means Barbaro, the most beloved equine icon since Mr. Ed, whose heroic victory and shocking mortal injury a few weeks later at the Preakness, captivated the nation. Yet, the fate of Barbaro casts a long shadow over the movie until the inevitable funeral march to the end.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Asian influences

    As the only pan-Asian restaurant downtown, the target customer is American, resulting in not-too-exotic versions of Asian dishes, or Asian versions of Western dishes, or Western dishes using ingredients with Asian names, that will please intended customers. The food is inspired by Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Filipino cuisine, but aimed right at middle America.
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Music

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