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  • Issue of
  • Jan 7-13, 2009
  • Vol. 29, No. 13

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Gran Torino

    Here Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a deeply embittered retired Detroit auto worker and recent widower, still clinging to his glory years, as if the scrupulously manicured borders of his Highland Park lawn can keep change at bay. But the neighborhood ain’t what it used to be, his old friends have died off and been replaced by ceaseless waves of strange new immigrants with no notion of the old traditions and rules that govern Walt’s world. His dopey sons are trying to put him in a home, his grandkids are self-centered twerps, about the only thing that hasn’t disappointed him is the pristine 1972 Gran Torino parked in his garage, which the Hmong kid next door (Vee Bang) promptly tries to steal as part of a gang initiation. Instead of pumping lead into the little creep, Walt is coerced into letting Thao make amends by working off his debt and cleaning up the neighborhood. In the process, Walt slowly warms to the kid, and to his witty older sister Sue, and begins letting down his defenses and embracing his new friends. But the gang bangers won’t let Thao or Sue go so easily and soon enough the old soldier is brandishing his Korean war vintage rifle and forcing punks off his lawn like an old-man Dirty Harry. It’s a hoot watching Clint grumble and grouse his way to enlightenment, even as he spits out a dictionary’s worth of arcane racial slurs and stereotypes. Too often this leads to uncomfortable laughs, which don’t feel earned but stolen. Walt’s a cranky old coot, but his bigotry seems more a matter of habit, from a jocular time when everybody was a Polack or a Mick, simply as a sense of identity. It’s also a kick seeing him dismiss a pushy young priest (Christopher Carley) as an “overeducated 27-year-old virgin,” but it’s a shame he didn’t cast better actors to bounce these zingers off of.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • Inspired choices

    Owners David Smith and Greg Reyner moved a block, still in prime Royal Oak real estate, and doubled their seating. In the new location, they’re still a breakfast-and-lunch place, open seven days 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., but they’re experimenting with many more specials, usually 10 to 15 that change every four or five days.
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