Support Local Journalism. Donate to Detroit Metro Times.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mongol

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM

The scenery is magnificent, the battles impressive and Japanese film star Tadanobu Asano is ferocious and sympathetic in equal doses as the young Khan. As a grand glimpse into a bygone time, well, they just don’t make ’em like this anymore. Unfortunately, as an insightful or illuminating examination of what makes a world-class conqueror, Mongol, unfortunately, falls woefully short. In direct challenge to the myth of unrelenting savagery that hangs over Ghengis Khan. At age 9, young Temudgin draws the short end of the stick. His father suffers an untimely death and the boy who would be Khan (Odnyam Odsuren) is forced into hiding when a family rival seizes the “throne” and vows to execute him once he reaches puberty. This sets off an endless series of captures and escapes that follow Temudgin well into young adulthood. Luckily, Temudgin is buddies with a warlord named Jamukha (the charismatic Chinese actor Honglei Sun) and betrothed to the beautiful, feisty Borte (Mongolian newcomer Khulan Chuluun). When a rival tribe kidnaps Borte, he finally has a reason to violently express all those years of suffering, and Mongol kicks into high gear. There are battles and betrayals and spirit quests and endless wells of devotion to test the young Khan before the film’s final massive battle that crowns him top dog.

Continue reading »

Roman de Gare

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM

The film’s title’s the French equivalent to “airport novel,” those pulpy potboilers you devour between connecting flights and trips to the bathroom. And so we are quickly introduced to a trio of stories that may or may not be connected. The first concerns famous novelist Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardant), who, while celebrating the critical success of her latest and greatest work of fiction, is taken into police custody for murder. The second focuses on a neurotic Parisian hairdresser named Huguette (the lovely Audrey Dana) who’s left stranded at a gas station after a vicious argument with her fiance. There she meets a mysterious fellow (Dominique Pinon) who tries to cheer her up with magic tricks. He offers her a ride and the two become entwined in unexpected ways. The third’s the story of a woman searching for her missing husband who falls in love with the detective on her case. Overshadowing all three tales is news that “The Magician,” a notorious serial killer known for charming young women with magic tricks before murdering them, has escaped from prison. As far as setups go, Roman de Gare is as good as it gets, drawing you in and toying with your suspicions. All it’s missing is the one necessary ingredient to turn his clever-for-cleverness’-sake film into a true classic: sadism.

Continue reading »

Get Smart

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Steve Carell has adopted the role of Maxwell Smart, created by the late Don Adams, a dimwitted intelligence officer whose confidence exceeds his abilities. Max works for the hyper-secret agency CONTROL, forever at war with the global criminal empire of KAOS. Carell has able support from the ageless Alan Arkin as “The Chief” and from the delightfully game Anne Hathaway as Max’s foil Agent 99. It’s certainly not suave, sophisticated entertainment, but, in the manner of its amiably bumbling hero the movie is cheerful and eager to please, if a bit clumsy.

Continue reading »

The Love Guru

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Mike Myers plays a Deepak Chopra devotee wants to use laughter as a path to enlightenment. The mischievous Guru Pitka espouses a pastiche of Eastern religious practices, self-help techniques, New Age aphorisms and pointed wordplay. He’s hired by Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), beleaguered owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, to help star player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) get his mojo back for the Stanley Cup finals against the Los Angeles Kings. In a swift 88 minutes, The Love Guru alternately skewers and embraces its sacred cows. Justin Timberlake’s a well-endowed, dim-bulb goalie from Quebec and Ben Kingsley’s impish, cross-eyed Indian guru are great comic foils, and Verne Troyer’s Coach Cherkov is the punchy voice of reason. But Pitka isn’t nearly as inspirational as Myers believes him to be.

Continue reading »

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Spoofing both the Cold War mindset and the spy movies it spawned, the French film OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is a cinematic bonbon with a crunchy nut at its center. Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, aka Agent 117 in the Office of Strategic Services, is part James Bond, part Maxwell Smart, arrogant and inept, capable and clumsy, magnetic and charmless. Actor Jean Dujardin even looks like a cross between Sean Connery and Don Adams, and he hits just the right note of irreverent verisimilitude for this witty update of novelist Jean Bruce’s suave serial hero (who first appeared in 1949). Hazanavicius and screenwriter Jean-François Halin play these characteristics for laughs not by heightening them, but simply letting Bonisseur display his Gallic imperturbability and innate sense of superiority. (He passes out pictures of French President René Coty in lieu of tips.) The colonial empire is beginning to crumble, and this super spy can’t see beyond the tip of his own nose.

Continue reading »

Distaff riffin'

Chicks learn the power behind the chords at Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM

As exhilarating, complicated, and nervy as the girls it portrays, Shane King and Arne Johnson’s documentary about the Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls packs so much into 90 minutes it’s easy to forget that it only covers five days in the lives of its subjects. But those days are immensely significant for the girls and teens who attend the Portland, Oregon camp where music is the vehicle for driving home vital lessons in confidence, assertiveness, and determination. The directors focus on four girls whose only common trait is their social outsider status. At RnRC4G, they’re thrust into a community that offers unwavering encouragement, but also requires wholehearted participation. Their reactions aren’t always sweet or nice, but that’s an important part of the story the filmmakers don’t shy away from.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bigger Stronger Faster*

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

The public debate over the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports has been reduced to a simple equation: steroids are cheating, and cheating is wrong. Not only wrong, but un-American. In the insightful, mind-altering documentary Bigger Stronger Faster (The Side Effects of Being American), Christopher Bell shows there’s a lot more to this story than what’s been reported in the mainstream media and discussed during Congressional hearings.

Continue reading »

The Animation Show

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Not to be confused with Spike and Mike’s endless spool of fart jokes, violence and misogyny, Mike Judge ("King of the Hill," "Office Space") curates this fourth anthology of traveling animated shorts gathered from around the world, light in tone and comic in spirit. The program runs the gamut from Grant Orchard’s Atari-meets-Jackson Pollock "Lovesport: Paintballing" to Steve Dildarian’s "Angry Unpaid Hooker," from Matthew Walker’s very British "John & Karen" to Satosho Tomioka’s criminal bunnies, which are as creepy and cute as only Japanese animation can be. After nearly two-dozen shorts, the program wraps up with Smith & Foulkes’ wonderfully choreographed computer-animated "This Way Up," a gothic, stylized short that has Oscar-nominee written all over it. Whatever your taste, you’re never more than seven minutes from the next selection.

Continue reading »

The Happening

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

M. Night Shyamalan’s long slide into filmmaking irrelevance picks up speed with The Happening, a poorly titled, apocalyptic horror misfire. Mark Wahlberg plays high school science teacher Elliot Moore. John Leguizamo is Julian, his best friend and fellow math teacher. Neither has much personality, but they sure do talk about “science” and “math” a lot. When people start committing mass suicide in cities all across the Northeast, Elliot and his wife, Alma (Zooey Deschanel), go on the run with Julian’s 8-year-old daughter, while Julian tragically goes in search of his spouse. They are all fleeing what, at first, seems to be a terrorist attack but soon turns out to be an environmental event. As the paths to safety become narrower and narrower, the trio find themselves stranded in rural Pennsylvania, clinging to survival while everyone around them either kills themselves or one another. And then it ends. No kidding. The Happening is all setup and no story. It’s sad to say, but an episode of "What’s Happening?" would be a better use of your time.

Continue reading »

Gamma, gamma, hey!

This big green machine smashes the competition

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

In 2003's "Hulk," director Ang Lee favored a dark, analytical approach that made the Hulk an expression of deep childhood trauma. This new version is more about adult anger management, with heavy nods to the beloved late ’70s Bill Bixby TV version. Edward Norton is a superior choice for the part, in which Dr. Banner isn’t simply trying to suppress the beast within, but actively attempting to find a cure. He’s been hiding out in Brazil, with a day job at a soda bottling plant, but a drop of his gamma-tainted blood contaminates the assembly line and tips off the feds, and the chase is on, led by General “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) and gung-ho Lieutenant Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). Banner’s true love, Betty (Liv Tyler), just happens to be Ross’ daughter, natch, and the usual complications ensue, including Blonsky using a dose of Hulk blood to become the very nasty, unstoppable Abomination, just in time for the slam-bang finale. It makes for smashing, if a bit shallow, entertainment.

Continue reading »

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.

© 2020 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation