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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fuck Cleveland! The gauntlet is thrown down.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Frank Lewis, the editor of our sister paper, The Cleveland Scene, sent us links to these two video hits on You Tube, but insisted that we had to watch them both in order, first one and then the other. And we did. And we have three thoughts. Thought No. 1:...

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All icing, no cake

Guess what? There was lots of coke in the 1980s. No, really?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Based on an Ellis short story collection, the film follows a large number of depraved pretty young things doing awful stuff to each other in 1983 Los Angeles, all very loosely orbiting a pair of concerts by a cultish new wave rock band called the Informers. Watching these scaly lizard people bake in the sun has the desensitizing effect of a slow morphine drip, but minus the high. The cast’s stuffed with vet actors who’ve seen better days, like Billy Bob Thornton, Winona Ryder, Kim Basinger. And there’s Mickey Rourke, who’s determined to throw away newfound goodwill by playing a scummy kidnapper cruising in a rusty rapist van.

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Sin Nombre

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

The film tracks the intersecting paths of two young South American teens doing whatever it takes to find some kind of better future, though they approach that destiny in radically different ways. Sayra (Gaitan) is a sweet-natured Venezuelan girl, northward bound on a freight train with her father and uncle, and Willy (Flores), is a clever Latino kid trying hard to make his bones with a huge, lethal gang. Fearsome, face-tattooed leader Lil Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejia) enlists Willy and his even younger protégé to hop the train and rob the hapless travelers. Sayra and Willy soon form a bond, and a sudden moment of violence turns the pair into fugitives, making the race to “El Norte” even more desperate.

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Earth

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

This dazzling tour of troubled ecosystems around the world doesn’t shy away from the daily survival struggles for myriad creatures, from the tiny to the gigantic. This cinematic menagerie includes exotic tropical birds, majestic humpback whales, playful baboons, massive herds of Caribou that stretch to the horizon, as well as those cuddly moneymakers, penguins. James Earl Jones narrates with trademark authority, his deep baritone like the distant rumble of a herd of elephants.

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The Soloist

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

This should’ve been an expansion of journalist Steve Lopez’s insightful populism, but director John Wright fills it with visual excess and artsy detachment. Based on a series of L.A. Times columns and an eventual book, The Soloist is an old-fashioned social drama chronicling the real life relationship that developed between reporter Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a musically gifted but mentally disturbed homeless man. In his younger days, Ayers was a student at Julliard until the voices in his head drove him, first, to his home in Cleveland and eventually to Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Lopez, in search of a good story, stumbled upon Ayers plucking away on a two-string violin and seized the opportunity to turn Nathaniel’s fascinating history into a series of popular columns. But real-life complications soon intruded, and Lopez found himself deep in Nathaniel’s precarious situation, learning that a donated cello and safe apartment would bridge the divide of race, class and psychological illness. Ultimately, The Soloist’s two aces are Downey Jr. and Foxx, whose talents elevate the material far above its worth.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NINE MILES SOUTH OF 8 MILE

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 10:43 AM

Brian Barr: Tom (oil on canvas) Across the Detroit River (over or under, it's your choice), just south of the Motor City, you'll wander around 'til you get to the Art Gallery of Windsor -- 401 Riverside Drive West. Worthy of a trip year round, the current exhibition will...

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

State of Play

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Russell Crowe is Cal McAffrey, the romantic stereotype of a rumpled, hard-drinking, morally flexible but still noble investigative reporter, the one every keyboard news jockey secretly imagines themselves to be. He’s up to his Chee-tos-stained beard in dirt, digging into a mysterious D.C. double homicide that turns into a juicy political scandal when a pretty young congressional aide has a nasty run-in with a speeding Metro train. Trouble is, the dead girl was the lead researcher in an idealistic congressman’s probe of a paramilitary outfit’s Pentagon contracts (Blackwater-style), and she was also his mistress. Congressman (Ben Affleck) is also Cal’s old college buddy who once had a fling with his wife (Robin Wright Penn). Worse, Cal’s forced to share a byline with a motivated but still-green blogger (Rachel McAdams), and squeezed by a (Helen Mirren) boss more concerned with shrinking revenues and impatient corporate owners than with getting the story right.

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Three for the show

Japanese triptych has a lot more going for it than at first meets the eye

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Invited to offer their view of Tokyo, Michel Gondry, Léos Carax and Bong Joon-ho have created a triptych of exaggerated urban alienation and estrangement. First up is Michel Gondry’s “Interior Design,” a surprisingly restrained doodle that follows the rudderless girlfriend (Ayako Fujitani) of an ambitious young filmmaker. Marginalized and friendless, she undergoes a surreal Kafkesque transformation that, at first, horrifies but then satisfies her inability to find her place. The middle and craziest offering is Leos Carax’s “Merde,” a politicized monster movie and tongue-in-cheek spoof. A feral sewer dweller (the unnervingly bizarre Denis Lavant) terrorizes Tokyo’s downtown. Bong Joon-ho finishes with his austere and intense “Shaking Tokyo,” which, despite its more outrageous conceits, focuses on character instead of whimsy. An obsessive shut-in (Teruyuki Kagawa) catches a glimpse of a pizza delivery girl’s garter and falls in love. However, his attempts to re-engage with the outside world seem to cause powerful earthquakes.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

MOCAD DIGS ON POETICS TONIGHT & THURSDAY!

Posted on Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Barrett Watten This is what you're doing tonight: MOCAD, April 15, 7:00 p.m. FREE!!!! Poetry is an oft-overlooked art. It's a bastardized one, too. You hear people liken visual art, even dance, to poetry -- but exactly what are they talking about? Aesthetic quality? The artist's ability to cleverly...

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Observe and Report

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen) heads security at a suburban mall, where a flasher has started terrorizing shoppers in the parking lot. The delusional and likeably creepy mama’s boy sees it as an opportunity to show his law-enforcement skills and land the job of his dreams as a police officer. Even better, Brandi, a vapid makeup counter girl (Anna Farris) is accosted, giving him access to the object of his desire. Unfortunately, the arrival of an arrogant investigating detective (Ray Liotta) spins Ronnie between psychotic competitiveness and sycophantic posturing.

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