Thursday, October 29, 2009

A new Cass Corridor zine?

Posted on Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Cover of the October-November 2009 Cass Rag, drawn by "Elle." HEARD OF THE underground publishing explosion? You know, the one that began in the late 1960s and churned out tens of thousands of passionate, self-made, low- and no-budget publications for a generation? The scene hit its zenith around the...

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Astro Boy

Beautifully animated robot flick offers laughs, class war issues and combat explosives

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

A note of caution: Astroboy kills a kid in its first reel. It’s as bloodless a scene as you can get, but the fact remains: A child dies. And that’s about the most original moment in this beautifully animated, moderately entertaining robot adventure. Mixing Eastern and Western animation styles to Tezuka Osamu’s 1950s manga (and the ’60s cartoon series that begat modern anime), this Astroboy reboot assembles its repurposed parts to emulate the styles of both Pixar and Hayao Miyazaki — which are not bad examples to follow. Nevertheless, for all its vitality, competence and craft, the film rarely surprises, relying on tried and true narrative ticks. It also helps that the film’s vocal talent, including Eugene Levy, Kirsten Bell, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy and Samuel Jackson, is all first-rate, bringing life to otherwise predictable characters. Similarly impressive are the vigorous atomic age visuals and cartoon kinetics, which, at their best, capture the ecstatic joy of flight or the explosive impact of superhero combat. —Jeff Meyers

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A handsome, dull and utterly banal Amelia Earhart biography

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Amelia is a handsome, dull and utterly banal biography. The shallow, simple-minded script works overtime on its period lingo while skipping such trivialities as character, drama, thematic focus or historic context. Even its Depression-era setting is reduced to a car window shots of artfully composed bread lines while Amelia pines, “Why have I been so lucky?” Suffering acknowledged. Let’s move on.

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Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

Horror plays out like an action thrill-ride that that would bomb as an SNL sketch

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Hollywood is committed to adapting tween lit involving wizards or vampires, regardless of quality, popularity or even sanity. Based on the allegedly popular Cirque du Freak books, which no one older than 16 has ever heard of, Vampire’s Assistant serves as sort of anti-Twilight, more concerned with the pure wish-fulfillment kicks of supernatural powers than the romance of forbidden and eternal love. Aimed at young guys, the film dabbles in satire and gross-out creepiness, really wants to be an action thrill-ride, yet plays like a bad sketch in the last half hour of SNL.

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Hair lippin'

Chris Rock rocks a new doc on black tresses that’ll raise your dander

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

When Rock’s 4-year-old daughter Lola asks: “Daddy, why don’t I have good hair?” the comedian is both floored and intrigued. What is it about the business and culture of black hair that inspires so many women (and some men) to endure torturous treatments in order to look more “European” (i.e. white)? Good Hair is Rock’s informative, scattered and always-entertaining attempt to answer that question. Traveling the globe and combing through the billion-dollar black hair industry, the comedian examines the complex and potentially volatile topic in his typically glib fashion.

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Laila’s Birthday

A pathos-rich tale of a cabbie in occupied Ramallah navigating daily treachery

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Abu Laila (Mohamed Bakri) is a decent, if uptight man. A former judge, he has been forced to drive a taxi for his brother-in-law to make ends meet. While he never loses faith that one day he’ll return to his job at the Ministry of Justice, this film offers a front seat tour of Abu Laila’s day, one filled with endless frustrations and annoyances, Masharawi takes the pulse of a city struggling under occupancy and chaotic self-rule. Abu Laila, who can barely contain his outrage and exasperation, falls victim to the casual absurdities of Ramallah’s malfunctioning society, where something as simple as turning a lost cell phone into the police can result in hours of bureaucratic detention. The eccentric, tragic or hapless passengers who stumble into his cab — thwarting his attempts to buy a birthday present for his young daughter, Laila — are equally vexing. An old woman can’t decide whether to visit the cemetery or hospital first. A jovial man with a machine gun mocks Abu Laila for refusing him service. A cop pulls the cabbie over then offers to buy his cab. Life, in all its turmoil, folly, pettiness and surprising decency, imposes itself on this man who desires only order and civility.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Tune into WDET now for a Local Moth Spotlight!

Posted on Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 11:45 AM

As part of their pledge drive, WDET produced a special Moth Radio Hour comprised of performances recorded during the Moth StorySlam, which premiered in Detroit on Thursday, October 1st at Cliff Bell's. It starts at noon and you can listen here. StorySlams go down the first Thursday of the month...

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Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 11:12 AM

We lost a true Detroit legend yesterday when Soupy Sales died in a Bronx hospice after years of declining health at the age of 83. Sales -- who was born Milton Supman in Franklinton, North Carolina -- was years ahead of his time in that he delivered a children's show...

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Off the shelf

A smart adult kid movie shows us lessons beyond the detached hipsterisms of its filmmakers

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Lyrical, beautifully shot and filled with poetic flights of fancy, Where the Wild Things Are starts with a Cassavetes-like honesty before exploding into a fantastical exploration of how children desperately and capriciously try to define their world. It’s a mature, melancholic approach to Sendak’s 1963 work that may not add to Warner Brothers’ riches but it certainly can to yours.

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More Than a Game

LeBron James doc is an incurious and narcissistic puff piece

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 12:00 AM

This slick 90-minute promo film — tarted up to resemble a doc — for Nike’s crown jewel overflows with energy, style and a great soundtrack, but shows zero insight and honesty. It’s a puff piece, an oddly dull tale of James bonding with his childhood pals and teammates from the gritty streets of Akron, Ohio, to the mountaintop of basketball immortality. The story draws obvious parallels to Hoop Dreams and For the Love of the Game, superior sports docs that showed the agonies and triumphs of athletes who gave all, but here the drama is questionable because important details are missing, and the outcome is never uncertain.

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