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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Craptastic!

Bird-brained thriller sets a new standard for zero-budget hilarity

Posted By on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM

A Sundance reject, this flick has become a cult breakout mostly because of its amazing trailer, and the Internet’s bottomless desire to be smugly sarcastic. Making fun of a hopeless nincompoop like first-time director James Ngyuen seems a bit like kicking a puppy, until you consider the unintended consequences of crowds flocking to and laughing their asses off through his dread opus. We’ll only encourage him to do it again. And he’s loving it.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

MT TAKES 6 AWARDS AT SPJ

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 2:26 PM

The Metro Times has received six awards — including top honors in two categories — in an annual contest held by the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Competing against the city’s two major daily papers, MT Arts & Culture Editor Travis R. Wright won first place in...

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Date Night

Steve Carrell and Tina Fey could be the new William Powell and Myrna Loy

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are Phil and Claire Foster, a suburban couple caught in a quotidian time-loop of paperwork, school lunches, soccer practices and tedious book clubs with neighbors. To shake it up, Phil plans a night out at a hip Manhattan eatery, and then poaches a reservation when the wait at the bar seems impossible. That’s a bad call, ’cause armed thugs soon descend on their table looking for “the Tripplehorns,” demanding a USB drive filled with sensitive info. Poor Claire can’t even finish her heavenly risotto before the couple is dodging bullets and running from crooked cops and mobsters, climaxing in a car chase of Blues Brothers proportions. It all makes for a fun night out.

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It's complicated

Hacker meets journo and pleasure meets pain in this complex screen adaptation

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Disgraced after losing a libel trial, middle-aged muckraker Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) teams up with bisexual Goth hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) to solve the disappearance and possible murder of 16-year-old Harriet Vanger some 40 years earlier. Working from a cottage on the Vangers’ island enclave, the two slowly uncover unsavory skeletons in the wealthy family’s closet as they draw closer to solving the mystery. Of course, it involves serial killers, Bible passages and Nazis. (In Europe, it’s always the damn Nazis.)

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Mother

An unnerving and deviously wicked tale of motherly devotion gone awry

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Constructed like a warped retelling of Stella Dallas, the film follows a poor, overprotective mother (Kim Hye-ja) who becomes an implacable and bumbling force of nature when her mentally challenged son is arrested for killing a teenage girl. She doggedly investigates the murder, convinced that he has been railroaded. Confronting her son’s thuggish best friend, a shady defense attorney and the victim’s sordid past, she uncovers a world of troubled and decadent teens — all of which convince her that her darling son is innocent.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

A UNIVERSAL EMOTION

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 1:56 PM

(This memory, written in 2006, is sort of a pre-companion piece to Brian Smith's misery-in-baseball story, "Fly Ball," Metro Times, April 7, 2010.) A young fellow on the bus, light mocha color, bald head shined, creaked open my file of memories. He wore a white knit football jersey. "D. THOMAS"...

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Insane Clown Posse May Be Ignorant Of Science But They've Made A Kick Ass Video About "Miracles"

Posted on Sun, Apr 11, 2010 at 11:45 PM

To enjoy Insane Clown Posse's feature film requires a... shall we say... certain mindset. Not true of their "Miracles" video, however, which is actually pretty damn cool. Favorite lines... "Fed a fish to pelican at San Franciso Bay He tried to eat my cell phone. He ran away." Ah, green...

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Clash of the Titans

A mildly diverting but ultimately unlovable action spectacle

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Up in Olympus, feuding bros Hades and Zeus are once again caught up in a cosmic dick-waving contest over how best to quiet earth’s rabble. Seems its citizens have stopped praying to the gods and are edging toward a full-scale revolt. If Liam Neeson’s gleaming armor doesn’t distract, you’ll learn that Hades plans to scare the mortals to death with his dreaded sea serpent and other nasties, whereas Zeus seeks to inspire faith with the aid of a hero, who just happens to be his half-human son Perseus (Sam Worthington), who was raised by a humble fisherman, unaware of his real parentage. And so begins the adventure, based on the cheesy original from 1981. Of course, any nerd worth his salt keeps a soft spot for that original Greek god showdown because the film was swan song for stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen, a genius who made jittery little puppets into memorably epic beasts. As clumsy as such handmade effects may look today, they had a soul and wit that’s lacking in the new spiffed-up 3-D trickery you’ll see here. More's the pity.

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Queens of noise

Kristen Stewart's Joan Jett is one of many killer riffs that makes The Runaways

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 12:00 AM

The movie even opens with singer Cheri Currie getting her first period, the menstrual blood running down her leg (lots of bodily fluids in this movie, by the way, which may or may not be “symbolic” and a “metaphor” for something). For many tastes, Fanning’s been too precocious as a child star. But while she’s somewhat softer and perhaps cuter than the real Currie was, Fanning is also real good here, making an audience actually care about parts of a story that originated in Neon Angel, Currie’s 1989 autobiography. The Runaways were also the first to come on as tough, oversexed vixens — albeit oversexed vixens who could actually play — much of that image the brainchild of concept Svengali Kim Fowley (portrayed by the scenery-chewing Michael Shannon). But from the Go-Go’s, the Bangles, the Pandoras and the Teenage Love Dolls straight through the whole riot grrl thing and right up to the Donnas and beyond, the Runaways will always be right near the top of the list of influences for all those bands, even if the group wasn’t really all that fantastic from a purely musical standpoint. Still, even as a pure teen flick in pop cultural terms, this certainly works better than something like the dreadful film version of Grease did. And as rock history, there’s actually a lot Sigismondi gets right (or at least better than many such films do), which we appreciate — even if it’s something as simple as getting the RCA logo correct on the David Bowie album when Currie lip-synchs to her favorite rock star’s “Lady Grinning Soul” at a school talent show. The scenes at Rodney’s English Disco are pretty spot-on as well (even if things have been condensed for convenience), right down to the two perfect portrayals of Rodney Bingenheimer by Keir O’Donnell, first as the decadent teen club’s proprietor and then later as an older DJ interviewing the now world-famous Jett on his KROQ radio show. The movie begins to lose steam after the girls hit Japan — where they’re treated like the Beatles — and things start to fall apart. It’s ironic that when Sigismondi’s screenplay finally has a chance to really explore the inner lives and personal turmoil of her two main characters, the film becomes somewhat tedious, although it picks up at the end once Jett has become a rock superstar, ultimately fulfilling the band’s promise and proving they were more than just sex tarts. It could’ve been worse, especially with Carrot Top in the role! Make no mistake about it, though — Stewart and Fanning are the runaway stars here.

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The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

One man’s journey to help end a war and topple Nixon

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Daniel Ellsberg was indeed once the most dangerous man in America — at least he was to those in the political power structure who had supported the Vietnam War and continued to push it at an unspeakable price. As a high-ranking Pentagon analyst, Ellsberg was one of the conflict’s architects, working alongside Defense Secretary Robert McNamara on an escalation strategy more concerned with mathematical efficiency than messy realities. For a long time he was a gung-ho jingoist, a former marine officer, he went so far as to personally lead combat missions as a civilian advisor, charging into the jungle, rifle in hand. Eventually, like most of the rest of the country, he had an epiphany that the war had been a terrible mistake, but he was actually in a position to do something about it. While soaking up the sun at the Rand Corporation, a think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif., Ellsberg was still in the loop, but far out of sight of military brass, and began Xeroxing the thousands of pages of top secret documents he had access to, and began leaking them to the press in 1971. Those mountainous documents, dubbed “The Pentagon Papers” implicated several former presidents who all steered the nation headlong into the Vietnam disaster, through a long streak of mismanagement, lies, blunders and tragic hubris.

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