Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Car Wash Café owner dead at 56

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 12:52 PM

To those who knew him, Larry Meeks was more than a businessman running Harbor Town Garage off Jefferson Avenue. He was a charming, generous man with big dreams, which included his unusual Kar Wash Kafé on Meldrum Street. Meeks, who died April 29, of a heart attack at 56, used...

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Babies

Either the best YouTube video ever or the cinematic equivalent of birth control

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Presented like an old-school nature flick, the film bounces between the grasslands of Namibia, the high-rises of Tokyo, the steppes of Mongolia, and the gentrified neighborhoods of San Francisco without narration, analysis or interview, letting his HD images tease out the similarities and differences of first- and third-world tots. There’s African Ponijao, who seems to live in a world without men. Raised by an extended matriarchy, the bold little tyke is a quick study, alert to the world and eager to develop. Bayarjargal, on the other hand, steals the spotlight while suffering countless indignities in his rural Mongolian home. The child of herders, he’s harassed by a rooster, prodded by a curious older brother, and in constant competition with all manner of farm animals. Pay careful attention as helicopter parents in the audience wince and gasp at the long list of domestic health code violations these two babes thrive under.

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Shellhead's back!

And nearly finishes himself off in blockbuster sequel

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:00 AM

The first Iron Man was memorable and fun, a movie that surprised critics, audiences and studios with its energy and wit. Iron Man 2, in contrast, evaporates as soon as your expectations for clanking fisticuffs, wry asides and ear-splitting explosions are met. Despite its shortcomings, however, Iron Man 2 remains a cheeky blast of confidence and charisma. Robert Downey, Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke are clearly having a ball, and Favreau keeps things fleet-footed and fun. While there isn’t nearly as much combat as you’d expect — most of it is quick and chaotic — there’s enough to keep the fanboys happy. It’s also interesting (and heartening) to note that the sequel once again indicts the military-industrial complex as a vehicle for unfettered avarice and greed rather than peace and protection. Unfortunately, it never develops those ideas or arguments into anything more than cartoon villainy.

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Exit Through the Gift Shop

Either a postmodernist critique of mainstream art or the cheekiest promo flick ever made

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Thierry Guetta is a vintage clothing store owner in L.A. who obsessively chronicles his life on handheld video. Or so we’re told. Shooting his graffiti artist cousin Invader (who creates Space Invader-themed mosaics), the portly little Frenchman is introduced to a string of guerrilla artists and stencilers before befriending Shepard Fairey (of Obama poster fame) and, eventually, Banksy. He’s granted full access to these night-time subversives under the pretense that he’s putting together a documentary. But this is revealed to be a lie. Guetta has no talent or vision, just an endless archive he is unable to assemble into a coherent film. Eventually Banksy decides to take control of the footage and turn it into a watchable chronicle of his artistic subculture. Guetta, on the other hand, resolves to make some street art of his own, dubbing himself Mr. Brainwash. The artist becomes a filmmaker and the filmmaker becomes an artist. The only problem with this is that Guetta has no skill, gift or insight. His creations are dreck, sub-Warholian imitations and fifth generation rip-offs of other street artists. Worse, Guetta hires others to create his pieces for him. But the Frenchman does have a knack for shameless self-promotion, and ends up turning Mr. Brainwash into an art-celeb.

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Blood, sweat and jeers

When the Sheik of anarchy ruled

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:00 AM

The Lansing-born son of Lebanese immigrants, Edward Farhat crafted the in-the-ring persona of an aristocratic Syrian Sheik, complete with a prayer rug, curved boots and a vicious rule-breaking brand of sadism that drove the fans wild … with anger. A rude brawler, The Sheik preferred hitting opponents with chairs, blinding them with flashes of fire or jabbing them in the forehead with tapped up pencils, until they gushed blood. He took on all comers, but his signature feud was with eternal foe Bobo Brazil, an African-American grappler as beloved as the Sheik was despised, and their battles for the U.S. Championship belt were always huge draws. This documentary was made by super-fan Mark Nowotarski, who includes rare stills and videos he shot himself, alongside ample archive material. While Farhat’s talent and accomplishments are certainly worth touting, some of the superlatives heaped on him are borderline embarrassing.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

MT Exclusive: Banksy leaves a rat in Warren and a diamond in Detroit

Posted By on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Through a friend of a friend of a friend at the Ghostly Intl. imprint, Metro Times has come to acquire proof of a recent visit to Detroit from none other than Banksy, one of the world's most intruiging artistic figures. A bit on Bansky: The annonymous nightstalker is said to...

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Welcome to your nightmare

You’d think Jackie Earle Haley as pedophile Freddy would kill. Oh, hardly.

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 12:00 AM

This sleek, scaled down “re-imagining” strips away the camp, and attempts to restore his Freddy as a fearsome, child-molesting demon — but drained of wit, he’s an unpleasant dude. Creepy (and great) Jackie Earle Haley ably slips into Robert Englund’s striped red sweater, though his new improved makeup makes him look a bit like a frog left too long in the microwave. The update wades hip-deep into the murky mythology of the older flicks, with a more prominent backstory about a pedophile preschool groundskeeper (Freddy) who’s burned to a crisp in an abandoned factory by a mob of angry parents. For obscure reasons only hinted at, Freddy returns as a malevolent specter, invading the dreams of his now-teenaged victims, to continue the cycle of abuse. Those grown-up kids are an understandably brooding lot, due to the repressed memories their vigilante parents have worked so hard to cover up. When those bad dreams literally come back to haunt them, it takes several of their friends getting sliced and diced into high school sashimi before the lead goth couple wakes up and begins to fight back at the head ghoul. Meh, wake me when it's over.

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The Little Traitor

Treacly love-thy-enemy yarn in a historically remarkable place and time

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Based on the Amos Oz novel, director Lynn Roth’s film is the same treacly love-thy-enemy story you’ve seen a hundred times before, set in a potentially fascinating time and place: Palestine in 1947. Unfortunately, after an interesting setup, with Port and his pals preparing to become freedom fighter — their plan to build a nail bomb is surprisingly unsettling — Dunlop’s appearance signals a cascade of clichés to which you can set your watch.

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School's out

A gritty Detroit school doc filled with hard truths and some promise

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Our School is a stark, unvarnished look into the classrooms of three Detroit high schools, each facing unpredictable challenges in an incredibly volatile environment. As the city shrinks and the tax base erodes, no branch of Detroit’s civic body politic has suffered more, with more 80,000 pupils lost in little more than a decade. The centerpiece here is proud, crumbling Mackenzie High School, chugging along toward certain doom, targeted on a school board hit list of closures. (The school closed in 2007). Its hallways are lined with trophy cases larded with relics of the school and the city’s, faded glory — though there are still hints of greatness. While much of the student body has already surrendered, there are many who refuse to give in, vainly fighting to raise money or gain attention, fearful of being farmed out to some other building or even another district. The defiance and spark in these kids is paired with the brave resignation on the face of the principal, who knows he’s only bailing buckets of water from a swiftly sinking ship. The Mackenzie faculty never buckles, whether dealing with endless security searches or the ancient infrastructure, where even a working pencil sharpener is a commodity.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

IMMEDIATE-AREA ARCHITECTURE BUSTED

Posted on Mon, May 3, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Words written on a smoke break by grumpy proofreader Dennis Shea: Standing at the entrance to the Metro Times office, four styles of architecture clang like a millennium bell before you. The Greektown casino and hotel are actually attractive blue vertical blurs. The Blue Cross building and the Monroe Street...

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