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Issue of 4/16/2008

Cover Story:

Tales of the tape
by Rebecca Mazzei
War zones, shipwrecks and romance caught on cassette

Blasts & epiphanies
by James Henry
A personal account of war and salvation


Blasts & epiphanies by James Henry
A personal account of war and salvation

Buckets of melody by W. Kim Heron
Jewels and Binoculars are steeped in jazz — and Dylan

Declaration of independence by Chris Handyside
Detroit guitar virtuoso Nick Schillace invents his own rustic musical language

Home girl by Cole Haddon
Detroiter Kristen Bell gets all film-star ironic

Poetic spirit by Andrew S. Klein
M.L. Liebler celebrates a new book around town.

R.I.P., Chuck by Corey Hall
Charlton Heston, my favorite conservative S.O.B.

Sister act by Detroitblogger John
Mom-and-pop bakery is all in the family

Tragedy and litigation by Sandra Svoboda
1997 crash left Wings star, staffer disabled; lawsuit goes to trial here later this month


Comics (Comics)

Couch Trip by Metro Times film writers (Couch Trip)
Gangster greats, horror fakes and Delon aches

Food Stuff by Metro Times food staff (Food Stuff)
Full plates for local foodies.

Sweet and upscale by Jeff Broder (Grilled)
Douglas Cale's chocolate-dipped café.

Letters to the Editor by Metro Times staff (Letters to the Editor)

Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout by Jeffrey Morgan (Media Blackout)
Why comics creator Kirby is king of the canon

Motor City Cribs by Doug Coombe (Motor City Cribs and Rides)
Mick Bassett wants to hang your doodles in his digs

Honored by Metro Times staff (News Hits)
MT wins three citations from SPJ

The goose-steppers by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Biggest U.S. neo-Nazi group sets up shop in Detroit.

Night and Day by Meghana Keshavan (Night and Day)

Fraser's gambit by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
Eulogizing a great labor leader.

Mama said by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
An interlude of classic Savage columns.



Controversy - Various Artists Reviewed by Hobey Echlin (Record)

The Odd Couple - Gnarls Barkley Reviewed by Marisa Brown (Record)

Mountain Battles - The Breeders Reviewed by Rob O'Connor (Record)

It's a Shame About Ray (Collector's Edition) - Lemonheads Reviewed by Rob O'Connor (Record)


Street Kings Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Keanu Reeves' latest turn as a vigilante cop in Street Kings has him channeling Clint Eastwood circa ’73: Cop Tom Ludlow is a clever mix of pokerfaced violence and wide-eyed sincerity; he’s simultaneously a babe in the woods and an unstoppable killing machine. Too bad director this flick from David Ayer (wrote Training Day, directed Harsh Times) isn’t nearly as smart. Working off a story by James Ellroy, Street Kings’ tale of corrupt, violent, greedy L.A. cops is effectively cynical but amounts to little more than a season of The Shield compacted into two hours. And no matter how hard Keanu tries (and he doesn’t try that much) he ain’t no Vic Mackey.

The Grand Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Following in the footsteps of Best in Show, director Zak Penn's ad-libbed send-up of Vegas-style poker championships manages to land a few good laughs but ultimately suffers in comparison. Even with with a quirky cast that includes everybody from Woody Harrelson to Werner Herzog, the film never attains the heights of Guest’s improvisational humor. It’s not that The Grand isn’t filled with some great comic conceits — David Cross playing in a burqa or psyching out his opponents by stalking the table like a jungle cat are highlights — but the ideas sound funnier than they are. Execution is everything and Penn hasn’t mastered Guest’s understated deadpan approach or impeccable timing. Many jokes try too hard and go on too long. Worse, Penn doesn’t know how to pull everyone into the same comic universe, so the tone’s haphazard and uneven. Despite his noble improvisational intentions, The Grand ends up being 30 minutes of great individual material surrounded by a lot of misfires.

Last Year at Marienbad Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
A man known only as “X” (Giorgio Albertazzi), approaches a married woman called “A” (Delphine Seyrig) at a mammoth, opulent resort, insisting that they met the year before, possibly at Marienbad, where she promised to run away with him. She denies it and rebuffs him, though not strongly enough to really turn him away, and he keeps pursuing her, through mirrored corridors and across vast manicured gardens. This simple story gets retold over and over, with constantly shifting details, locales and timelines, never resolving, a meandering dreamscape of false memories and aborted desires.

Smart People Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
When misanthropic college lit professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) suffers a seizure, he’s stripped of his driver’s license for six months and agrees to take in his unreliable (but not uncaring) adopted brother Chuck (Thomas Haden Church) to help out. Since the death of his wife, Lawrence’s overachieving teenage daughter (Ellen Page) has stepped in as house-mom to the extreme detriment of her social life. So, Chuck tries to loosen her up a bit (with uncomfortable results), while Lawrence tries to court a former student (Sarah Jessica Parker), who became a physician after his scathing criticisms of her work drove her away from literature. Somewhere on the periphery is a college-aged son (Ashton Holmes) who both Lawrence and the film cruelly neglect. Though writer Poirier clearly knows how to create engaging three-dimensional characters, he has much to learn about storytelling. Scene for scene, there’s plenty to admire here, yet little adds up. Still, this is a fittingly smart movie that makes the point that intelligence has little to do with self-awareness or happiness.

Flight of the Red Balloon Reviewed by Serena Donadoni (Movie)
Creating an effective homage is a tricky thing, but Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao Hsien has found the right balance of reverence and independence in Flight of the Red Balloon. There are constant echoes of Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon throughout Hou’s meditative interpretation, including sequences that capture the whimsy of the 1956 original, which follows a solitary boy who befriends a willful, self-propelled balloon. Hou focuses on an inquisitive child beholding the chaotic world of adults. Simon (Simon Iteanu) is remarkably self-possessed for a 7-year-old, particularly when compared to his volatile mother Suzanne (Juliette Binoche), whose life is as frazzled and unruly as her brittle blond bob. So when Suzanne hires Taiwanese film student Song (Song Fang) as Simon’s new nanny, it’s as much in admiration of her cinematic output as her gentle, caring manner.


Lebanese Grill Reviewed by Mel Small (Restaurant)
This informal, bare-tabled restaurant, can seat as many as 200. The menu is encyclopedic, beginning with 40 appetizers (mezza) and salads that average around $7 for substantial shareable portions. A combination mezza platter for two, which goes for $27.45, will satisfy four people yearning for hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, labne, grape leaves, falafel, fried kibbeh and vegetables. Deciding on soup or salad is an easy choice compared to determining what to order from among 50 dinner entrées. One way to handle that problem is to go for a combo, again recognizing that what is advertised as serving two can please four. That is the case with the house combo of shish kebab, shish tawook, shish kafta, and meat and chicken shawarma nestled in an enormous portion of rice ($25.95) or the even more elaborate Lebanese sampler featuring hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, shish kafta, tawook, grape leaves, falafel and chicken and meat shawarma ($35.50). As is the case in most Middle Eastern restaurants, at least half of the dishes on the menu are vegetarian-friendly. Soon to be enhanced with an array of Lebanese varietals, the short wine list is reasonably priced, with a full carafe of the house pour going for $16.50. The desserts, rice pudding, cream [cq] caramel, baklava, and oshta, a sweet white pudding covered with fruit and honey, can be washed down with a pot of robust Arabic coffee.