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Issue of 9/17/2008


Cover Story:



Wake up the neighborhood
by Rebecca Mazzei
Detroit resources include land and artists. Here's how to use both. Plus: WDET author interview.

Features:

Art of life by Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert
A proposal for a 'power house'

Artful beekeeping by Stephan Orsolini and Erika Mayr
Berliners need you to sponsor sculptural hive

In the city, off the grid by Detroitblogger John
'I had a house ... I don't need all that'

Lost in the ozone again by Bill Holdship
Cheech & Chong reflect on the Motown connection, dope and that Palin chick

Noir town by Daniel Johnson
A Royal Oak institution marks 25 years

Trane kept a-rollin' by Brett Callwood
Powertrane's Scott Morgan and Robert Gillespie have seen it all, but they're not ready to give up the ghost yet

Unshielded by Sandra Svoboda
Reporter's source is sought in terror trial aftermath

The Sarah swindle by Jack Lessenberry
Palin is like a more reckless version of Dubya

Columns:

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

On the Download by Chris Handyside

Comics (Comics)

Couch Trip by Metro Times film writers (Couch Trip)
Max Ophuls' brief, poignant sexual trysts, an oversized ant farm, pirates, terror tongs and death cults

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

Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout by Jeffrey Morgan (Media Blackout)
From Orson Welles to oil wells

Motor City Cribs by Doug Coombe (Motor City Cribs and Rides)
Producer-DJ Aaron-Carl Ragland's Clinton Township ranch home

BMF's hard time by News Hits staff (News Hits)
The Black Mafia Family's Flenory brothers get sentenced

Election spin cycle by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Does state GOP plan to use foreclosure data as a weapon?

Night and Day by Megan O'Neil (Night and Day)

Working out kinks by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
The ins and outs of ball insertion

Reviews:

Music/Books:

Death Magnetic - Metallica Reviewed by Kent Alexander (Record)

Tim / Pleased to Meet Me / Don't Tell a Soul / All Shook Down - The Replacements Reviewed by Bill Holdship (Record)

Feverish Dreams As Told By ... - The Oscillating Fan Club Reviewed by Laura Witkowski (Record)

Movies:

Operation Filmmaker Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
It’s pretty clear that Nina Davenport didn’t set out to make the documentary she ended up with. Operation Filmmaker was to be the triumphant tale of a 25-year-old Iraqi film student plucked from the war zone by benevolent artists and given a chance to fulfill his dreams of becoming a devoted student of cinema. Instead, West Bloomfield native Nina Davenport was pulled into an emotional rollercoaster ride of liberal guilt, American arrogance and personal manipulation as her camera-ready subject reveals himself to be a manipulative and selfish jerk. Inspired by an appearance on an MTV documentary about the bombing of Baghdad’s only film school, actor Liev Schreiber decides to “rescue” aspiring filmmaker Muthana Mohmad by making him a production assistant on his film. Schreiber’s hope was to give the young Iraqi the once-in-a-lifetime experience of working on an American production. Unfortunately, what starts as the portrait of a fresh-faced hopeful quickly turns into a cautionary tale of cross-cultural disconnection. It turns out that Muthana is lazy, self-centered and dishonest. He misses deadlines, reneges on promises, mismanages his money, and repeatedly depends on others to bail him out.

Burn After Reading Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Burn After Reading is a farce, but bleak, casually cruel and existential. John Malkovich is Osborne Cox, a mid-level CIA desk jock forcibly ejected from the endless hallways of bureaucracy. His relative irrelevance is lost on the nitwits at Hardbodies gym, who find a rough draft of Ozzie’s memoir on the locker room floor, and confuse it for major trade secrets. For middle-aged trainer Linda Litzke (the incomparable Frances McDormand), who sees this dossier as the leverage she needs to pay for the extensive lipo and fanny lift she so desperately wants. She enlists her airhead buddy Chad (Brad Pitt) to help her shop the disc to the highest bidder, and they begin poking their noses into places two people this dim should never dare. Meanwhile Ozzie is getting pinched on the home front by his cheating wife Katie (Tilda Swinton), who’s busy getting it on with her Michael Clayton co-star George Clooney, a womanizing federal marshal without a clue, even while dating Linda on the side and getting tailed by mystery men. The supporting cast is equally stocked with great character actors, but the mayhem occasionally turns brutal, and undeserving characters meet nasty ends, which undercuts the comedic flow.

The Women Reviewed by Serena Donadoni (Movie)
What use do we have for a remake of 1939’s "The Women"? Despite the careful updating from writer-director Diane English, there’s something quaintly old-fashioned about this film, the story of beloved society matron Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) discovering that her high-powered husband is having a fling with the sultry Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes), who works at a department store perfume counter. Mary’s tight circle of friends rally around her, with the queen bee of their well-heeled hive, the ferociously opinionated Sylvie Fowler (Annette Bening), taking charge. But when it comes to squeezing these new women into the restrictive mindset of their 1930s grandmothers, English is less than successful. English wants to elevate the conversation about women’s lives using a mass-media form that has become all about the lowest common denominator, and the film becomes a toothless talkfest with too little to say.

In Search of a Midnight Kiss Reviewed by Serena Donadoni (Movie)
Writer-director Alex Holdridge shows a penchant for old-fashioned romanticism that’s at odds with the kind of anonymous hook-ups found via the Internet. Wilson (Scoot McNairy) studiously avoids celebrating New Year’s Eve, rejecting the holiday’s promise to wipe the slate clean and offer a newly optimistic outlook. But a particularly rough year has changed his viewpoint. His roommate, Jacob (Brian Matthew McGuire), suggests posting a “seeking companionship” ad to get Wilson out of his complacent funk. In what used to be known as a “lonelyhearts” ad, Wilson writes “Misanthrope seeks Misanthrope,” and to his surprise, Vivian (Sara Simmonds) answers. Jittery and demanding, delighting in her ability to put the defensive Wilson on edge, Vivian is not the simple solution to his anxious yearnings. An unemployed actress with a brittle exterior, she has her own complex agenda, and equally high expectations.

The Exiles Reviewed by Serena Donadoni (Movie)
The Exiles is a remarkable cinematic find: Shot over a three-year period, the film is a remarkable cohesive, glorious black-and-white document of Native Americans off the reservation. British-born filmmaker Kent Mackenzie (1930-80) had both an astute eye and a strong social conscience, and the fusion of the two resulted in this 1961 film, a stunning example of social realism and aesthetic audacity. Mackenzie wasn’t a documentarian in the way that term’s commonly defined today; he was in the mold of Robert Flaherty, who would create a portrait of a community by using native nonprofessionals to participate in a narrative that reflected their concerns. The Exiles captures the experiences of a close-knit band of American Indians who had grown up in small communities or on reservations, but chose to migrate to a metropolis, hoping to participate in the greater prospects of urban life. Switching from superficial conversations soaked in alcohol, to interior monologues, the film follows Yvonne, Homer and the boisterous, outgoing Tommy, as they make their way through a tour of nocturnal L.A.

Righteous Kill Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
In the first dizzying minutes, this serial thriller is so dementedly off-kilter it seems headed for bad-movie heaven. It eventually calms down and reveals itself to be arun-of-the-mill cop movie, with Bob and Al engaging in an extended macho pose-off as two of the most grizzled murder cops still pounding a Manhattan beat. The decaying thespians are “Turk” (Robert De Niro) and “Rooster” (Al Pacino), noble old dogs sick of watching incompetent lawyers and irresponsible judges set perps free. So when somebody starts offing known creeps, they hardly break a sweat hunting for the poetry-writing serial killer. As bodies pile, the grumpy gramps’ level of dedication is called into question by the boss (Brian Dennehy, who looks ready for some shuffleboard action).

Restaurants/Places:

Modern Food & Spirits Reviewed by Mel Small (Restaurant)
With a "depression-sensitive" price structure, you might almost forget what you paid for the gas to get out to Modern. Run by veteran restaurateurs, this is a comfortable eatery where working stiffs can afford the high-quality, sophisticated cuisine. Decorated with amusing mid-century-modern furnishings, the small room can accommodate about 75 at tables and 20 at the handsome bar. Dinners, which include unusually generous portions of far-more-than-perfunctory soups or salads, average around $18 with none, except for daily specials, breaking the $20 barrier. Nine or so entrées are all attractively presented, often with inventive accoutrements, and diners will find a mastery of fish dishes as well as an accomplished New York strip. Vegetarians will have to construct their dinners from the generous appetizers, soups and salads, which should not be much of a challenge. Well-selected wine list; affordable beers; great desserts. Though the bare tables and laid-back ambience suggest informality, the servers are highly skilled professionals. Alas, if only the view of Cass Lake across the road were more prominent.

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