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Issue of 10/15/2008

Cover Story:

Best of Detroit 2008
by Metro Times staff
The MT Stimulus Package


'Definitions have vanished' by W. Kim Heron
Ann Arbor's Edgefest pushes the boundaries of music

Attack of the killer angels by Norene Cashen
Artist Derek Hess takes on religious right

Community Chest - People's Poll by Metro Times readers
Our local treasures, from media to politics to architecture, as judged by our readers

Community Chest - Staff Picks by Metro Times staff
Super people, places and things, picked by our team of writers

Conspicuous Consumption - People's Poll by Metro Times readers
Wherein our readers pick the best places to eat

Conspicuous Consumption - Staff Picks by Metro Times food staff
From style to fare to special dishes, our staff picked what's best

Foreclosure fight by Curt Guyette
The push for a Michigan moratorium

Mayor Esham? What? by William E. Ketchum III
After inspiring Insane Clown Posse and Eminem, Esham sets his sights on the Manoogian Mansion

Spend the Night - People's Poll by Metro Times readers
The music venues and watering holes our readers love the most

Spend the Night - Staff Picks by Metro Times staff
From upscale cocktails to rawk 'n' roll, our fave nocturnal haunts

The Glory of Capitalism - People's Poll by Metro Times readers
Paper or plastic, our readers pick out the top of the shops

The Glory of Capitalism - Staff Picks by Metro Times staff
Our staff counters with our own favorite places to plunk it down

Tiger Stadium: A love story by William R. Boyer
Ballpark's final chapter is uncertain; one man's nostalgia isn't


Comics (Comics)

Couch Trip by Mike White (Couch Trip)
Star power: Films to inspire the inertia-addled punk in you to get out the vote through idolatry

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

Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout by Jeffrey Morgan (Media Blackout)
More talking about music, but faster!

Foxaganda by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Why FOX's smear of ACORN is nuts

War wounds by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Detroit attorney sues U.S. on behalf of Agent Orange victims

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

Stoking the fury by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
McCain's appeal to America's ugly side has hurt him

A jpeg too far by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
New to pegging, cottonmouth problems and something that grosses Dan out

D-pressed by Walter Wasacz (The Subterraneans)
Cash-hard times has led to a dearth of dance ... though good stuff rises


 No Reviews


City of Ember Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
An underground marvel of decaying brick, twisted wire, rusting metal and assorted scraps, the City of Ember is like a clever mash-up of distopian cinematic playgrounds. But underneath the patina of industrial waste, grime and fading propaganda posters there beats a heart of pure progressive, eco-conscious uplift. This subterranean enclave is the only home its residents have ever known, with several generations trapped inside its cozy biosphere, and terrified of the darkness that surrounds its borders. The adults of Ember are mostly apathetic or resigned to fate, playing out life until the dwindling resources dry up and the central generator finally gives out, but the kids are alright and still hold out hope of an exit. Director Gil Kenan lands the coup of casting Bill Murray as an incompetent, vainglorious politician, and then fails to make the most of him. Murray’s a hoot, when he’s around as the city’s ineffectual, corrupt mayor, faking smiles and dropping platitudes with the best of ’em, while hoarding food and fretting about the painting of his portrait. If you’ve got Murray on board, then, for the love of Pete, let him rip, as he does here during a ceremony assigning jobs to young people — hilariously soft-selling drudgery — but he pops up too sparingly. Murray may put in but a few days’ work, but he becomes a specter in a story he should’ve dominated. Meanwhile, crusty old pro Martin Landau makes the most of his screen time as a doddering sewer drone who keeps spouting the traditional workingman’s catch phrase: “It’s not my job.” The presence of trusty hippie Tim Robbins pretty much tips the movie’s hand politically; he’s a tinker who makes tools and knows that the children are the future. Anyway, the giant mole attack is, you know, undeniably cool.

Body of Lies Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Based on veteran journalist and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius’ 2007 novel about a CIA operative working in the Middle East, the film bounces with Bourne-like aplomb from Iraq to Jordan to England to Dubai, as Agent Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) pursues a slippery terrorist leader. Lethal but earnest, Ferris is connected by satellites and surveillance to his guardian dark angel Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), a gone-to-pot CIA manipulator who makes life-and-death decisions via cell phone during his kids’ soccer game. Despite its timely political sheen, Scott’s movie is little more than a solid B-thriller. Complicated but tightly drawn, it does a good job of illustrating the paradoxes of asymmetrical warfare and the disconnection between those who call the shots and the fighters on the ground. While it brings with it the requisite humorless air of seriousness — similar to last year’s stupider but more energetic The Kingdom — Scott’s movie boils down to a heavily armed version of Syriana meets Dilbert, as boss Hoffman repeatedly screws up Ferris’ plans because he’s an impatient arrogant twit.

The Express Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Rob Brown (Finding Forrester) gets the start as Ernie Davis, a humble, hard-working kid asked to fill the cleats and No. 44 jersey of his idol Jim Brown (Darrin Dewitt Henson). Davis succeeds beyond all expectations. In three short years at Syracuse, Ernie Davis racked up 2,386 yards, MVP honors, a National Championship and became the first African American Heisman trophy winner. Yet, fast as he was he couldn’t outrun history. An early death from leukemia (at 23) largely erased him from memory, an injustice this earnest sports bio aims to correct. There’s also the greater injustice of segregation to attack, which should have made this a great movie. Unfortunately, director Gary Fleder seizes upon every cliché in the sports-flick playbook. We get brief scenes of romance at a school dance, bone crunching on-field action and plenty of on-the-road team bonding, all set to a standard-issue, period R&B soundtrack, topped with requisite Ray Charles numbers. There's also an especially weathered-looking Dennis Quaid playing head coach Ben Schwartzwalder, an old-school hardass, not entirely comfortable with his reluctant role as a civil rights pioneer. Despite the attendant headaches, coach stands by his black players, because he can’t ignore their talent or their basic decency.

XXY Reviewed by Serena Donadoni (Movie)
Alex (Inés Efron) asks her father, Kraken (Ricardo Darín), why he’s so intensely protective. After all, this marine biologist with a passionate streak for preserving endangered species has always made his daughter feel that she’s "perfect," regardless of how others may perceive her. Alex was born with intersex conditions — female and male reproductive organs as well as the chromosomes of both genders — he declined the recommended surgery. Kraken and wife Suli (Valeria Bertuccelli) opted to raise the child as a girl, but left the ultimate decision up to Alex. Now Suli has doubts about their approach, contacting their old friend Ramiro (Germán Palacios), a renowned plastic surgeon in Buenos Aires, and inviting his family for a visit to their isolated beach house in Uruguay. She believes the time for willful ambiguity has come to an end, and presses for gender assignment surgery, especially after learning that Alex stopped taking the hormones that suppress her male characteristics. The most radical aspect of XXY isn’t the frank adolescent sexuality or even the question of intersex identity. It’s the idea that gender isn’t fixed but fluid, and that for someone like Alex, the most shocking choice may be not choosing at all.

The Edge of Heaven Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Fatih Akin, the Turkish-born German filmmaker, can effortlessly glide between the gutter romance of vintage Alex Cox and divine narrative choreography of Krzysztof Kieslowski. Constructed like a novel this film’s complicated plot begins with lonely widower Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz) propositioning middle-aged hooker Yeter (Nursel Kose) to be his paid live-in concubine. The two move in together and calamity quickly ensues, inspiring Ali’s son Nejat (Baki Davrak), a university professor, to travel to Istanbul to find Yeter’s estranged daughter and make amends. Meanwhile, the daughter, Ayten (Nurgul Yesilçay), is a political activist who flees Turkish authorities to Germany in search of her mother. Instead she finds and falls in love with Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska), a student at university. Distrusted by her new girlfriend’s mother (famed German actress Hanna Schygulla) and discovered by the police during a routine traffic stop, Yeter’s budding romance is cut short as she’s deported to and imprisoned in Turkey. Family bonds crumble, more connections are missed and, tragically, someone dies. Akin’s terrific cast elicits tremendous empathy, pulling you into their everyday lives and letting you experience both their grief and muted joy. It’s intensely poignant and never maudlin, daring you forget about how we connect as human beings and simply focus on that, despite a world of differences, there is, indeed, a connection.


Woodbridge Pub Reviewed by Jane Slaughter (Restaurant)
The Pub is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, and the most popular items on the menu (as on all menus) are the burgers. They’re a succulent half-pound of certified Angus, dressed up with white cheddar or goat cheese or caramelized bacon or portobellos, delivered rare if you ask for rare. Other sandwiches are equally wonderful, such as a pile of sweet caramelized bacon combined with Brie on a baguette (“BBLT on a B”), as well as ultra-thin white pizzas and four pastas, cavatappi and fettuccine, also with tons of cheese. The brunch menu features bottomless mimosas from noon to 4 p.m. for $11. This deal is recommended for walkers only.