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Issue of 11/18/2009

Cover Story:

Swift's justice
by Sandra Svoboda
Exonerated for crimes, still facing life's trials


Craft trackin' by Travis R. Wright
Checking in with the chicks of Handmade Detroit, who ask, 'where are the men?'

L.J.'s cool joint by Michael Hurtt
The legendary and reluctant voice of the Dramatics launches a gospel career and a 'greatest hits' tour

Roll over, Beethoven by Bill Holdship
The Royal Philharmonic vs. Ray Davies & the Crouch End Festival Chorus

The question of compensation by Sandra Svoboda
Why is it important to lend a hand to exonerees?


Cheat Code by Bryant Franks (Cheat Code)
Break! Break! Break! It's DJ Hero!

Comics (Comics)

Food Stuff by Metro Times food staff (Food Stuff)
The rebirth of the Ham Shoppe and more

Letters to the Editor by Metro Times readers (Letters to the Editor)
Where our readers sound off, and, boy, do they ever!

Split hairs and big pictures by News Hits staff (News Hits)
How Mike Stefani is dodging professional misconduct charges

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

Perils of ignorance by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
Vietnamnesia: Why it's dangerous that today's kids don't know their history

Do it where you eat by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
Workplace hook-up scenarios analyzed for your reading pleasure

Where all the lights are bright by Metro Times food staff (Short Order)
A shortlist of restaurants in downtown Detroit

Motown gunslingers by Larry Gabriel (Stir It Up)
When the council comes packing, it sets the tone for our favorite crank

Smoke-out by D'Anne and Laura Witkowski (Wonder Twins)
The Wonder Twins do Furnaces and don’t stink (of smoke)



Canadian Dew - Scarlet Oaks Reviewed by Lee DeVito (Record)

Blue Record - Baroness Reviewed by Kent Alexander (Record)


Antichrist Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Lars Von Trier once made arresting movies (Dancer in the Dark, Breaking the Waves) that ignored critics and challenged audiences. Today he makes movies to spite them both. If you think Willem Dafoe got it bad in Last Temptation of Christ (which probably had no small part in getting him cast here), wait until you see his wife screw a grindstone into his leg. Divided into four chapters bookended with an epilogue and prologue, Von Trier’s plodding parable follows He (Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a couple grieving their young son’s death. Hoping to prevent his wife’s impending mental breakdown, psychiatrist He decides to take She to their woodland cabin — called Eden — and treat her himself. Grief, guilt, the chaos of nature, and marital discord escalate into gruesome violence and disturbing hallucinatory visions.

Gentlemen Broncos Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
In some dumpy Western town, a milquetoast teen named Benji Purvis (Michael Angarano) spends his time scribbling a notebook tome called “Yeast Lords,” an overheated Freudian adolescent fantasia about hyper-macho killer stags and scarf-wearing Cyclops warriors who have stolen his gonads. His story (and an entrance fee) earns him a trip to a writer’s workshop, where he meets his idol, Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement), a pretentious and phony sci-fi novelist. When the novelist steals Benji's idea, even as Benji has sold the idea to a no-budget film crew, complications ensue.

American Harmony Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Who knew tens of thousands of fans attend barbershop quartet competitions every year? And that so many take it so seriously? Aengus James’ highly entertaining American Harmony captures the personalities and performances of its a cappella competitors. He does a fine job taking you inside the preparations, anxieties and strategies of the competitors. Unfortunately, he skimps on content and context. Those quibbles aside, American Harmony is 90 very engaging minutes, filled with soaring harmonies and lively subjects who win us over with their enthusiasm and camaraderie.

The Messenger Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Oren Moverman’s quiet, neo-realistic The Messenger is the story of decorated Iraq war hero Sgt. Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) who returns to the United States after rehabilitation and is assigned to the Army’s Combat Notification Unit. Paired with seasoned pro, Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), Will must notify family next-of-kin that their enlisted loved ones have been killed in the line of duty. It’s miserable, heartbreaking work that tests and inevitably bonds the temperamentally incompatible officers. Moverman’s humanist portrait of the enduring damage wrought by conflict is so patiently and sensitively constructed that it’s jolting when the film sometimes derails into artifice.

Crude Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Crude chronicles the compelling saga of a nearly two-decade-long legal struggle between oil conglomerate Texaco/Chevron and the people of Ecuador. After 30 years of operations in the Amazon, the petroleum giant denies any role in the massive contamination that has disrupted the area’s ecosystem and devastated the local population. And it's amazingly level-headed, taking a fairly nuanced, thoughtful look at a story that could be easily exploited for sentimental value.

Bronson Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
“Britain’s most violent prisoner” Michael Peterson (renamed Charles Bronson) is the subject here. Writer-director Nicolas Refn pulls out every trick, gimmick and pantomime he can think of. From soliloquies delivered in clown makeup to a violent naked brawl set against classical music, to a gleeful dance with the mentally ill, his portrait of this jolly madman is played as a violent vaudeville. Too bad Refn’s approach is so relentlessly shallow that it flatlines the drama and renders his bullet-headed brute a nihilistic cartoon.

2012 Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Overlong, overwrought and underthought, 2012’s a plodding muddle of vacant stereotypes pointlessly clanging to a noisy, exhausting carnival ride of destruction. Random solar flares radiate pesky neutrinos that magically work like microwaves that superheat the planet’s core, leading to “earth’s crust displacement.” That’s a bad thing. The defacto lead is John Cusack, as a struggling novelist turned chauffeur, still carrying a torch for his ex-wife played by bad-movie poster girl Amanda Peet. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the earnest scientist nobody listens to, and Oliver Platt is the scheming politician with a secret plot to keep the world’s elite safe in huge arks. Danny Glover, looking way too old for this shit, plays the shell-shocked president. (And why is it that black presidents get the short end of the catastrophe movie stick, as did Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact?) One bright spot is Woody Harreslon, appropriately cast as a wild-eyed, raving conspiracy theorist radio host who’s oddly delighted to be proven right. A dumb and soulless exercise in CGI dick-waving.

Pirate Radio Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
In the 1960s, unlike in the freewheeling USA where DJs were kings, the stodgy BBC in England controlled the airwaves, and said “no way” to the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, etc. In defiance, radio pirates rose, often broadcasting from ships anchored just off the British coast, and just beyond the reach of the law. These rock ’n’ roll rebels are personified here as a jovial bunch of hedonistic preachers, gleefully spreading the rock ’n’ roll gospel to anyone in earshot of their converted World War II-era minesweeper. Turns out a hell of a lot of ears tuned in and turned on, turning the jocks into underground icons, none bigger than “The Count” (Philip Seymour Hoffman) a leather-jacketed prophet on a mission to cut through red-tape bullshit and let the good times roll — at max volume. The other DJs include such funnyman character actors Nick Frost and Rhys Darby, and their groovy boss Bill Nighy, in full-on mellow mode. Kenneth Branagh is the starched-shirted, mustache-twirling bureaucrat charged with taking these punks down, and he relishes every nanosecond of it.

An Education Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
It’s the early 1960s, and bright, beautiful Jenny (Mulligan) is so far ahead of her peers in both smarts and savvy there’s little doubt she’ll be on the forefront of the budding feminist movement. Along comes older Jaguar-driving David (Peter Sarsgaard), who gently sweeps the 16-year-old off her feet and introduces her to a world of continental delights and boho grooviness. Her parents (including the magnificently baffled Alfred Molina) are similarly seduced by David’s charisma and culture, thwarting all expectations of sexual propriety. Romance blooms, grades slip, and soon the promise of an Oxford education is in jeopardy. Plus there are hints that David isn’t quite Prince Charming. And, of course, he isn’t.


Quattro Cucina Italiana Reviewed by Jane Slaughter (Restaurant)
Quattro Cucina, the new high-end Italian place in Birmingham, aims to create the feeling of old-fashioned service. The place is crawling with attentive staff, and it has been redone with high, curved banquettes in neutral tones, nothing to arrest the eye except some elaborate chandeliers. The food is wonderful. Dinner starts with warm and salty focaccia and dishes of bright yellow olive oil that tastes like — olives! All starters shine. Four of the pastas here are house-made — gnocchi, ravioli, tagliatelle and lasagna — and are therefore appropriately silky — no rubbery ravioli here. Those not seeking a fancy evening out — perhaps just popping in before hitting the Palladium 12 next door — can order $12 pizzas. Wine by the glass ranges from $10 to $14. Desserts are mostly Italian. Quattro Cucina is open for lunch and dinner during the week and for dinner on weekends.