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Issue of 6/10/2009


Cover Story:



Taking a toll
by Curt Guyette
Matty Moroun and the bridge brawl in southwest Detroit

Features:

All in the family by Detroitblogger John
Kimberly's Helping Hands offers shelter from the storm

City gardens by Wendy Case
D-Town's latest 'buzz' band ain't your typical vegan, tree-huggin' art punks

Old dogs, new tricks by Bill Holdship
New releases from Marshall Crenshaw and Iggy Pop

On track by Corey Hall
Mainlining at the Ringwald

Rebuilding Joan by Charles L. Latimer
How jazz vocalist Joan Belgrave got her groove back

Rockin' to the core by Kent Alexander
Royal Oak metalists armor its mojo with self-belief and hooks

Spanning the years by Metro Times staff
A roundup of past MT reportage on Moroun and his bridge company

Spreading his wealth by Sandra Svoboda
Campaign donations span Moroun family, company, political parties, decades

Columns:

Backlot by Jeff Meyers (Backlot)
Where they’re shooting around town

Cheat Code by Bryant Franks (Cheat Code)
Electronic Arts' skate franchise rolls on

Comics (Comics)

Couch Trip by Metro Times film writers (Couch Trip)
Hunting for fascists and witches, or something like that ...

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

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

Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout by Jeffrey Morgan (Media Blackout)
From ripoff rockers to swinger songwriters

Motor City Cribs by Doug Coombe (Motor City Cribs and Rides)
Jim Roll's recording studio — in a former chicken coop

A covenant kept by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Detroit nonprofit changes lives, one youngster at a time

Another blown chance by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
Opening our jails to Gitmo detainees could have brought billions

Unlucky streak by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
After getting down, some unfortunate brown

Reviews:

Music/Books:

Let Go - The Silent Years Reviewed by Travis R. Wright (Record)

Movies:

Easy Virtue Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Noël Coward 1927 farce about a young bride scandalizing her stuffy, well-to-do in-laws by actually having a pulse is remade into a film, starring leggy, raspy-voiced Jessica Biel as a brassy, race-car driving, Detroit-bred Larita, whom everyone insists on calling “Larry” in irksome fashion. She’s supposed to stand out, but this is ridiculous — the comely actress fumbles jokes and mangles melodrama in nearly every scene. She’s so gawky she makes you long for Scarlett Johansson to saunter in and start a battle of pouty bottle blondes. Biel is so off, in fact, she nearly distracts from director Stephan Elliot’s weirder touches — such as actors breaking into snippets of out-of-period songs (“Sex Bomb”?) at the drop of a hat.

The Girlfriend Experience Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Today, there are two faces to Soderbergh: Hollywood product machine (Ocean’s 11, 12, 13) and the intellectual lo-fi auteur (Che, Bubble). Neither is particularly satisfying. The Girlfriend Experience is his latter face. With more than a nod to Godard, Soderbergh’s fragmented storyline (the past is barely discernable from the future) and icy chic cinematography explore the life of a young escort (porn star Sasha Grey) and her physical trainer boyfriend (Chris Santos). But the juxtaposition of their experiences is less an occasion for penetrating drama and more an opportunity to examine and satirize the transactional influences of capitalism on personal relationships. And much like Godard’s suggestion that spiritual prostitution is the ultimate result of capitalism, GFE is a joyless hall of mirrors, reflecting the dehumanizing effect of fanatical consumerism and entrepreneurship. It’s a compelling, if obvious, idea to hang a movie on, but without human longing or connection the effect is more rhetorical than anything.

The Hangover Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
The setup is standard frat-pack fare: Three guys take their best friend, a groom-to-be, to Vegas for the ultimate bachelor party, and end up losing him. The next day brings with it complete amnesia and an ever-escalating series of encounters, as Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Galifianakis try to figure out what the hell happened. Director Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip), who has made a career of gonzo buddy flicks, opts for a dark comic tone to complement his depraved and hilarious set pieces. And, for its first two-thirds, The Hangover unspools its revelations and anything-goes encounters to riotous effect. Too bad it loses steam in the final act with a sitcom-style climax.

My Life in Ruins Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Nia Vardalos returns to her winning, ugly-duck-becomes-swan formula here, now as a frumpy, displaced history teacher who settles for a crappy tour-guide gig, hauling clueless English-speaking sightseers through the fading splendors of Greece. Richard Dreyfuss hits a new career low as a crude but secretly wise widower who helps Nia get her groove back, pointing out the hunky bus driver sitting right beneath her sizable nose. Bored by the soggy material, Dreyfuss still manages flashes of greatness, which is more than such goofy hacks as Harland Williams and Rachel Dratch.

City Center Reviewed by Aaron Shaul (Movie)

Management Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Aniston is Sue, a bored corporate art dealer who, on a business-trip whim, has a fling with the calmly pathetic Mike (Steve Zahn), the night manager of his parents’ nowhere Arizona motel. She goes on with her life, but he sees stars and begins to follow her cross-country multiple times, hounding her at each turn. Eventually the pursuit gets zanier, involving impromptu serenades, skydiving, a high-powered BB gun and a gratuitous Woody Harrelson attack.

Away We Go Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Away We Go is a palate cleanser, a shaggy-dog indie-style road film engineered to connect Mendes with hipster audiences — it is, after all, written by McSweeney’s Dave Eggers, his wife, and Believer editor, Vendela Vida. Yeah, it’s got the quirky, arch tone you’d expect, and hipster-y soundtrack but Mendes brings a nimble and disarmingly sincere focus to the terrors of impending adulthood, while Eggers’ and Vida’s script captures the tail-end anxieties of Gen X’ers. Burt (The Office’s John Krasinsky) and Verona (SNL’s Maya Rudolph) are a thirtysomething couple expecting their first child. They live and work out of a ramshackle tract home in Colorado, near Burt’s parents (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’ Hara). When the soon-to-be grandparents announce that they’re moving to Belgium before the baby is born, the unmarried couple hits the road in search of a place to call home. Visiting four sets of friends and relatives in Phoenix, Madison, Montreal, Miami, the couple encounter a dizzying spectrum of dysfunctional family dynamics, feeding their doubts while deepening their own relationship.

Land of the Lost Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Your enjoyment level of the new Land of the Lost hinges largely on two factors: a nostalgic fondness for the tacky, tripped-out Saturday-morning original, and a desire to see those childhood memories get warped into a platform for jokes about Will Ferrell’s balls. This version smartly embraces the inherent goofiness of Sid and Marty Krofft’s chintzy 1970s sci-fi classic, but updates it for modern comedic frat-boy sensibilities. But Director Brad Silberling can’t really nail the tone, nor can he keep Ferrell and McBride’s improv in check, leading to the inevitable glimpses of Ferrell’s fleshy torso as a punch line. The stars appear eager to be in another, better movie, and keep trying to reroute it into weird tangents, like a Cher sing-along, and a psychedelic fruit that gets you super-duper high. Some such side trips are inventive fun, but then it’s right back to desperate bits like Ferrell dumping a jug of piss on his head. When the movie draws attention to its own absurdity, it works; when Ferrell draws undue attention to his goony stunts, it flounders.

Restaurants/Places:

Thang Long Reviewed by Jane Slaughter (Restaurant)
Where to get pho? There are at least four Vietnamese places on Dequindre or John R, but Thang Long, run for 15 years by Alexander Nguyen, serves the country’s national soup with aplomb. A large bowl of clear beef broth, beef and rice noodles, with scallions and herbs added as the chef and the diner decide, gets added complexity from charred onion and ginger. The meat can be combinations of sliced rib eye, tendons, beef balls or tripe (all $5.95), or the “deluxe” with all four ($6.50). Other “large bowl” noodle soups are made with pork and chicken broth, and there are $6.50 rice soups made with catfish, chicken, duck or seafood. If the long list of soups isn’t enough in the starters category, there are also crispy rolls and soft rolls. The non-greasy crispy rolls are delicious and filled with ground pork, mushrooms and cabbage — producing a startling but lovely purple interior. Perhaps best is the whole crispy catfish, with soft white flesh and a hot-sweet ginger-garlic sauce.

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