Best of Detroit 2012
Public Square - Reader's Choice
Reader's choice for Metro Detroit
Published: April 25, 2012
Best Local Music Festival
Hart Plaza, Detroit; movement.us
Since the turn of the millennium, the festival formerly known as DEMF has brought the best electronic music artists to Detroit, while highlighting the incredible local talent. It's like a big love-in with a light show, an opportunity for like-minded souls to gather and dance like goons while everything from trance to dubstep kicks off around them. It's a Detroit institution, and you voted last year's event the best festival in the area. This year's event promises to be even better. We know at least one fan who marks his year from festival to festival. In his temporal universe, the Best of Detroit street date of April 25 translates as five days until the end of the school term, six days until his birthday and 35 days to Movement 2012. Headliners this year include Public Enemy, Lil' Louis and the Wizard (aka Jeff Mills). But with a weekend packed with acts, a chief draw is the opportunity to see tomorrow's stars today.
Best Place to See a Mainstream Film
Emagine Royal Oak
200 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 888-319-3456; www.emagine-entertainment.com
After an impressive run of roughly a jillion wins in a row, the Uptown Palladium has been dethroned as your favorite popcorn palace, replaced by a flashy newcomer that made a major splash with its debut. The deluxe new Emagine Starlanes movie and entertainment megaplex opened last April after years of rumblings over its impact on Royal Oak's already bustling nightlife. Adding a 10-screen theater, bowling lanes, a full bar and banquet facilities into the suburban downtown's already overflowing mix of bars and eateries seemed daunting to some, but the new venture became an immediate hit. Crowds are flocking there for a first-rate moviegoing experience, with digital projection, beautiful new screens, a booming stereo sound system, luxury assigned seating and even the roller coaster thrill of "D-Box" seats, that move and rumble in sync with the onscreen action. It's bells and whistles like these that have boosted the Michigan-owned mini-chain's rapid ascent, and their glossy new flagship has earned hordes of fans, parking hassles be dammed!
Best Place to See
an Indie Film
Main Art Theatre
118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111; landmarktheaters.com
Like the zombies that sometimes terrorize the Midnight Movies during the theater's summer lineup, you just simply cannot kill the Main Art Theatre. Year after year, rumors of the Main's demise run wild, yet the swell old gal remains the premier — and often only — place in the metro area to see independent and foreign films in their native environment. This year, the Main survived the arrival of a behemoth multiplex literally in its backyard (see above). Despite these setbacks, the art house endures, in part because the Royal Oak location at 11 Mile and Main retains its funky charm and historic neon marquee — and because the quality of the product on screen remains true.
Best Local Film Festival
Ann Arbor Film Festival
Various locations, Ann Arbor; 734-995-5356;
Though film festivals such as Sundance have become virtual farm-team feeding systems for Hollywood and — to a degree — have codified "indie film" as an aesthetic, there's the contrasting example of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. As our film writer Corey Hall put it recently: "Ann Arbor maintains essentially the same vision it began with: serving as a showcase for eclectic, independent, experimental and utterly uncompromised works of art." Or as exec director Donald Harrison puts it: "Our focus is really filmmakers who are working creatively outside the commercial market." This goes back a half-century, the festival having celebrated its 50th round of screenings, installations, talks and parties earlier this month. Harrison resports that attendance for this year's festival topped 15,000 for the first time. Meanwhile, prizes and awards of cash and film stock and services put the equivalent of $22,000 into the pockets of film artists, fueling the future of their art.
Best Place to
See Local Theater
The Who Wants Cake? theater company's Ringwald Theatre
22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-545-5545; whowantscaketheatre.com
Five years ago, Joe Plambeck and Joe Bailey moved their Who Wants Cake? theater company into the Ringwald Theatre, near the corner of Nine Mile Road and Woodward Avenue in downtown Ferndale. Known for gender-bending performances of madcap subversive farce, the company has mounted productions of Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy, Evil Dead: The Musical, The Hardy Boys and the Mystery of Where Babies Come From, Ronnie Larsen's Making Porn, Del Shores' Southern Baptist Sissies and many more plays that a typical theater company wouldn't touch. Next month, the company will perform The Divine Sister, with mother superior, naturally, played by Plambeck.
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