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    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Review: Broken City

Looking for a fix. Political thriller both convoluted and too predictable

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Chinatown this ain’t: Crowe and Wahlberg in Broken City.


Broken City  C

Naming a movie can be a complex act of juggling marketing and artistic concerns in an attempt to stand out, but one thing a title probably shouldn’t do is give eager film critics so much ammunition. Broken City does in fact evoke visions of a shadowy, floundering, morally ruined metropolis, but it also highlights that the final screen product is a compromised, flawed mutt of a thriller.

The film’s January release, the slow season where unloved projects are tossed out into the frosty wastelands and left to die, affirms that harsh assessment. Mark Wahlberg, however, scored a surprise hit around this time last year with the solidly made Contraband, so perhaps the studio hoped for a similar result, though this dour political crime story is not nearly as much fun.

It’s a shame, because this one does appear to have a decent enough pedigree — in front of and behind the camera — to elevate it above the mid-winter box office swamp. At least it does on paper, but the devil is in the details.

Wahlberg leads the way as Billy Taggart, a heroic New York City cop forced to turn in his badge after a very controversial shooting incident in the tough slum he grew up in. Seven years later, Billy is muddling through as private eye, spending most of his time sneaking around outside bedroom windows and hounding his clients for unpaid bills. Fortunately Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) kept Bill’s number handy in case he needed some dirty work done, and in this case he’s offering him a huge payday for proof that the boss’ well-heeled wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is fooling around with Paul (Kyle Chandler), the campaign manager of his honor’s main rival.

Barry Pepper overplays the role of the previously clean city councilman who will do just about anything to win the mayoral job, in what turns out to be a close, fiercely contested election. Both candidates sport very odd haircuts for politicians, but Crowe is also covered in enough spray tan to make him look like a bronze statue that should be in front of Yankee Stadium. Not helping his image is his collection of comfy sweaters, or his forced Brooklyn accent, which has hints of Boston and Crowe’s native Aussie dialect peeking through the cracks. 

Still, even at his hammiest, Crowe is watchable and appropriately sinister. His scenes display much more spark then those between Wahlberg and his blandly pretty love interest, played indifferently by Natalie Martinez. Catherine Zeta-Jones looks like she’s there to shoot a Prada ad, not a serious drama, and her storyline never develops into anything all that interesting. The same could also be said about the crooked real estate deal behind all the intrigue. Jeffrey Wright growls and puffs up his chest as the intense and calculating police commissioner, but his character too is underdeveloped

Director Allen Hughes, flying solo for the first time without his brother Albert, displays a steady hand, but he’s got only so much material to work with. Brian Tucker’s script has been bouncing around for several years, and once generated some serious blogging buzz as an untapped gem, but now it’s hard to see what the fuss was about. The plot is a bit convoluted, yet still predictable. The dialogue, while offering some clever flashes, too often it sounds like the dusty remnants of a B-list noir.

Despite it’s cast and ambitions, Chinatown this surely ain’t.