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  • 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 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 […]

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  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, 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 […]

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  • 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 […]

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  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

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  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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Review: Holy Motors

Stop this crazy thing! Puzzling, absurd and over-the-top, Leos Carax’s latest impresses our critic

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Holy Motors | A-

Welcome to the latest in WTF cinema, the kind of movie that critics love, general audiences loathe and cinephiles puzzle over. Leos Carax’s Holy Motors is French, cryptic, absurd, garish and completely unfettered from a traditional plot line. Think of it as a flamboyant cinematic serpent swallowing its own tail or a deranged magical mystery tour that, if you’re game, will crawl under your skin and bounce around your brain for days afterward. What does it mean? What do you want it to mean?

Less a story and more a series of performance vignettes, we experience a day in the life of Monsieur Alex Oscar (Denis Lavant) — the name is an anagram of the director’s non de plume — a professional role-player who is driven in white stretch limo to a set of nine appointments scripted by his mysterious boss (Michel Piccoli) for mysterious purposes. At each, Oscar assumes a new guise, nay, complete persona, transforming himself into cool businessman, a homeless old gypsy woman, a sewer-dwelling freak, or a computer game motion capture model. He assassinates a man, abducts a fashion model (Eva Mendez), plays accordion in a renegade musical band, and gasps for life as a dying old man. He even gets stabbed and shot — though always emerges unscathed for the new assignment. Sometimes the performances have a purpose, sometimes no one seems to be watching or care. With every character, he completely immerses himself, never once breaking the reality he’s tasked with creating. Mr. Oscar has been doing this for 20 years, and while the money has clearly been good (he lives in an opulent home with many high end cars) it’s clear he’s grown weary of the business (whatever that is).

It’s obvious that Carax is trading on the meta notion that everything we are watching is a movie and therefore none of this is real and therefore anything can and will happen. The movie opens with a man waking to find a portal into a movie theater playing The Crowd only to then emphasize how we are watching him and down the rabbit hole we go. Intertwining satire (there’s a terrific passing joke with a cemetery tombstone reading: “visit my website”), fantasy and nightmare, Carax constructs a funhouse mirror maze of movie references, riffing on Lang, Cocteau and Buñuel as well as Carax’s own films. On and on it goes until late into the night: a mad act of cannibalism, an emotional exchange between father and daughter, gangster-like intrigue, a rooftop romance under Parisian stars. Even Mr. Oscar’s refined limo driver is played by Edith Scob, who 50 years ago was the daughter in Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face.

Who do others need us to be? Who do we need to be for ourselves? Holy Motors examines the liquidity of identity without ever being pedantic, inviting you to become a participant by purposefully evading specific intent or interpretation. It is a conversation about our “other” selves, a reflection on who we are asked to become in our day-to-day encounters, and the way we all blur the line between living and acting. Or as T.S. Elliot wrote: “To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create.”

Holy Motors is also, however, a glorious exercise in crackpot overindulgence. There are times when the movie seems too willfully weird, too in love with outré conceits and the martyrdom of performance. It’s those moments that’ll test the most open-minded film lover. But Carax is theatrical by nature, a showman who has found the perfect chameleon in his longtime collaborator Levant. With an incredibly expressive face and a physicality that seems to morph into each and every role, Levant is given a rare showcase for his unique and mesmerizing talents.

As we learn that Mr. Oscar’s assignments are part of an elaborate performance art installation played to hidden cameras for the entertainment of others, Carax’s observations on life, shifting identities and collective dreaming ultimately take on a wry, almost ironic tone. Is something real if no one believes in it? Then why go on? A notion of obsolescence is returned to again and again, and one can’t help but wonder if the film, which revels in the past but employs the digital technologies of today, is presenting itself as proof of its own demise. A final scene with Kylie Minogue arriving by white limo, singing about time, and jumping to her death, along with the final credit image of Carax’s late wife, Katerina Golubeva, who took her own life, suggest that, for all of Holy Motors’ crazed playfulness and anarchic indulgences in cosmic renewal, there’s a devastating sense of loss that haunts its creation. mt

In French with English subtitles.

Shows at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 25-26, 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Detroit Film Theatre, inside the DIA, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-3237.

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