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  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Review: The Impossible

The disaster is amazing, it’s our pampered surrogates who are the problem

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


B-

On a visceral level, Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible delivers an astounding feat of cinematic action and disaster. With a budget far below Hollywood’s tent-pole standard ($45 million), this Spanish production puts to screen one of the most horrifying and intense natural disasters sequences I’ve ever seen.

It’s 2004, and we’re by the pool with Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan MacGregor) and their trio of button-nosed boys at a beachside resort in Thailand. The bar’s whirring blender suddenly stops mid-tropical drink, a strange wind sucks objects toward the sand and then, ominously, the view reverses. We are out at sea, watching the idyllic beach from a menacing, too-high vantage point. The set-up is deviously Hitchcockian. Then the tsunami hits, an apocalypse of water that engulfs our stars as they race to grab their kids. It is the same southeast Asian tsunami that ended up killing nearly quarter of a million people.

Bayona batters his cast and audience with a ferocity that overwhelms. In a good theater you will hear and feel the impact of these crashing waves as much as witness their destruction. The rush of water is like a freight train, and we watch as Maria is sent toppling and twisting through its currents, submerged into soundless, murky depths then surfacing to a maelstrom of mayhem and screams. It’s the kind of filmmaking that leaves your jaw open in amazement, wondering how the hell they did it.

What immediately follows is the agony and terror of a family injured and, more despairingly, separated from one another. In a landscape blasted beyond all recognition, they must first find help then one another. The wasteland imaginings of films like Road Warrior or I Am Legend can’t compare with the real-life devastation wrought by the day-after Christmas tsunami.

After displaying such colossal technical panache, however, The Impossible’s second halfdescends into something far hokier, much more contrived, and ethically troubling. Disaster gives way to Hollywood cliché. The mortally injured Maria and her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) make it to an overcrowded medical center only to struggle to survive the chaos and bureaucracy of a system overwhelmed by the catastrophe. I’ll refrain from giving away the fate of the rest of the family. Suffice to say, Bayona and his screenwriter Sergio Sánchez (who also teamed on 2007’s ghostly The Orphanage) are neither subtle nor insightful in their quest to construct an uplifting monument to familial love, and The Impossible transitions from Hitchcockain suspense to Spielbergian sentimentality. This allows Fernando Velázquez’s histrionic score to put an unfortunate exclamation point on every heart-breaking scene.

But keep in mind that the real-life Maria Belon and her Spanish family have been turned into blond and beautiful Brits with upper-class accents and a bourgeois sense of entitlement (a decision guided by box office, no doubt). Yes, Bayona seems to suggest that nature, with just a shrug of its shoulders, can erase the power of privilege and leave all its victims equally vulnerable —if only until the insurance company sends a private jet to whisk the family away to safety. But there’s a disturbing subtext to The Impossible that in the story of the tsunami’s tragic wake there weren’t enough white people included.

For the record, a quick web search reveals that nearly 9,000 foreign tourists died, and many more were injured. Their experiences, of course, matter. But watching a true-life disaster film where indigenous locals who have lost everything become little more than props in a melodrama that magnifies the plight of attractive Europeans hints at a distasteful moral callousness. How hard would it have been to permit a subplot centered around some of the surviving Thais?

The leads are, of course, dependably excellent, with McGregor turning a phone call home into an emotional gut punch. Watts’ grueling acts of survival and Christ-like suffering are the kind that earn an Oscar nomination. But it’s young Tom Holland who really shines as a glowering teen who learns to act selflessly. It’s an unaffected performance from an unfamiliar actor that feels authentic even when the film’s coincidences don’t.

The Impossibleis an earnest and exhausting experience, first physically then emotionally pummeling you into submission. Bayona has the uncanny ability to put viewers in the moment, allowing them to vividly experience the family’s struggles. But for all his formidable skills and artistic vision, his compassion is distressingly myopic. It’s easy to understand how audiences would be blindsided by the movie’s big, heart-wrenching moments; it’s hard to celebrate the triumph of a few WASP-y big-name stars while ignoring the hundreds of thousands of real-world brown-skinned locals who lost their communities, loved ones, and lives