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Apr 20th
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Drama-free

Film_1centurianSQBut that’s not a good thing for ‘Centurion’
In an old Monty Python routine, a maniacal barber about to shave an unwary customer and stropping his razor, starts muttering, "Blood, spurt, artery, psycho!" That about sums up the plot in Centurion, a budget bloodfest from Neil Marshall (The Descent) about Roman Legionnaires trapped behind enemy lines in the far north of Britain. It has the same molten pewter look (and shiny red blood) of Zach Snyder's 300, and aspires to the same level of epic classical tragedy, but Centurion lacks even the minimal dramatic resonance of Snyder's pulpy take on the Spartans.

Based on another nugget of historical fact, the disappearance of the entire Ninth Roman Legion into the mists of Britain, Marshall envisions a troop of battle-weary soldiers, far from home, their leave indefinitely cancelled, trapped in "a new kind of war … without honor … without end," in an environment so hostile "even the land wants us dead." Sound familiar?

Having set up the timeliness (and, sadly, timelessness) of his soldiers' plight, Marshall turns away from politics to Film_centurionfocus on individual acts of courage against impossible odds. But the fact is the Romans are the invaders; they have no business in Britain except conquest, and if the indigenous tribes (in this case, groovy-looking blue-painted Picts) respond with savage guerrilla warfare to protect themselves and their land, who can blame them?

Struggling to create empathy for his characters, Marshall offers Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender), son of a slave/gladiator, and the de facto leader of the proverbial ragtag group of survivors who go off in search of their captured general (Dominic West) after their legion is led into a trap and slaughtered. This group is made up of the usual suspects: Greek, Syrian, African, Tuscan, an athlete, a cook. An unlikely rescue attempt (the Picts all ride off for some reason, leaving their prize captive scarcely guarded) only gets the Roman soldiers, fleeing on foot, pursued by a mounted band of Pictish warriors led by a vengeful and relentless female tracker (Olga Kurylenko).

Marshall tries to earn points for his trendy kick-ass women warriors, but he also takes special glee in showing men punching women in the face; it happens over and over. Meanwhile, heads are bashed, throats gashed, limbs severed, and torsos impaled, and when Marshall imposes stirring music over the carnage, fishing for a tragic dimension the action never earns, it's just laughable. (PG-13). 97 minutes.

CENTURION ★1/2 (out of four)

Wth Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, and Olga Kurylenko. Written and directed by Neil Marshall. A Magnolia release. Rated (PG-13). 97 minutes. Watch film trailer >>>
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Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
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