Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 17th
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Blood: Not So Simple

Film_AwomenagunIt can be noodles of fun, but this Coen reboot doesn’t always stay at a boil

One thing A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop has going for it is that it comes from Zhang Yimou. He’s the spirited director who gave the world House of Flying Daggers and was also the lead director for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. That’s the good news for this clever remake of the Coen Brothers’ noir hit Blood Simple, which came out in 1984 and put the filmmaking siblings on the map. The bad news—if you can call it that—is that audiences may walk away from Yimou’s picture disheartened when they really shouldn’t be. Chances are, they’ll compare the two films—too much.


True, Noodle, doesn’t always go down smoothly—it works best when it leans toward being more fun rather than being suspenseful—but it is a clever ride and sometimes a downright kick. Yimou takes the classic tale out of suburban Texas—naturally—and thrusts it in a Chinese setting somewhere in the distant past, where imperial police linger along the countryside and the noodle shop in question mysteriously stays in business with hardly any customers.

Which brings us to the owner of the shop, Wang (Ni Dahong). He’s no good. He abuses his younger wife— a feisty, believable Yan Ni. She’s so fed up, she winds up buying a hand gun from a traveling Persian. Handguns aren’t a staple of the area—swords are the way to go—so the very possession of the pistol sets up the series of humorous and, at times, dire, situations that follow.

Wang believes his wife is cheating on him with one of his employees, a timid guy name Li (Xiao Shenyang)—perhaps too timid because it’s hard to believe this fierce woman would embrace the fella, but hey, it’s the middle of nowhere … what’s a gal to do? Wang hires a police officer (Sun Hunglei) to kill his wife and her “lover,” but the officer isn’t that noble either. In fact, his misdeeds set off a series of events that send the last part of the film spinning—sometimes a bit too loosely. There’s blood and more blood—but not enough noodles in the shop, if you get what I mean.


Watch for more lunacy to show up in several side characters that offer the director greater opportunity to go slapstick on us. More severe critics would find this grating—too many movies; so much popcorn—but methinks it’s part of the curious charm of this peculiar tale. You may also get a kick out of the cinematography here, too—it’s shot in oversaturated, wide-angle funkiness. This is meant to be a fun romp. It’s hard to really take things too seriously. You just have to simply go along for the ride. (★★1/2)Watch film trailer >>>

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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.


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.


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