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Apr 17th
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Fresh Eyre

film_janeeyreeFukunaga crafts meticulous, vibrant new 'Jane Eyre'

Rising filmmaker (and UC Santa Cruz grad) Cary Joji Fukunaga wants to keep you guessing. His impressive first feature, Sin Nombre, was a gritty look at gang violence south of the border—in Spanish, yet. With his follow-up film, a new version of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte's evergreen Victorian-era romance, not only does Fukunaga achieve a complete about-face, material-wise, his retelling proves to be a deeply felt, beautifully wrought little gem of mood and sensibility.

In this rich unveiling of the oft-told tale, Fukunaga finds a kindred spirit in scriptwriter Moira Buffini. No stranger to Victoriana (she wrote the witty adaptation of Posy Simmonds' Hardy-esque Tamara Drewe), Buffini's smart script mines every nuance of feeling out of Brontë's story, spoken and otherwise, combined with a meticulous sense of what was and was not done according to the mores of the day. Together, the filmmakers resist every temptation to resort to overheated melodrama, weaving instead a compelling narrative of urgent emotional suspense.

This film begins with what is often considered a minor incident (if included at all) in traditional adaptations of the story: Jane (the poised and quietly passionate Mia Wasikowska), in desperate flight across the moors, running away from gloomy old Thornfield Hall. Taken in by impoverished young clergyman St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his two sisters, she reveals nothing of her past to her kind benefactors, but flashbacks acquaint the audience with her story. As an orphan, young Jane  (Amelia Clarkson) is sent to live with a distant relative, Mrs. Reed (a waspish Sally Hawkins), whose callous cruelty breeds defiance in the little girl. Banished to the grim Lowood charity school to "root out (her) wickedness," she makes and loses one cherished friend before being turned out at age 18 to earn her keep as a governess at Thornfield Hall.

There, Jane is welcomed by the kindly housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench), and takes charge of her new pupil, Adele (Romy Settbon Moore). The little French girl is the daughter of the absent master of the house and a woman of evidently dubious repute. (Dench's expression is priceless, watching the child perform a saucy song taught her by her late Maman.) Jane quickly bonds with Adele, but the house is thrown into an uproar with the arrival of its master, the tempestuous Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender), on one of his infrequent visits.

It is, of course, the evolving relationship between mild Jane and stormy, abrupt Rochester that provides the heart of the story, and Fukunaga and Buffini take their time to get the details just right. Although she is "poor, obscure, plain, and little," Jane's sense of justice is keen, and she does not shrink from sharing her opinions—if directly invited—in scrupulously polite terms. Rochester finds her honesty refreshing, and gladly elevates her to the status of a social equal (inviting her to sit in on his house parties, etc.) for the pleasure of her conversation. Jane chafes at the silliness of such affairs, but begins to perceive what his upper-class cronies do not—the desperate loneliness beneath Rochester's wild ways.

Brontë's novel is the prototype for a thousand lesser Victoria romances about penniless governesses and their dark, brooding, rakish employers. (Complete with a tragic secret, and a spooky, mysterious presence in the attic.) Fukunaga's treatment sidesteps the usual genre clichés to focus on the social and physical realities of the period underpinning the story. It says a lot about gender and social position when the women are obliged to sit in silent, obedient apprehension as the master ambles about, creating havoc. In Fukunaga's universe (gorgeously photographed by Adriano Goldman), blazing fires and banks of candles are the only source of nighttime light; when they're extinguished, it's suddenly pitch black. And the sensuous delight of the veiled, ruffled gown is balanced by a woman's struggle to claw open the laces, afterwards, to get out of it.

What's preserved throughout is Jane's determination to forge her own place in the world, however modest or grand it may be, so long as she can “respect” herself. It's a message that bears repeating, no matter how many versions of the story you have seen.film_janeeyre

JANE EYRE

★★★1/2 (out of four) Watch film trailer >>>

With Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and Judi Dench. Written by Moira Buffini. From the novel by Charlotte Bronte. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. A Focus Features release. Rated PG-13. 120 minutes.

 

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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.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

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