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Film, Times & Events: Week of Dec. 8th

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Check out the movies playing around town.
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New This Week

film intotheabyssINTO THE ABYSS 
Werner Herzog explores the world of crime and punishment in his new documentary, which follows the incarceration of convicted murderer Michael Perry, his experiences on Death Row, and the consequences of his crime. While pondering a judicial system that punishes killing by killing, Herzog calls his film, "a gaze into the abyss of the human soul." (PG-13) 107 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

film nyeve
NEW YEAR'S EVE
Director Garry Marshall had such a hit with his star-studded Valentine's Day a couple of seasons back, he tries to repeat that success again with this comedy of romantic complications on the last night of the year in New York City. Ginormous ensemble cast includes Halle Berry, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Hilary Swank, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Duhamel, Ludacris, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Robert De Niro (among many others). (PG-13) 118 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>




film sitter
THE SITTER
Jonah Hill stars as a college student on suspension who makes his life even more chaotic when he accepts the babysitting job from Hell. Sam Rockwell and Max Records (last seen as young Max in Where the Wild Things Are) co-star for director David Gordon Green. (R) 81 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

 







 


Film Events

SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: WINTER ITALIAN FILM SERIES The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz is back with a monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The theme this time is "Set in Sicily" This Week: CINEMA PARADISO Giuseppe Tornatore's irresistible, Oscar-winning 1989 fable about a small Sicilian boy bewitched by the movies through his friendship with the village cinema projectionist (the wonderful Phillippe Noiret) is a triumphant love letter to the seductive magic of the movies. (Not rated) 124 minutes. In Italian with English subtitles. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (December 11), 7 pm. Free.

CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR Eclectic movies for wild & crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun for only $6.50. This week: DIE HARD It's Bruce Willis to the rescue in his first outing as NYC cop John McClane in this 1988 thriller directed by John McTernan. It's up to McClane to intervene when terrorists (led by a pre-Snape Alan Rickman) take a bunch of citizens hostage in an L A office building on Christmas Eve. (R) 131 minutes. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.

CONTINUING EVENT: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIES This informal movie discussion group meets at the Del Mar mezzanine in downtown Santa Cruz. Movie junkies are invited to join in on Wednesday nights to discuss current flicks with a rotating series of guest moderators. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.ltatm.org.

 


Movie Times click here.


Now Playing

 

film arthurchristmasARTHUR CHRISTMAS Things threaten to go haywire when Santa Claus' youngest son, Arthur, has to take over his father's high-tech operation in this original family comedy from the Aardman clay animation studio (birthplace of Wallace and Gromit). James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, and Bill Nighy head the voice cast. (PG) 97 minutes. (Reviewed this issue.). (

 

 

)—Lisa Jensen 

 

 

 

THE DESCENDANTS George Clooney once again proves himself one of the most watchable and subtle of actors in Alexander Payne's incisive, entertaining, tender and life-sized family drama. He plays a Hawaiian-born lawyer trying to reconnect with his wayward daughters after an accident puts their mom in a coma, while also trying to decide whether to sell off pristine, generations-old family property to developers. Shot on location in the luscious Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai (with haunting, slack-key guitar music playing under every scene), it's a resonant tale of a family in crisis, a culture in flux, and the issue of legacy between the generations, told with wry humor and honest emotion. (R) 115 minutes. ( 

 

 

)—Lisa Jensen. 

 

HAPPY FEET TWO George Miller returns to direct this sequel to his popular animated penguin comedy of a few years back. Elijah Wood once again voices the dancing Emperor Penguin, Mumbles, trying to regain the respect of his own, non-dancing son while helping the wild creatures of Antarctica resist a threat to their habitat. Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon pop up in the voice cast. (PG) 100 minutes. 


HUGO If you love silent movies as much as I do, you'll love Martin Scorsese's new family-friendly film, Hugo. And if you're a fan of the delightfully nutty, hand-made fantasy movies of early French film pioneer Georges Melies, you're in for a special treat: Scorsese's film concludes with a fabulous montage of vintage, hand-tinted Melies footage. The story of an orphan boy (Asa Butterfield) living in a Paris railway station, ca. 1930, who finds he has something in common with a grumpy toy seller who turns out to be Melies (Ben Kingsley) is intriguing and visually splendid. It takes too long to get going; there's too much slapstick comedy and too many 3-D objects lunging out of the screen. But the charm and exuberance of the scenes of Melies and company at work in their studio makes this celebration of early movie-making irresistible. (PG) 127 minutes. (

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/2)—Lisa Jensen. 


IMMORTALS Nobody could be more appalled than I am at this grueling endurance test of blood, gore, murder, torture, blatant warmongering, and more blood, masquerading as Greek mythology, from gifted visual stylist Tarsem Singh. It adulterates several myths for a largely invented tale of Theseus (Henry Cavill) vs. a brutal warlord (Mickey Rourke) who mows down everything in his path in his quest to overthrow the gods of Olympus. The gods and heroes look godly indeed, and the visuals are often splendid, but we keep getting dragged back to another battle or torture scene. Most depressing is the excessive carnage among the Olympians themselves. What a disappointment. (R) (110 minutes. (

 

) —Lisa Jensen. 

 

J EDGAR Clint Eastwood's wonderfully woven biographical drama on the social and political undercurrents that made up the iron fist of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, arrives—but not with a big bang. But not with a whimper, either. Leonardo DiCaprio deserves attention—his J. Edgar Hoover is spot on in a performance that should usher in an Oscar nom. The film itself floats back and forth through time as Hoover preps a book about his life and times. Armie Hammer comes along for the ride—to winning ends—playing Hoover’s longtime associate, and suspected lover. This part of the tale is noteworthy because it offers some of the film’s best scenes—emotional ones that offer a glimpse into who the man really was (or could have been) and the personal sacrifices he had to make to forge ahead. The acting here is stellar but the pacing of the film suffers at times as Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) make their valiant attempt to shed light on a complex soul. Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas and Judi Dench co-star. (R) 137 minutes. (

 

 

 

 

 

)—Greg Archer 
 

JACK AND JILL If you'd rather pay good money to NOT see Adam Sandler in drag, then this comedy may not be for you. Sandler stars as an LA adman and his own flamboyant twin sister, whose annual Thanksgiving visit drives her brother nuts. Katie Holmes co-stars. Dennis Dugan directs. (PG)

LIKE CRAZY An American college student (Anton Yelchin) and a British exchange student (Felicity Jones) fall truly, madly, deeply in love—and then face the struggle to keep their love alive when she's legally obliged to return home. Drake Doremus directs this thoughtful romantic drama that explores the joys and complexities of first love, a prize-winner for Best Picture and Best Actress at Sundance. (PG-13) 90 minutes.


MELANCHOLIA Nobody has ever accused Lars Von Trier of predictability. In previous films, the persistently idiosyncratic Danish filmmaker has experimented mightily with form and content and how (or if) they interact. In this lugubrious allegorical drama in which permanently depressed new bride Kirsten Dunst faces the end of the world, Von Trier's opinion of humankind is at its lowest ebb, and the overall atmosphere of disdain, coupled with a very slight storyline and a fatally slow narrative make this possibly the most aggravating Von Trier film yet (despite some striking visual in the opening montage). Rarely has so much precious time been frittered away for so little result. (R) 136 minutes. (

)—Lisa Jensen. 

MELANCHOLIA (It’s not quite dueling “critics”... it’s just another perspective.) Director Lars Von Trier creates one of the most visually sumptuous films of the year. It’s an unforgettable ride that lingers long after you leave the theater. This is not your average film—Von Trier never creates those types of movies. No. This is a living, moving abstract “painting.” The story isn’t linear per se—we’re simply dropped into the scenes. The first, revolves around Justine (Kirsten Dunst), a solemn bride who mopes around her wedding reception; which is tossed by her sister Claire on a lavish estate. The second part of the film chronicles Claire’s reactions to an impending doom—Melancholia, a lost planet traveling through space, may be on a direct path with Earth. Will the two planets collide? Von Trier nixes all predictable glam and sci-fi elements here and simply focuses on his two main characters as they both deal with with their fears and a startling reality. Life. Death. Living. Really living. Being happy. Pretending to be happy. Sinking into an emotional abyss—these are a few things the director attempts to explore in a fascinating, brooding artistic tale. See it for what it is: a rare moviegoing “experience” in all sense of the word, with breathtaking imagery and a profoundly original vibe. (R) 136 minutes. (

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/2)—Greg Archer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


THE MUPPETS Everybody's favorite movie puppets return to the big screen to crack up a new generation of fans in this family comedy. A trio of Muppet fans (Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and Walter, a hero-worshipping Muppet, himself), round up Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and all the rest—who have long since gone their separate ways—to stop a greedhead oil tycoon (Chris Cooper) from razing the fabled Muppet Theater. James Bobin directs. (PG)

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN The 2012 Best Actress Oscar race begins with this miraculous performance by Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, an alchemical transformation of the always intelligent and gutsy Williams into that most dreamy, luscious, needy, and yet valiant of all Hollywood screen goddesses. Directed with grace and economy by TV veteran Simon Curtis, it's based on a backstage memoir by Colin Clark, a young production assistant, on the filming of the 1957 romance The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). Eddie Redmayne is terrific as fresh, eager young Colin, ripe for losing his heart, and Judi Dench is superb as gracious, no-nonsense actress Dame Sybil Thorndike. But it's Williams' Marilyn— fragile, irresistible, terrified, and often humorously, startlingly self-aware—that leaves one breathless. (R) 107 minutes. (

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

)—Lisa Jensen. 


PUSS IN BOOTS Hail great storytelling. You’ll find it here. Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the orange swashbuckling cool cat he made so popular in the Shrek films. The good news? There’s plenty to appreciate in director Chris Miller’s animated prequel about Puss' life before he teamed up with Shrek and Donkey. Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Sedaris and Billy Bob Thornton lend supporting voices but it’s the story that really shines. Puss, apparently, had a stellar friendship with Humpty Dumpty—they become like “brothers” in an orphanage. Later in life, when they’re reunited, Humpty convinces Puss to help him steal some magic beans (a la Jack and the Beanstalk) from Jack and Jill and ... Oh, go see it for yourself. An ejoyable ride from beginning to end with clever twists. (PG) 90 minutes. (

 

 

 

 

 

★) 

—Greg Archer.

THE SKIN I LIVE IN Pedro Almodóvar's unsettling new movie is not for the fainthearted. But this weird mix of Pygmalion and Frankenstein gets better in retrospect, as the viewer begins to appreciate the scope and intensity of its themes. This spicy cocktail of sex, obsession, gunplay and haunting secrets, becomes a compelling meditation on gender and identity, and how much each depends on the other. Almodóvar asks: what makes us who we are inside? Is it how we look on the outside? Or is there some unassailable core of identity that determines selfhood? Antonio Banderas brings presence and fortitude, menace and tenderness to the role of an eminent plastic surgeon with a dark secret obsession. Elena Anaya and Marisa Paredes are great in supporting roles. (R) 117 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. (

 

 

 

 

 

1/2)—Lisa Jensen. 

 

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 1 I’m glad Stephanie Meyers' teen melodramas have made her one rich lady. Here we are, nearly at the end of the Twilight saga—in film form. This is the first of a two-part romp. Twihards are rejoicing. The rest of us—not so much. The story thus far: Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire honey, Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally marry and consumate their relationship. Bella is suddenly with child—but what kind of child (or beast) will she birth. Everybody is all flutte. Taylor Lautner returns as hunky werewolf Jacob—shirtless the first five minute. Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) delivers a solid ride, but unless you’re a Twihard, it’s hard to evoke any compassion or caring for this crew, especially Stewart, who, perhaps, is one of the worst actresses of her generation. (PG-13) 117 minutes. (

) —Greg Archer. A 

 

VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS John Cho and Kal Penn return as the luckless slacker buddies, facing grown-up, holiday season responsibilities with typical immaturity, in this third installment of their misguided adventures. Neil Patrick Harries, Paula Garces, and David Krumholtz co-star for incoming director Todd Strauss-Schulson. (R) 90 minutes.

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Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

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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Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

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