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Apr 17th
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Crazy Love

film_broken_embracesRomance and storytelling merge in wry, marvelous 'Broken Embraces'

ust and obsession, fathers and sons, storytelling and filmmaking, betrayal and redemption—all go into the Cuisinart to be whipped into a gorgeous and volatile froth in Broken Embraces, a spicy drama from Pedro Almodóvar, served with a side of wryness. It's hard not to fall into gastronomical adjectives to describe this film: every frame looks good enough to eat (full of popsicle colors and striking compositions) and every performance is delectable, however small.

Lluis Homar anchors the story as Mateo, a Spanish filmmaker with a split identity. Blinded in an accident 14 years earlier, he's lost himself as a visual artist, but continues to write scripts under his longtime pseudonym, Harry Caine. The great Blanca Portillo is earnest and edgy as Judit, his loyal producer and gal Friday. Her son Diego (an appealing Tamar Novas) helps Mateo transcribe his scripts, between night gigs deejaying at a local disco.

But Mateo's carefully reorganized world threatens to collapse with the arrival of an old acquaintance calling himself "Ray X" (Rubén Ochandiano), who wants Mateo to shoot his movie about a son's revenge on his hated father. Both Judit and Mateo are shaken by the visit, but at Diego's probing, the truth begins to tumble out. It's a love triangle involving a younger, still-sighted Mateo, a powerful financier, Martel (José Luís Gómez), and Martel's mistress, Lena (Penélope Cruz, at her most vibrant and earthy), promoted from the secretarial pool after her smitten boss paid for the care of her dying father.

But being  fabulously kept isn't enough for Lena; she auditions for Mateo and wins the starring role in his new film. In order to keep tabs on her, Martel puts up the financing, dispatches his son to videotape every minute Lena spends away from him, and reviews the footage every night with a lip-reader to tell him what the mutually infatuated director and star are saying to each other off-camera.

Almodóvar is nuts over the delirious art of filmic storytelling, from his artfully fragmented narrative, to a sly comparison of good vs. bad takes in the sunny, early-Almodóvar-style comedy Mateo is shooting; from the frisky brio with which Mateo and Diego concoct a vampire scenario over the keyboard, to the stunning violation of Mateo's film as an ultimate act of violence.

And while the plot keeps us on edge and enthralled, the movie is also incredibly beautiful, from a delicately tear-splashed tomato, to the black, volcanic lunar landscape of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, to a gigantic painting of voluptuous oranges on Martel's dining room wall. Heartfelt, provocative, and brimming over with style (wait till you see how delectably Cruz is morphed into Audrey Hepburn), this is a gift to be cherished from a master of rapturous storytelling.

BROKEN EMBRACES ★★★ Watch movie trailer >>>

With Penélope Cruz, Lluis Homar, and Blanca Portillo. Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar.  Rated R. 128 minutes.

In Spanish with English subtitles.

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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

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.