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Jul 24th
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Film

Reviews and Times

Double Crossed

Double Crossed

Style overwhelms content in psychological thriller 'Enemy'

Doppelganger stories are perversely fascinating, the idea that each of us has an exact double somewhere living out a completely different, parallel life. There's a lot of potential for a compelling story in this premise, but it all depends on how it's handled. Sadly, the handling of the Canadian mystery thriller, Enemy, is its undoing. This doppelganger plot requires subtlety and kid gloves, but director Denis Villeneuve prefers to strap on a catcher's mitt and bludgeon it into submission.

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Reviews and Times

‘Bad’ is Good

‘Bad’ is Good

In ‘Bad Words,’ Jason Bateman delivers a solid directorial debut and a surprisingly inventive comedy to boot

Chances are that if you were asked to come up with a word for “the action or habit of estimating something as worthless,” you would not pluck floccinaucinihilipilificate from the nether regions of your mind.

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Reviews and Times

Bully For ‘Budapest’

Bully For ‘Budapest’

Playful and dreamy, director Wes Anderson delivers another memorable ride with ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

Writer-director Wes Anderson continues to expand his creative palette and his courage to invent vibrant characters and indelible settings that few directors are capable of producing. These cinematic joyrides smack of color and whimsy (Rushmore, The Royal Tannenbums, Moonrise Kingdom), and never fail to walk a comedic tightrope between the ironic and the absurd.

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Reviews and Times

Still Wanted

Still Wanted

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ keeps the recently rebooted franchise alive

You know you’re not in Kansas anymore when a movie features a Tony Bennett-Lady Gaga duet and a homage to Ingmar Bergman in the first 15 minutes. Welcome to the fractured fairy tale world of The Muppets, returning to the big screen in, Muppets Most Wanted, the second installment of their recently rebooted franchise.

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Reviews and Times

'Girls' On Top

'Girls' On Top

Femme jazz musicians get their due in cheer-worthy 'Girls in the Band'

We're in a very fertile period for music documentaries at the moment, non-fiction films that explore hidden corners of our cultural musical heritage that too many of us never even knew existed. The latest case in point is Judy Chaikin's smart, informative, and rewarding The Girls In the Band. Her subject is the pioneering female musicians who have battled racism, sexism, and every other kind of obstacle to play jazz onstage, from the big band era of the 1930s and '40s, and on into the present day.

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Reviews and Times

Optical Infusion

Optical Infusion

Art, technology meet in audacious 'Tim's Vermeer'

It's not the sort of declaration you hear every day. "I want to paint a Vermeer," announces self-described technology geek Tim Jenison. "And I'm not a painter." Why would a seemingly ordinary person who is not an artist even conceive of such a crazy goal, much less pursue it? You might find the answer surprising—or possibly infuriating—but absolutely fascinating in Tim's Vermeer, the new documentary by magicians and Renaissance men Penn and Teller. It's an eye-opening meditation on art, science, and the nature of the creative process.

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Reviews and Times

The Story of O

The Story of O

Still room for surprises in this year's Oscar race

Don't look now, but it's time for the "O" word—and I do mean Oscars. The Academy Awards will be a little late this year, postponed to this Sunday, March 2, so as not to, er, compete with the Olympics, giving oddsmakers, Oscar party revelers, and other prognosticators a little extra time to try to predict the winners.

This isn't nearly as precarious, or as much fun, as it used to be. These days, by the time the Oscars roll around, the other showbiz organizations—Golden Globes, BAFTAs, the industry craft guilds, the Pampered Pooch Hollywood Dogwalkers Association (OK, I made up that last one)—have already handed out their awards, so there are already clear front-runners in several categories. Still, you can always count on the Academy for a few weirdsmobile selections, just to prove how unpredictable its voters are.

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Reviews and Times

Heart and Sole

Heart and Sole

Modern pilgrims trek to Santiago in engrossing doc 'Walking the Camino'

You may require a tube of Ben-Gay after you watch Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. Not that it's an ordeal to sit through this movie; far from it. Filmmaker Lydia B. Smith has crafted an engrossing documentary about the fabled medieval pilgrimage route from southern France across northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and the international mix of modern-day pilgrims who choose to follow "the way."

But the pilgrimage itself is so enormous, and Smith so skillfully inserts the viewer into every twist and turn of the 500-mile, 35-day trek that the audience starts to feel as physically exhausted as the participants. Happily, as the individual stories play out onscreen, we also begin to share at least an inkling of the particular brand of madness and exaltation that drives these pilgrims on to achieve their physical, mental, and/or spiritual goals.

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Reviews and Times

The Visible Woman

The Visible Woman

Love over 50 explored in lively 'Gloria'

Here's something you don't see in the movies every day: a mature (as in over 50) adult woman with a functioning sex life at the center of a film. If you took a wild guess that this is not a Hollywood production, right you are. This marvel occurs in Gloria, a Chilean film about a woman of a certain age determined not to fade away just because she's divorced and her kids are grown. Chile's official entry into the 2014 Academy Awards Foreign Language category, Gloria is powered by a dynamic performance from its star, Paulina Garcia, as a woman who refuses to give up on life.Garcia won the Silver Bear Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival for this role, and it's easy to see why. She plays the title character with a mix of cheerful intelligence and asperity, an innate wisdom still tempered with hope. Her quirky, expressive mouth and cool appraising eyes always give the audience something lively to look at onscreen. Director Sebastian Lelio trusts Garcia to provide his film with its life force, and she does not disappoint. As Gloria searches for ways to spice up her days and nights, we empathize with her quest for love, dignity, and respect.

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Reviews and Times

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Celebrate 50 years of Beatlemania with these fab films

It was 50 years ago today—okay, Sunday, Feb. 9—that The Beatles conquered America with the first of three consecutive appearances on the Ed Sullivan TV show. The was back in 1964, and nothing in music, society, or pop culture was ever the same again.

Only two and a half years later, The Beatles stopped touring in order to concentrate on writing and recording the music that was the defining soundtrack of the 1960s. And their influence continued to shape the culture, if no longer on stage, definitely over the airwaves and onscreen. The group made five official movies together as a band, not to mention various individual solo acting projects, vanity productions, and concert films.

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Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Roger That

The late film critic Robert Ebert profiled in lively doc, ‘Life Itself’

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
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Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

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

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.