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Dec 20th
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Film

Reviews and Times

Brand On The Run

Brand On The Run

Cheeky Spurlock doc not quite 'Greatest Movie Ever Sold'

Morgan Spurlock had an interesting concept for the movie that has become POM Wonderful Presents; The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The documentary filmmaker whose popular Super Size Me established both Spurlock himself and his particular genre of stunt-activist films as a brand unto itself decided this time to explore the shadow world of what was once called "product placement"—the system by which corporations pay to have their products displayed onscreen in films and TV shows.

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 19th

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 19th

Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.

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Reviews and Times

Unhappy Trails

Unhappy Trails

Pioneers head for nowhere in undeveloped 'Meek's Cutoff'

How far can you blame an artist for trying to do something artistic? Even if the resulting work doesn't play out the way one hopes, an artist deserves some grudging respect for pursuing a particular vision. Take Kelly Reichardt, who makes small, personal films set in Oregon, in which nothing much happens. In Old Joy, two former buddies find they have little to talk about any more on a weekend hiking trip into the Cascades. In Wendy and Lucy, a young woman adrift between jobs loses her dog.

Like these films, Reichardt's latest, Meek's Cutoff, is scrupulously composed, full of respect for the natural world, and concerned with minute, almost non-verbal relationships. It, too, is set in the Pacific Northwest, but unlike Reichardt's previous films, this is a historical drama in the Oregon Territory of 150 years ago.

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 12th

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 12th

Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.

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Reviews and Times

Animal Magnetism

Animal Magnetism

Soulful pachyderm steals hearts in 'Water For Elephants'

OK, I admit it: I'm one of the few people alive who did not read Sara Gruen's mega-bestselling novel about passion and  mayhem under the Big Top during the Depression 1930s. But it's possible to detect the bones of a satisfying romantic suspense story within Francis Lawrence's evocative film adaptation of Water For Elephants.

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 5th

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 5th

Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.

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Reviews and Times

Night of the Alien

Night of the Alien

Santa Cruzan native Pia Helm co-produces a movie at the Santa Cruz Fim Festival
In true Santa Cruz fashion, the movie, Night of the Alien, playing at the Santa Cruz Film Festival, revolves around themes of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, not to mention the psychedelic and supernatural. The movie was written and directed by Vaughn Verdi and co-produced by Pia Helm, who grew up in Santa Cruz. Night of the Alien is a micro-budget film about a mind-bending compilation of strange occurrences all in an effort to save the world.

A mash-up of many different cinematic genres, Helm claims the movie was once described by Verdi as, “The Hangover meets Starman somewhere in the Twilight Zone.” It goes like this: A group of stoners and pill-poppers are convinced by a hitchhiking alien from the planet Zoltran to go on a mission to save Earth by creating a band to win American Idol. Throughout the film, the characters are constantly high or drugged out, begging the question: Is all the action in the movie a consequence of their hallucinations or is it a reality?

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Reviews and Times

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages

Catalyst movie uncorks 40 years of local rock 'n' roll history
One Santa Cruz Film Festival film sure to be dear to the hearts of anyone who's lived in Santa Cruz for longer than about four minutes is The Catalyst. This feature-length documentary devoted to the life and times—and, of course, the music—of that most venerated and enduring local nightclub is put together by two local folks who probably know the subject better than anyone. Producer Dean Newbury was The Catalyst booking agent for years, during the proprietorship of the late Randall Kane (whom Newbury refers to as his "father figure"). Director Michèle Benson is herself something of a Santa Cruz institution as longtime court photographer/historian/archivist at the Cat, as well as music photographer at Good Times for many years. 

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Reviews and Times

Take Ten

Take Ten

Plenty to celebrate in SCFF 10th Anniversary season

Ten years in the making! Believe it or not, the Santa Cruz Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, May 5-14, with a typically full slate of cinematic goodies: 100 films and videos, of local and international origin—shorts and features, documentaries and narrative fiction, animation and live-action, commercial and experimental—along with film panels, gala receptions and other special events, presented at five venues around town.

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Reviews and Times

Dark Justice

Dark Justice

Oscar-winner probes psychology of violence 'In A Better World'
No one can accuse Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier of making safe movies. In intimate human dramas like Open Hearts and After the Wedding, she tackles cataclysmic human themes (fidelity, desire, betrayal, redemption) in shrewd, unflinchingly honest personal terms, defying assumptions and refusing to assign blame. Her harrowing new film, recent Foreign Language Oscar-winner In a Better World, is no less intimate, but Bier reaches further out of her comfort zone than ever with a larger thematic story that confronts issues of violence, bullyism, and revenge.

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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire