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Dec 29th
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Film

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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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Apr. 28th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Apr. 28th

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

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Reviews and Times

Children's Crusade

Children's Crusade

'Winter in Wartime' manages to create a conscientious coming-of-age drama

When most of us think of a coming-of-age drama set in Nazi- occupied Holland, our thoughts stray to the standard-bearer of the genre, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” We think of Anne growing up in her attic and the stoic resolve of the Dutch family who hid the Franks, that delicate dance of fear, poise, and patience, as the ultimate in wartime courage. Dutch filmmaker Martin Koolhoven opts for a more active, thriller-type boy's own adventure in Winter In Wartime. It covers some of the same thematic territory as Anne Frank: youth impatient to grow up, and the struggle to establish a moral imperative within a labyrinth of complex political realities. It's not always as profound or effective in all it tries to say, but it's a conscientious effort to portray the true wages of warfare on the human psyche.

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Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Our Gifts - Fiery Sacrificial Lights to One Another

Wednesday is Christmas Eve, Hanukkah ends and the Moon is in Aquarius, calling for the new world to take shape at midnight. Thursday morning, the sun, at the Tropic of Capricorn, begins moving northward. The desire currents are stilled. A great benediction of spiritual force (Capricorn’s Rays 1, 3, 7) streams into Earth. Temple bells ring out. The heavens bend low; the Earth is lifted up to the Light. Angels and Archangels chant, “On Earth, peace, goodwill to all.” As these forces stream into the Earth they assume long swirling lines of light, in the likeness of the Madonna and Child. The holy child is born. Let our hearts be “impressed” with and hold this picture, especially because Christmas may be difficult this year. Christmas Day is void of course moon (v/c moon), which means we may feel somewhat disconnected from one another. It’s difficult to connect in a v/c moon. Try anyway. Mercury joins Pluto in Capricorn. Uh oh … we don’t bring up the past containing any dark and difficult issues. We are to attempt new ways of communicating—expressing aspirations and love for one another, replacing wounding, sadness, lostness, and hurts of the past. Play soothing music, pray together, have the intention for peace, harmony and goodwill. Don’t be surprised if things feel out of control and/or arguments arise. We remember, before a new harmony emerges, chaos and crisis come first to clear the air. We are to be the harmonizers. Christmas evening is more harmonious, less difficult, more of what Christmas should be— radiations of love, sharing, kindness, compassion and care. Sunday, Feast Day of the Holy Family, is surprising. Wednesday is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2014. Taurus moon, a stabilizing energy, ushers in the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone! Peace to everyone. Let us realize we are gifts radiating diamond light to one another. Living sacrificial flames!

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Let My People Go

There’s a lot to like in Ridley Scott’s maligned ‘Exodus’
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Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her