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Film, Times & Events: Week of Dec. 23rd

Film, Times & Events: Week of Dec. 23rd

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

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Reviews and Times

I Love You Phillip Morris

I Love You Phillip Morris Jim Carrey is great at playing a con man. His elastic body, wild-eyed, rubbery face, his gift for voices and accents, and the adrenaline-rush chutzpah of his demeanor make him 100 percent credible as a character lying and scamming his way through life. A character like Steven Russell, a real-life con artist, serial imposter, and habitual prison escapee, whose bizarro true story unfolds in the audacious, but never quite convincing comedy, I Love You Phillip Morris. Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Bad Santa), the movie introduces Steven (Carrey) as a young deputy sheriff in Virginia; he has a perky, Christian wife (Leslie Mann) an adorable little girl, and he plays the organ in church.
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Reviews and Times

Drama Queen

Drama Queen

Natalie Portman swims into dark waters in ‘Black Swan’

If Girl Interrupted bitchslapped The Turning Point, the aftermath would resemble something like Black Swan. This psychological thriller, set in the competitive world of the New York City Ballet is haunting and hypnotic yet graceful and raw in the way it unfolds, layer by fascinating layer, into a gripping tale that explores the lines between reality and perception. It’s one of the best films of the year and its star, Natalie Portman, delivers a career-defining role that could win her an Oscar. (The star and the film just nabbed Golden Globe noms.)

Portman plays Nina, a featured dancer—protective layer on the outside, completely frail on the inside—in a prominent ballet company. She’s worked hard over the years and her dreams of being moved into center spotlight finally become realized when the company’s alpha male director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) opts to re-imagine the classic “Swan Lake.”

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Dec. 16th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Dec. 16th

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

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Reviews and Times

Depp in Venice

Depp in Venice

Star power can't quite redeem twisty, but flawed 'Tourist'

You know the story: unsuspecting pigeon snookered in by a sexy stranger, only to be drawn into a deadly game by powers beyond his control. And that's pretty much the story we get through most of The Tourist, a Hollywood star vehicle that positions Johnny Depp, as an innocent abroad, and Angelina Jolie, as a glamorous mystery woman, against the gorgeous backdrop of Venice.

But it's all a matter of perspective in what turns out to be a surprisingly sneaky, cheeky adventure thriller from German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. In The Lives of Others, von Donnersmarck studied voyeurism in the tale of a lonely East German police captain who spends years spying on a bohemian playwright. The surveillance equipment is a lot more high-tech in The Tourist, as Interpol agents collaborate with Scotland Yard to keep tabs on the protagonists, but beyond the central plot is a larger story about who is watching and manipulating whom.

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Reviews and Times

Sea Shanty

Sea Shanty

Picaresque 'Narnia: Dawn Treader' sails into adventure
It's not exactly a pirate movie. But there's enough shipboard action (roiling seas, burnished sunsets, athletic swordplay) to cheer any would-be seafarer, child, or child at heart, in the third of C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia adventures, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Be advised, an unfortunate amount of screen time is devoted to the brattiest of the film's youthful protagonists. Still, veteran director Michael Apted keeps the story pulsing along at a good clip, moral lessons are succinct and not too heavy-handed, and the magical elements are stylishly done.

This time out, the two eldest Pevensie siblings have grown up and joined their parents in the States, leaving Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley, now a poised young tween) back in wartime Britain in their aunt and uncle's home, at the mercy of their snotty cousin Eustace (Will Poulter). In this chapter, a painting is their portal back to Narnia, dragging the disbelieving Eustace along for the ride.

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Reviews and Times

Party Hardy

Party Hardy

'Tamara Drewe' is a sly, funny, modern reboot of a Victorian classic

What happens when you cross Thomas Hardy with the modern (feminist) graphic novel? If you're lucky, the result will be something sharply observed and acerbically funny like “Tamara Drewe.” This serial graphic novel from veteran cartoonist Posy Simmonds ran in weekly installments in London's Guardian newspaper from 2005 to 2006. Set in Hardy country (the bucolic Dorset countryside), it's a sly reboot of Far From the Madding Crowd, with a luscious heroine pursued by three obsessed men  from very different social strata.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 9th

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 9th


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

 

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Reviews and Times

Tangled

Tangled

Everybody talks about the evolution of Walt Disney cartoon fairy tale heroines—from the helpless '30s Snow White with her baby doll voice, waiting for her prince to come, to the obedient '50s drudge, Cinderella, and on to plucky, self-reliant Belle, Mulan and Tiana of the modern era. But how about the evolution of the Disney cartoon fairy tale hero? Seriously, who even remembers the bland, boring, cookie-cutter princes who partnered those earlier Disney heroines? The first one to distinguish himself from the pack was the magnificent Beast in 1990 and even he morphed back into a boring prince at the end. But this new breed of Disney heroines deserves better, more rambunctious males, like last year's Frog Prince, Naveen.

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Reviews and Times

A Gypsy, A Tramp, A Thief

A Gypsy, A Tramp, A Thief

‘Burlesque’ is dreamy but, oh, slightly nightmarish

Burlesque is a mess. But damn it—you can’t walk away hating it. The new musical drama starring Cher and Christina Aquilera—in her big screen debut—is an enigma indeed. It’s creatively clunky in the way Flashdance was; at times silly and limp with its writing (the way Footloose was) yet dramatic and visually striking, showing signs of breathtaking surprise a la Chicago. But if it’s a good story you’re looking for, keep looking. If you want to kill two hours with a playful romp and some eye-popping musical numbers and, of course, Cher, climb on board.

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Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

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Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

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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

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”