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Dec 29th
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Film

Reviews and Times

The King Stays In the Picture

The King Stays In the Picture

Few 'Speech' impediments in store at this year's Oscar

My personal taste in movies is so far off in the outer limits of mainstream Hollywood culture, I never expect the movies I like best to even be in the running for Academy Awards, let alone win gold. Imagine my shock in 2009 when my second-favorite film of the previous year, Slumdog Millionaire, actually won the Oscar for Best Picture. I figured either the Academy was getting smarter or I was getting more lenient in my dotage. Or Door Number Three: the Academy had been taken over by aliens, still the most logical  explanation.
So I have to say that this year's Oscar nominations are at least (and at best) par for the course.
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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Feb. 24th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Feb. 24th

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

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Reviews and Times

‘Eagle’ Doesn’t Soar

‘Eagle’ Doesn’t Soar

Historical action lacks depth, conviction in 'The Eagle'
It's big and shiny and carved out of bronze. But it's true value is its symbolism, standing for both the glory of the Roman Empire and the brutality of conquest (depending on one's viewpoint). It's the Eagle of the Ninth Legion, the standard carried into battle by a company of Roman Legionnaires who vanished into the murky mists of northern Britain in 120 A.D. And most of the historical action film, The Eagle, is devoted to trying to convince us—without much success—that this object is worth a lot of bloody slaughter.

The film is based on Rosemary Sutcliff's popular 1954 historical young adult novel, “The Eagle of the Ninth.” Its YA origins are evident in the film's straightforward action plot, simplified relationships, and the high degree of palaver about the "honor" of Rome while running riot over the indigenous tribes of Britain—who are (surprise!) inspired to respond with equal savagery. One hopes the reason director Kevin Macdonald and scriptwriter Jeremy Brock (they also collaborated on The Last King of Scotland) are resurrecting this material now is to draw parallels to our modern age of reckless adventuring in foreign lands. But The Eagle never gains the level of complexity that would make its story profound.

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Feb. 18

Film, Times & Events: Week of Feb. 18

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

 

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Reviews and Times

Lord of Illusion

Lord of Illusion

Magic vs. reality in Sylvain Chomet's lovely, animated 'Illusionist'

he lovingly hand-drawn animated feature, The Illusionist, is an artifact of another era—in so many ways. The second feature from French animator Syvain Chomet (his first was the nutty-sweet The Triplets of Belleville), it has the look of old-school cel animation, in which every luscious frame is a mini work of art. The milieu it depicts, too, harks back to an earlier time, the waning days of postwar vaudeville, with its plucky variety acts, once-glamorous theaters, and slightly seedy showbiz hotels.

It’s not surprising then that the script was actually written decades ago by the late French film comic Jacques Tati. Although the word "script" can only be loosely applied to the scenario of plot and encounters in a film that is mostly without dialogue. Tati himself was practically a mime, in a series of live-action comedies with the visual gags, balletic precision and timelessness of silent film comedy. There is sound aplenty in The Illusionist —voices, music, laughter, traffic—but very few distinguishable words, which contributes much to the wistful whimsy and charm of Chomet's film.

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Feb. 10th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Feb. 10th


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

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Reviews and Times

Life Wish

Life Wish

Fierce morality vs. mortality in haunting 'Biutiful'

How long is long enough to save the world? Even the miniscule portion of your immediate world where you might actually be able to make an impact? This is the dilemma faced by the hard-luck protagonist played with furious grace by the great Javier Bardem in Biutiful, a man clawing a living out of the urban underbelly of Barcelona who discovers he has only a short time left to straighten out his messy life for the sake of his beloved children. Brooding and heartfelt, it's a dark, yet tender vision of life on the fringe from the always provocative Alejandro González Iñárritu.

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Feb. 3rd

Film, Times & Events: Week of Feb. 3rd

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

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Reviews and Times

Post-Modern Romance

Post-Modern Romance

Appealing cast vs. silly premise in 'No Strings Attached'

Like many romantic comedies, No Strings Attached begins with an absurd premise. It's about a couple who have fun together, the sex is fabulous, and they're simpatico in every way, but they can't be together because of one of those ridiculous, self-imposed conditions you find only in the movies that they spend the entire movie trying (and ultimately failing) to stick to.

And while the audience is still trying to suspend its disbelief, the first half hour of the movie goes by in a series of drunken encounters, idiotic guy talk, and a barrage of penis jokes. Not jokes involving actual penises, but jokes involving the word "penis," which is evidently supposed to be hilarious in its own right because, once upon a time in the Stone Age, it was one of those words you weren't allowed to say in the movies. (It's like the first time Mel Brooks discovered he could get away with saying "shit" onscreen, and then he couldn't shut up about it; every new film was peppered with gags where that was the entire punchline.)

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Reviews and Times

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Weir limns gripping trek from Siberia to India in 'The Way Back'

Imagine a 4,000-mile trek on foot from the frozen wastes of Siberia to Mongolia, across the Gobi Desert to Tibet, and over the Himalayas into India. It's an incredible journey supposedly made by a handful of indomitable escapees from a Soviet prison camp in 1941, as depicted in The Way Back, another absorbing drama on the collision and collusion of man and nature from the formidable Peter Weir.

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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