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Jul 30th
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Film

Reviews and Times

Heart Burn

Heart Burn

Food, love, identity blend in tasty, but uneven 'Soul Kitchen'
It takes a healthy appetite for slapstick to digest Soul Kitchen. This multicultural comic confection about a foundering restaurant in a shabby neighborhood in Hamburg, Germany, draws much of its humor from such material as pratfalls at a funeral, a popped vest button that lands in the wrong place, and a character who keeps throwing out his back, forcing him to scuttle about like Quasimodo. Still, beneath the fizzy froth of physical gags simmers a more tender-hearted tale of food, love, and identity, with a protagonist teetering at the axis between them all.

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Reviews and Times

Altered Views

Altered Views

'Mademoiselle Chambon" explores sensuousness of longing
Not all the French hang out in the bistro, sipping cognac and discussing arty things. What's interesting right away about Mademoiselle Chambon—literally, from the very first image—is the thoughtful way it sets up a working-class milieu. Jean (Vincent Lindon), a construction worker, spends his days ripping out drywall and mortaring bricks. His wife, Anne-Marie (Aure Atika) works on an assembly line. When they help their little boy, Jeremy, with his grammar homework, they are as mystified as he is about the test questions, but the three of them gamely work their way through the lesson together and come up with the correct answer.

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Reviews and Times

Amorality Play

Amorality Play

Family courage trumps political cover-up in excellent 'Tillman Story'
Imagine that you are a Gold Star mother. Because your son was a famous athlete before he enlisted, his death prompts a media frenzy during which you and your shell-shocked family are required to act out your private anguish on the public stage while an A-List roster of high-ranking military leaders, politicians, and pundits embroider the tale of your son's heroics in battle. But only weeks later, details begin to emerge that expose the official Army report as an obscene pack of lies. And even as you delve deeper into the unsavory truth, the military labors to spin the death of your beloved child into a “recruitment poster."

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Reviews and Times

Smoke Stray Long

Smoke Stray Long

Woman takes unexpected inner journey in 'Cairo Time'
There's not much eating in Cairo Time. Praying is done only in the distance, and never by the main character. And as for love— well, that's a subtle, nuanced, indefinable thing in Ruba Nadda's meditative romantic drama about an American woman trying to come to grips with her life in an exotic location halfway around the globe.

The storyline may bear a superficial resemblance to a certain Julia Roberts movie, but the inner journey taken by Nadda's heroine is unintentional, and infused with a kind of seductive languor that's the antithesis of a typical Hollywood-style narrative. This works both for and against the film to some degree: much of the drama unfolding in the heroine's psyche is internalized and unspoken, yet a steady kind of tension builds toward what we hope will be the expression of her gradually altering outlook.

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Reviews and Times

Highwater

Highwater

It's the perfect antidote to a muggy summer evening: wave after wave of crystal-clear, turquoise walls of water towering some 20 feet up into the sky, then crashing down again in an explosion of surf, like shattering diamonds. These are the true stars of Dana Brown's latest surf documentary, Highwater, the gigantic, justly fabled waves off the North Shore of Oahu. Every so often you might notice a tiny human silhouette maneuvering a board under the curl or plowing over a crest, but mostly it's the natural spectacle of the thundering waves themselves, more than the people trying to ride them, that deserve the accolade "awesome."

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Reviews and Times

It's A Jungle Out There

It's A Jungle Out ThereYouth sucked into crime family in grim, forceful 'Animal Kingdom'
ll teenagers go through a period of trying to find themselves and figure out their place in the larger world. But most of them don't have to launch their search from the depths of a family of career criminals, like the young protagonist in the bleak, yet forceful Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom. Tossed without ceremony into a metaphorical pit of vipers, this 17-year-old boy has more than the usual obstacles to contend with, maneuvering constantly toward survival while the adults around him teach him the law of the jungle.
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Reviews and Times

Drama-free

Drama-freeBut that’s not a good thing for ‘Centurion’
In an old Monty Python routine, a maniacal barber about to shave an unwary customer and stropping his razor, starts muttering, "Blood, spurt, artery, psycho!" That about sums up the plot in Centurion, a budget bloodfest from Neil Marshall (The Descent) about Roman Legionnaires trapped behind enemy lines in the far north of Britain. It has the same molten pewter look (and shiny red blood) of Zach Snyder's 300, and aspires to the same level of epic classical tragedy, but Centurion lacks even the minimal dramatic resonance of Snyder's pulpy take on the Spartans.
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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Sept. 2

Movies & Film Events: Week of Sept. 2

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

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Reviews and Times

Folie à Trois

Folie à Trois

‘Alice Creed’ a gutsy, audacious three-character thriller
There are few things more exciting in moviegoing than finding a truly original film by someone you’ve never heard of before. Think back to the first time you saw Christopher Nolan’s Memento, say, or Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects. Remember that feeling of, “Wow, where did this guy come from?” You may get that same hit of awe, coupled with a gleeful sense of discovery, when watching The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a gutsy, disturbing, scrupulously well-honed little thriller from rookie British auteur J Blakeson.

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Reviews and Times

Mao's Last Dancer

Mao's Last Dancer

It’s really a tale of two dancers. One, Li Cunxin, a peasant boy plucked out of his rural Chinese village and sent to the Beijing Arts Academy toward the end of the Mao Zedong regime, became one of the most prominent ballet dancers in the world. The other, Chi Cao, is the phenomenal young Chinese ballet star who plays Li in Bruce Beresford’s heartfelt, rewarding film. Scripted by Jan Sardi (Shine) from Li’s autobiography, the film sticks to the highlights of Li’s incredible journey, but dramatic resonance and Beresford’s beautifully shot dance sequences keep the viewer enchanted. The sixth of seven sons, Li grows up in a poor family presided over by loving parents (Joan Chen is wonderful as his humble, but feisty mother); newspaper lines the walls and they share a communal soup bowl at mealtimes.

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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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 25

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

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.