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Apr 18th
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Green Party

Green Party

Funny script, Depp's lizard hero, highlight Western spoof 'Rango'

Johnny Depp has always been an experimental character actor trapped in the body of a guy who looks like Johnny Depp. But he finds a way to do an end run around the burden of his own good looks—and unleash his inner clown—in Rango, an abundantly silly and entertaining animated family comedy in which Depp brings voice and life to the film's unorthodox hero, a bulbous-eyed green lizard with big dreams.

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of March 10th

Film, Times & Events: Week of March 10th


Films This Week

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See What Movie has Gotten Reviewed this Week...

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Reviews and Times

Will Power

Will Power

'Nora's Will' a lovely tone-poem on love and absolution
Absolution can sometimes be found in the most unusual circumstances. Just ask the characters in Nora's Will, an engrossing, thoroughly engaging little tone poem from Mexican writer-director Mariana Chenillo. Intricate, yet simple in design, and laced with deliciously dry humor, this low-key meditation on love, loss, and family ties also ponders the power of absolution, especially among those who may not realize how badly they need it.

Chenillo's original Spanish title, 5 Dias Sin Nora (5 Days Without Nora) perhaps speaks more to the heart of a film whose central (or at least most dominant) character is dead when the story begins.

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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Mar. 03

Film, Times & Events: Week of Mar. 03

Films This Week
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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
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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
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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
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With reviews and trailers.

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Smells Like Team Spirit

The organizers of TEDx Santa Cruz don’t just talk about this year’s theme, ‘radical collaboration’—they live it

 

Pluto Retrograde, Aries New Moon, Lyrid Meteor Showers

As the Lyrid meteors, radiating from the star Vega in the Harp constellation, begin showering heaven and earth with light, Pluto, planet of transformation (or die) turns stationary retrograde (Thursday, April 16), 15 degrees Capricorn. Retrogrades have purpose, allowing humanity time to review, reassess, research and reinvent while returning to previous situations. Retrogrades are times of inner activity, seeds sown in bio-dynamically prepared soil. Pluto retrograde is the most serious and resolute of retrogrades—a pure tincture, or, as in homeopathy, a “constitutional” touching the essences of all that matters. Pluto offers deep insight into confusion or puzzlement and areas where transformation is still incomplete. It’s valuable to have one’s astrology chart to follow what area of life the major planets— especially Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto—are influencing. These outer planets have long-term and lasting effects on our psyche, inner/outer life events, how people see us and how we see and process our world. Pluto, retrograde for five months (until Sept. 24) offers deep earthquakes of change, awakens humanity to the task of building (Capricorn) the new culture and civilization, flailing our inner world about, deepening us until we transform and do things differently. Pluto is an unrelenting teacher. New moon (29 Aries) is Saturday, April 18. With the personality-building keynote, “Let form again be sought.” Mars anchors the new creative fires of Aries into our world. The New Group of World Servers participates together in the new moon festival, while also preparing for the Taurus Wesak, Buddha Full Moon Festival (May 3). Join us everyone.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

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Mighty Leaf

Radicchio from Dirty Girl Produce, wine etiquette fail, and a treat from Gayle’s

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

37th Parallel Wines

I visited the Capitola Mall recently to check out the newly launched Third Fridays Walking Art Tour, and was surprised to find an impressive assortment of artwork from local artists.

 

New Bohemian Brewery

New Santa Cruz brewery focuses on European style lagers