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Apr 21st
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Film

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.
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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
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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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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Jan. 20th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Jan. 20th

Films This Week
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Reviews and Times

Bitter Sweet

Bitter Sweet

Fine acting, raw emotion highlight post-love drama 'Blue Valentine'

lthough it bills itself as  "a love story," the unsettling drama Blue Valentine begins after most conventional love stories have long since concluded, some time after happily ever after has morphed into stuck forever. The antidote (or maybe the evil twin) to a thousand Hollywood fluff comedies like How Do You Know, where all that matters is landing the right guy, or gal, this prickly drama from Derek Cianfrance pokes into the raw wound of disappointed dreams and desires while grappling with the elusive nature of love, and why and how it can just as easily slip away.

 

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Reviews and Times

Rabbit Hole

Rabbit HoleNicole Kidman is back on her game here. (Sorry Nic, I had trouble understanding your reasoning behind Stepford Wives, Bewitched, Birth, The Golden Compass and even Australia.) But in Rabbit Hole, directed with a rare grace by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus), Kidman shines bright and is worthy of the Golden Globe nomination she received. Better, though, is Aaron Eckhart, who turns in one of the best performances of his career as a grieving father trying to come to terms with the untimely death of the young son he shares with Kidman’s character. (Why Eckhart was overlooked for a nomination is an injustice.) Rabbit Hole is a moody beast. It’s a film that delves into a heavy subject: loss. Kidman and Eckhart are the married couple who drifted apart in the aftermath of their son’s death.
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Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Jan 13th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Jan 13th

Films This Week
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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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