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Dec 19th
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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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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire