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Sep 01st
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Film

Reviews and Times

Gold Fever

Gold Fever

Will twice the nominees be boon or bust at 2010 Oscars?

A funny thing happened on the way to this year's Academy Awards ceremony. The Academy decided to open up its nominating process to 10 films, instead of the usual five. Who (besides Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, who will reap twice the revenue from "For your consideration …" ads), is this new policy designed to benefit? Well, the Academy, mainly, suffering from charges of elitism for failing to include more popular, crowd-pleasing titles among its most august list of Best Picture nominees in recent years. This was kind of a surprise to some of us pointy-heads who thought the Academy's recent trend toward more interesting, independent films was sort of a good thing. (Big box-office movies have big box-office receipts to console them.) After all, you don't have to go too far back in the last decade to find movies like Gladiator and Lord of The Rings: Return of the King—not exactly popularity wallflowers— not only nominated, but waltzing off with the whole Oscar enchilada.

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Reviews and Times

Rock Opera

Rock Opera

‘North Face’ is a brutal, compelling moutaineering saga

It’s ironic that the mountain-climbing movie North Face should arrive in the wake of the Winter Olympics. Sure, German filmmaker Philipp Stolzl’s gripping dramatization of a true story begins like one of those “inspirational” athletic movies about the indomitable human spirit in the face of impossible odds. There’s plenty of camaraderie and suspense as fresh-faced youths test their mettle against a ferocious opponent—in this case, the notorious north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps. There’s even a decorous hint of romance. But as the incidents in Stolzl’s film become more harrowing, and the truly operatic scope of the drama is revealed, viewers start to realize we’re not in Hollywood any more, Toto.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Mar. 4

Movies & Film Events: Week of Mar. 4

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

See Lisa Jensens Oscar picks

 

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Reviews and Times

War of the Words

War of the Words

Ideas, not action, drive wry Romanian cop drama ‘Police, Adjective'
If you expect a lot of shootouts and car chases from your police dramas, if you can't imagine a crime investigation that's not an action thriller, then Police, Adjective is not for you. Low-key in the extreme, this police drama from Romania unfolds at such a glacial pace, it often recalls those experimental Warhol movies of the '60s  which were all about the depiction of absolutely nothing. But viewers willing to pay attention and get into its slow, spare, real-life, real-time rhythm will discover a sly black comedy from director Corneliu Poromboiu, depending more on a gradually building intensity of ideas than conventional action.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Feb. 25

Movies & Film Events: Week of Feb. 25

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

 

 

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Reviews and Times

Cinequest Hits a Milestone at 20

Cinequest Hits a Milestone at 20

Twenty is a sexy age—even for a film festival. Fortunately for San Jose, Cinequest has never looked better—both onscreen and off. Actually, the revered celluloid soiree, which hits its 20-year marker this week, has managed to produce one of the most impressive outings in the Bay Area this season. More than 200 film screenings roll out, among them about 76 U.S. and World and premieres from 45 countries. The fest also honors "Maverick" filmmakers and innovators. Speaking of, mark your calendar and clear you Sixth Chakra: Deepak Chopra—yes, the Deepak—is being honored with a "Life of a Maverick Award" at 7pm Tuesday, March 2 at San Jose's California Theatre. Interesting to note is that Chopra has penned the script for "The Sadhu," which is under development—the film is based on the comic book series

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Reviews and Times

Twilight of the God

Twilight of the God

'Last Station' is a smart, gripping tale of Tolstoy's final years

The great thing about The Last Station is that it doesn't take sides. This lightly fictionalized story of Leo Tolstoy in his twilight years, beset by public and domestic discord, is rife with polarizing issues: poverty vs. wealth, communal life vs. privilege, religious doctrine vs. personal freedom, male vs. female. But as characters are revealed and their relationships entwine, filmmaker Michael Hoffman refuses to condemn anyone or tell the audience what to think. Instead, his smart, gripping film provides a sprawling and juicy canvas of life in all its messy contradictions.

Hoffman adapted the film from the novel by Jay Parini, which was inspired by private diaries kept by several witnesses in Tolstoy's household during his later years. In Hoffman's film, this busy narrative is pared down to  single viewpoint from which the rest of the story unspools, that of Valentin Bulgakov (solid, earnest James McAvoy), an innocent, awestruck young writer hired on as Tolstoy's new personal secretary.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Feb. 18

Movies & Film 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

CREATION

CREATION

The subject of the film is Charles Darwin, but don't go expecting high seas adventure in exotic ports on board the naturalist's famous research ship, the Beagle. What director Jon Amiel delivers instead is Creation, a mild-mannered, at times claustrophobic, yet moving period family drama about the effect of Darwin's radical theories of evolution on his family life, and vice versa. Scripted by John Collee (best known for his intricate screenwriting on Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World), the film is based on the biographical book "Annie's Box: Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution." Written by Randal Keynes (Darwin's great, great grandson), using a wealth of private family documents, the book focuses on the difficult period during which Darwin produced—and almost failed to produce—his groundbreaking book, "On The Origin Of Species."

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Reviews and Times

Cliff Hanger

Cliff Hanger

Banff Mountain Film Festival unleashes daring movies at the Rio Theatre

Go climb a rock. Or at least watch a movie about people who climb rocks, and put their lives at risk for fun, by catching the Banff Mountain Film Festival at 7 p.m. on Feb. 26 and 27 at the Rio Theatre. The thrill ride of a festival is back once again to woo adventurers with a series of short films that are inspiring, jaw-dropping, and feature feats that are beyond your imagination. Sporting a fantastic lineup of films, two of the ‘scene stealers’ are the films Finding Farley and First Ascent: The Impossible Climb. The latter stars Santa Cruz’s own spectacular rock climber Chris Sharma, who scales perhaps the world’s most difficult rock climb, and Finding Farley explores the aquatic journey of a couple, their toddler, and their dog as they travel down bodies of water in search of a legendary writer who did a similar trip long ago. Here’s a quick run-down of these two highlighted films.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.