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Sep 17th
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Film

Reviews and Times

Bleached Remains

Bleached Remains

Story pales under opulent fx in 'The Lovely Bones'

A story about a murdered child is a tough sell. Alice Sebold evidently pulled it off in her bestselling novel "The Lovely Bones." Narrated from the afterlife by a 14-year-old girl brutally murdered by the neighborhood serial killer, it's a story of death-defying love, grief, healing and redemption.

But for those of us who haven't read the novel, only vague traces of what must have made it so meaningful survive in Peter Jackson's unwieldy adaptation of The Lovely Bones. Jackson and co-scriptwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens replicate the action of the plot—which is occasionally grim and often confusing—but never imbue it with the poetic or transformative power that would make it all amount to something. Instead, Jackson spends his creative energy attempting to depict the unknowable—the afterlife ("the in-between time") from which the young heroine tells her tale. Jackson envisions it as an opulent CGI playground of mind-blowing images, but every time we go there, we're wrenched out of the intimate human drama that should have given the film its soul.

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Reviews and Times

THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND

THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND

The hothouse dramas of Tennessee Williams were considered pretty scandlous back in the '50s because, hello! it was the '50s. These days, warmed-over Williams just doesn’t have the same impact, even if provided by Williams himself, via a long-unproduced screenplay. Rookie director Jodie Markell's handsome production of The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond conjures up the usual intemperate Williams brew: unspoken homosexual longing sublimated into the tale of a fragile, yet willful Southern belle  too arty and sophisticated for her stifling social milieu, teetering on the brink of madness. Pale, porcelain Bryce Dallas Howard goes brunette to play Fisher Willow, a Memphis debutante ca. 1923 who's spent some time abroad, bobs her hair, and has a yen for jazz. She's also smitten with dirt-poor Jimmy Dobyne (Chris Evans)—his father's an affable drunk and his mama is locked up in a madhouse—who runs the commissary on her rich Daddy's plantation.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 21

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 21

EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES When his two youngest children are diagnosed with a rare and fatal disease, a young business entrepreneur (Brendan Fraser) ditches the corporate world to set up his own foundation with a renegade scientist (Harrison Ford), in hopes of developing a cure. Keri Russell and Jared Harris co-star. Adapted from the non-fiction book, "The Cure," by Geeta Anand. Tom Vaughan directs. (PG) 102 minutes. Starts Friday.
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Reviews and Times

Man On Wire

Man On Wire

Colin Firth is marvelous navigating grief in 'A Single Man'

The scary-beautiful image that begins A Single Man, a naked male figure floating embryo-like (or possibly drowning) under water, plunges the viewer into a sense of edgy dislocation. All the better to appreciate the mindset of the film's protagonist, a quietly closeted gay expatriate Briton in sunny L.A., grieving over the loss of his longtime partner, who no longer fits into his own well-tailored life. From these opening moments, we share the protagonist's unease about the randomness of the universe in Tom Ford's spare, elegant study on the nature of grief.

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Reviews and Times

CRAZY HEART

CRAZY HEART

In a  just universe, Jeff Bridges would have a roomful of Oscars by now. He's been so great in so many roles for so long, it's almost ironic he's getting some of his best notices ever for the broken-down country singer he plays in Crazy Heart. Not that Bridges isn't spectacular in the part—is he ever. But Bridges is an actor of such wry, thoughtful subtlety who makes it look so effortless that some viewers may miss the exquisite craftsmanship of his performance, or, worse, assume he's just playing himself. Bridges invests 57-year-old "Bad" Blake with all the cantankerous brio and innate, slightly shopworn charm accrued from a hard life lived on the road. After four marriages, fleeting fame, and a lifetime of bad decisions, he travels the byways of the desert Southwest in his Chevy Silverado, playing with pick-up bands in bowling alleys and honky-tonks, fueled by cigarettes, whiskey, and the occasional groupie of a certain age.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 14

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 14THE BOOK OF ELI It's getting crowded out there in the post-apocalypse. After 2012, and The Road, now it's Denzel Washington fighting his way across the ravaged landscape in this action drama from the Hughes Brothers, protecting the secret he carries, the only hope for the survival of humankind. Gary Oldman, Jennifer Beals, and Michael Gambon co-star. (R) 118 minutes. Starts Friday.
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Reviews and Times

In Your Dreams

In Your Dreams

Visuals, scruffy charm, trump confusion in 'Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus'

Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus ought to be better than it is. Some scenes waffle and teeter all over themselves before coming to the point, and the narrative wanders off down a few too many dark passages, squandering its momentum. Gilliam coaxes splendid, witty playing out of his gifted cast in some scenes, but in other moments, it sounds as if they were directed to play from an outline of the story instead of a script.

But as a celebration of human imagination, and a passionate defense of the power of storytelling, Dr. Parnassus keeps drawing us into its cheerfully amok orbit. Now that technology has caught up with Gilliam's own fervid imagination, he's able to construct ecstatic onscreen dreamscapes alongside the tawdry fun-house charm of the film's "realistic" sequences. Some lovely moments are also provided by Heath Ledger in his last film role, Tom Waits, as a purring, deadpan Devil, and a sly cameo by Johnny Depp.

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Reviews and Times

YOUTH IN REVOLT

YOUTH IN REVOLT

Teen angst, divorce, raging hormones and lovesickness all crawl under the creative covers for an amusing romp in director Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt. The film, which is based on C.D. Payne’s 1993 read, “Youth In Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp”—and its literary brothers, “Revolting Youth: The Further Journals of Nick Twisp,” and “Young and Revolting: The Continental Journals of Nick Twisp”—is a delicious dark comedy that finds its protagonist (Michael Cera in a winning role) hoping to win the affections of a nubile teen dream (Portia Doubleday as Sheeni Saunders) that he meets during a family vacation. It’s the perfect role for Cera, who has already mastered the art of playing the underdog in other films like Superbad, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and, of course, a career-making role in Juno. But here, he’s given a little more to play with creatively, mostly because the character of Nick Twisp, revered in some literary circles, is such a rich beast filled so many wild emotional undercurrents.

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Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 7

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 7

CRAZY ON THE OUTSIDE  Tim Allen makes his directing debut in this comedy in which he also stars as an ex-con who causes havoc when he moves in with his sister (Sigourney Weaver) and her family. Ray Liotta. Kelsey Grammer, and Jeanne Triplehorn co-star. (PG-13) Starts Friday.
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Reviews and Times

Moving Pictures, Top 10 & GUILTY PLEASURES

Moving Pictures, Top 10 & GUILTY PLEASURES

Love, strong women among the themes found in the best films of 2009

Some movies are so great, I just want to grab people by the lapels and drag them off to the moviehouse. There weren't many films like that in 2009, but if it was an unexceptional movie year in general, there were still a few small gems worth noting. Here are my Top Ten films of the year, plus a few guilty pleasures. Enjoy!

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Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Feeding Frenzy

Culinary journey ‘The Trip to Italy’ isn’t the foodie film you’d expect 

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past
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Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

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

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.