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Dec 21st
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Film

Reviews and Times

The Bitter End

The Bitter EndSurvivors stuggle on after nature rebels in harrowing, gripping 'The Road'

If the bleak vision of man's inhumanity to man in No Country For Old Men wasn't  demoralizing enough, this adaptation of another Cormac McCarthy novel, “The Road,” ought to do the trick. Judging from these two most recent novels (published in 2005 and 2006, respectively), McCarthy no longer has any faith in either the ability or the right of humankind as a species to exist for much longer. Directed by John Hillcoat, from a script by Joe Penhall, The Road is a post-apocalyptic tale of a father and son journeying across a devastated landscape that suggests what might happen if the natural world suddenly turned as savagely self-destructive as the humans who inhabit it.

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Reviews and Times

She's All That Jazz

She's All That Jazz

Big fun on the bayou in ‘The Princess And The Frog'

It's taken the folks at Walt Disney more than seven decades to create their first African-American cartoon heroine. And when they finally do, she spends most of the movie green when a fairy tale kiss goes awry in The Princess And The Frog. But the movie is so much fun, and—for Disney—culturally rich, with its New Orleans/Louisiana bayou setting, there's not much else to quibble about. Terrific voice performances, lively songs by Randy Newman, and gorgeous hand-drawn cel animation make this one of the most entertaining Disney cartoon features since The Lion King.

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Reviews and Times

Color Bind

Color Bind

White parents, black child-chaos, in affecting 'Skin'

Despite its title, the persuasive drama, Skin, is not about race. At least, it's not about race alone. Yes, the plot revolves around the true story of a black South African girl born to white parents during the shameful and divisive apartheid era. But on a larger scale, the issues of identity, otherness and separatism explored here could just as easily apply to a story about national, sexual, political, or religious intolerance, as well as racism—any of the artificial barriers that divide us from our fellow humans. Where Skin gains power is in showing how the effects of injustice can be just as devastating on those who wield it as on those it's wielded against.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 10

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 10

INVICTUS Sports and politics mix in this true story of how restored South African president Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined with national rugby team captain, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to unite the country devastated by the aftermath of apartheid during the 1995 World Cup championship race. Clint Eastwood directs on location in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Based on the non-fiction book "Playing The Enemy," by John Carlin. (PG-13) 133 minutes. Starts Friday.

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Reviews and Times

Fade To Black

Fade To Black

Behold—the worst films of 2009

You don’t come across films like Precious and Up In The Air every day—let’s not forget Away We Go—so relish them while you can. In meantime, 2009, while it was a strong year overall at the box office, spawned more than a cluster of clunkers. Take note of the following films—most of them remakes— and then immediately erase them from your memory.

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Reviews and Times

The Liars Club

The Liars Club

Father uncovers hidden family secrets in bittersweet 'Everybody's Fine'

When was the last time you called your folks? You might want to make that call after seeing Everybody's Fine, a wistful drama of family dynamics and the lies we tell ourselves and our loved ones—just to get by. Although the film doesn't entirely resist the urge to tie things up in a neat package, the story is surprisingly schmaltz-free in the telling, mostly rising above easy sentimentality for a thoughtful look at parenting, expectations and disappointment.

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Reviews and Times

RED CLIFF

RED CLIFF

If you don't know anything about Third Century Chinese politics, don't study up on it before you see Red Cliff. One of the strengths of this vast and bloody dramatization of a decisive battle between feudal warlords, at least for the uninitiated, is not knowing who will win the war, or how. The suspense factor is a plus in this two-and-a-half-hour action epic from director John Woo, who, after a career in violent Hong Kong gangster melodramas and Hollywood thrillers, turns to the mystical, martial-arts spectacle. The characters are mythic, the film's visual scale humongous, the bloodletting frequent and exhausting, and there's plenty of opportunity for Woo to show off his trademark explosions.

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Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 3

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 3

ARMORED Columbus Short stars in this action thriller about a new driver at an armored truck company coerced by his cohorts into joining them in a $42 million truck heist that goes awry. Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, and Laurence Fishburne co-star for director Nimród Antal (Kontroll) (PG-13) 88 minutes. Starts Friday.
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Reviews and Times

Loud And Clear

Loud And Clear

Foster terrific as conflicted war vet in spare, moving 'Messenger'

There are many kinds of collateral damage in warfare. The character played with such stoic complexity by Ben Foster in The Messenger is poised to experience, or at least witness most of them. As the title character in Oren Moverman's rigorous and insightful debut feature, Foster plays a wounded Iraq War vet serving out the rest of his tour back in the States, notifying loved ones that their sons, husbands and fathers have been killed in action.

Scripted by Moverman and Alessandro Camon, The Messenger honors the sacrifices of servicemen and women and their families, while at the same time exposing the true cost of war, and the bitter reality beneath the patriotic hype and hoopla. It also provides a sensational vehicle for Foster, after years as a young male ingénue and second lead, who recently wowed audiences as a psycho villain in 3:10 To Yuma. With the graceful subtlety of his performance in The Messenger, Foster proves he has the presence to command the screen.

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Reviews and Times

Female Troubles

Female Troubles

‘Women in Trouble’ doesn’t quite rise to the occasion

The almost entirely female cast of Women In Trouble tend to be taut, leggy twenty- and thirtysomethings with long, flowing locks, who look great in lacy underwear and high heels. The actresses are made to look so similar in Sebastian Gutierrez's stylized ensemble comedy, it's often hard to tell the characters apart.

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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

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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