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May 24th
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Film

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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Reviews and Times

Children Of The Damned

Children Of The Damned

Disturbingly beautiful 'White Ribbon' ponders the nature of evil

Where does evil come from? Is it sheer, blind chance, an unfortunate genetic malfunction, a random fluke of an uncaring universe? Or is it seeded and grown like a living thing, to be rooted and nurtured in a particular hothouse environment of intolerance and injustice, malice, brutality and fear? Filmmaker Michael Haneke invites us to consider this question in The White Ribbon, his disturbingly beautiful drama that imagines life in a remote German village in the generation before Hitler's rise to power. More complex than a simple parable, it's a stately piece of dramatic fiction with the dread-generating intensity of a horror movie.

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Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
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Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival