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Sep 30th
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Reviews and Times

Patti Smith: Dream of Life

Patti Smith: Dream of Life

The legend's past comes to life in a moving doc

Steven Sebring's film took more than a decade to make

But patience has served the filmmaker well. Dream of Life is one of the most captivating documentaries of the year. And, like its subject, quite hypnotic. It’s a work that sits with you long after you leave the theater. Smith, the outspoken rocker/poet/spoken word artist, has been in the limelight for decades. She stormed onto the music scene in the ’70s, hung out with the likes of Robert Mapplethorpe and William S. Burroughs and made a name for herself the seminal album Horses, among others. The film, like Smith’s own creativity, seems to wander through an esoteric, emotionally rich mine field.

Through archival concert footage and first-hand interviews, we’re taken into Smith’s life and times. But Sebring avoids the linear approach. Instead, we’re treated to a lyrical, stream of consciousness. Among the many musings, the rocker shares her pain over the early

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Reviews and Times

The Swede Hereafter

The Swede Hereafter

‘Let the Right One In’ a moody, poignant Swedish vampire thriller

What better place for a vampire than the almost eternal night of a Swedish winter? Welcome to Let The Right One In, a dark, achingly sweet, deeply subversive genre-busting thriller from Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson. The flip side to the eagerly awaited Twilight, due out later this month, Alfredson’s film hews to the same basic idea as the Stephanie Meyer cult novel: young loner meets dazzling new friend with scary but alluring powers. But there’s far less romance and more runaway id in Alfredson’s story, dealing as it does with the fragile tween years; no longer children, its protagonists are hovering on the precipitous cusp of everything.

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Reviews and Times

Climb a Rock

Climb a Rock

The REEL ROCK film tour scales new heights with a bevy of shorts and one feature-length offering

The life of a ‘rock star’ is typically adventurous, often living on the edge of sanity, scaling every bump along the way with fearlessness. There are two types: The musical ‘rock stars’ and the stars in the rock climbing sport—those who scale the earth one handhold at a time, risking injury and even sometimes their lives.

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Reviews and Times

Don Bachardy: Perfect Portrait

Don Bachardy: Perfect Portrait

The Del Mar Theatre’s benefit screening of ‘Chris and Don’ delivers one of the year’s more illuminating documentaries
If there is one movie you must see this year to convince you of the incredible power of love, and how it can transform those captured by its magical prowess, it would have to be Chris and Don … a love story. The heartwarming documentary, which enjoyed a healthy run and critical praise within the film festival circuit, hits Santa Cruz on Sept. 11 with a special screening and fundraiser at the Del Mar Theatre for the Santa Cruz Cultural Council. This imaginative film chronicles the against-all-odds relationship between British writer Christopher Isherwood and portrait painter Don Bachardy, whose memorable works grace the halls of the Met and The Smithsonian. But Chris and Don (****) unveils a portrait of another kind. It seems to illuminate the unending depths love can take two people, and with vivid strokes of its artistic brush—so wonderfully executed by director Guido Santi—manages to convey the unlimited possibilities of what something real can offer. Isherwood

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Reviews and Times

Pure Cinema Alchemy

Pure Cinema Alchemy

Take ‘The Fall’ and prepare to be spellbound

In big, expensive studio movies, the entire budget may go into a star’s bank account, or noisy special effects, while no-budget independent movies often struggle to make up in integrity what they lack in production values. And then there’s The Fall, the kind of unclassifiable virtuoso performance that happens when a filmmaker has an extraordinary vision and pursues it with relentless drive, focus and imagination, come what may. Part fairy tale, and part coming-of-age drama, it combines stunning visual beauty and a beguiling storyline in a witty and artful homage to both the early days of moviemaking and the power of storytelling itself.

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Reviews and Times

Belgian Wafflers

Belgian Wafflers

Irish gangsters re-examine their career choices in smart, violent, perversely funny ‘In Bruges’

In one respect, Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges is a marvelous travelogue for the medieval Old Town in the Belgian city of Bruges. The urge to join the migration of international tourists who will no doubt be flocking there in the wake of this film’s release may be irresistible. Just don’t forget to pack your bulletproof vest.

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Reviews and Times

Primal Screen

Primal Screen

Signs and portents, plus the best, worst and weirdest of the 2007 movie year

What if they gave a movie and nobody came? A lot of theater-owners wrestled with this dilemma in 2007. Box office returns were up this year, since it now costs half your kingdom and your first-born male for a couple of tickets to the multiplex, but the incredible shrinking audience became a factor to reckon with at smaller venues.

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Reviews and Times

Nature of the Beast

Nature of the Beast

   Emile Hirsch explores inner landscapes in ‘Wild’

“Besides his outstanding intellect and creativity, his willpower, strength and integrity stood out,” says “Into the Wild” star Emile Hirsch. “He really is a tremendous spirit.”

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Reviews and Times

Peter Fonda: Still on Track

Peter Fonda: Still on Track

He’s not done yet. Why Peter Fonda hopped on the testosterone train in ‘3:10 to Yuma’

Morality, courage, honor and family may be the themes explored in the riveting, re-imagined 3:10 to Yuma, but for Peter Fonda, the shoot-’em-up extravaganza by director James Mangold (“Walk The Line”) was a reminder of how well westerns can illuminate real-life political dramas.

“The best way to discuss what’s going on right now is through a western—and in the past tense,” Fonda says. “If you talk in the ‘right now,’ you’re going to force people to go one way or another in an ideology they may not like, but in a western, that idiom gives you the chance of encompass all sides of the political spectrum.”

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Reviews and Times

Somewhere North of Up

Somewhere North of Up

The adventurous Chris Sharma on tough rock climbs and what life looks like on top of the world
Chris Sharma has a firm grip on life. He needs the tight handhold because he’s often dangling by just a few fingers, death or injury close by. Such is the life of the world’s best rock climber. At 26, the Santa Cruz native, who now spends more time away from his hometown than in it, is the type of daredevil that will scour the world, hunting for the most challenging climb that planet Earth can offer.

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Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

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Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

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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

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”