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Aug 23rd
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Film

Reviews and Times

Lily Tomlin Gives In

Lily Tomlin Gives In

Lady Lily unveils the deeper truths about life—and working with Robert Altman

Let’s get one thing straight: Lily Tomlin loved morphing into the characters of Edith Ann and Ernestine on stage and in the hit ’70s show Laugh-In, but she also relished working with a phenom like Robert Altman (Short  Cuts, Gosford Park). The revered director did, after all, cast Tomlin in her big screen, Oscar-nominated debut in 1975’s Nashville, a film that launched a bevy of careers, Cybil Shepherd and Jeff Bridges among them. Altman is also at the helm of this June’s A Prairie Home Companion, a vibrant ensemble piece in which Tomlin co-stars alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Virginia Madsen, Woody Harleson and the avuncular Garrison Keillor—it’s based on Keillor’s

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Reviews and Times

King Kong: Great Ape

King Kong: Great Ape

With ‘Kong,’ Peter Jackson uncages a bold, fascinating new look at an old beast

Director Peter Jackson may be a complex man, but his approach filmmaking is simple: he dives into his task as if it was a Midwestern smorgasbord and doesn’t come up for air until he’s consumed every last morsel of that fifth portion of vanilla bean dessert pudding. And aren’t we all the better for it?  Jackson’s work, this decade in particular, is just epic. Who could argue that his Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy took cinema to new heights—all that state-of-the-art digital dancing; the grand achievement of bringing Tolkien’s revered lit to the screen; storytelling, reborn at last, at the cineplex. Marvelous. Give the man awards, and keep feeding him, please.

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Reviews and Times

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain It's Crouching Cowboy, Hidden Gay Man in Ang Lee’s beautifully crafted masterpiece

There’s a moment in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain where the film’s two male leads meet for the first time in four years and realize that they are, indeed, in love with each other. They share a series of passionate kisses and embrace underneath a stairwell. For a fleeting moment, they forget that it’s 1967, that they’re committed to other women, and that Wyoming’s machismo set wouldn’t quite know how to embrace the fact that they’re embracing. So the men retreat from the hunger for something they cannot yet articulate and keep their love for each other hidden as they continue their relationship—for 20 years.

And so it goes in one of the most talked about movies of the year. Headlined by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback was being touted as “one of the most important films of the decade” long before its release this winter. Why? For starters,

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Reviews and Times

Batman Has Bite

Batman Has Bite

Re-imagined superhero saves a dying film franchise

Finally—an intelligent Batman that soars high. In a story that often moves against the typical currents that make up a major Hollywood blockbuster, director Christopher Nolan delivers a beautifully polished, wondrously executed Batman Begins. And with it, comes the rebirth of a franchise left for dead by the likes of George Clooney.

Out: the post-modern Batman weighed down by the theatrics of directors Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher. In: a plausible Batman that digs deep into the psychology of the man behind the mask and draws its inspiration from classics like  The Man Who Would Be King, Blade Runner, the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and—surprisingly—Lawrence of Arabia. (Yes, you read that right.) What Burton’s Batman did for the campy ’60s TV show of the same name, Nolan does to Burton’s Batman (1989).

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Reviews and Times

Mad About Ballroom

Mad About Ballroom

It’s kids, it’s ballroom. It works.

Ten years ago director Marilyn Agrelo could not have imagined that her very first film would be about kids, or on dancing for that matter. “Oh, it wouldn’t have been edgy enough for my tastes,” she admits with a laugh.

Fortunately, like a ballroom dancer, Agrelo surrendered herself to some of the creative rhythms working around her, proving there’s a certain reward in taking up a dance that has nothing to do with the “dance” you’re dancing. The result is Mad Hot Ballroom (***1/2), one of the most dazzling, heartfelt—and downright fun—documentaries of the season.

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Reviews and Times

With Them, The Force Is

With Them, The Force Is

‘Revenge of Sith’ satisfies in its attempts to bring the Star Wars saga full circle

About 10 minutes into Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) find themselves in a galactic bind. Obi-Wan turns to Anakin and says, “How did this happen, we’re smarter than this?”

You want to laugh—and not in the good way. Most would have said the same thing after Attack of the Clones in 2002.  And after Phantom Menace (1999), who could blame them? But McGregor’s corny delivery of the line—something that was better suited coming out of the likes of Mark Hamill back in the ’70s—immediately brings to the surface the main problem with the prequels to George Lucas’s Star Wars: Many of his characters lack passion on screen.

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Reviews and Times

Lust For The Dust

Lust For The DustDana Brown washes up on shore and heads to the desert and an exhilarating ride via ‘Dust to Glory’

The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 is the longest nonstop, point-to-point race in the world. And that, apparently, was all a filmmaker like Dana Brown needed to hear before he embarked on filming the spectacle—it’s the MTV Music Awards on wheels, a desert road race that boasts as much glam as it does raunchy, cutthroat competition amidst a revelry of screaming fans. Add death-defying debauchery to the mix and the entire package suddenly smacks of must-see. Enter Brown, who never really does shy away from adventure, or misadventure for that matter. He has, in fact, become somewhat of the pied piper of extreme sports documentary filmmaking.

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Reviews and Times

Kevin Bacon Sizzles

Kevin Bacon Sizzles

Once footloose and fancy free, Kevin Bacon turns heads in ‘The Woodsman’ and becomes Hollywood’s most valuable player

Kevin Bacon is one of the most curious creatures in Hollywood. The man, devoid of any real tabloid hoopla or insufferable career crash-and-burns, would be considered royalty if he lived in London—he’s an unscathable beast capable of always landing on his feet, dimples intact, blue eyes forever blinding.

Bacon’s is a tale of longevity. Here is an actor who can be big-movie poster boy one minute (Footloose) and award-ceremony contender the next (Diner, Mystic River); somebody whose road to stardom is by way of keeping his celebrity always a bit low on Tinseltown’s rapturous radar screen.

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Reviews and Times

Walken on Sunshine

Christopher Walken on longevity, the film industry and those raging daddy issues found in ‘Around the Bend’

Meetup.com isn’t quite the Don Juan of Internet dating sites, but it does bring lonely people together in cyberspace. And in a world where everybody seems to be trying to make a connection—on any level—most would count their blessings, log on, get off and call it a day. But the site stands out for another—and truly bizarre—reason. It’s a place where a gaggle of Christopher Walken fans from 12 cities, in six different countries, including São Paulo, Brazil, meet online, arrange get-togethers and then later meet in person to exclusively discuss their admiration for the Oscar-winning actor whose celebrity keeps soaring with every quirky role he takes on.

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Reviews and Times

Travolta, Phoenix and The Ladder

John Travolta, Joaquin Phoenix tackle some burning questions and so much more

First, the good news.

Welcome Back Kotter was a classic TV series and Grease was a classic movie and I have zero interest in doing either again as a ‘whatever.’ I just think it is unnecessary.”

This, from John Travolta during a whirlwind press day in San Francisco. Travolta and his costars in Ladder 49, a film that chronicles the personal and emotional tolls it takes in being a fireman, were in town on a promotional blitz, which found each actor being ushered into different suites at the Ritz Carlton at different intervals for myriad interviews.

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Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

Entering Virgo

Sun entering Virgo brings a sign and element change, from Leo’s fire to Virgo’s practical earth. Food, health, grains, service and small animals are in the news and on our minds. It’s one month till autumn. Pumpkins and persimmons are ripening. Venus is in Leo. We radiate warmth; we’re generous, playful and affectionate. Everyone shows off in an ardent, passionate, warm-hearted, romantic and over-dramatic way, reflecting Leo’s fiery nature. Think of life as Shakespeare wrote: life is a play, we are its actors on the same stage together.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 22

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Locavores Only

Farm dinners at Route 1 Farms and the Homeless Garden Project expand the revolution

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

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

 

Clowning Around With Armitage Chardonnay

Four of us headed to Brandon Armitage’s new tasting room in Aptos Village recently to try his well-made wines.