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Film

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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Reviews and Times

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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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events

Movies & Film Events

AVATAR James Cameron's new sci-fi epic involves a US military unit sent to a lush, tropical planet whose cultured, indigenous warrior population is determined to keep the invaders from despoiling their land. Sam Worthington stars as a young US war vet technologically altered to resemble the native people and sent in as a scout. Zoe Saldana is the indigenous tribeswoman with whom he falls in love. Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, and Giovanni Ribisi co-star. (PG-13) 150 minutes. Starts Friday.
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Reviews and Times

Royal Progress

Royal Progress

Teen blossoms into queen in entertaining 'Young Victoria'
It's not easy being queen. Just ask the lonely, fatherless, inexperienced 18-year-old girl thrust onto the throne of England when her uncle, the king, dies, in The Young Victoria. This sumptuously mounted historical drama offers an intriguing glimpse of the youthful monarch destined to give her name to an entire age in Britain, before and after her succession to the throne, and argues the point that everyone involved in the political sphere has a few rough patches at the beginning, however beloved they might later become.

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Reviews and Times

Crazy Love

Crazy Love

Romance and storytelling merge in wry, marvelous 'Broken Embraces'

ust and obsession, fathers and sons, storytelling and filmmaking, betrayal and redemption—all go into the Cuisinart to be whipped into a gorgeous and volatile froth in Broken Embraces, a spicy drama from Pedro Almodóvar, served with a side of wryness. It's hard not to fall into gastronomical adjectives to describe this film: every frame looks good enough to eat (full of popsicle colors and striking compositions) and every performance is delectable, however small.

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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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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