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Dec 18th
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Film

Reviews and Times

Santa Cruz Film Festival gears up for its best year

Santa Cruz Film Festival gears up for its best year

A talk with the local festival's movie maven, Jane Sullivan

It started eight years ago and no one knew what would happen. Would it be a flop, a raging success, or something in between? But look at it now: The Santa Cruz Film Festival (SCFF) has turned out to be a stellar annual event, and while it may not run in the industry big league film festivals, it serves a very worthwhile purpose—exposing the work of independent filmmakers. And … it educates and inspires us with innovative work every year.

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Reviews and Times

At the movies in 2008

At the movies in 2008

As troubled as this year was, the same audacity of hope that drove people to the polls in November also fueled some of my favorite films of 2008. In the spirit of bi-partisan generosity, I refrain from listing my least favorite films of the year. This is no time to gloat over the losers; instead, let’s pull together for a brighter movie year in 2009!

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Reviews and Times

Monterey screenwriter's journey to Milk

Monterey screenwriter's journey to Milk

Dustin Lance Black's ties to the Central Coast helped craft the powerful civil rights tale

Politics, love and loss are perfect bedfellows in Milk, one of the most powerful, thought-provoking films of the year. But the much-ballyhooed movie about San Francisco politico Harvey Milk and the birth of the gay civil rights movement is a stunning, sometimes haunting portrait of a rarely scene pocket of history and how hope, ultimately, becomes the only saving grace.

And all this written by a man who wasn’t even born during Milk’s political renaissance. That man is Dustin Lance Black, 29, who lived in the Monterey Bay area for a time in the 1990s.

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Reviews and Times

Love, Honor, Dysfunction

Love, Honor, Dysfunction

Anne Hathaway commands the screen in ‘Rachel Getting Married’

It’s not always fun to witness a bevy of messy family dynamics unfold on screen—most people have enough of their own dilemmas to take care of at home—but director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Neil Young: Heart of Gold) manages to deliver the bittersweet realities plaguing one family in Rachel Getting Married with such grace it’s hard not to be drawn into his spell—and care about the outcome of his characters’ dilemmas.
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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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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

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

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