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Film - Reviews and Times

In the Family Way

In the Family Way

Clooney heads great cast in wry, touching 'Descendants'

s we know here in Santa Cruz, no one is "immune to life"—not even in Paradise. This is well understood by Matt King, a Hawaiian-born lawyer and father on the island of Oahu facing a particularly thorny patch of life in The Descendants, Alexander Payne's incisive, entertaining, tender and life-sized family drama. Shot on location in the luscious Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai, it's a tale of a family in crisis, a culture in flux, and the issue of legacy between the generations, told with wry humor and honest emotion.

Adapted by scriptwriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, from the novel by Hawaiian author Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants revolves around the King family.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Nov. 24th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Nov. 24th

Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING
With: Reviews Twilight, The Decendants,
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Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

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Film - Reviews and Times

‘Twi’ and ‘Twi’ Again

‘Twi’ and ‘Twi’ Again

A deeper look into the ‘Twilight’ melodrama

Twi-hards are ecstatic. (The rest of us, not so much.) But now that the Twilight movie franchise is back with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), her dreamboat of an immortal, vamp Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and the boy-werewolf she tossed away, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), it’s best to simply accept fate and embrace the timeline we’ve been given. (This isn’t Fringe, for crying out loud.) In Breaking Dawn, the first of Twilight’s two-part final opus, Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay effectively delivers what tweens and teens seem to be craving: a shirtless Taylor Lautner (and that’s in the first five minutes!); plenty of teenage angst (oh, that Bella!) and a craving for more (the final moments of the film have generated buzz.) But even if you haven’t read the Stephenie Meyer novels, director Catherine Hardwicke creates an acceptable outing here that simply mirrors the times we live in. It’s not about the characters.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Don't Block the Rock

Don't Block the Rock

Worlds can't collide soon enough in apocalyptic 'Melancholia'

Get ready to duck! Lars von Trier is lobbing a gigantic ball of metaphor straight at ya in Melancholia, his highly lauded, deeply lugubrious allegorical drama about the end of the world. And it can't happen a moment too soon for the listless, unexplored, largely unlikeable characters who populate this bloated two-plus hour meditation on despair, the de-evolution of the human species, and one big, random act of natural retribution.

Nobody has ever accused Von Trier of predictability. In previous films, the persistently idiosyncratic Danish filmmaker has experimented mightily with form and content and how (or if) they interact—a melodramatic tragedy staged as a club-footed musical in “Dancer In the Dark;” a morality play about greed and revenge, Dogville, filmed on a bare soundstage, with tape marking off the imaginary interior and exterior spaces.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Immortals

Immortals

 

Nobody was more excited than I to hear that Tarsem Singh was directing a new movie based on Greek mythology. (He directed one of my favorite movies of the last decade, the rapturously gorgeous The Fall.) And nobody could be more appalled than I am at the result, Immortals, a grueling endurance test of blood, gore, murder, warmongering, torture, and more blood. Hey, I like a good, cheesy sword 'n' sandal epic as well as anybody, but in order to woo the Xbox generation, the idea here seems to be to depict every encounter of metal and flesh in unflinching detail. For a visual stylist like Tarsem, that means plotting the trajectory of every geyser and globule of splattering blood, and every severed fragment of anatomy as it fits into the grand composition
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Film - Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Nov. 17th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Nov. 17th

Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With: Reviews IMMORTALS, MELANCHOLIA,
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Film - Reviews and Times

Mad Love

Mad Love

Almodóvar unleashes harrowing, dazzling 'Skin I Live In'

Where are moments when Pedro Almodóvar's new movie, The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito) will make you squirm. It has sex and violence—often at the same time—and some very strange relationships, perverse even by Almodóvar standards. In terms of storyline, it's a weird mix of Pygmalion and Frankenstein, with echoes of vintage mad-scientist horror movies from the '30s to the '50s. (You could even make a case for this film paying a sort of bizarre homage to my favorite grade-Z '50s horror movie, The Head That Wouldn't Die).

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Film - Reviews and Times

Anonymous

Anonymous This is one movie from action director Roland Emmerich in which nothing blows up—except the crackpot theory that Edward DeVere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the canon of plays and sonnets historically attributed to William Shakespeare. This hothouse melodrama of Tudor intrigue, sex, and politics, scripted by John Orloff, is based on the controversial "Oxfordian" theories. It's all sheer humbuggery, but still an entertaining spectacle: the costumes are exquisite, there are breathtaking overhead shots Elizabethan London, and it's populated by a bunch of attractive young actors on their way up. Oxford (Rhys Ifans) has written in secret, ever since being fostered into the Puritan household of Queen Elizabeth's counselor, William Cecil, where poetry was forbidden. However, the dashing young Oxford (Jamie Campbell Bower) charmed the lusty, poetry-loving young queen (Joely Richardson).
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Film - Reviews and Times

Film, Times & Events: Week of Nov. 10th

Film, Times & Events: Week of Nov. 10th

Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With: Reviews,
Movie Times click here.
Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

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Film - Reviews and Times

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

Spookiness trumps substance in 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

Identity can be a fragile thing. In Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene, the heroine's sense of selfhood is as fractured as the film's title; a runaway from a cult and its hypnotic psycho leader, she's literally trying to find herself. Unfortunately, the film also suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. It wants to be a thriller, a character study, and even a domestic family drama, but it never quite hits its marks in any department. There's plenty of menace to go around, mostly told in flashbacks, but because the character remains as elusive to the filmmaker (and the viewer) as she is to herself, there's little to anchor audience interest in her story.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.