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May 24th
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Reviews and Times

Film - Reviews and Times

Depp in Venice

Depp in Venice

Star power can't quite redeem twisty, but flawed 'Tourist'

You know the story: unsuspecting pigeon snookered in by a sexy stranger, only to be drawn into a deadly game by powers beyond his control. And that's pretty much the story we get through most of The Tourist, a Hollywood star vehicle that positions Johnny Depp, as an innocent abroad, and Angelina Jolie, as a glamorous mystery woman, against the gorgeous backdrop of Venice.

But it's all a matter of perspective in what turns out to be a surprisingly sneaky, cheeky adventure thriller from German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. In The Lives of Others, von Donnersmarck studied voyeurism in the tale of a lonely East German police captain who spends years spying on a bohemian playwright. The surveillance equipment is a lot more high-tech in The Tourist, as Interpol agents collaborate with Scotland Yard to keep tabs on the protagonists, but beyond the central plot is a larger story about who is watching and manipulating whom.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Sea Shanty

Sea Shanty

Picaresque 'Narnia: Dawn Treader' sails into adventure
It's not exactly a pirate movie. But there's enough shipboard action (roiling seas, burnished sunsets, athletic swordplay) to cheer any would-be seafarer, child, or child at heart, in the third of C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia adventures, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Be advised, an unfortunate amount of screen time is devoted to the brattiest of the film's youthful protagonists. Still, veteran director Michael Apted keeps the story pulsing along at a good clip, moral lessons are succinct and not too heavy-handed, and the magical elements are stylishly done.

This time out, the two eldest Pevensie siblings have grown up and joined their parents in the States, leaving Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley, now a poised young tween) back in wartime Britain in their aunt and uncle's home, at the mercy of their snotty cousin Eustace (Will Poulter). In this chapter, a painting is their portal back to Narnia, dragging the disbelieving Eustace along for the ride.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Party Hardy

Party Hardy

'Tamara Drewe' is a sly, funny, modern reboot of a Victorian classic

What happens when you cross Thomas Hardy with the modern (feminist) graphic novel? If you're lucky, the result will be something sharply observed and acerbically funny like “Tamara Drewe.” This serial graphic novel from veteran cartoonist Posy Simmonds ran in weekly installments in London's Guardian newspaper from 2005 to 2006. Set in Hardy country (the bucolic Dorset countryside), it's a sly reboot of Far From the Madding Crowd, with a luscious heroine pursued by three obsessed men  from very different social strata.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 9th

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 9th


Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.

 

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Film - Reviews and Times

Tangled

Tangled

Everybody talks about the evolution of Walt Disney cartoon fairy tale heroines—from the helpless '30s Snow White with her baby doll voice, waiting for her prince to come, to the obedient '50s drudge, Cinderella, and on to plucky, self-reliant Belle, Mulan and Tiana of the modern era. But how about the evolution of the Disney cartoon fairy tale hero? Seriously, who even remembers the bland, boring, cookie-cutter princes who partnered those earlier Disney heroines? The first one to distinguish himself from the pack was the magnificent Beast in 1990 and even he morphed back into a boring prince at the end. But this new breed of Disney heroines deserves better, more rambunctious males, like last year's Frog Prince, Naveen.

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Film - Reviews and Times

A Gypsy, A Tramp, A Thief

A Gypsy, A Tramp, A Thief

‘Burlesque’ is dreamy but, oh, slightly nightmarish

Burlesque is a mess. But damn it—you can’t walk away hating it. The new musical drama starring Cher and Christina Aquilera—in her big screen debut—is an enigma indeed. It’s creatively clunky in the way Flashdance was; at times silly and limp with its writing (the way Footloose was) yet dramatic and visually striking, showing signs of breathtaking surprise a la Chicago. But if it’s a good story you’re looking for, keep looking. If you want to kill two hours with a playful romp and some eye-popping musical numbers and, of course, Cher, climb on board.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Drug Me-Please!

Drug Me-Please!

Three not-so-great—and some great—things about ‘Love And Other Drugs’

As a pharmaceutical drug pusher Jake Gyllenhaal is feisty in Love And Other Drugs, based on Jamie Reidy's memoir, “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.” Co-starring Anne Hathaway as a commitment phobic with a serious illness, the film takes place in the late ’90s, just as Viagra was about to rise to the occasion. But does the film?

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Film - Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 2

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 2


Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Women in Film 2010

Women in Film 2010

Still doing less damage than men

When tackling multiple far-reaching topics in one breath (women, film, 2010), I prefer general statements based on feelings more than fact. But since this commentary is being published in a print journal of some repute, let’s get some nuts and bolts out of the way, to placate fact checkers and balance the ill-researched opinions below.

In 2010, films were made, released and seen by the American public. Some films included women. My credentials as a film writer are no more or less qualified than the average Josephine, albeit one still star-struck by Billy Wilder and the MGM back lot. I have hope for the future of film, because if it truly is darkest before the dawn then I say to you, “Start the oatmeal! It can’t get much darker!”

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Film - Reviews and Times

Movie Season

Movie Season

Six films to consider during a full holiday season
The Chronicles of Narnia:

The Voyage of the Dawn  Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, William Moseley and William Poulter take on the next chapter of the popular C.S. Lewis series, but will this creative lion roar as loudly as its previous incarnations? Truth be told, it’s hard to keep up with all the sequels and 3D mania of late—aren’t we all a bit hungry for a real story?  That said, here’s what you can expect here: Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their cousin Eustace and their royal friend King Caspian, find themselves swallowed into a painting and on to the Dawn Treader. (Hate when that happens.)

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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