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Reviews and Times

Film - Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 28

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 28

EDGE OF DARKNESS  Mel Gibson gets back in front of the camera to star in this political thriller about a tough homicide detective investigating the murder of his actvist daughter who discovers a sinister government agency is also interested in the case, hoping to hush things up. Adapted from the mid-'80s BBC miniseries, with an updated script by William Monahan (The Departed.) Ray Winstone and Danny Huston co-star for veteran action director Martin Campbell. (R) 117 minutes. Starts Friday.
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Film - Reviews and Times

Bleached Remains

Bleached Remains

Story pales under opulent fx in 'The Lovely Bones'

A story about a murdered child is a tough sell. Alice Sebold evidently pulled it off in her bestselling novel "The Lovely Bones." Narrated from the afterlife by a 14-year-old girl brutally murdered by the neighborhood serial killer, it's a story of death-defying love, grief, healing and redemption.

But for those of us who haven't read the novel, only vague traces of what must have made it so meaningful survive in Peter Jackson's unwieldy adaptation of The Lovely Bones. Jackson and co-scriptwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens replicate the action of the plot—which is occasionally grim and often confusing—but never imbue it with the poetic or transformative power that would make it all amount to something. Instead, Jackson spends his creative energy attempting to depict the unknowable—the afterlife ("the in-between time") from which the young heroine tells her tale. Jackson envisions it as an opulent CGI playground of mind-blowing images, but every time we go there, we're wrenched out of the intimate human drama that should have given the film its soul.

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Film - Reviews and Times

THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND

THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND

The hothouse dramas of Tennessee Williams were considered pretty scandlous back in the '50s because, hello! it was the '50s. These days, warmed-over Williams just doesn’t have the same impact, even if provided by Williams himself, via a long-unproduced screenplay. Rookie director Jodie Markell's handsome production of The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond conjures up the usual intemperate Williams brew: unspoken homosexual longing sublimated into the tale of a fragile, yet willful Southern belle  too arty and sophisticated for her stifling social milieu, teetering on the brink of madness. Pale, porcelain Bryce Dallas Howard goes brunette to play Fisher Willow, a Memphis debutante ca. 1923 who's spent some time abroad, bobs her hair, and has a yen for jazz. She's also smitten with dirt-poor Jimmy Dobyne (Chris Evans)—his father's an affable drunk and his mama is locked up in a madhouse—who runs the commissary on her rich Daddy's plantation.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 21

Movies & Film Events: Week of Jan. 21

EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES When his two youngest children are diagnosed with a rare and fatal disease, a young business entrepreneur (Brendan Fraser) ditches the corporate world to set up his own foundation with a renegade scientist (Harrison Ford), in hopes of developing a cure. Keri Russell and Jared Harris co-star. Adapted from the non-fiction book, "The Cure," by Geeta Anand. Tom Vaughan directs. (PG) 102 minutes. Starts Friday.
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Film - Reviews and Times

Man On Wire

Man On Wire

Colin Firth is marvelous navigating grief in 'A Single Man'

The scary-beautiful image that begins A Single Man, a naked male figure floating embryo-like (or possibly drowning) under water, plunges the viewer into a sense of edgy dislocation. All the better to appreciate the mindset of the film's protagonist, a quietly closeted gay expatriate Briton in sunny L.A., grieving over the loss of his longtime partner, who no longer fits into his own well-tailored life. From these opening moments, we share the protagonist's unease about the randomness of the universe in Tom Ford's spare, elegant study on the nature of grief.

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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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Film - 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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Film - 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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Film - 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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Film - 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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Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

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Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management