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May 22nd
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Reviews and Times

Film - Reviews and Times

True Grit

True Grit

Girl vs. chaotic world in taut Southern Gothic noir 'Winter's Bone'
It's always something, as Gilda Radner used to say. It certainly is  in the relentless narrative of Winter's Bone, a nerve-rattling exercise in dread and redemption that knocked the bejeebers out of critics and audiences alike at this year's Sundance festival. (It won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture, as well as the Best Screenplay award.) Directed with grit and assurance by Debra Granik, this Southern Gothic noir thriller is taut, scary, more than a little creepy, and strangely poignant. It's a bracing alternative to the bloated franchises, inane comedies, and action extravaganzas of the summer movie season.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Solitary Man

Solitary Man

The old Neil Diamond song about a good guy who can't find a faithful woman is an odd choice for the title of this film (it's sung by Johnny Cash over the opening credits). This movie's male protagonist is the exact opposite, a prowling horndog who's inability to keep it in his pants destroys every relationship in his life. Maybe co-directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien didn't listen to the lyrics, or maybe it's just another colossal miscalculation in this highly preposterous and unpleasant film. Michael Douglas stars as Ben Kalmen, once a powerhouse New York City car dealer. But philandering has cost him his ex-wife and business partner (Susan Sarandon), a fraud conviction makes it impossible to get financing for a new dealership, and now that he's pushing 60, he's a slave to his wandering libido, deluding himself that his compulsive sexual conquests will stave off the ravages of time.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of June 24

Movies & Film Events: Week of June 24

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

 

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Film - Reviews and Times

Catch Of The Day

Catch Of The Day

Fairy tale, reality mesh in edgy, enchanting 'Ondine'
Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan has a masterful way with a fairy tale. His elegant The Company of Wolves, based on  the fractured fairy tales of Angela Carter, was his most overt take on the genre, with its storybook costumes and deep forest setting. But there's a whiff of candlelight and moonbeams, mythos and romance, in his best contemporary dramas as well, particularly those with an Irish setting like The Crying Game or Breakfast On Pluto.

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Film - Reviews and Times

MICMACS

MICMACS

French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet stole hearts with Amelie, and made them soar with A Very Long Engagement. His lovably goofy new comedy, Micmacs,  has an unexpected comic hero—a man with a bullet in his brain—and a very serious subtext: devastating weapons of war and the arms dealers who profit from them. (In French slang, "micmacs" refers to shifty dealmaking.) At the emotional and narrative heart of the movie is Bazil, played by Danny Boon, a graceful and winsome screen clown who doesn't need dialogue or subtitles to communicate with an audience. When Bazil was a child, his soldier father was blown up trying to diffuse an anti-personnel land mine in North Africa. The grown-up Bazil, a Paris video store clerk, is watching Bogie and Bacall in The Big Sleep in the shop one night (reciting all the dialogue in French); a cops-and-robbers chase goes by outside, and a stray bullet lodges in Bazil's head. He survives (after a coin-toss in the ER to determine if the operation is worth it), but loses his job and apartment. Winding up on the streets, he's taken in by a "family" of resourceful folk who live in a junkyard, building everything they need out of scrap parts.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of June 16

Movies & Film Events: Week of June 16

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

 

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Film - Reviews and Times

Sugar Substitute

Sugar Substitute

Hawaiian history looks great, less filling, in 'Princess Ka'iulani'
She is a cultural heroine in Hawaii. The last princess of the royal line, she fought with poise and determination to preserve Hawaiian independence even as American military and political forces were robbing the islands of their self-governing sovereignty. She exists in a historical moment blighted by unsavory skullduggery on the part of the United States that most Americans deserve to know more about. Hers is an epic story of gender, race, class, heartbreak, perseverance, and unswerving courage.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Looking for Eric

Looking for Eric

Remember Play It Again, Sam, when the spirit of Bogie coaches Woody Allen to be tough and cool in the face of life's challenges? It's a similar deal in Ken Loach's sly urban comedy Looking For Eric, where Loach's sad-sack, midlife protagonist turns for inspiration to legendary soccer great Eric Cantona. Loach, the prolific British director best known for gritty, slice-of-life realism dramas (Ladybird, Ladybird; My Name Is Joe; The Wind That Shakes The Barley) lightens up here with unexpected elements of comedy, fantasy, and romance. There's a dark side to the story, of course, and plenty of raucous profanity, but mostly, this is a funny, upbeat film about conquering one's inner loser and going for the goal. Steve Evets is solid and crackling with nervy energy as Eric Bishop, a postal worker in industrial Manchester at the end of his short fuse.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of June 10

Movies & Film Events: Week of June 10

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

 

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Film - Reviews and Times

Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears

Class, guilt and privilege converge in an unconvincing 'Please Give'
Nicole Holofcener is becoming the bard of upper middle-class, white ineffectuality. Her last film, Friends With Money, was an astoundingly lame look at useless L. A. women making foolish choices, adrift in their own lives. In her angsty new comedy, Please Give, Holofcener switches the action to New York City, but sticks to the same milieu of clueless privilege, trapping her excellent cast in a lineup of dubious characters whose behavior ranges from merely baffling to downright unpleasant. To make it all feel more weighty, Holofcener tosses in an element of all-purpose white liberal guilt. But like so many other elements in the story, she really doesn't know how to use it to good effect.

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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