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Sep 22nd
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Reviews and Times

Film - Reviews and Times

The Bold and the Badass

The Bold and the Badass

In ‘Grindhouse,’ Freddy Rodriguez morphs into one fiery little torpedo

He went from playing a befuddled undertaker’s assistant in the cable hit Six Feet Under to slowly becoming a memorable presence on the big screen. His name is Freddy Rodriguez and after watching Grindhouse, the cinematic double whammy from directing titans Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, you bound to remember him. Last seen playing a compassionate busboy in the critical hit Bobby—he also turned heads playing a struggling immigrant in Fast Food Nation—Rodriguez warp speeds past his typically “Mr. Nice” demeanor to  fully embody a machine-gun totin’ wild man opposite sexy siren Rose McGowan in Rodriguez’s segment of Grindhouse. In a round table interview with journalists, Rodriguez bares all.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Captivating Kennedy

Captivating Kennedy

The ’60s, RFK and the hope for great change blend well in a moving ‘Bobby’

There are people out there who will criticize writer director Emilio Estevez’s Bobby. I’m not one of those people.
Bobby is an extraordinary movie for a number of reasons. For starters, you know within the first few frames what Mr. Estevez is doing. He wants you to absorb the legacy of the Robert F. Kennedy. He wants you to hear the late senator’s words. He wants you see his face in old footage, where the man is often seen gracefully interacting with the people of 1968, all of whom appear to have hung their very last hopes on Kennedy’s idealism.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Super-sized ‘Nation’

Super-sized ‘Nation’


‘Fast Food Nation’ author Eric Schlosser ponders the big-screen version of his best-selling read

There’s nothing daring about putting creativity on the side rather than having it be the juiciest of part of a celluloid meal. Fortunately, Fast Food Nation doesn’t do that. In fact, it’s a savory cinematic outing.

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Film - Reviews and Times

John Cameron Mitchell: Shortbus it

John Cameron Mitchell: Shortbus it

The Hedwig alum opens up—real wide

If you think John Cameron Mitchell turned heads—or was it wigs?—earlier this decade with the film version of his stage hit, Hedwig and The Angry Inch, you really haven't seen anything yet. In Shortbus, a hypnotic, visual, soul-stirring, gem, the writer-director takes audiences inside the lives of fractured twentysomethings desperate to find deep connection. Most try to find it via sex. But the allure proves futile. In one of the artists' most daring feats, he boldly illuminates what haunts us beyond the sheets.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Embracing Amy

Embracing Amy

The wild rise of Amy Sedaris's alter ego and why it's coming to a movie theater near you

When a 47-year-old ex-con junky-whore with one hell of an overbite leaves the slammer and heads home, she's surprised to find her daddy has lapsed into a coma. Believing that if she just made him proud, he would see the light of day again, she decides that the best way to turn her life around is pick up right where she left off: As a freshman in high school. Welcome to Strangers With Candy—and Jerri Blank, Amy Sedaris's mind-bending alter ego. Strangers is the audacious big screen transformation of the cult Comedy Central hit spawned by Sedaris, Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello back in 1999.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Lily Tomlin Gives In

Lily Tomlin Gives In

Lady Lily unveils the deeper truths about life—and working with Robert Altman

Let’s get one thing straight: Lily Tomlin loved morphing into the characters of Edith Ann and Ernestine on stage and in the hit ’70s show Laugh-In, but she also relished working with a phenom like Robert Altman (Short  Cuts, Gosford Park). The revered director did, after all, cast Tomlin in her big screen, Oscar-nominated debut in 1975’s Nashville, a film that launched a bevy of careers, Cybil Shepherd and Jeff Bridges among them. Altman is also at the helm of this June’s A Prairie Home Companion, a vibrant ensemble piece in which Tomlin co-stars alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Virginia Madsen, Woody Harleson and the avuncular Garrison Keillor—it’s based on Keillor’s

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Film - Reviews and Times

King Kong: Great Ape

King Kong: Great Ape

With ‘Kong,’ Peter Jackson uncages a bold, fascinating new look at an old beast

Director Peter Jackson may be a complex man, but his approach filmmaking is simple: he dives into his task as if it was a Midwestern smorgasbord and doesn’t come up for air until he’s consumed every last morsel of that fifth portion of vanilla bean dessert pudding. And aren’t we all the better for it?  Jackson’s work, this decade in particular, is just epic. Who could argue that his Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy took cinema to new heights—all that state-of-the-art digital dancing; the grand achievement of bringing Tolkien’s revered lit to the screen; storytelling, reborn at last, at the cineplex. Marvelous. Give the man awards, and keep feeding him, please.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain It's Crouching Cowboy, Hidden Gay Man in Ang Lee’s beautifully crafted masterpiece

There’s a moment in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain where the film’s two male leads meet for the first time in four years and realize that they are, indeed, in love with each other. They share a series of passionate kisses and embrace underneath a stairwell. For a fleeting moment, they forget that it’s 1967, that they’re committed to other women, and that Wyoming’s machismo set wouldn’t quite know how to embrace the fact that they’re embracing. So the men retreat from the hunger for something they cannot yet articulate and keep their love for each other hidden as they continue their relationship—for 20 years.

And so it goes in one of the most talked about movies of the year. Headlined by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback was being touted as “one of the most important films of the decade” long before its release this winter. Why? For starters,

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Film - Reviews and Times

Batman Has Bite

Batman Has Bite

Re-imagined superhero saves a dying film franchise

Finally—an intelligent Batman that soars high. In a story that often moves against the typical currents that make up a major Hollywood blockbuster, director Christopher Nolan delivers a beautifully polished, wondrously executed Batman Begins. And with it, comes the rebirth of a franchise left for dead by the likes of George Clooney.

Out: the post-modern Batman weighed down by the theatrics of directors Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher. In: a plausible Batman that digs deep into the psychology of the man behind the mask and draws its inspiration from classics like  The Man Who Would Be King, Blade Runner, the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and—surprisingly—Lawrence of Arabia. (Yes, you read that right.) What Burton’s Batman did for the campy ’60s TV show of the same name, Nolan does to Burton’s Batman (1989).

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Film - Reviews and Times

Mad About Ballroom

Mad About Ballroom

It’s kids, it’s ballroom. It works.

Ten years ago director Marilyn Agrelo could not have imagined that her very first film would be about kids, or on dancing for that matter. “Oh, it wouldn’t have been edgy enough for my tastes,” she admits with a laugh.

Fortunately, like a ballroom dancer, Agrelo surrendered herself to some of the creative rhythms working around her, proving there’s a certain reward in taking up a dance that has nothing to do with the “dance” you’re dancing. The result is Mad Hot Ballroom (***1/2), one of the most dazzling, heartfelt—and downright fun—documentaries of the season.

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Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
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Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

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

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.