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Sep 21st
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Reviews and Times

Film - Reviews and Times

Director Andrew Jarecki on The Friedmans

Capturing the Friedmans, this year’s Memento, nabbed the Grand Jury Prize Award at the Sundance Film Festival months ago and sent the film industry buzzing. How did a guy who set out to make a light-hearted documentary about Silly Billy, one of New York City’s better-known children’s party clowns, eventually find himself overhauling the entire project to create the year’s most mind-bending tale—a tale about sex, lies and old film reels that revolved around the criminal case that dismantled the clown’s entire family? To this day, Jarecki remains stumped over the Friedman case.

“I always did feel that the truth is a very difficult thing to figure out,” Jarecki says in a recent interview with GT.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Hail Whale Rider

Writer-director Niki Caro may have created a knockout indie hit with Whale Rider, but first, there was a legend to learn


You are a filmmaker living in the western world. You’re modernized, scrutinized and accessorized. You’re hip, but you’re also deep, which is way your burning desire to make a movie out of Witi Ihimaera’s novel about the surprise emergence of a female leader in a so-not-westernized male-dominated coastal New Zealand tribe takes 10 years, a great deal of patience and hell of a lot of humility.

If you were screenwriter/director Niki Caro, you may be experiencing some pride these days—Caro’s artistic verve resonates in every frame of the fascinating-to-watch Whale Rider, opening at the Nickelodeon Theatre this week.

But long before the film became a reality,

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Film - Reviews and Times

The Green Vile


Lou Ferrigno, come out, come out wherever you are!

The muscles bulge, the pants split open and voila—the big monster is set free. But, sadly, this Hulk goes limp.

In some ways, you want to really like Ang Lee’s ambitious outing. It looks and feels like a big screen comic book and, overall, the FX are impressive, but after two hours and 18 minutes of misadventures, you’d be more apt to just toss this Hulk  a bottle of zanax and call it a day. (Talk about annoying mood swings!) Screenwriters James Schamus, John Turman and Michael France have penned characters audiences should care about: a mad scientist horrified over his own mishap (Nick Nolte, who steals the show), a man uncertain of the molecular manipulation he’s been put through (newcomer Eric Bana as eager scientist Bruce Banner), a caring woman falling for an emotionally unavailable man (Jennifer Connelly).

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Film - Reviews and Times

To LL and Back

It’s a battle of Good Vs. Eva for LL Cool J

James Todd Smith aka LL Cool J struts into a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, his sleek, diamond-stud earrings capturing the light, reflecting it back to the occupants of the room. By no means does it blind us, but it does make an impact, which is symbolic because ever since the one-time “legend in leather” became the über stud of Def Jam Records back in the ’80s he’s been evolving as an “artist,” often throwing a brick into the glass house where stale perceptions live.

Get ready. Here comes another brick.

LL Cool J as a leading man in a romantic comedy? It’s true. Start sweeping up the glass.

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Film - Reviews and Times

Wajda Doing


Andrzej Wajda on Zemsta, Roman Polanski and Polish Culture


It was back in 2000 that Andrzej Wajda got a peck on the cheek from Jane Fonda in front of millions of people. One second later, she handed him the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement and suddenly his life changed. Or did it? Certainly the honor was well received, but it didn’t necessarily change Wajda’s own vision as an artist, which was to create fine films with significant messages. And that he’s done. Wajda has been the leading filmmaker in the world for more than 50 years. His early creations— the trilogy of A Generation (1954), Kanal (1957) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958)—pushed the limits of Soviet censorship. But other films were full of pathos and a great many were nominated for Best Foreign Film by the Academy. Land of Promise (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979) and Man of Iron (1981)—they all turned heads. Now, Zemsta has become a hit in Poland and local company MGE is bringing t to North American audiences. The film also reunites the director with a former struggling actor—Roman Polanski, who starred in Wajda’s A Generation in 1955. In Zemsta, Polanski takes on the role of Papkin in a film that’s full of a comedy of errors.

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Film - Reviews and Times

His Kind of Town

His Kind of Town

‘Chicago’ director Rob Marshall opens up about his big screen razzle-dazzler

Like the town it’s named after, the film Chicago boasts guts, glory and a gust of (show biz) wind that will bowl you over. It’s one of the best films to come out of Hollywood in the last decade and deserves every morsel of praise it’s getting. That said, get a ticket and indulge in the Chicago experience when it officially opens in Santa Cruz County next Friday, Feb. 7. In the meantime, check local listing for sneak previews this weekend.

What makes Chicago the show-stopping, pulse-pounding entertainment extravaganza that it is?

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Film - Reviews and Times

Where No Man Has Gonged Before

Where No Man Has Gonged Before

So, was Chuck Barris really a CIA operative or is it just confessions of a frivolous mind?

Chuck Barris is tired of being asked the same question by the press. Was the famous Hollywood producer of such campy TV game show hits like The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and later, The Gong Show, also a CIA hitman?

If it’s time to go to confession, Barris isn’t budging. And why should he? Keeping his lips zipped to that juicy question will only lure people into see Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, the high-profile film directed by George Clooney and written by screenwriter du jour Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). The big-screen outing is based on Barris’s 1980 memoirs of the same name, in which he writes:

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Film - Reviews and Times

Keys to Adrien Brody

Keys to Adrien Brody

Brody strikes a chord in the lead role in Roman Polanski’s haunting Holocaust film, ‘The Pianist’

Adrien Brody sighs deeply, his charcoal eyes lost in his own brooding thoughts. Sometimes, it’s hard to put into words how, exactly, he changed personally after taking on the title role in Roman Polanksi’s new film The Pianist.

There’s the obvious—it had to be the role of a lifetime morphing into Wladysaw Szpilman, the Polish Jew/composer-pianist who barely survived the Warsaw Ghetto during the German occupation in WW II. That Polanski, an Alpha director known for

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Film - Reviews and Times

About Dermot

Hollywood’s popular supporting player, Dermot Mulroney, dusts off the Julia mystique and rubs elbows with Jack in ‘About Schmidt’

Dermot Mulroney is not a puer aeternus, but he does a damn good job playing one in the film About Schmidt.  As Randall Hertzel, Mulroney morphs into a quirky yet loveable mandolescent, a mamma’s boy who sports a ridiculous mullet haircut, sells waterbeds and is about to become the son-in-law of Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson), a 66-year-old retiree who’s got symptoms of “I-can’t-believe-this-is-all-life-has-to-offer.”

About Schmidt is one of the best films of 2002—**** (out of four). It’s humorously and painfully real;

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Film - Reviews and Times

Direct at Your Own Risk

The artisans behind ‘Raising Victor Vargas’ and ‘Better Luck Tomorrow’ boldly explore different facets of teenage life

Culture clashes, over-active male libidos, teen angst—it may sound like the perfect formula for two new recently-released and buzzworthy independent films, but the real creative TNT can be found in the risktaking directors who sat behind the lens for both films.

In Raising Victor Vargas, director-writer Peter Sollet rounded up some thespians, bonded with them for several years and only after doing so did he pen his coming-of-age script about a Latino teen living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Meanwhile, writer-producer-director Justin Lin maxed out 10 credit cards, drained his life savings and accepted some cash from fallen rap king MC Hammer to fund Better Luck Tomorrow, his sexy little tale about a group of Asian teen brainiacs who moonlight as thieves. Both films have been winning accolades for showcasing teens in gripping stories that not only engage audiences but actually veer far away from conventional filmmaking. Malibu’s Most Wanted they are not.

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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.