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Dec 20th
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Movies & Film Events

film_avatarSAVATAR James Cameron's new sci-fi epic involves a US military unit sent to a lush, tropical planet whose cultured, indigenous warrior population is determined to keep the invaders from despoiling their land. Sam Worthington stars as a young US war vet technologically altered to resemble the native people and sent in as a scout. Zoe Saldana is the indigenous tribeswoman with whom he falls in love. Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, and Giovanni Ribisi co-star. (PG-13) 150 minutes. Starts Friday.
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film_orson_wellesSME AND ORSON WELLES Richard Linklater directs this ambitious period piece in which a young drama student (Zac Efron, graduated at last from High School Musical) in 1937 New York City is offered a part in what will become the landmark Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar, directed by then-22-year-old enfant terrible Orson Welles. Christian McKay is earning serious buzz for his towering portrayal of Welles, in all his arrogance, charm, and genius. Clare Danes is the gal Friday who shows the newbie the ropes; Ben Chaplin and Eddie Marsan co-star. (PG-13) 109 minutes. Starts Friday.
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film_MORGANSDID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker team up for this romantic comedy about a fast-track New York City couple who witness a crime and are spirited off by the Witness Protection Program to the wilds of Wyoming to save their lives—and rediscover their foundering marriage. Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen co-star for director Marc Lawrence. (PG) 108 minutes. Starts Friday.
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film_roadTHE ROAD Reviewed this issue. (R) 119 minutes. (★★★) Starts Friday.
See Review by Lisa Jensen >>>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

film_pippa_leeTHE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE  Rebecca (daughter of Athur) Miller directs this adaptation of her own novel about a younger woman happily married to a much older man on a collision course with the choices she's made in her life. Robin Wright stars as the woman reluctantly confronting her past when her literary lion husband (Alan Arkin) turns 80, and she moves with him out of bustling New York into a retirement community in Connecticut. Keanu Reeves co-stars as a young drifter who upsets her ordered life; Maria Bello, Monica Belucci, Julianne Moore and Winona Ryder also pop up in the cast.  (R) 98 minutes. Starts Friday.
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film_young_victoriaTHE YOUNG VICTORIA ★★★
With Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson. Written by Julian Fellowes. Direc
ted by Jean-Marc Valee. An Apparition release. Rated PG. 100 minutes.
See Review by Lisa Jensen >>>

 

 

BROKEN EMBRACES ★★★★
With Penélope Cruz, Lluis Homar, and Blanca Portillo. Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar.  Rated R. 128 minutes.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
See Review by Lisa Jensen >>>


Film Events

CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR will return in January. Happy Holidays.


CONTINUING EVENT: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIES This informal movie discussion group meets at the Del Mar mezzanine in downtown Santa Cruz. Movie junkies are invited to join in on Wednesday nights to discuss current flicks with a rotating series of guest moderators. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.ltatm.org.

 


Now Playing

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKUEL In this second installment of the franchise, the animated rodent trio signs up for a battle-of-the-bands contest to earn cash for a school music program, but find themselves in competition with a girl-group called the Chipettes. Live-action co-stars include Jason Lee, Zachary Levi, and Drew Barrymore. Betty Thomas directs. (PG)

AN EDUCATION Drenched in early '60s atmosphere, and impeccably produced in every detail, Lone Scherfig's adaptation of the Lynn Barber memoir tells a familiar story about a dewy-eyed young women and a worldly older man. The plot is never entirely believable onscreen, but the emotions involved are explored with honesty, insight, and humor. Newcomer Carey Mulligan plays the schoolgirl heroine with disarming girlishness, pert sophistication, and tart self-awareness. But Peter Sarsgaard is not a naturally irresistible charmer; as the older man, his emotional palette seems studied and insincere. That he worms himself so easily into her parents' good graces is a credibility gap from which the film never recovers. (PG-13) 95 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.

ARMORED Columbus Short stars in this action thriller about a new driver at an armored truck company coerced by his cohorts into joining them in a $42 million truck heist that goes awry. Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, and Laurence Fishburne co-star for director Nimród Antal (Kontroll) (PG-13) 88 minutes. Starts Friday.

A SERIOUS MAN Joel and Ethan Coen set this strikingly deadpan, comic tragedy in a suburban midwestern Jewish community ca. 1967. The setting couldn't be more personal to the Coens, but the questions they raise about faith, tradition, family values, and the meaning of life are universal—however wickedly perverse the Coens' perspective may be. Everyman Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a university math professor whose life is starting to unravel. Increasingly frazzled, yet ever accommodating, Larry's crises seem to pile up in direct proportion to the ineffectuality of his responses. Turning to a series of rabbis to help him understand God's plan in sending him so much grief, all he gets are half-baked analogies and pointless fables. Dripping acerbic wit, the film is a weirdly engrossing portrait of meltdown in the face of a chaotic universe over which there may not be any plan. The one piece of useful advice anyone gets in the movie (from a very unexpected source) slyly suggests the continuity with which humans try to provide comforting answers to imponderable questions from one generation to the next. (R) 105 minutes.(★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS Nicolas Cage stars as a drug-addicted rogue detective operating at the outer limits of the law while plying his righteous brand of justice in post-Katrina Nawlins. Eva Mendes co-stars as the prostitute he loves in this operatic morality play from the one and only Werner Herzog. (R) 121 minutes.

THE BOONDOCK SAINTS II: ALL SAINTS DAY Ten years after filmmaker Troy Duffy unleashed the original Boondock Saints, the cult action drama about Irish homeboys defending their turf in Boston, he finally gets the sequel up onscreen. Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus star as the McManus Brothers forced to return from Ireland when they learn they've been framed in Boston for the murder of a priest. Billy Connolly, Clifton, Collins Jr., Judd Nelson, and Peter Fonda co-star. (R) 115 minutes.

BROTHERS Tobey Maguire is the reliable older brother presumed dead in Afghanistan returning home from a POW camp. Jake Gyllenhaal is the ex-con younger brother who's moved in on his brother's wife (Natalie Portman) when she thought she was a widow. The great Jim Sheridan (In America) directs this adaptation from a Danish film by Susanne Bier. Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham, Clifton Collins Jr., and Carey Mulligan co-star. (R) 110 minutes

THE BLIND SIDE  The real-life story of All-American football star Michael Oher is dramatized in this inspirational tale. Sandra Bullock stars as the neighbor woman who virtually adopts the homeless, neglected teenage Oher into her family and changes his life—and theirs. Newcomer Quinton Aaron plays Oher. Tim McGraw and Kathy Bates co-star for director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie). (PG-13) 126 minutes.

EVERYBODY'S FINE Kirk Jones turns this Americanization of a 20-year-old Marcello Mastroianni film into a wistful drama of family dynamics and the lies we tell ourselves and our loved ones just to get by. Robert De Niro stars as a widower on a cross-country journey to reconnect with his far-flung kids. Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, and Drew Barrymore are the offspring who resort to occasionally too-desperate measures not to disillusion him. Although Jones doesn't entirely resist the urge to tie things up in a neat package, the story mostly rises above easy sentimentality for a thoughtful look at parenting, expectations, and disappointment. (PG-13) 100 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

FANTASTIC MR. FOX Wes Anderson (of all people) directs this adaptation of the Roald Dahl children's story using vintage-style stop-motion animation techniques. George Clooney and Meryl Streep provide voices fo Mr. And Mrs. Fox, whose happy suburban life is threatened when Mr. Fox gives in to his animal instincts and endangers the entire animal community. Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wlson, and Michael Gambon also contribute voices. (PG) 88 minutes.

THE MESSENGER  In Oren Moverman's rigorous and insightful debut feature, Ben Foster gives a taut, quietly implosive performance as a wounded Iraq War vet serving out the rest of his tour back in the States, notifying loved ones that their sons, husbands and fathers have been killed in action. The film honors the sacrifices of servicemen and women and their families, while at the same time exposing the true cost of war, and the bitter reality beneath the patriotic hype and hoopla.Woody Harrelson plays the plummy role of Foster's glibly profane partner/mentor with panache; Samantha Morton provides grace and heart as a new widow. (R) 105 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

INVICTUS Sports and politics mix in this true story of how restored South African president Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined with national rugby team captain, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to unite the country devastated by the aftermath of apartheid during the 1995 World Cup championship race. Clint Eastwood directs on location in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Based on the non-fiction book "Playing The Enemy," by John Carlin. (PG-13) 133 minutes. (★★★1/2)

NINJA ASSASSIN Korean pop star Rain plays the title role in this contemporary martial arts action thriller about an orphan plucked off the streets and turned into a killing machine by a crime syndicate who goes rogue and turns against his mentors after the murder of a friend. Naomie Harris co-stars as a Europol agent on the trail of the syndicate who joins the assassin on his quest for revenge. Rick Yune co-stars for director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta). (R) 99 minutes.

OLD DOGS John Travolta and Robin Williams star in this family comedy as a couple of single, middle-aged buddies. (PG)

PIRATE RADIO This latest ensemble comedy from Richard Curtis (Love Actually) harks back to the late '60s when rock 'n' roll was banned from the staid BBC airwaves, forcing an intrepid crew of renegade djs to broadcast The Who, The Stones, Cream, etc, from an oil tanker in the North Sea, just outside British jurisdiction. Real-life pirate radio stations (like Radio Caroline) were a fact of life in '60s Britain; names have been changed to protect the notorious. Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Rhys Ifans star. (R) 120 minutes.

PLANET 51 Think of E.T. in reverse in this animated comedy about a U.S. astronaut who lands on a supposedly uninhabited planet. (PG) 91 minutes.

PRECIOUS Lee Daniels' masterful film, adapted from the 1996 novel, "Push," by poet-turned-author Sapphire, shows how the tiniest flicker of compassion can transform a life of complete degradation into something triumphant. Gabourey Sidibe gives an astounding, adjective-defying performance in the title role, a wary, mountainous, hard-luck Harlem teenager who has learned to hide her spirit beneath protective layers of flesh and silence. But Sidibe reveals the vibrant, questing self inside the character with grace and a fierce authenticity. Mo'Nique is incendiary as the girl's toxic mother in this uncompromising, inventive and rewarding film. (R) 109 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG Reviewed this issue. (G) 97 minutes. (★★★1/2).
See Review by Lisa Jensen >>>

RED CLIFF Action director John Woo turns to the mystical martial arts spectacle with this vast, bloody epic of feudal warlords battling and out-foxing each other in 3rd Century China. The visual scale is humongous, the bloodletting frequent and exhausting. But the strategies are fascinating, and commanding actors (including Chinese superstar Tony Leung, and Sino-Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro) provide a soulful and spiritual underpinning to all the mayhem. (R) 148 minutes. In Mandarin with English subtitles. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

SKIN The plot revolves around the true story of a black South African girl born to white parents during the apartheid era. But the issues of identity, otherness, and separatism explored in Anthony Fabian's affecting drama could just as easily apply to national, sexual, political, or religious intolerance, as well as racism—any of the artificial barriers that divide us from our fellow humans. The luminous Sophie Okoknedo is the woman caught between two worlds. Sam Neill is her volatile father, destroyed by his narrow obsession with her "rights," in this persuasive tale of how separate is never equal. (PG-13) 107 minutes. (★★★) —Lisa Jensen.

2012 You have to wonder about a movie that purports to be about the "survivors" after "the end of the world." John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Thandie Newton are among those caught up in the aftermath of disasters following the end of part (although, evidently not all) of the world.  (PG-13) 160 minutes.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON Oy! Twilight. A brooding teenage gal who should be on some meds falls for an unavailable vamp, all the while avoiding the delicious advances of an available eco-sexual hunky-and-shirtless virgin teen werewolf. Yes. It's a much more warped "Romeo & Juliet" for the texting generation. I just hate to see the therapy bills in 10 years. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart get paid millions to moan and groan here but it’s Taylor Lautner that steals the show as a teen werewolf. Taylor meet Fame; Fame, meet Taylor. (And keep your shirt off.) Chris Weitz directs. (PG-13) 130 minutes. (★★)—Greg Archer

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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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