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THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND

film_diamondThe 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. (Somehow, he's also the grandson of the ex-governor of the state, which no one ever bothers to explain.) Of course, Fisher just can't tell Jimmy how she feels, or there'd be no story; instead, she hires him to escort her to debutante balls, at one of which percolating issues of class,  character, and reckless, forbidden desires bubble to the surface when Fisher loses her auntie's pricey diamond earring. Provincial young gossips, drugs, and insanity lurk like dust bunnies in the shadowy corners of the plot, which features not one, but two ferocious Williams dragon ladies (Ann Margret, stuck in a prim, empty part, and Ellen Burstyn, cheerfully chomping the scenery as  stroke victim delivering an ode to "the Poppy.") film_loss_of_a_teardrop_diamondIt ought to be more fun than it is, in a kind of zany Almodóvar way, but the dialogue is so trite, the tone so mannered, and pages of exposition so obvious, all potential vitality drains away. Markell's helming is excruciatingly stage-like; she actually puts a spotlight on two characters in the middle of a scene to emphasize a soliloquy. Howard's dreamy sensuality doesn't do quite enough to blunt Fisher's obnoxious edges. Evans works manfully to imbue some feeling and credibility into his role as the vital, red-blooded male who has all the girls in fits. But none of them can turn this silly, Southern-fried Gothic into a movie that matters. (★1/2) (PG-13) 102 minutes.

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The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

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