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Nov 25th
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Santa Cruz Film Festival Diary, Day 4

film-shuffleKurt Kuenne’s ‘Shuffle’

With its mid-May scheduling, the Santa Cruz Film Festival, which I continued to explore at a moderate tempo over the weekend, creates the ultimate first-world conundrum for attendees: How does one take advantage of all the festival has to offer when it’s 70 degrees outside? There’s a reason, I think, why many of the world’s most distinguished film festivals happen in places(or during seasons) that wouldn’t merit an extended stay sans said festival.

So it was not without a twinge of reluctance that I settled into a matinee screening of Kurt Kuenne’s Shuffle (no offense meant to the film itself), and found my sacrifice rewarded in a satisfying, if not overwhelming, way. The feature is preceded by Daniel Onoda’s short film Narcissism, and the pair of films share the concept of time-shifting, as well as an overemphasis on user-friendly narrative exposition. Narcissism is a dicey title for the Psycho-referencing short, exposing the film to potential cheap shots that mirror back its title as a criticism. However, this is a smart film that knows how smart it is—and ultimately, it’s too smart for its own good. It does, however, boast a killer original score by Onoda and writer-producer-star Orien Longo.

Pairing the mystery of The Twilight Zone with the romanticism of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, Shuffle is a feature-length narrative effort from Kuenne, who directed the truly devastating 2008 documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (Shuffle is dedicated to the same Zachary). The film’s protagonist experiences his life out of chronological sequence—he goes to sleep without knowing where or when (past or future) he is going to wake up. Starring a terrific T.J. Thyne (of FOX’s Bones) and a wonderful Paula Rhodes, Shuffle shifts effortlessly between multiple times and tones—until a resolution that feels rushed even as it’s played out over a few too many endings. And yet, it’s hard to begrudge a film with its heart so firmly in the right place.


For the complete Santa Cruz Film Festival schedule, visit santacruzfilmfestival.org.

 

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Saturday, early morning, the sun enters and radiates the light of Sagittarius. Three hours later, the Sagittarius new moon (0.07 degrees) occurs. “Let food be sought,” is the personality-building keynote. “Food” means experiences; all kinds, levels and types. It also means real food. Sag’s secret is their love of food. Many, if not musicians, are chefs. Some are both. The energies shift from Scorpio’s deep and transformative waters to the “hills and plains of Sagittarius.” Sag is the rider on a white horse, eyes focused on the mountain peaks of Capricorn (Initiation) ahead. Like Scorpio, Sagittarius is also the “disciple.” Adventure, luck, optimism, joy and the beginnings of gratitude are the hallmarks of Sagittarius. Sag is also one of the signs of silence. The battle lines were drawn in Libra and we were asked to choose where we stood. The Nine Tests were given in Scorpio and we emerged “warriors triumphant.” Now in Sag, we are to be the One-Pointed Disciple, riding over the plains on a white horse, bow and arrows in hand, eyes focused on the Path of Return ahead. Sagittarians are one-pointed (symbol of the arrow). Sag asks, “What is my life’s purpose?” This is their quest, from valleys, plains, meadows and hills, eyes aimed always at the mountaintop. Sag emerges from Scorpio’s deep waters, conflict and tests into the open air. Sag’s quest is humanity’s quest. Sag’s quest, however, is always accompanied by music and good food.

 

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