Master of Suspense – Films at the Courthouse return with a summer of Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock Margaret Herrick Library photos
Alfred Hitchcock
Margaret Herrick Library photos

Roman Baratiak’s longtime dream of screening summer movies in the Sunken Garden came true some four years ago, and he’s been watching the crowds come every year since. For the first three years, this Arts & Lectures summer series has stuck with genre films: One year it was musicals, another it was science fiction, and another was classic monster movies. But this year is the first time Mr. Baratiak & Co. have settled on the works of one director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starting this Wednesday with arguably Mr. Hitchcock’s best film, “Vertigo,” the summer series will screen eight of the director’s best suspenseful works, ending with “Strangers on a Train” on Friday, Aug. 23.

Most of the films — except for “Shadow of a Doubt” — screen on a Wednesday at UCSB’s Campbell Hall, for those who want to have a more traditional moviegoing experience, but on the Friday following, bring your blankets and chairs and get ready for some classic films.

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A Secret Life – ‘The Attack’ muses on both suicide bombing and marriage

Siham (Reymond Amsalem) and Amin (Ali Suliman) embrace Cohen Media photo
Siham (Reymond Amsalem) and Amin (Ali Suliman) embrace
Cohen Media photo

Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Algerian writer Mohammed Moulessehoul, who lived a sort of double life — one as an officer in the Algerian military, and the other as a writer of short stories and novels. When the incompatibility became too strong, he left the military. “The Attack” from 2005 was a major seller, especially in France, and now director Ziad Doueiri has brought this tale to the screen in a slightly airbrushed version. Before Mr. Doueiri made his own films, he worked in the camera department on the majority of Quentin Tarantino’s pre-“Kill Bill” output.

From this experience, Mr. Doueri learned a lot about pacing, but has left behind Mr. Tarantino’s post-modernism and obsession with revenge. Instead, Mr. Doueri — who first impressed with his film “West Beirut” — has more real-life experience in revenge and endless cycles of recrimination.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Sama Sama’s Zeppelin


When Sama Sama opened in the space once occupied by East, we here at DOTW wondered what happened to the precious liquor license that came attached to the place. Would Sama Sama make the bar separate, like East tried to do, or would they incorporate it into the fresh, locally sourced aesthetic of this Indonesian restaurant? Well, it’s the latter, and to make these drinks on their new cocktail menu work, they invited bartender Adam Hopkins (formerly of Whiskey Richards) and Jesse Keenan (currently of Elsie’s) to get together over a long weekend and bring some southeast Asian flair to things.

To be honest, we wanted to try nearly everything on the menu, but we had to whittle it down to three. Sama Sama’s namesake cocktail starts with Benchmark bourbon and adds jasmine sweet tea (made on the premises), lemon juice and lemon basil leaves. The result is so light that it’s hard to believe there’s bourbon in it. So maybe this is good for anyone easing themselves slowly into whiskey. (We’re already in the pool and the water’s fine.)

The Mule Kick is the bartenders’ version of a Moscow Mule. (Can we point out that this looks to be the year of the Mule and its variations?) Two kinds of vodka are used: a Thai chili-infused one and a ginger-infused vodka. This then gets mixed with Reed’s ginger beer. The kick is indeed strong on this one.

But for Drink of the Week, we settled on the Zeppelin, a mix of potato vodka, cava sparkling wine, elderflower liqueur and grapefruit bitters. A very complex, mature cocktail, this is that little bit o’ samasama you need.

1 ounce potato vodka (preferably Boyd & Blair)
2 dashes grapefruit bitters (preferably Fee’s)
1 ounce elderflower liqueur (preferably Thatcher’s)
Cava sparkling wine, to top
Lemon rind, for rim

Shake vodka, bitters and elderflower over ice. Strain mixture into glass, top with cava and garnish with lemon. Yield: 1 drink

A Funky Alternative to Solstice – Bohemia at the Beach offers its own Solstice fun

Barbara Fabian photo
Barbara Fabian photo

While the Solstice Parade makes its way up State Street to spill into Alameda Park, the Funk Zone will be setting up its own celebration for the first time. Called Bohemia at the Beach it’s the brainchild of Funk Zone resident James O’Mahoney, owner of the Surf Museum of Helena Ave., creator of Skateboarder magazine, and collector of fantastic ephemera. Instead of a grand event under one roof, Bohemia at the Beach has asked Funk Zone tenants — from galleries and art studios to bars and wineries — to do something special on Saturday afternoon to continue the Solstice themes, but with more of a gypsy, bohemian, beatnik bent.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for a while,” says Mr. O’Mahoney as we sit up on his rooftop lounge that overlooks Helena Ave. and Cabrillo, with the lagoon, beach and wharf beyond. “You’ve got 60,000 people going up to the park. You’ve got your drum circle and you can hold a stick of patchouli. And it’s always hot, so why not come to the beach?”

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: American Ale’s Rye grin


Now, we here at Drink of the Week hated to see El Taco Tequila Taqueria close. Despite having some awesome tacos, some of the hottest habanero salsa we’ve ever tried, and offering horchata with dark rum (for cheap!), they couldn’t make a go of it and closed earlier this year. What has opened in its place, American Ale, an extension of Union Ale on lower State, has been going gangbusters with its simple menu of burgers and fries, a long list of draft beers, and old-fashioned cocktails with a hipsterish twist. The burgers are pretty darn awesome, we agree, but DOTW returned a few days later to try the cocktails.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Seven’s Desert oasis


When we first checked out Seven Bar & Kitchen in the ever funkier (and some would say drunkier) Funk Zone, it was the early days. Things were quiet in their location, but the gang hoped that things would pick up. To say they had picked up when we returned there one weekend ago would be understating it. To say, “Holy smokes, this place is overflowing with people and I can barely get to the bar or hear myself think!” would be more like it.

So, they’re doing well. When we did get to the bar, we met none other than Andy Davis, formerly of Relais de Paris and EOS, and lover of all things busy. He likes a bar that keeps him on his toes, and that’s Seven Bar.

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Ensemble ends an era with McNally romantic comedy

 Dee Ann Newkirk as Frankie and Rick Gifford as Johnny. PHOTOS COURTESY DAVID BAZEMORE

Dee Ann Newkirk as Frankie and Rick Gifford as Johnny.

Nearly a quarter-century old, Terrence McNally’s play “Frankie & Johnny in the Claire de Lune” has several difficulties for any director that don’t seem so prevalent now in modern theater. Two people in a room, with action that happens in real time, going from a one-night stand to something that looks like full-time commitment. And though it joshes with the ideas of pre-1940s romance, it’s unabashedly romantic, just unglamorous. It presents us with earnestness and asks us to take it seriously.

Fortunately Saundra McClain is up for this task and has delivered a fitting curtain call for the Ensemble’s most recent season and for the Alhecama Theater. The next production will open in the Victoria, so regardless of this review, realize this is your final chance to experience the cozy ambience of the Alhecama.

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Checkered past : Cheap Trick and Pat Benatar deliver capable sets at the Bowl

Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen strikes one of his non-chalant poses while lead singer Robin Zander serenades Sunday night's audience at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. MIKE MORIATIS/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen strikes one of his non-chalant poses while lead singer Robin Zander serenades Sunday night’s audience at the Santa Barbara County Bowl.

On an overcast, June-gloomy Sunday night, the Santa Barbara Bowl played host to two acts that defined rock radio in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Cheap Trick, masters of pop-rock, who have always zigged when other groups zagged, headlined a solid show of hits from their nearly 40 years of rock. And Pat Benatar, the electric and exciting rock singer who became one of the most popular acts on MTV in its early days with a string of hits, opened for the band, delivering a two-fer of classic fist-pumping good times. For the Santa Barbara audience, it was a no-brainer of summer fun.

First, it must be good to be Ms. Benatar. At 60 she looks pretty much the same as she did when she released her first single in 1979. Her voice, just a bit raspier than usual, can still hit all the notes. She’s still with her collaborator and husband of 31 years, Neil Giraldo. She must laugh in the face of AARP newsletters.

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Dee Ann Newkirkplays Frankieand RickGifford makes his Ensemble Theatre debut in the roleofJohnny. David Bazemore photos
Dee Ann Newkirkplays Frankieand RickGifford makes his Ensemble Theatre debut in the roleofJohnny.
David Bazemore photos

In 1987, director Saundra McClain was living in New York City in Manhattan Plaza, the “Miracle of 42nd Street,” the 45-floor artist housing complex. Across the street was a small theater where a two-person play, “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune” opened. “I have no recollection of it. I just remember two people on stage.” (Those two people, by the way, were Kathy Bates and F. Murray Abraham). She’s not being glib, just a statement of fact and a life filled with playgoing.

And it helps to not remember anything particular when you wind up directing your own version, set to premiere Thursday at the Alhecama Theatre.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Red’s Lynchburg lemonade


Reds is full of new cocktails, new servers, and on the day we visited, about 200 times more people. It’s something to do with the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co./Seven Bar & Kitchen triangle that Reds has become part of.

Dana Walters, one of the original Funk Zoners, was slinging drinks along with two other bartenders and could barely come up for air. Much like The Bourbon Room in Goleta, Reds is now offering daily cocktail specials. This particular day was the Lynchburg Lemonade. The history of the drink goes back to Alabama of the 1980s as a mix of Jack Daniels, triple sec, sour mix and lemon-lime soda. But time, geography and a few lawsuits back at the Jack Daniels distillery have made Ms. Walters change it up — namely, forgoing all that syrupy mix for a simple batch of homemade lemonade, and using Benchmark bourbon instead of Jack Daniels. (You can always request the original ingredient, of course.) We like this streamlined version of a modern favorite. It’s our Drink of the Week.

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