For a man who has eschewed dialog for his entire hypnotic filmography, Godfrey Reggio sure loves to talk. In interview, he comes front-loaded with philosophical riffs, turns of phrase, metaphors, and more. Some of it is evidence of years promoting, explaining, and defending his films. Some of it is his joy of living. And, although he hasn’t said so, some may be the flip-side of his youth, where he spent 14 years in silence as he studied to be a monk for the Congregation of Christian Brothers.
Mr. Reggio is best known for his “Qatsi” trilogy, which debuted in 1982. Its first film, “Koyaanisqatsi” (Hopi for “Life out of Balance”) was “the” art-house film of the ’80s, an updated ’60s head-trip that began with gorgeous helicopter shots until descending into beehive-like, time-lapse footage of the modern city, all propelled by Philip Glass’ hypnotic score. The film propelled both Mr. Reggio’s and Mr. Glass’ careers, and while Mr. Glass went on to score many Hollywood films, Mr. Reggio worked on the sequels: “Powaqqatsi” (“Life in Transformation”) from 1988, and “Naqoyqasti” (“Life as War”) from 2002. Not only is UCSB showing the trilogy in full this Saturday at the Arlington, but they’ll be showing Mr. Reggio’s latest, “Visitors.” Shot in 5k digital and in slow-motion black and white, it’s much like his short film from 2002, “Evidence,” which showed at UCSB with live Philip Glass Ensemble backing. The film turns the camera on an audience as it watches a film. Like all of Mr. Reggio’s work, it’s hypnotic, mesmerizing, but without narrative, as much as audiences love to insert a story into his images. (Another thing you learn talking to Mr. Reggio: he dislikes the word “experimental.” “That’s for science,” he says.)
BBC/Ireland Film Board documentary “The Summit” explains in detail the disastrous 2008 expedition to climb K2, the second highest peak in the world. According to experienced climbers, K2 may be shorter than Everest, but it’s harder. Despite excellent conditions — clear skies, very little wind, and decades of experience and skill among the groups of international climbers — eleven climbers lost their lives, and others lost toes to frostbite in their efforts to rescue their comrades.
“The Summit” plays out like a murder mystery of sorts. Is it K2 in the drawing room with the crampon? Or was there an accomplice? Was it bad luck or negligence? In the end, “The Summit” seems to suggest that it’s the popularity of climbing K2 itself that had a lot to do with it. One wouldn’t think there’d be a bottleneck of climbers trying to climb a vertical wall of ice, but most of us don’t run in those circles.
So here’s the way the world (sometimes) works. Deysi Alvarez was born in El Salvador, raised in Colombia, and finds her way much later to Los Angeles, but the apartment she lives in downtown is right above Rivera, one of the premiere South American restaurants. She ditches her real estate career to learn everything she can about mixology, by hook or by bloody crook. And several restaurants later, here she is, in charge of Blue Tavern’s cocktail list (as well as several down in L.A.).
More hits than misses: that’s the tally of Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s award-winning movie stars who also got an Oscar nomination this week.
The festival books its buzz-worthy actors and filmmakers months ahead, hoping precognition will turn out to be correct, and after Thursday’s announcement, the festival can now claim 15 Academy Award nominees visiting Santa Barbara at the end of this month.
Michael Kate puts the abstract on hold this month for a themed show of figurative painting. Curator and artist Brad Nack may have been slightly winking when he said he chose the theme because he wanted to give himself a challenge (he’s in the show with several paintings). But hey, whatever gets the creative juices flowing.
This is a show with ten artists tackling the human figure in various ways, from sci-fi pulp art to the roughest of class sketches. More than any previous show — I believe, anyway — this is meant to be taken as a journey in order, starting at the doors and moving counter-clockwise around MichaelKate. (But if you just want to move right to the back where those comfy recliners are, that’s fine too.)
In the run-up to the SBIFF, you might have spotted some posters around town announcing another film fest at the Arlington in January. Well, you aren’t seeing double. The Pop-Up Film Festival is a day-long, 12-hour selection of mostly local filmmakers and their work, set up by producer-director Daniel Bollag. A long-time fan of all SBIFF brings to town (he often attends their tribute evenings), Mr. Bollag says the timing is purely coincidental.
Yes, he does wonder if SBIFF has evolved into a “marketing opportunity for bigger studios” and noticed there were also a lot of local, social-justice documentaries that weren’t being shown at the Fest or anywhere else in town. So the Pop-Up Film Festival was born, a full 12 hours of film for which one can buy individual tickets ñ or a whole day-pass. And nearly all films save “No Burqas” have a Santa Barbara-based filmmaker, including Israeli Meni Philip, who recently moved to town.
Many of us grew up with Colin Quinn as a member of Saturday Night Live, but there are those of us whose first dose of Mr. Quinn’s raspy Brooklyn accent was on MTV’s non-gameshow, “Remote Control,” where he’d destroy the hits of the year in his unmusical voice. Since then, this stand-up comedian has acted in films and television, hosted comedy variety shows, and recently popped up on an episode of “Girls.” But during his stint on SNL, Mr. Quinn was already working on long-form stand-up. His first show, “Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake” went to Broadway, and since then, he’s maintained a presence on stage. Now this Saturday, he comes to the Lobero with his latest, “Unconstitutional,” an examination of our nation’s founding document, or 226 years in 70 minutes. This will not be a history lesson, but you just might learn something … and you will be laughing. In this interview, however, Quinn gets into the serious business of parsing this document and reveals that he’s a big James Madison fan.
Lower State Street giveth and it taketh away: Apéro opened last week downtown in the spot formerly known as Verdé, formerly known as Zia Cafe. Yes, we know, Verdé wasn’t even here a year and now it’s toast. Santa Barbara is a harsh mistress for those in the restaurant trade. But Anthony Van Daele has been thinking of his idea for a while and hopes that his Western European tapas and appetizers way of thinking, coupled with an open-late bar on State Street, will bring in those wanting a late-night bite but not wanting to go clubbing.
It was a long two days at Santa Barbara High School this weekend as judges weighed in on the wealth of young talent auditioning for the Teen Star singing competition. Around 70 students from seventh to 12th grade tried out for the coveted February performance at the Granada.
Add to that the 20 seen on Thursday in the North County auditions, and that’s a lot of singers to experience. But as of 8 p.m. Sunday, the 10 finalists (and two alternates) were announced.
The winners, in no particular order are: Jason Paras (Dos Pueblos High, 12th grade); Karlie Mack (San Marcos High, 12th grade); Zoe Burritt (Cabrillo High, 10th grade); Nathaniel Neumann (Dos Pueblos High, 11th grade), Grant Bower (Santa Barbara High, 10th grade); Mary-Grace Langhorne (Goleta Valley Junior High, seventh grade); Brandi Rose Lentini (Santa Barbara High, ninth grade); Luana Psaros (Dos Pueblos High, 11th grade); Sulema Mejia (Pioneer Valley High, 12th grade); and Dylan Ortega (Santa Ynez Valley High, 10th grade). Two alternates also were chosen. They are Olivia Huffman (Solvang School, eighth grade) and Sydney Shalhoob (La Colina Junior High, eighth grade).
‘Jason Mraz was very popular,” said Joe Lambert. Teen Star’s executive director, of the song choices made by the contestants. ‘As was Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5. What was surprising was that we got two songs from ‘Frozen’ which only just came out in theaters.”
The panel of judges was the same from Thursday. Doing the honors were singer-songwriter Patti Castillo, KTYD’s Lin Aubuchon and the News-Press’ own Don Katich, director of news operations. To make sure the judges keep their ears fresh and unbiased, Erik Stein, casting director of PCPA at Allan Hancock College, came in after the contestants had been whittled down to 20, and he gave them all a fresh listen.
Contacted by phone, the finalists were relaxing Sunday night.
Jason Paras auditioned with Michael Buble’s ‘I Haven’t Met You Yet” a selection he felt really matched his own personality and the way he feels. ‘It really portrays who I am and also, I just really love singing.” He wasn’t nervous, he says, because this February will mark his return performance at the Granada – he was a finalist last year, too.
‘Don’t sing songs you think other people want to hear you sing,” he advised. ‘Just focus on delivering the best performance you can so you’re happy with what you do.” Mr. Paras has his sights on being a singer-songwriter, but at the moment he’s also the editor-in-chief of Dos Pueblos’ newspaper and plays water polo.
Zoe Burritt got her chance to sing two country songs in her audition, and that’s good because she wants to head in that direction in her career. This Lompoc resident sings every chance she gets at various events, including local fairs, and this is her third time auditioning and her first to earn her a final spot. She chose ‘Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood (who Zoe’s dad says she bears a vocal resemblance to) and ‘Tim McGraw” by Taylor Swift.
‘These songs are a good match for me, and I can sing them really well, she says.” Miss Burritt has recently picked up guitar and piano, and said that she’s not too worried about her stage presence, but ‘I need to work on my vocal strength,” a tip she picked up from her three years auditioning.
‘It was more comfortable this year,” said Nathaniel Neumann, who was also a finalist last year. ‘There was a lot less stress and a lot more fun.”
Mr. Neumann auditioned with Phillip Phillips’ ‘Drive Me,” a singer who won 2012’s American Idol.
‘The panel is very attentive to you being stressed out and nervous,” he said. ‘So they mention before the audition that they’re there for you to succeed and not make you feel pressured, or if I don’t make it I’m not a good singer. They want you to win. If you don’t make it they’ll give you pointers and tell you they’ll see you next year!”
Speaking of Stories kicks off 2014, and its 20th season, with “Nothing but Laughs,” its annual show of humorous tales. Maybe it’s a sign that the funniest comedy writers now work in the non-fiction essay format, or maybe it’s just pure coincidence, but the line-up for the two shows this Sunday and Monday at Center Stage Theater is all in the hilarious-but-true tradition.
The line-up for Sunday and Monday feature five Speaking of … regulars, all five of whom are also adept at comedy. Katie Thatcher will read Sloane Crosley’s childhood tale, “The Pony Problem;” Meredith McMinn will read Nora Ephron’s aging-ritual tale, “I Feel Bad About My Neck;” Devin Scott — the youngest of the performers — will read Michael Thomas Ford’s confessional, “The F Word;” Tom Hinshaw will take on David Rakoff’s mountain climbing story, “In New England Everyone Calls You Dave;” and Robert Lesser caps things off with Paul Rudnick’s sugar-holic tale, “Good Enough to Eat.” Executive director, Maggie Mixsell has made sure each performer really matches the personality of the writer. Well, as closely as possible.