If you’re into winter sports of any kind, the annual screening of a Warren Miller film is to you what the September issue of Vogue is to fashionistas.
“The real Warren Miller experience is that people show up this time of year at the theater, not watch it on a DVD,” professional skier Jonny Moseley says. “You’re tired of summer, fall’s getting old, you see the movie on the big screen, the photography’s amazing and you hang out with a bunch of buddies and get fired up for the season.”
Milt Larsen’s parents were both magicians. They owned a magic trick novelty shop back in the 1930s and ’40s, and Larsen recalls spending many childhood hours in the stockroom. He’d open every box, learn the trick and put it back. There was no escaping it — from then on, the young Milt was destined to become a magician.
Now, 55 years later, after becoming synonymous with American illusionary arts through his Magic Castle club, Larsen brings his annual family-friendly magic acts to Lobero Theatre for its third appearance.
As Earth Day approaches, the question often arises, How can one person make a difference? The answer: there are as many ways as there are people asking. For 32 of those answers, look to the 2010 Green Shorts Film Festival, showing tonight at the Lobero Theatre at a special event and awards ceremony.
With Earth Day’s theme set as “Bringing it Home,” the Community Environmental Council asked everyone from young schoolchildren to filmmakers amateur and pro to conceive a two-minute film “regarding sustainable living, eating and growing local food, sustainable transportation, energy independence and a green future without petroleum.” That’s according to the press release and contest poster.
“Are there any children in the audience?” asked Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Lobero on Friday night. There weren’t. “I don’t want them to think this is what jazz singers look like.”
Ms. Bridgewater’s joke — after a very naughty and bawdy series of double entendres — spoke a truth about the entire evening. Ms. Bridgewater doesn’t fit many people’s safe or generic idea of a “jazz singer” either. At 59, she’s a singular force, roiling with life.
BASSH, the annual celebration of Santa Barbara’s dance community that spins across the Lobero Theatre stage this weekend can’t shake its acronym even when it tries. In years past, its letters have stood for ballroom, Argentine, salsa, swing and hip-hop. Too specific, the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance thought this year, and opened up the adjudication process to a broader selection. They dropped the Argentine Tango…but then two Aerialists took their place. You know…with a capital A…
So, BASSH remains and still stands for something. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, why mess with a good thing?
As the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday night hit its second weekend, it brought to the Lobero Theater a group of 2009’s most exciting actors, to be honored with the Vanguard Awards.
Indeed, why choose between stars when all four can be on stage?
Fans lined the cordoned-off area in front of the Lobero to await the arrival of limousines bearing the actors: Vera Farmiga (“Up In The Air”); Peter Sarsgaard (“An Education”); and Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds”). Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones”) was also honored, but could not make the event due to scheduling. Filling the fifth chair was Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire”), who picked up her Virtuoso Award from last Saturday’s award evening, having also been a victim of scheduling.
Film director Oliver Stone first dealt with South and Central America in 1986, with his breakthrough political drama “Salvador.” He didn’t return to the region as a subject until recently, with two documentaries on Fidel Castro (2003’s “Comandante” and 2004’s “Looking for Fidel”). Now he’s taken on another American bugaboo, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in “South of the Border,” playing this weekend at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Stone’s thesis is that Chavez has been demonized in the American press because he hasn’t gone along with business interests, especially when Chavez nationalized the oil industry.
The film then uses Chavez’ success as an opportunity to discuss other socialist revolutions that have followed in Chavez’ wake — in Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador. The short doc may lack in nuance, but it will introduce many to the leaders in the region, and to countries that never turn up on the nightly news.
The first thing that strikes you about Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe is the voice. It’s not that one expects the star and title character of the Oscar-nominated film “Precious” to talk in the hesitant mumbled tone heard in the film, but rather that her voice is not even East Coast. Sidibe sounds like a bubbly Valley Girl.
This only emphasizes the astonishing job she does in “Precious,” a harrowing yet uplifting drama about an abused 16-year-old African-American girl. Lee Daniels’ striking directorial debut, based upon the novel Push by Sapphire, mixes grim domestic scenes — featuring a monster of a mother played by comedienne Mo’Nique — with glamorous escapist fantasies. Also appearing in the film are Mariah Carey, who disappears under a black wig to play a social worker, and Lenny Kravitz, playing a male nurse.
In recursive moment of movie love, Kirk Douglas and Quentin Tarantino fans gathered on Sunday afternoon at the Lobero for a meeting with the two stars. Mr. Tarantino overflowed with appreciation and love for Mr. Douglas, whose 1975 film “Posse,” was specially screened for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. In turn, Mr. Douglas revealed himself as a Tarantino fan, steering the chat away from Sunday’s film screening to tout “Inglourious Basterds,” Mr. Tarantino’s’s recent World War II drama.
These are, of course, the moments on which SBIFF has built its legacy. And Sunday’s screening also showed how SBIFF can hustle and improvise and provide special moments beyond the de rigueur tributes. The screening springs from last October, when Mr. Tarantino appeared at the Coral Casino to receive SBIFF’s 2009 Kirk Douglas Award. Starstruck himself to meet one of his childhood heroes, the two became fast friends.
Young, talented and British: that could sum up a majority of this year’s Virtuoso Award honorees at Sunday night’s special event at the Lobero. Consider the list: Irish-raised Saoirse Ronan, who plays the young murder victim in Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones.” London-born Emily Blunt, who plays the young queen in “The Young Victoria.” And Carey Mulligan, who went from Westminster to stardom as the seduced and seductive schoolgirl in “An Education.” Screams from a sparse but enthusiastic crowd gathered outside the Lobero and watching the red carpet greeted each star’s arrival.
Odd man out was Long Beach native Michael Stuhlbarg, who jumped from decades of Broadway theater work to unlikely leading man in the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man.” Mr. Stuhlbarg is more than twice the age of Miss Ronan, but to audiences, they are all fresh faces who delivered some of 2009’s best performances.