PaloAltoOnline.com http://www.paloaltoonline.com If it is local and useful, it is on PaloAltoOnline.com. en-us Copyright 2016 PaloAltoOnline.com Palo Alto Online http://PaloAltoOnline.com/art/top_logo.png http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/rss.php <![CDATA[Trojans sink Stanford in MPSF water polo championship game]]> Cardinal corner
Jordan Raney and Gurpreet Sohi each scored twice but top-ranked USC poured in five fourth-quarter goals to beat the third-ranked Stanford women's water polo team, 8-5, Sunday and claim the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament championship.
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<![CDATA[Cardinal men tee off on Pac-12 to win another golf title]]> The fourth-ranked Stanford men's golf team won its third consecutive Pac-12 Conference and placed three golfers among in the top 10 of the individual standings Sunday at The Country Club in Salt Lake City.
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<![CDATA[Despite loss, Paly baseball looks primed for the playoffs]]> Weekend prep roundup
Finishing the regular season by winning six of its final seven games should be enough momentum to carry the Palo Alto baseball team into the SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs.]]>
<![CDATA[Community Notebook: Silicon Valley Community Foundation to host online 'giving day' for nonprofits]]> Mountain View-based Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) will be hosting SVGives, an online fundraising event to benefit 1,000 local nonprofit organizations on Tuesday, May 3.]]> <![CDATA[District slow to publish decisions made at meetings]]> The Palo Alto school district is an outlier when it comes to officially documenting and making public the minutes from meetings of the Board of Education.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford stops the Beavers cold in Pac-12 baseball action]]> Cardinal corner
Junior starter Chris Castellanos and freshman reliever Kris Bubic combined on a seven-hitter and Stanford topped host No. 10 Oregon State, 6-0, in a Pac-12 Conference baseball game Saturday.
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<![CDATA[Cardinal women get another chance at MPSF water polo title]]> Dani Jackovich and Jamie Neushul each scored twice and the third-ranked Stanford women's water polo team beat No. 2 UCLA, 6-3, in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament at Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday.
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<![CDATA[Menlo's Mobley has Oaks running to second place in GSAC meet]]> Oaks report
Freshman Ibrahima Mobley was named the Most Valuable Male Performer at the Golden State Athletic Conference track and field champions Saturday, helping the Menlo College men's team earned a second-place finish in its first year as a program.
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<![CDATA[Teens who beat 68-year-old heart patient get prison terms]]> A San Mateo County Superior Court judge has sentenced two 18-year-olds who beat and robbed a man with a heart condition to prison, the San Mateo County District Attorney's office said.
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<![CDATA[Bike to Work Day offers free bike sharing]]> Bay Area commuters without a bike can participate in this year's Bike to Work Day for free through an offer by Bay Area Bike Share.]]> <![CDATA[Payton Jordan Invitational offers top distance fields]]> The Payton Jordan Invitational, in its 21st year, has become the destination for fast distance-running, particularly in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. This year, with Olympic standards at stake, it should be no different on Sunday night at Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field.]]> <![CDATA[Palo Alto Weekly wins online 'General Excellence,' total 13 state journalism awards]]> The Palo Alto Weekly's staff was awarded the top prize for quality online journalism by the California Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspapers contest on Saturday, April 30. The award was part of a suite of wins for the community media outlet and its news staff, including five first-place and eight second-place awards.]]> <![CDATA[Palo Alto baseball finishes off a second-place showing]]> Friday's prep roundup
The race, and chase, in the SCVAL De Anza Division baseball race is over for Palo Alto. The Vikings have to settle for second place behind Los Gatos, despite a 5-2 victory over visiting Milpitas on Friday.]]>
<![CDATA[Hogan goes to Chiefs, Martinez and Murphy to Packers]]> Stanford's Blake Martinez and Kevin Hogan were both selected in the NFL Draft on Friday, with teammate Kyle Murphy being tabbed on Saturday. Martinez and Murphy went to the Green Bay Packers and Hogan to the Kansas City Chiefs.]]> <![CDATA[Gunn boys and Paly girls successfully defend swim titles]]> After 30 varsity races that included three meet records in the first four events, two swim teams emerged as champions as expected at the SCVAL De Anza Division Championships on Friday at Gunn High.]]> <![CDATA[Child care director leaves after 'rough play']]> Palo Alto's largest child care agency, Palo Alto Community Child Care, has received two violation citations after a state agency found the director of one of its centers had endangered the safety of children, according to investigation reports by the California Department of Social Services.]]> <![CDATA[Guest Opinion: Be creative in embracing change, preserving neighborhood]]> I am in favor of the proposed single-story overlay for the Royal Manor neighborhood of Eichlers in Palo Alto. I am also in favor of the City Council making it easier for those who want to modernize or enlarge their homes to do so. ]]> <![CDATA[Stanford men shrug off cool weather to gain golf momentum]]> Cardinal corner
The fourth-ranked Stanford men's golf team trailed in the early stages of the Pac-12 Conference Championships, which began Friday at The Country Club in Salt Lake City. The Cardinal stayed cool, mounted a brilliant comeback and took a five-shot lead over second-place Cal through 36 holes.]]>
<![CDATA[VIDEO: On this week's Behind the Headlines]]> On this week's half-hour webcast, "Behind the Headlines," Palo Alto's Chief Transportation Official Joshuah Mello joins Weekly reporters Gennady Sheyner and Sue Dremann to discuss the city's transportation challenges and potential solutions. ]]> <![CDATA[Stanford's Hooper taken by the Falcons in the NFL Draft]]> Stanford's Austin Hooper was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday. Hooper was the 81st overall pick and second tight end off the board.]]> <![CDATA[Cardinal women splash to win opening round of MPSF tournament]]> The third-ranked Stanford women's water polo team scored six of the game's first seven goals and never looked back, beating San Jose State, 10-6, in the quarterfinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament on Friday in Bakersfield.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford women's lacrosse earns All-MPSF honors]]> The Stanford women's lacrosse team saw seven Cardinal honored with All-MPSF accolades, including a Rookie of the Year award for Anna Salemo as announced by the conference this week. ]]> <![CDATA[Annual Bay Area Senior Games get under way this weekend]]> More than 1,200 athletes are now registered for the 10th Annual Bay Area Senior Games, which will run from April 30-June 4 at venues in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.]]> <![CDATA[Mountain View man arrested in wine heist]]> Two Northern California men have been indicted for allegedly transporting expensive wine that was stolen from restaurants in Yountville and Cupertino.
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<![CDATA[A perfect finish for Palo Alto boys in SCVAL golf race]]> Thursday's prep roundup
Palo Alto finished off a fourth straight undefeated season in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League with a 182-220 dual-match boys' golf victory over rival Gunn on Thursday at Santa Teresa Golf Course in San Jose.]]>
<![CDATA[Sales at a glance]]> Mountain View garners highest number of home sales among Midpeninsula cities this week]]> <![CDATA[Recent Home Sales]]> Woodside tops region with $7-million sale]]> <![CDATA[Home Front]]> This weekend, check out Kusamura Bonsai Club's 56th Annual Show in Palo Alto, learn how to cultivate soil health at a free workshop in Menlo Park and more.]]> <![CDATA[At the crossroads]]> As a tight-knit community along the border of Los Altos, the Monroe Park neighborhood, located on the edge of South Palo Alto between Adobe Creek, El Camino Real and Del Medio and Silva avenues, keeps close despite the city's ever-changing urban landscape. ]]> <![CDATA[PUBLIC AGENDA: single-story overlay, transportation tax measure, parking program]]> A preview of Palo Alto government meetings for the week of May 2.
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<![CDATA[Editorial: Palo Alto business registry has failed to deliver its promised value]]> As Palo Alto's business registry enters its second year and with the recent release of some of the data compiled over the last year, it is clear the program needs help.]]> <![CDATA[Policing surveillance in Palo Alto]]> The tendency of policy to lag behind technology is nothing new when it comes to body-worn cameras, automatic license-plate readers, drones and other investigative tools.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford's Garnett goes to 49ers as 28th pick in NFL Draft]]> Stanford offensive lineman Joshua Garnett was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Garnett was the 28th pick of the round on Friday. Garnett is Stanford's latest first-round pick and 22nd in program history.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford's Enriques earns national award as the top libero]]> Cardinal corner
Stanford sophomore Evan Enriques has been named the winner of the Erik Shoji Award as the nation's top libero in men's college volleyball.]]>
<![CDATA[MPSF water polo tourney next stop in Stanford's NCAA quest]]> Stanford this weekend
You know expectations are sky high for the Stanford women's water polo team when a slow start in a NCAA national championship game is losing the opening sprint. That's from a description of the 2005 title match.]]>
<![CDATA[Oh 'Mother'!]]> Garry Marshall's nakedly formulaic ensemble comedy "Mother's Day" -- part of an anti-franchise that includes Marshall's holiday-themed ensemble comedies "Valentine's Day" and "New Year's Eve" -- feels like something out of "The Twilight Zone."]]> <![CDATA[Knead for weed]]> The dope-y new comedy "Dough" suffers from a number of problems, among them its old-fashioned treatment of marijuana. Like TV's "Bates Motel," which labored to create high-stakes dread over an illegal marijuana operation in the 2010s, "Dough" tastes awfully stale in its dramatization of high times and underground illegality.]]> <![CDATA[Raw appeal]]> You have to hand it to the owners of Rumble Fish: They obviously had a good time coming up with the names of their specialty maki rolls, and their inspiration shows in sushi that looks as good as it tastes. ]]> <![CDATA[Worth a Look]]> Menlowe Ballet's spring performance, titled "Collage," features the company debut of four former Silicon Valley Ballet dancers and the world premieres of three pieces by Val Caniparoli, Gregory Dawson and Artistic Director Michael Lowe.]]> <![CDATA[Palo Alto, SHP baseball teams look secure in second place]]> Prep roundup
The Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep baseball teams are sitting in similar situations in their respective races following important victories on Wednesday.]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Live announces 2016-17 season]]> Stanford Live has announced the lineup for its fifth season, titled "LIVE/FIVE," with plans to bring a diverse range of performances from the likes of cello master Yo-Yo Ma, Grammy-winning family band The Okee Dokee Brothers, Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, renowned Indian musician Anoushka Shankar, South Pacific dance company Black Grace and around 60 others to Stanford's Bing Concert Hall, beginning in September. ]]> <![CDATA[Gunn grad Mead to be inducted into Johns Hopkins Hall of Fame]]> Brian Mead, a graduate of Gunn High in 2000, is one of eight news members of the Johns Hopkins University Athletic Hall of Fame. He'll be inducted during ceremonies on Saturday.]]> <![CDATA[Four Menlo College softball players on All-GSAC team]]> After concluding the regular season as the No. 1 seed in the Golden State Athletic Conference, four Menlo College softball players were voted to the All-GSAC team.]]> <![CDATA[Finding the common thread]]> The crossover of traditional South Asian garb to the more modern styles of western runways is what inspired Nabeel to found Indus Threads, an online clothing rental platform that brings the world of intricately-designed, high-end South Asian fashion to the sharing economy of the west.]]> <![CDATA[Olympic year makes Payton Jordan Invitational a big deal]]> The 21st annual Payton Jordan Invitational, which has developed into the premier distance-running track meet in the country, takes place Sunday at Cobb Track and Angell Field. The meet is named for the school's legendary former track and field coach.]]> <![CDATA[Superb spectacle, excellent ensemble]]> "Into the Woods," with music and lyrics by Steven Sondheim and book by James Lapine, is arguably one of the most enjoyed and most-produced musicals of the last three decades, having garnered numerous awards and nominations in each of its incarnations, including the latest Oscar-nominated film version with an all-star cast.]]> <![CDATA[Palo Alto divers make it a clean sweep for their careers]]> Tuesday's prep roundup
Palo Alto seniors Reed Merritt and Mimi Lin made their final appearances at the SCVAL Diving Championships the best of their careers as they swept their divisions in historic fashion on Tuesday at Gunn High.]]>
<![CDATA[Brodey's homer not enough as Broncos beat the Cardinal]]> Sophomore Quinn Brodey homered again, but the Stanford baseball team dropped a nonconference game to host Santa Clara, 4-2, at Schott Stadium on Tuesday night.
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<![CDATA[2016 All-PAL Bay Division boys' tennis team]]> First Team
Casey Morris (Menlo-Atherton) Jr.; Reed Fratt (Menlo-Atherton) Sr.; Thomas Reznik (Carlmont) So.; Landers Ngirchemat (Aragon) Sr.; Hal Tuttle (Woodside) Sr.; Cale Goodman (Burlingame) So.; Lucas Rosenberg (Hillsdale) So.; Drew Davison (Half Moon Bay) Jr.; Phalgun Krishma (San Mateo) Sr.]]>
<![CDATA[Senior Games is looking for volunteers for annual event]]> Of local note
Volunteers are needed for the upcoming 2016 Bay Area Senior Games. Organizers are looking for high school students from Palo Alto, Gunn, Castilleja, Menlo-Atherton, Menlo School, Sacred Heart Prep, Los Altos, Mountain View, Woodside and Sequoia to help out.]]>
<![CDATA[Pac-12 track and field honors for Shumway, Allman]]> Weekly awards
Stanford senior Jackson Shumway and junior Valarie Allman have been named Pac-12 Track and Field Athletes of the Week.
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<![CDATA[Sales at a glance]]> Atherton claims highest sales price at $13 million.]]> <![CDATA[Recent home sales]]> Home sales are provided by California REsource, a real estate information company that obtains home sale data from local county recorders' offices. Information is recorded from deeds after the close of escrow and published within four to eight weeks.
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<![CDATA[Tennis teams putting finishing touches on regular seasons]]> Monday's prep roundup
Local tennis teams are putting the finishing touches on the regular season this week, some playing their final league matches before heading into their respective individual tournaments -- all leading into next week's start of the Central Coast Section Team Tournament.]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford's Shaw wins award as nation's top volleyball setter]]> Cardinal corner
Stanford senior setter James Shaw opened the men's volleyball season returning to the court from an injury and now ends the year winning the nation's top award for a setter.]]>
<![CDATA[Oaks head into GSAC softball tournament with momentum]]> The Menlo College softball team ended its regular season with a nonconference doubleheader split against visiting Benedictine Mesa, winning 8-0 and losing 6-5, on Monday.
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<![CDATA[Menlo School grad Morkovine wins doubles title in Ojai]]> Of local note
Daniel Morkovine, a junior from Menlo School, and senior captain Skyler Butts from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps defended their Division III doubles title at the 116th Ojai Valley Tournament, which concluded on Sunday.]]>
<![CDATA[One of Stanford's oldest track records finally falls in 1,600 relay]]> Weekend track wrap
One of Stanford's oldest track and field records fell on Saturday, smashed by three sophomores and a former walk-on at the Michael Johnson Invitational at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.]]>
<![CDATA[Home Front]]> This week, learn to grow blueberries during a class at Rinconada Library in Palo Alto, be a "weed warrior" and remove invasive plants at Arastradero Preserve and more.]]> <![CDATA[Real Estate Matters]]> The number of new listings in Palo Alto has jumped 20 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year. Sellers listed a total of 154 homes since the beginning of 2016.]]> <![CDATA[Living on the outside]]> While their East Coast roots drew them to the traditional Old Palo Alto home in 2003, Rebecca and Marc Friend knew from the start that the garden didn't live up to its Cape Cod design.]]> <![CDATA[Milhous Rock]]> On December 21, 1970, one of the most famous men in America wrote and hand-delivered a letter to another of the most famous men in America. "Dear Mr. President," Elvis Presley began. "First, I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley and admire you and have great respect for your office ... Sir, I am staying at the Washington Hotel ... I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a Federal Agent. I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good." ]]> <![CDATA[Your 'Miles' may vary]]> Where to begin? And where to end? And what to do with all that middle? These are the questions that plague and invigorate any writer, and perhaps especially those who task themselves with the responsibility of telling the story of a real-life genius. ]]> <![CDATA[Shop Talk]]> Annabelle Salon & Spa to open in Palo Alto's Charleston Shopping Center while Pet Club closes its doors in Mountain View and more. ]]> <![CDATA[Breakfast staple]]> Bill's Cafe has been doing a brisk business serving up breakfast in the Bay Area for more than three decades. ]]> <![CDATA[Movements with a message]]> The stories of disabled veterans and the plight of marine wildlife will be portrayed on stage this weekend, when Stanford University will host two acclaimed dance companies, both presenting socially conscious works.]]> <![CDATA[A bawdy swashbuckler]]> TheatreWorks brings us the regional premiere of a new translation of Edmond Rostand's classic play, "Cyrano," breathing fresh life into the enduring tale of unrequited love. ]]> <![CDATA[Home Front]]> Explore the outdoors this week with a spring garden tour at Palo Alto's Gamble Garden, talk about classic shrub roses during The Peninsula Rose Society's monthly meet-up and more. ]]> <![CDATA[The benefits of bugs]]> While "benefits" and "bugs" seem like antonyms, certain insects actually help organic gardens be healthier.]]> <![CDATA['Book' your 'Jungle' cruise today]]> Perhaps like you, dear reader, I approached Disney's new version of "The Jungle Book" with a chip on my shoulder and the question "Why? Just, why?" The answer, I assumed, was because "they" can, and there's gold in them thar trees. But Jon Favreau's live-action/CGI spectacle turns out to be a mighty impressive adventure film for kids that accumulates substantial reasons to justify its existence.]]> <![CDATA[An insider's guide to fresh air]]> Getting some fresh air outside is a given. But some Palo Alto entrepreneurs are offering consumers a way to make sure they are doing that same quality of breathing inside.]]> <![CDATA[Blowin' in the wind]]> Inspired by the rippling landscapes of Midwestern prairies, ornamental grass gardens can add an element of wonder and movement to a garden.]]> <![CDATA[Front door distinction]]> Here are five local finds that can add charm and character to any entryway.]]> <![CDATA[Dapper drapes]]> When it comes to curtains, the supporting hardware may come as an afterthought. But local experts remind drape shoppers that while the hardware may come last, it's definitely not the least. ]]> <![CDATA[A rose by many names]]> Palo Altan rose grower Jerry Georgette says that picking one's favorite rose is like choosing your favorite child. He admits that one of his favorites is a yellow gold "Golden Celebration," an English shrub rose. ]]> <![CDATA[Do-It-Yourself: Jazz up the fireplace]]> When Redwood City resident Glenda Fuge isn't using her fireplace, she likes to add personality to an otherwise dull space with a decorative screen. Fuge, a semi-retired occupational therapist, crafts her own fireplace screens out of recycled materials like metal fences, iron headboards, scrap wood and, her favorite, old window frames. ]]> <![CDATA[Contemporary tranquility]]> It was the sound of the creek flowing near the Midcentury Modern home in Portola Valley that drew Julie Dyson in 2011.]]> <![CDATA[Toy storage]]> It can be thrilling for children to receive toys on birthdays or special occasions, but what happens when the toys start to pile up? What happens when the playroom becomes a sea of strewn Legos and Barbie dolls and art supplies -- when it's so cluttered that the floor is no longer visible? ]]> <![CDATA[His cheatin' heart]]> Just as "the book was better" usually holds true when it comes to novelistic adaptations, most biographies are probably better read than watched. That's certainly the case with "I Saw the Light," which takes the stuff of Colin Escott, George Merritt and William MacEwen's "Hank Williams: The Biography" and turns it into a frustratingly inert, determinedly rote musical biopic.]]> <![CDATA[A song in her heart]]> In less than a week, "American Idol" will air its final broadcast after 15 seasons. The once-upon-a-time blockbuster television hit made its bones with talented singers but just as much with untalented ones, served up as objects of mockery.]]> <![CDATA['Greek' to me]]> Full disclosure: having to sit through "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" is, essentially, my idea of hell on earth. But in watching the film at a preview screening this week, I found that much of the audience seemed to think it was the best thing since sliced baklava. ]]> <![CDATA[Supreme court battle?]]> "Bruce Wayne meets Clark Kent I love it!" Most of the world will agree with Lex Luthor in Warner Brothers' new monster tent-pole movie "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) and Kent (a.k.a. Superman) have met before, of course: on radio, in comic books and in animation. But the two have never before met in live-action -- until now.]]> <![CDATA[Malick in his 'Cups']]> Fittingly, the latest film from auteur Terence Malick ("The Tree of Life") has earned rapturous praise and frustrated ire, for two things are equally certain about "Knight of Cups": it is a work of art, and it's not terribly accessible or, therefore, relatable.]]> <![CDATA[Fielding romance]]> Some movies are bound to be forgotten quickly, but are simply too ... nice ... to be dismissed. Such movies are a pleasant enough way to while away an hour and a half, usually not because of a fresh plot, funny situations, or even fascinating characters, but rather because of a winning performer given plenty of room to play. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sally Field in "Hello, My Name Is Doris."]]> <![CDATA['Ma'am' to the slaughter]]> The first thing to say about "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" is "Good on you, Tina Fey." Because this feminist war dramedy -- destined to open at fourth place in box-office receipts -- is a vanity project done right.]]> <![CDATA[Pick a 'Lane,' Buddy]]> There's exactly one relevant moment in "10 Cloverfield Lane," the new paranoid thriller described by producer J.J. Abrams as a "blood relative" to 2008's monster movie "Cloverfield." In that moment, a character ominously notes, "People are strange creatures. You can't always convince them that safety is in their best interest."]]> <![CDATA['Triple' threat]]> A claustrophobic car interior in the dead of night provides the introductory setting of John Hillcoat's "Triple 9," and consider the imagery fair warning: as the picture adjusts along with your eyes, you may rightly come to expect that the red glow of taillights is the barely sparing "neo" to this pitch-black "noir," a dark crime drama the rough-and-tumble Samuel Fuller no doubt would have loved.]]> <![CDATA[Easter in February]]> The Greatest Story Ever Re-told returns in "Risen," which takes an intriguing premise -- investigating the disappearance of Jesus' body from the tomb -- and dulls it down to a hybrid of "Law & Order: Jesus Cops" and bygone sword-and-sandal fare like "The Robe."]]> <![CDATA[Fashion weak]]> Look, let's not kid ourselves. "Zoolander 2" isn't "Citizen Kane." But "Zoolander 2" isn't even "Zoolander." Those in the mood for pure unadulterated silliness could do worse, however, than Ben Stiller's flimsy-fun sequel to his 2001 fashion-world comedy.]]> <![CDATA[Moore to see]]> Setting a spritely tone, Moore's first feature film in six years refutes American exceptionalism by suggesting that we've exported our best ideas and misspent our plenty, throwing trillions of dollars at lost war after lost war instead of taking care of our own.]]> <![CDATA[Leaping into the shallow end]]> The new Marvel superhero (sorta) movie is obnoxious, snarky, gruntingly sexual and violent. And it knows it. It's everything the American Family Association and the Parents Television Council rail against. It's also a helluva lot of fun, at least for the Comic-Con set. ]]> <![CDATA[A less perfect union]]> We all know what happens when a pebble kicks up on the highway and leaves a tiny crack on a windshield. The crack grows, slowly, inexorably, the life of the windshield numbered. So goes the tragic form: one bad choice, one unsettling piece of information, and the hero will never see the end of it. In Andrew Haigh's "45 Years," the crack forms in a marriage, and we watch it agonizingly spread.]]> <![CDATA[The big shorts]]> Looking to win your home or office Oscar pool, impress your peers with your depth of knowledge about the nominees, or simply expand your artistic horizons with a dip into the pool of international short films? "The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2016 -- Live Action" and "The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2016 -- Animated" programs have arrived at a theater near you.]]> <![CDATA[The imperfect storm]]> The latest true-life adventure from Disney isn't an animal documentary or a sports drama, but rather a tale of Coast Guard exploits. Shorn of the sea-salty language that probably attended the actual events, the 1950s-set disaster-rescue story "The Finest Hours" fits the Disney metier just fine, but its dim wall-of-grey visuals and tedious narrative make much of the two hours a challenge to the attention span for viewers of any age.]]> <![CDATA[My way or the driveway]]> In the script for his memory play "The Glass Menagerie," Tennessee Williams wrote, "Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart." ]]> <![CDATA[Concentration]]> To attempt to encapsulate the unfathomable experience of the Holocaust in a narrative film would seem to be a fool's errand, although that hasn't stopped scores of filmmakers from trying, perhaps emboldened by the prospect of awards for dealing with this most serious of topics.]]> <![CDATA['Along' for a 'Ride' 2]]> Picture if you will: a screenwriting team banging out a feature film script one day before lunch. That image was more vivid to me than anything before my eyes in "Ride Along 2," a witless, worthless buddy-cop sequel that gives new meaning to "lazy."]]> <![CDATA[No strings attached]]> Depression can take the form of going through motions like an unfeeling automaton, virtually checked out of life. Near the outset of Charlie Kaufman's "Anomalisa," the protagonist checks in to a Cincinnati hotel that just might hold the key to his salvation -- if he can overcome his ennui.]]> <![CDATA['Hateful Eight' Is Enough]]> Our most fetishistic filmmaker returns with "The Hateful Eight" -- a.k.a. "the eighth film by Quentin Tarantino" -- and those with a Quentin Tarantino fetish are likely to like the writer-director's latest tribute to '60s and '70s film and TV, as well as his own instantly recognizable stylings.]]> <![CDATA[Bear with it]]> "The Revenant" is built to impress, and in most respects, it gets that job done. This tale of wilderness survival "inspired by true events" frontlines Leonardo DiCaprio as a man who must battle a grizzly bear, the elements and his fellow man to survive and claim vengeance against the ruthless man who done him wrong.]]> <![CDATA[Hey, hey, they're the Minions ...]]> Like the Penguins of "Madagascar" before them, these Minions (spun off from the mega-popular "Despicable Me" films) don't so much go on an adventure, in their own solo movie, as run a fool's errand.]]> <![CDATA[Local boy makes good]]> "Batkid Begins" celebrates a city united for fun and goodwill, and the rare, pronounced sense of play and energy adults are capable of rediscovering, as do those who toil excitedly and hopefully to give Miles Scott "a little bit of his childhood back."]]> <![CDATA[Some assembly required]]> The densely plotted "Age of Ultron" is writer-director Joss Whedon's follow-up to 2012's megahit Marvel Comics superhero team-up "The Avengers." The Comic-Con crowd has never been better served.]]> <![CDATA[No excuses]]> Director Kirby Dick's new documentary on sexual assault, "The Hunting Ground," should be required viewing for every current and incoming college student. ]]> <![CDATA[Primating rituals]]> "Monkey Kingdom" follows a group of macaques in Sri Lanka over a period of months as they eat, groom, mate and fight for survival.]]> <![CDATA[Memoir-able]]> In telling the story of real-life fallen journalist Michael Finkel and the convict who stole his identity, "True Story" encourages audiences to be skeptical of truth in the modern media age.]]> <![CDATA[Hipsters versus midlifers]]> Though "While We're Young" practically lionizes the middle-aged and rakes 20-somethings over the coals, director Noah Baumbach makes comic hay from the realization that the future belongs to the young.
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<![CDATA[Taken for a 'Ride']]> "The Longest Ride," like all Nicholas Sparks movies, is cinematic Jello: It sells well, the number one ingredient is sugar and there's always room for it.]]> <![CDATA[She was framed]]> A Nazi-enabled "finders keepers" claim comes under scrutiny in the based-on-a-true-story drama, "Woman in Gold."]]> <![CDATA[Ax me why]]> Amidst the Smoky Mountains circa 1929, a power couple conspires to expand its lumber enterprise, even if it means ... muuuurder! It's a story ripe for dark atmosphere or social satire, but "Serena" winds up sawing logs.]]> <![CDATA[Nothing to write 'Home' about]]> In the over-saturated market for CGI-animated kids' films, "Home" doesn't stand out as anything special: It's another conspicuously packaged product seemingly designed to wear down an audience more than entertain it. ]]> <![CDATA[Life in the fun-house mirror]]> Quentin Tarantino, move over. Argentinian writer-director Damián Szifron has his own "Wild Tales" to tell -- six of them, in fact -- in the take-no-prisoners black-comedic anthology film that scored an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.]]> <![CDATA[Rags to riches]]> This "Cinderella" is a lavish, classy affair. Ultimately, though, the film isn't joyful enough to supplant Disney's first take, or sophisticated enough to surpass it in speaking to today's girls. ]]> <![CDATA[Boots on the ground]]> Lean, mean craftsmanship defines the compact (para)military thriller "'71," set during the titular time of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. ]]> <![CDATA[Deep waters]]> In this enigmatic, slow-paced film of ideas, an auto-repair shop owner must fight to keep his home and land from being seized by the crooked mayor of a remote fishing village in northern Russia. Cinematographer Mikhail Krichman's stunning images complement the narrative. ]]> <![CDATA[Check-in time]]> Though "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" won't be to everyone's taste, returning screenwriter Ol Parker and returning director John Madden keep a collective eye on the quality control, delivering an amiable sequel that will surely please fans of the first film.]]> <![CDATA[Bloody hilarious]]> Cross "Bram Stoker's Dracula" with the Britcom "The Office," and you get "What We Do in the Shadows," a brilliantly funny new vampire-themed mockumentary out of New Zealand. ]]> <![CDATA[Run for your life]]> Though "McFarland, USA" tells an inspiring true story of underdog triumph, audiences of all ethnicities deserve far better than the easy racial stereotypes the film trades in.]]> <![CDATA[That'll learn 'em]]> Kody Keplinger was seventeen when she published her novel, "The DUFF," which struck a chord with readers. It's possible the film version will do the same with teen girls, if they can get past the the changes made to sanitize the book's approach to sex.]]> <![CDATA['Service' is rather poor]]> "Kingsman: The Secret Service" doubles down on glib ultraviolence while pressing buttons of class-consciousness and teasing out pop culture allusions. All the mayhem is ultimately exhausting.]]> <![CDATA[Penthouse forum]]> Yes, "Fifty Shades of Grey" is absolutely ludicrous, dramatically clumsy, 50 shades of wrong. Yet every small adjustment the movie makes to E. L. James' thinly veiled romance novel qualifies as an improvement.]]> <![CDATA[Sea-minus for effort]]> "Sponge Out of Water" treads water with a plot line that's as old as the gills. The film is often mildly amusing, but the concept dried up some time ago.]]> <![CDATA[Crash landing]]> If what we go to the movie theater for now is spectacle, the science fiction epic "Jupiter Ascending" fits the bill. But to the extent that we still demand rich characters and sensible plotting, the Wachowskis' latest is a few planets short of a galaxy.]]> <![CDATA['Two Days,' one dark night of the soul]]> Turning workplace ethics into moral fable is delicate work, but directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne prove they're up to the task of creating wrenching drama that avoids melodrama. Above all, Marion Cotillard's heartbreakingly raw work carries the day.]]> <![CDATA[No gray area]]> Acknowledging the discomfort of brushing against racial stereotypes and prejudices occasionally takes "Black or White" into intriguing territory, but it's too little, too late to balance the film's scale-tipping sentiment.]]> <![CDATA[Oil and blood do mix]]> "We Set the Standard" goes the motto of Standard Heating Oil, the fictional small business at the center of urban drama "A Most Violent Year." The motto slyly announces the allegory writer-director J.C. Chandor is after, but could just as well describe the rising auteur's mature filmmaking style.]]> <![CDATA[Standing still, 'Alice' moves]]> There's a master class in screen acting coming to a theater near you, which is reason enough to see "Still Alice." Heavily favored to take home a Best Actress trophy at this year's Oscars, Julianne Moore plays the titular character afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer's.]]> <![CDATA[Ready ... aim ... mire]]> Iraq warrior biopic "American Sniper," about the late Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, affords director Clint Eastwood another opportunity to wrestle with violence. Yet the film gets mired in military hero worship.]]> <![CDATA[Painting with light]]> One Old Master deserves another. And so it is that one of the finest films of 2014 finds English filmmaker Mike Leigh taking as his subject English painter J.M.W. Turner.]]> <![CDATA[King for the day]]> "Selma" isn't a Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic, something that has still eluded Hollywood. But it is the first feature film to put King front and center as protagonist, and it stands an excellent chance of educating a generation about the hard work and imagination required for political change. ]]> <![CDATA[The 'Vice' is right]]> Set in 1970 Los Angeles, "Inherent Vice" captures a moment of disillusionment at the end of the swingin' sixties. The plot is a sideshow to the film's luxuriant atmosphere, cracked sense of humor and idiosyncratic characterization. ]]> <![CDATA[Hackers, meet hackwork]]> How did we get here? Never in the history of movies has there been a situation like the one surrounding "The Interview," the action comedy scripted by Dan Sterling, directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and starring Rogen and James Franco.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Unbroken']]> Angelina Jolie directs this flatfooted recounting of the life of Louis Zamperini, the Italian-American Olympic runner whose Army Air Forces service found him adrift in the Pacific Ocean, then trapped in a Japanese P.O.W. camp.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Big Eyes']]> Tim Burton has always loved his kitsch, from Pee-wee Herman to Ed Wood to "Mars Attacks!" trading cards. Turns out Burton's loves also include Margaret Keane, painter of doe-eyed waifs, whose work the director has collected for years. Now, in an ultimate act of fandom, Burton has turned Keane's career and relationship travails into the cockeyed dramedy, "Big Eyes."]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Into the Woods']]> The 1987 Broadway musical "Into the Woods" -- with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim ("Sweeney Todd") and book by James Lapine is a multilayered work. Luckily, Walt Disney Pictures and director Rob Marshall ("Chicago") haven't broken it with their cinematic adaptation.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'The Gambler']]> Mark Wahlberg as a verbose literature professor isn't exactly likely casting, but the star walks away a winner with "The Gambler," Rupert Wyatt's remake of Karel Reisz's 1974 drama "The Gambler."]]> <![CDATA[Breaking the 'Hobbit']]> Hobbits put their trust in simple pleasures: a nice meal (or two, or six), a cup of tea, a social call. So it's ironic that writer-director-producer Peter Jackson has proven determined to complicate "The Hobbit," J.R.R. Tolkien's relatively humble volume, into three, two-hour-plus films, culminating in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."]]> <![CDATA[Cure for the uncommon code]]> Rising star Benedict Cumberbatch, best known for making intellect sexy on the BBC's "Sherlock," inhabits WWII codebreaker and computer innovator Alan Turing's social anxiety, fierce determination and keen intellect in this feature film based on a true story.]]> <![CDATA[Let my people 'Whoa!']]> Ever since the 2004 megahit "The Passion of the Christ," Hollywood has been open-minded to faith-based entertainment, and 2014 has seen both economic true-believer productions ("Left Behind," "God's Not Dead," and "Heaven is for Real") as well as would-be blockbusters "Noah" and now, Ridley Scott's $140 million Moses epic "Exodus: Gods and Kings." There's gold in them thar sand dunes, or so 20th Century Fox hopes.]]> <![CDATA[Like a rock]]> When it comes to comedy, funny always wins, and Chris Rock's third directorial effort does run on engagingly amusing riffs. But "Top Five" also steers hard into undisciplined storytelling, damning the comic's overhyped awards-season comedy with the faint praise of being better than (though just as cannily commercial as) the typical Adam Sandler vehicle.]]> <![CDATA['Wild' woman blues]]> Kübler-Ross' "Five Stages of Grief" aside, the conventional wisdom goes that everyone grieves differently, the devil being in the details. For Cheryl Strayed, author of the Oprah-approved memoir "Wild," those details included binging on sex and heroin before hitting rock bottom and committing to a soul-cleansing, 1,100-mile, 94-day solo hike.]]> <![CDATA[Crazy like a fox]]> From the stranger-than-fiction department comes the true-crime story "Foxcatcher," a disturbing meditation on madness enabled by money to run rampant.]]> <![CDATA[Black and white and ... all over]]> "Comic relief" isn't quite the phrase for the quartet of penguins in the "Madagascar" franchise, though the words capture the characters' absolute buffoonery. Now thrust into the spotlight in "Penguins of Madagascar," the aquatic birds prove that they're better in small doses.]]> <![CDATA[All's not well in Panem]]> No doubt about it: "The Hunger Games" has captured the imagination of American moviegoers. Yet action is sparse in this lumbering sequel, which splits Suzanne Collins' novel into two, two-hour-plus films.]]> <![CDATA[Solitary man]]> With "Rosewater," Stewart makes comprehensible for a broad audience the contemporary political situation in Iran.]]> <![CDATA[Quantum mechanical]]> The film relies on convention and mawkish melodrama, keeping the deeper implications of Hawking's disease and his research submerged. Only Redmayne's performance overcomes to elevate "The Theory of Everything" to something special: an actor's showcase.]]> <![CDATA[Let's get metaphysical]]> "Interstellar" compellingly posits what life could look like in the last days of the American Empire, but the film's strengths are undercut by its seriously sappy tone.]]> <![CDATA[Late bloomer]]> In "Laggies," Keira Knightley plays 28-year-old Megan, a woman who's trying not to feel the burn of a quarter-life crisis.]]> <![CDATA[Super-ego superhero]]> Alejandro González Ińárritu's "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" may be something less than the sum of its dazzling parts, but it is a sight to behold and an entertaining farce of life as an actor in the time of Marvel Studios.]]> <![CDATA[Incendiary Revelations]]> Laura Poitras' exemplary documentary "Citizenfour" shares the privileged access NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden granted to her and Guardian reporters, thereby humanizing a man previously seen mostly in iconic terms.]]> <![CDATA[You talking to me?]]> At this point in American history, we'd like to believe we've come a long way on the subject of race. But viewers of this engaging satire will have to confess we've still got a long way to go.]]> <![CDATA[The tortured artist]]> What does it take to be "one of the greats?" That's the question at the dark heart of "Whiplash," an indie "Amadeus" set in a New York City music conservatory.]]> <![CDATA[Fury]]> Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman shine in "Fury," a throwback combat movie that offers vivid performances and a decidedly anti-war sentiment.]]> <![CDATA[The Boxtrolls]]> "The Boxtrolls" falls into the category of classical fairy tale, with its shadowy world inhabited by innocents in contention with monstrous adults.]]> <![CDATA[The Judge]]> Here comes "The Judge." It's been a while since we've seen a movie so…Grisham-y. But here we are again with big movie stars and character actors facing courtroom cases converging with personal crises -- including, crucially, one of conscience.]]> <![CDATA[Kill the Messenger]]> This weak-tea drama follows San Jose Mercury News senior investigative reporter Gary Webb as he investigates the CIA's involvement in domestic crack cocaine sales that are funding the rebels in Nicaragua. ]]> <![CDATA[Gone Girl]]> David Fincher's film adaptation of Gillian Flynn's runaway bestseller goes from intriguingly puzzling to downright alienating.]]> <![CDATA[Pride]]> In telling the little-known story of how gay and lesbian activists in 1980s England supported striking miners, Matthew Warchus' "Pride" pays heartwarming testament to the many faces of solidarity.]]> <![CDATA[The Equalizer]]> Denzel Washington's commanding performance slightly elevates the immoral message and boilerplate plot of this violent vengeance fantasy.]]> <![CDATA[A Walk Among the Tombstones]]> Writer-director Scott Frank brings clever writing and moody atmosphere to this crime thriller centered on ex-cop and recovering alcoholic Matthew Scudder, played by Liam Neeson.]]> <![CDATA[The Maze Runner]]> A group of teens struggle for survival in a dystopian world in this film, which, like the novel on which it's based, can be read as an allegory of puberty.]]> <![CDATA[The Skeleton Twins]]> Erstwhile "SNL" cast-mates Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star as adult siblings Maggie and Milo who struggle with depression in this likeable Craig Johnson dramedy.]]> <![CDATA[My Old Lady]]> Kevin Kline shines in playwright Israel Horovitz's directorial debut about a down-and-out New Yorker forced to face his demons in Paris.]]> <![CDATA[Mary Kom]]> Mary Kom holds enough world boxing championship titles and influence in the sport to merit a keen cinematic look at her career's progression. However, this film botches that opportunity, succumbing instead to the common pitfalls of its genre, and topping it off with an inelegant style of execution.]]> <![CDATA[Dolphin Tale 2]]> "Dolphin Tale 2" will no doubt be a delightful experience for animal-loving tots. But for the adults who bring them, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a surreal experience.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood']]> There's something telling about "The Last of Robin Hood" being the first project to emerge from Lifetime Films. The sordid tale of Errol Flynn's last days clinching with a Lolita and soaking in booze and drugs, Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland's by-the-numbers account technically qualifies as a true crime tale, and seems to exist mostly because of its marketable prurience: a hallmark of Lifetime's infamous cable movies.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Love Is Strange']]> Marital domesticity is tough enough. Add in the obstacle of Kafkaesque sociopolitical forces -- still the lot of many gay couples -- and any marriage would feel the strain.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Trip to Italy']]> Comedy sequel "The Trip to Italy" is almost exactly like its predecessor "The Trip," and for the most part, that's a good thing.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall']]> In a sense, "When the Game Stands Tall" the Hollywood-ization of De La Salle High School's legendary Spartans football team -- is about what it's not about. It's not about winning.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'If I Stay']]> "Romance novels" function on idealization, including fulfilling a teen's yen for drama -- any kind of drama -- to alleviate the tedium of school days and curfew nights. ]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Calvary']]> To believe or not to believe: That is the question of religious faith. And while the Catholic Church, battered by scandal, may be waning, it remains that you can take the man out of Catholicism, but not Catholicism out of the man. Just ask John Michael McDonagh, writer-director of "Calvary."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Giver']]> It's odd to watch a film about the rediscovery of love, faith, passion and color, and for the film to be so by-the-numbers colorless.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Expendables 3']]> A week ago, director and producer Menahem Golan died, but his spirit is alive and well in "The Expendables 3."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles']]> Unless you're an 8-year-old just getting acquainted with them, you probably made up your mind about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles long, long ago. ]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Hundred-Foot Journey']]> There's a moment in "The Hundred-Foot Journey" -- Lasse Hallstrom's film adaptation of Richard C. Morais's bestselling novel -- when the female ingenue gives the male ingenue a hot tip on how to prepare corn.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Into the Storm']]> Sometimes the line between real-life tragedy and action escapism is mighty fine. Wide-release movies have been known to get cold feet (post-9/11 and post-mass shootings) but always return to the well of exploiting our anxieties for cash.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Magic in the Moonlight']]> There have long been notable connections between filmmakers and magicians. Houdini became a film star, Orson Welles delighted in performing magic (sometimes on film), and stand-up performers turned actor-directors Steve Martin and Woody Allen have also shown a marked interest in magic and affectionately spoofing it.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy']]> If the denizens of the Island of Misfit Toys were packing heat, you might get the Guardians of the Galaxy, the heroes of the latest Marvel comic-book-to-screen extravaganza. As shepherded by director James Gunn ("Super"), "Guardians of the Galaxy" lurches along a bit awkwardly, but always with utterly dazzling visuals and a goofy gag at the ready.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Get On Up']]> James Brown's life was so darkly rich that it would take someone like Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola in his prime to come close to fully capturing it. Rather than let itself get bogged down in a pretentious display of over-ambition, however, "Get On Up" succeeds in providing an entertaining representation of Brown's rise to stardom.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Boyhood']]> You've watched actors grow up on screen before, whether it be Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor or Jerry Mathers (as the Beaver).]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Lucy']]> Big-budget mind-expansion sci-fi has been a thing of late, with "Limitless," "Transcendence" and now Luc Besson's "Lucy" exploring what happens when humanity gains "access to previously unexplored cerebral zones."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Wish I Was Here']]> Gee, life is tough. But "We move forward -- that's the only direction God gave us." These and other Big Important Life Lessons can be yours for the low, low price of a movie ticket to "Wish I Was Here," Zach Braff's mawkish new comedy-drama.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Sex Tape']]> There's a sequence early on in "Sex Tape" during which the married couple played by Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel try repeatedly to rekindle their sexual flame. Time after time, they almost get "there," but something keeps frustrating their enjoyment.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes']]> "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is the latest in a series of modern Hollywood action reboots, which aim to transform a campy and droll movie into a gloomy and serious film. In the case of "Dawn," it has succeeded.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Tammy']]> By all rights, the new comedy "Tammy" would be the ultimate expression of Melissa McCarthy's comedy. Written by the film and TV star with her husband Ben Falcone -- who also directs -- "Tammy" should have all the right moves to drive McCarthy fans wild with pleasure. Instead, it's likely to inspire the question "Is this all there is?"]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Third Person']]> Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis ("Crash") raises navel-gazing to an art form with "Third Person," a "Crash"-y, borderline trashy entry in the genre of global interlocking stories. Those who scoffed at "Crash" will have even more to sniff at here, and the Best Picture's defenders may think twice after slogging through the 137 minutes of "Third Person."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Obvious Child']]> The title of "Obvious Child" refers to its heroine, another protagonist suffering from severely arrested development. What makes "Obvious Child" different is that this protagonist is a woman saddled with an unwanted pregnancy.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Jersey Boys']]> Let's face it: "Jersey Boys" has never been high art. The wildly successful jukebox musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons ran on chart-topping hit songs and ample corny shtick in nominally telling the story of the beloved pop act. Now, it's all been folded into a Clint Eastwood film that's neither theatrical fish nor cinematic foul.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'How to Train Your Dragon 2']]> Children's movies don't really have to work very hard for their target audience, but of course, they're better when they do. A good children's film doesn't talk down to kids, and the animated adventure "How to Train Your Dragon 2" fits this bill.]]> <![CDATA[Review: '22 Jump Street']]> "Do the same thing!" Ice Cube bellows at Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum -- or, rather, Captain Dickson bellows at Schmidt and Jenko, the buddy-cops of "22 Jump Street."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway"]]> "Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway" is a terrific gift for American theater lovers who can't just hop a plane to Melbourne to see the 87-year-old Lansbury play Miss Daisy opposite the 82-year-old Jones.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Edge of Tomorrow']]> The new Tom Cruise sci-fi action movie "Edge of Tomorrow" uses the narrative structure of a video game to present a "what-if" scenario: What if we could keep pressing "restart" every time we fail?]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'A Million Ways to Die in the West']]> There's no accounting for taste, they say, which might explain the $549 million worldwide gross for Seth MacFarlane's 2012 comedy "Ted." Something tells me the planet won't go quite so gaga for his Western-themed sophomore effort, "A Million Ways to Die in the West," but it's considerably better -- even within spitting distance of good.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Maleficent']]> In spite of a virtual feature-length stampede of CGI special effects, it's good old-fashioned movie-star wattage that stuns in "Maleficent." Disney's revisionist take on its own "Sleeping Beauty" almost certainly wouldn't have been made were it not for Angelina Jolie. If only the film around Jolie were worthy of her.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'X-Men: Days of Future Past']]> The best superhero movies in some way work against the grain. "X-Men: Days of Future Past," A loose adaptation of the beloved two-part comic book story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, does just that. With an outstanding cast and strong editing, the film is poignant and coherent.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Blended']]> Sometimes Adam Sandler works for others (notably Paul Thomas Anderson and Judd Apatow) and makes an interesting and sophisticated film. Mostly, though, he churns out branded "Adam Sandler comedies," in which he doubles as both producer and star. "Blended" is one of the latter.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Godzilla']]> In one way or another, Godzilla has always represented humanity's arrogance. It's a concept that is artfully articulated in Gareth Edwards' latest addition to the franchise.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Million Dollar Arm']]> A struggling sports agent works to teach a pair of hard-throwing cricket players from India to hit the strike zone in the hopes of making them big league ballplayers in "Million Dollar Arm." Weekly film critic Susan Tavernetti says the result is a heartwarming tale, which despite its lack of urgency is ultimately "charming and uplifting."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Palo Alto']]> The film "Palo Alto" universalizes its setting to an archetypal upscale suburbia, populated by disaffected white kids and their "free-range" parents (Gia Coppola shot the film in southern California). Freely adapting James Franco's stories, writer-director Coppola eschews melodrama, coaxing powerfully resonant performances from her young leads while never pushing style or content into blatant manipulations.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Belle']]> In much the same way films based on novels often send moviegoers to bookstores, films "based on a true story" often send moviegoers to historical accounts to find out what really happened, and perhaps that's the best that can be said for the simplifications of "Belle."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Neighbors']]> Even more so than its recent forebears (and this is saying something), the new comedy film "Neighbors" is all about the riff. With Seth Rogen taking center stage, that's not such a bad thing: a steady flow of one-liners improves the odds for laughs.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2']]> It feels a bit uncharitable to chide a blockbuster superhero movie for providing too much. But "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" certainly crams quite a bit in. And runs quite long. Still, Palo Alto Weekly film critic Peter Canavese says, the film is fun and doesn't embarrass itself. Plus, the kids (and kids at heart) are bound to love it.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Fading Gigolo']]> John Turturro's new film, "Fading Gigolo," has a lot going for it and "almost gets by on its idiosyncrasies," according to Weekly reviewer Peter Canavese. However, "the film never quite rises above a base curiosity value."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Other Woman']]> The women in "The Other Woman" get the equal opportunity, like the men in Judd Apatow movies, to behave like overgrown children, but the power they give their cheatin' man to occupy all their waking hours makes this comedy more sad than funny.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Particle Fever']]> Physicist turned filmmaker Mark Levinson gets (and thrillingly shares) VIP access to that moment, as those physicists rev up CERN's Large Hadron Collider to reproduce the conditions just after the Big Bang.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Transcendence']]> "Transcendence" is as silly as it is sinister. But with cinematographer Wally Pfister -- an Oscar winner for "Inception" -- in the director's chair, "Transcendence" has a sobriety of tone that effectively works against its inner mad scientist.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Finding Vivian Maier']]> Photographer John Maloof was only looking for some historical photos of the Chicago area when he purchased a box of undeveloped negatives at an auction in the winter of 2007. He ended up discovering the work of a previously unknown artist named Vivian Maier.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Draft Day']]> It says something about the culture that the latest American sports-themed movie has almost nothing to do with game play and everything to do with wheeling and dealing: dealmaking itself has become a sport worthy of analysis.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Rio 2']]> Rio 2, like its predecessor, is a run of the mill CGI-animated kid flick, Palo Alto film critic Peter Canavese says. Yet, while the story is "pretty much boilerplate at best and unpleasant at worst," the animation is a "colorful, advanced 3D spectacle." ]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Captain America: Winter Soldier']]> Give this to the films of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe": they have a consistency of quality. By treating their comic-book-derived films more as regular "issues" than film events, Marvel may never produce a film as great as "The Dark Knight," but it'll never sink to a low like "Batman and Robin" either. And there we have "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'The Raid 2: Berandal']]> There's a moment in "The Raid 2" when a goon begs, "Please have mercy," and his assailant responds by raising his pickax. It's that kind of movie. And I'm half-joking when I say that if you gleefully identify with the assailant in that scene, this is the movie for you. Others may feel more like the goon.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Bad Words']]> There's an old showbiz adage that directing is 90 percent casting, and that's also true of casting the directors themselves. Take "Bad Words," the directing debut of actor Jason Bateman.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'The Lunch Box']]> The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so they say. And so says writer-director Ritesh Batra in his debut feature "The Lunchbox." Though considerably more understated than a Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie, one might call this wry-at-times romantic drama "You've Got Lunch."]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Muppets Most Wanted']]> A self-aware sequel to the 2011 film "The Muppets," "Muppets Most Wanted" provides more testament to the enduring appeal of the post-Vaudeville likes of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the Great Gonzo, as well as the love and care they inspire in generation after generation of performers and audiences.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'The Grand Budapest Hotel']]> If there were a valid critique to be given of "The Grand Budapest Hotel" -- writer and director Wes Anderson's latest, highly stylized ode to a place that might have been -- it would be that Anderson has fallen victim to his own tropes. But you won't hear that here.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Need for Speed']]> Manifestly overlong at 130 minutes, "Need for Speed" includes some eye-popping racing scenes of some very pretty high-performance sports cars. But in a world with thousands of cable channels and six "Fast & Furious" movies (with a seventh on the way), fast cars aren't enough.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: '300: Rise of an Empire']]> Both blood-bathetic and deliriously entertaining high camp, this prequel-sequel-parallel plotline to Warner Brothers' 2006 hit will appeal mainly to meatheads, but those with a tolerance for over-the-top violence may appreciate it on other levels.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Tim's Vermeer']]> Watching paint dry has never been more fascinating than it is in "Tim's Vermeer," a documentary produced by the magicians Penn & Teller.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'Gloria']]> Audiences are programmed to expect escapism in movies about romantic relationships, whether they be foregone happily-ever-after comedies or doomed-to-death tragedies. But Sebastián Lelio's "Gloria" — Chile's official Oscar submission — insists upon unsettling realities without either stomping on its hero's indomitability or tacking on a deus ex machina.]]> <![CDATA[Movie review: 'The Wind Rises']]> "All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful." So said aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, whose Mitsubishi A5M and A6M Zero served the Empire of Japan during WWII. Amid some controversy, living-legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki has written and directed his own latest "something beautiful," this one a hand-drawn fantasia about Horikoshi: "The Wind Rises."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Pompeii']]> The new action picture "Pompeii" is a bit like its own villain, Mount Vesuvius: massive, full of hot air and brainless.
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<![CDATA[Review: 'Winter's Tale']]> If your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse asks you to take them to "Winter's Tale" for Valentine's Day, my relationship advice is to immediately say yes. But leave a copy of this review lying around, and you may get a chance at making better plans.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'RoboCop']]> Word leaked two years ago that José Padilha, director of the new "RoboCop" remake, was struggling mightily against studio suits to achieve his vision for the film. "It is hell here," the Brazilian director told a filmmaker friend. Now the film has arrived, and it's fairly clear that this "RoboCop" is a product of unhappy compromise.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Lego Movie']]> Kids' toys and games have a poor track record as the basis for films. Since the broad-ranging "Toy Story" franchise doesn't really count (and with apologies to "Transformers" fans), the bar hasn't been set any higher than "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl," "Clue" or perhaps "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." But, in a minor miracle of pop cinema, "The Lego Movie" changes all that.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Monuments Men']]> Say this for George Clooney, film director: He consistently makes films for adults. So it's too bad that, with his new WWII film "The Monuments Men," he sometimes treats that adult audience like children in need of a spoon-feed.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Labor Day']]> One name for Hollywood that's stuck is "The Dream Factory," implying a big-screen projection of our fantasies. The trend of late favors the fantasies of tween-age boys (of all ages), as played out in "genre" pictures, but the new drama "Labor Day" steps out in other directions.
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<![CDATA[Review: The Invisible Woman]]> History, they say, is written by the victors. Indeed, popular English novelist Charles Dickens was a winner who jealously protected his legacy. But don't they also say the truth will out? ]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Nut Job']]> OK, so you didn't plan ahead, but don't worry. The new animated flick "The Nut Job" has squirreled away enough lame nut puns to get you through the winter. More than enough.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'August: Osage County']]> It may be 30 below in Cass County this week, but on screen it's 108 degrees in "August: Osage County." And as the old story goes, when the day is hot, there's no escaping a brawl.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Lone Survivor']]> One word you won't see used to describe "Lone Survivor," the fact-based movie about a FUBAR Navy SEALs operation: "contemplative."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty']]> Reborn as a flashy but soppy new adventure directed by and starring Ben Stiller, the film is sentimental claptrap about (to paraphrase a character) "courage and going into the unknown."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Past']]> In 2012, Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" became the first Iranian picture to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. This is his follow-up.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Wolf of Wall Street']]> "The Wolf of Wall Street" charges out of the gate with immediate evidence of Martin Scorsese's skill, abetted by Terence Winter's whip-crack screenplay and Thelma Schoonmaker's brilliant editing. ]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Her']]> All people in romantic relationships want to know their love is real. But when half of the intelligence involved is artificial, can love be real? ]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Saving Mr. Banks']]> There's enough spin at work in "Saving Mr. Banks" -- a Walt Disney Pictures account of the making of the 1964 Disney musical "Mary Poppins" -- to make audiences dizzy, which is essential to the film's design.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'American Hustle']]> "American Hustle" is a dark-comedy lark with flair, letting the best (con) man win.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Inside Llewyn Davis']]> Like a rolling stone, singer-guitarist Llewyn Davis tumbles through the Greenwich Village folk-music scene of the '60s. It's the Coen Brothers' most compelling character study to date.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug']]> Peter Jackson's grandiose vision of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth reaches a crescendo with this thrilling second installment in "The Hobbit" trilogy.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Great Beauty']]> It is, perhaps, impossible to make an ode to Rome without invoking Fellini. Though Paolo Sorrentino does so only indirectly in "The Great Beauty," it's impossible not to think of how he pales in comparison to the maestro.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Out of the Furnace']]> What, one might ask, is the point of understated melodrama? It's a bit like decaf coffee or near-beer. But understated melodrama, for the most part, is the stuff of "Out of the Furnace."]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Homefront']]> Standard Statham action gets a solid acting boost courtesy of James Franco in the Louisiana-based "Homefront." We can put this in the "co-stars you thought you would never see" category.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Nebraska']]> It's never too late to play a few grace notes. With Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," this proves true for two septuagenarians: addled heartland grump Woodrow "Woody" Grant and the Hollywood royal who plays him, Bruce Dern.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Philomena']]> The film "Philomena," starring Judi Dench, takes the perspective of a wronged Irish mother coerced, in 1952, into giving her baby away. Co-producer and co-screenwriter Steve Coogan plays a journalist investigating the story.
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<![CDATA[Review: 'The Book Thief']]> There will, of course, never be enough Nazi Germany-set dramas to fill the awards-season maw. Unfortunately, "The Book Thief" is conspicuously phony in its ruthless attempt to manipulate audiences.]]> <![CDATA[School documents and source materials]]> In addition to documents and other original source material linked within news stories, other material obtained from the Palo Alto school district in the course of our reporting that may be of interest the public is posted here.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Delivery Man']]> This tale of an accidental (multiple) father manages to be high-concept and squishy at the same time. At least the star power of Vince Vaughn adds some comedy.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire']]> It would be easy to damn "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" with the faint praise of calling it a competent sequel, which it is. But the film gives audiences more to chew on than its predecessor.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Dallas Buyers Club']]> Classic "Oscar bait," this film falls into some of the common traps of exploiting a true story. But it's also lively, funny and scary, bristling with the most compelling drama of all: the grasping will to live and make it count.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Armstrong Lie']]> The title of Alex Gibney's film derives from a 2005 headline in the French paper "L'Equipe." The paper alleged what many had assumed to be true: Banned substances had fueled Armstrong's endurance and speed.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Blue Is the Warmest Color']]> This movie is billed as "The story of a young lesbian couple's beginning, middle and possible end." It's also an NC-17 film with a seven-minute sex scene that has made it cinema non grata in Idaho.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Last Vegas']]> At first glance, "Last Vegas" seems like "The Hangover" for the 60-and-over crowd (minus the raunch). But the class-act cast and a solid script keep the film fresh and funny.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Kill Your Darlings']]> An oft-overlooked chapter in literary history comes to life in "Kill Your Darlings," a lurid yet penetrating look into Allen Ginsberg's formative influences.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'About Time']]> Though you'll feel like you've seen this movie before, the film's strength is the ensemble cast effortlessly exuding affection for one another.]]> <![CDATA[Review: '12 Years A Slave']]> This is the story of a man: another tale of physical and emotional survival that, unlike "All is Lost" and "Gravity," derives from a true story.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Muscle Shoals']]> There must be something in the water. That cliche gets taken seriously in "Muscle Shoals," the documentary about two legendary recording studios nestled near the Tennessee River.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'All Is Lost']]> Batten down the hatches for the unusual new sailing drama "All Is Lost." The only actor on screen for 106 minutes is Robert Redford, and words are pared down to a bare minimum, but all is riveting.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'A.C.O.D.']]> "A.C.O.D." stands for "Adult Children of Divorce," a demographic big enough to ensure this dry-witted indie comedy a wide audience.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Fifth Estate']]> This slickly edited drama plays like the account of a jilted lover, with the would-be dazzle attempting to misdirect from the ordinariness of the personal melodrama.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Romeo and Juliet']]> Call it the "Drunk History" version of "Romeo and Juliet." -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Captain Phillips']]> The "real-life thriller" "Captain Phillips" may be obvious and it may be clumsy, but it's also a little bit thoughtful, and there's never a dull moment. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Runner Runner']]> Sadly, there's no actual running here -- or anything else that might raise your pulse. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Gravity']]> Life is one hell of a ride, as George Clooney's character puts it. So is "Gravity." -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Rush']]> The director of "Frost/Nixon," Ron Howard, brings us in "Rush" another Morgan match-up: 1970s Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Enough Said']]> Two powerhouse performances and some nicely written scenes that, in tandem, provide some of the most enjoyable romantic and comedic moments of the year. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Prisoners']]> An array of A-list talent tries its best to elevate a flawed screenplay into a work of moral complexity. -S.T.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Afternoon Delight']]> Jill Soloway's new comedy-drama about clambering to stay above the yawning pit of middle-aged ennui. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Short Term 12']]> Writer-director Destin Cretton bears witness to the agony and the ecstasy of foster care in "Short Term 12," a film inspired by his own experiences working in a group home. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Riddick']]> The man with the night-vision eyes is back. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Closed Circuit']]> You've seen worse than the new boilerplate legal thriller "Closed Circuit," but you've also seen a lot better. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Grandmaster']]> If there's one thing not to expect from cinematic grandmaster Wong Kar Wai, it's a driving plot. But that's what we love about the languorous director. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Austenland']]> The new romantic comedy "Austenland" casts a skeptical eye on the fantasy of romantic comedy itself, dating all the way back to the divine Miss Jane. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The World's End']]> You can go home again, but it's going to involve drinking. That's the starting point of "The World's End," the latest from the most exciting team in film comedy. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'The Spectacular Now']]> A mature film tenderly performed by its young leads and skillfully adapted from Tim Tharp's YA novel. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Jobs']]> This biopic about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs gets the look right in design and casting. But even Jobs, a dedicated aesthete, knew looks weren't everything. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'We're the Millers']]> Nothing to see here -- please move along. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Elysium']]> Matt Damon gives a galvanizing performance that reminds us why he's a movie star. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: '2 Guns']]> By not being instantly dismissible with a comparison to some other movie, "2 Guns" wins some audience goodwill right out of the gate. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Blue Jasmine']]> Cate Blanchett is a force of nature: the beating heart that keeps the conspicuously schematic picture alive and kicking, and a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Still Mine']]> Like its aging hero, the straightforward "Still Mine" has its integrity. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[Review: 'Fruitvale Station']]> Writer-director Ryan Coogler wants us to know BART shooting victim Oscar Grant III as more than a victim frozen in time. -P.C.]]> <![CDATA[VIDEO/MULTIMEDIA: Palo Alto Online archive]]> A compilation of video content from the Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online staff.]]>