PaloAltoOnline.com http://www.paloaltoonline.com If it is local and useful, it is on PaloAltoOnline.com. en-us <![CDATA[Shuck it to me]]> Oysters should be your first choice at Shell Shock, where offerings change according to what's in season and oysters are flown in daily for ultimate freshness. ]]> <![CDATA[Worth a Look: A community festival, garden sculptures and more]]> This week, check out East Palo Alto's family-friendly Art and Music Festival, catch vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer at the JCC, see sculptural works on display at Filoli and more.]]> <![CDATA[Marriott proposes two hotels in south Palo Alto]]> In the latest sign of Palo Alto's surging hotel boom, Marriott has proposed to build two five-story hotels on San Antonio Road that between them would include 301 rooms.
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<![CDATA[Cycles of life]]> Friends, poets and former Peninsula residents Maureen Eppstein and Henri Bensussen will give a shared reading in Palo Alto on Friday, June 5.]]> <![CDATA[Summer's kick-off concert]]> LIVE 105's 21st annual BFD festival heats up Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre on Saturday, June 6. Headliners include indie rockers Modest Mouse and Of Monsters and Men, while Bay Area duo Cathedrals will make a splash on the Festival Stage.]]> <![CDATA[Five former Stanford players headed to Women's World Cup]]> Cardinal corner
Five former Stanford soccer players have made the final rosters for the Women's World Cup, which will be played in Canada beginning June 6.]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford student speaks out against 'culture of retaliation']]> A Stanford University student who was retaliated against following a recent investigation into a fraternity has stepped forward to offer the public a rare view into a Title IX civil-rights investigation.]]> <![CDATA[Community notebook: Changing the conversation around climate change]]> For the average person who feels a certain hopelessness about climate change, the City of Palo Alto Library, environmental nonprofit Acterra and local religious groups are offering an antidote: conversation. ]]> <![CDATA[Breaking the mold with Middle College]]> High school isn't a great fit for everyone, with its 50-minute periods, hours of daily homework and smattering of school spirit at rallies and football games. Rather than tough it out for four years, some 60 students in Mountain View, Palo Alto, Los Altos have found in alternative in Middle College.]]> <![CDATA[Despite cool reception, solar program to stay]]> Palo Alto's newest solar-energy program has plenty of fans but, so far, not a single user. Even so, city officials agreed on Wednesday not to pull the plug on Palo Alto CLEAN just yet.
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<![CDATA[Stackhouse's clutch play leads to NCAA golf championship]]> Junior All-American Mariah Stackhouse beat Baylor senior All-American Haley Davis with a two-putt par on the 19th hole Wednesday to lift Stanford to its first-ever NCAA Division I title with a 3-2 victory at sun-baked Concession Golf Club. Stackhouse birdied the last two holes to force sudden death after the teams split the first four matches.]]> <![CDATA[RECENT HOME SALES - May 27]]> ]]> <![CDATA[Overcoming fear of composting]]> At 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, about 45 people gathered in room H-1 of the Cubberley Community Center to get their hands dirty.]]> <![CDATA[Metropolitan Transportation Commission approves expansion of bike share program]]> A tenfold expansion of the Bay Area Bike Share program was unanimously approved Wednesday morning by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.]]> <![CDATA[2015 boys high school all-league lacrosse teams]]> ALL-PAL BAY DIVISION
Coach of the Year: Chris Rotelli (Sacred Heart Prep)
First Team (Attack)
Frank Bell (Sacred Heart Prep) Jr.; Peter Gish (Menlo School) Jr.; Holden Kardos (Menlo-Atherton) Sr.; Cole Shaffer (Menlo-Atherton) Sr.; Thomas Lopez (Woodside) Sr.]]>
<![CDATA[Menlo's Larson repeats as academic All-American]]> Oaks notes
Menlo College senior Nicole Larson became one of four softball players in the nation to repeat on the Capital One Academic All-America College Division Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
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<![CDATA[2015 high school all-league softball teams]]> ALL-SCVAL EL CAMINO DIVISION
Overall MVP: Maddie Martinson (Palo Alto)
Offensive MVP: Danielle Koontz (Monta Vista)
Defensive MVP: Janaya Sakkas (Monta Vista)
MVP Pitcher: Reanna Lancaster (Mountain View)]]>
<![CDATA[Palo Alto looks to rethink animal services]]> With Palo Alto's animal services limping toward an uncertain future, a City Council committee on Tuesday agreed to spend $250,000 to evaluate the next steps for the much maligned but popular operation.]]> <![CDATA[Palo Alto school board approves new bell schedule for Gunn High School]]> Gunn High School will officially shift to a 75-minute rotating block schedule in the next school year after receiving the unanimous stamp of approval from the school board Tuesday night.]]> <![CDATA[Early education, math key to closing Palo Alto's achievement gap]]> After years of piecemeal efforts to reduce the achievement gap between minority and other students in the Palo Alto school district, the Board of Education expressed support Tuesday night for a set of robust and ambitious recommendations on the issue. ]]> <![CDATA[SHP reaches its first CCS baseball title game since 1989]]> The last time Sacred Heart Prep played in a Central Coast Section baseball championship game, none of the current players had been born. And, SHP head coach Anthony Granato probably hadn't started playing baseball yet.]]> <![CDATA[Closure of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park approved]]> In a decision that may signal the end of the road for Palo Alto's only mobile-home park, city officials on Tuesday affirmed the property owner's right to shut down the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park.]]> <![CDATA[Danielson to the rescue for Cardinal women at NCAA golf]]> Stanford roundup
Casey Danielson clinched Stanford's quarterfinal win in dramatic fashion. She made sure to make it easier on herself and the team for the semifinal victory. The sophomore helped catapult the Stanford women's golf team into the national championship round.
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<![CDATA[Greed in the age of biotech]]> In West Bay Opera's innovative production, Dr. Faust is a biotech geneticist in 2057 desperate to find a DNA implant to return him to his youth.]]> <![CDATA[2015 all-league high school baseball teams]]> ALL-SCVAL DE ANZA DIVISION
Co-MVP: Robert Gaylord (Wilcox) Sr.; Hunter Bigge (Los Gatos) Jr.
First Team
Matt Wilcox (Los Gatos) Sr.; Aiden Finch (Los Gatos) Sr.; Jake Holton (Los Gatos) Jr.; Isaac Kasevich (Palo Alto) Sr.; Justin Hull (Palo Alto) Jr.; Alex Olmstead (Palo Alto) Jr.; Phil Lewis (Palo Alto) Sr.]]>
<![CDATA[2015 Central Coast Section track and field leaders]]> Girls 3,200 -- Lacy (Menlo) 10:25.05; 2, Gee (Cupertino) 10:29.75; 3, Ratliff (Santa Cruz) 10:32.14; 4, Iyer (Harker) 10:32.37; 5, Meeks (Gunn) 10:38.30; 6, Jacob (Los Altos) 10:46.91; 7, Lemak (Mitty) 10:48.22; 8, Aiken (Gunn) 11:08.03; 9, Peoples (Aptos) 11:12.49; 10, Gwennap (Mountain View) 11:14.06.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford sends 33 track and field athletes to West regional]]> The Stanford track and field team will advance 33 athletes -- 17 men and 16 women -- and one relay team to NCAA competition that begins with the West Prelims this week in Austin, Texas.]]> <![CDATA[Serena Williams headed to Stanford for Bank of the West]]> World No. 1 and defending tournament champion Serena Williams will return to defend her title at the Bank of the West Classic, set for Aug. 3-9 at Stanford University's Taube Family Tennis Center.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford grad Walsh Jennings wins another AVP title]]> Three-time Olympic gold medalist and former Stanford All-American Kerri Walsh Jennings and silver medalist April Ross extended their winning streak on the AVP Tour to eight tournaments Sunday, winning the season-opening AVP New Orleans Open.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford reaches match play at NCAA golf championships]]> All-American Mariah Stackhouse was sixth and fellow All-American Lauren Kim tied for seventh to lead Stanford in the final round of stroke play Monday at the NCAA Championships on the Concession Club golf course in Bradenton, Fla.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford's Zhao falls in NCAA championship singles final]]> Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao fell one step short in her bid for an NCAA singles crown, falling 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to North Carolina's Jamie Loeb on Monday afternoon at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
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<![CDATA[Stanford sophomore rebounds from first-set loss to reach final]]> Cardinal corner
Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao might have started slow, but her finish was spectacular. Zhao rallied from a first-set loss and a second-set deficit to beat Florida's Josie Kuhlman, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0, Sunday in the semifinal round of the NCAA women's singles championships at Baylor in Waco, Texas and earn a spot in Monday's championship match.]]>
<![CDATA[Next stop for top track and field athletes is CCS finals]]> Palo Alto junior Eli Givens will have the opportunity to defend his title in the boys' 100 meters and the Gunn girls will take a shot at defending their team title. For everyone else, they'll be competing for a top-three finish at the Central Coast Section Track and Field Championships on Friday.]]> <![CDATA[Cardinal women remain in contention at NCAA golf tourney]]> Stanford inched its way up the leaderboard by shooting even-par on the back nine Sunday in the third round of the NCAA Championships. Sitting in 10th through 36 holes, Stanford bumped ahead to seventh place among the 24-team field.
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<![CDATA[Extra inning loss to WSU ends Stanford's baseball season]]> Cooper Elliott hit a sacrifice fly to right field in the 11th inning to give Washington State a 3-2 win over the Stanford baseball team Sunday at Bailey-Brayton Field.]]> <![CDATA[Palo Alto girls splash to a state title in 200 free relay]]> It was just a week ago that the Palo Alto girls swam away with the 200-yard freestyle relay at the Central Coast Section Championships. Evidently, that wasn't good enough.]]> <![CDATA[Three Cardinal players to compete in NCAA tennis semis]]> Stanford roundup
The Stanford women's tennis team will have a strong presence in Sunday's semifinals of the NCAA singles and doubles tournament at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
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<![CDATA[SHP rallies to play another day in CCS baseball playoffs]]> Joe Armstrong had himself a pretty good day on Friday with Sacred Heart Prep's graduation ceremonies, followed by grad night festivities in Santa Cruz. He had an even better time on Saturday in the Central Coast Section baseball playoffs.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford sweeps Pac-12 DH from Washington State]]> Brett Hanewich and Marc Brakeman made sure the Stanford baseball team had plenty of pitching left for the season finale after combining to hurl 17 of the 18 innings in a doubleheader sweep of host Washington State on Saturday. The Cardinal won, 9-0 and 3-1, as Hanewich went eight scoreless innings and Brakeman threw his first career complete game.
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<![CDATA[Stanford women slowed by weather at NCAA golf]]> Cardinal corner
Stanford was on a roll before the second of two weather delays eventually suspended the opening round of the NCAA Championships at The Concession Golf Course on Friday in Bradenton, Fla.]]>
<![CDATA[Palo Alto's Lin brings home bronze from state diving meet]]> Palo Alto High junior Mimi Lin capped a stellar diving season by finishing third in the first-ever CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday at the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex at Clovis West High.]]> <![CDATA[Cardinal women's final test is the NCAA golf finals]]> The first order of business for the Stanford women's golf team upon arriving in the Bradenton, Fla. area Wednesday in preparation for the NCAA championships, which begins Friday, was to find somewhere to eat.]]> <![CDATA[Stanford women advance in NCAA tennis championships]]> Cardinal corner
Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao remains alive in both singles and doubles following Thursday's action at the NCAA Championships at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.]]>
<![CDATA[PUBLIC AGENDA: Buena Vista appeal, teachers union contract, Comprehensive Plan summit]]> A preview of Palo Alto government meetings for the week of May 25.]]> <![CDATA[Menlo grad helps CMS men win NCAA D-III tennis title]]> Menlo School grad Daniel Morkovine helped the No. 1-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's tennis team win the 2015 NCAA Division III championship with a 5-0 victory Middlebury on Wednesday in Mason, Ohio.]]> <![CDATA[2015 Central Coast Section track and field leaders]]> Girls 300 hurdles -- Miklos (Gunn) 44.28; 2, Mount (ND-San Jose) 44.48; 3, Schoustra (Burlingame) 45.24; 4, Seaman (St. Francis) 45.94; 5, Lanovaz (Los Gatos) 46.38; 6, Buck (Salinas) 46.63; 7, Le (Leigh) 46.81; 8, Duong (Milpitas) 46.94; 9, Scally (North Monterey) 46.96; 10, Yu (Palo Alto) 47.01.]]> <![CDATA[Shop Talk: Parking problems brew at Philz Coffee]]> Parking is getting tight in Midtown, and the opening of a new cafe may make matters worse.]]> <![CDATA[Crafted cups]]> Third-wave coffee pioneer Blue Bottle Coffee is serving up its carefully crafted cups of java out of Palo Alto's historic Varsity Theater.]]> <![CDATA[Worth a Look: The Corner Laughers, Italian master drawings and more]]> This week, catch Midpeninsula indie band The Corner Laughers on KZSU, check out drawings by Italian master artists at the Cantor Arts Center and more.]]> <![CDATA[Help along the way]]> As a teenager, Mexican immigrant Francisco Jiménez struggled to learn English. Today, he's a celebrated author and educator who will read from his latest memoir May 28 at Rinconada Library.]]> <![CDATA[Gunn, SHP advance in CCS baseball but Paly, M-A fall]]> Softball teams lose
The Gunn and Sacred Heart Prep baseball teams have survived to play another day in the Central Coast Section playoffs. Palo Alto and Menlo-Atherton, however, have not.]]>
<![CDATA[Menlo School duo wins CCS tennis title in doubles]]> Despite playing singles much of the year, Menlo School seniors players Vikram Chari and Gunther Matta made a formidable team as they won the doubles title at the Central Coast Section Individual Tournament that wrapped up Wednesday at Imperial Courts in Aptos.]]> <![CDATA[RECENT HOME SALES - May 20]]> ]]> <![CDATA[In living color]]> There is nothing drab about Judith Content's world.]]> <![CDATA[Cantor digitization to wrap up this fall]]> Since launching its digitization and inventory project in May 2010, the Cantor Arts Center has photographed the majority of works in its permanent collection. These images can be searched publicly on its website.]]> <![CDATA[Return to 'Silicon Valley']]> A graduate of JLS, Gunn and Stanford, actor Joshua Chang was thrilled to land a role on season 2 of the Golden Globe-nominated HBO comedy, "Silicon Valley."]]> <![CDATA[No amore in the kitchen]]> Delicious sandwiches seem to be Café Vitale's métier, but other dishes fall short of the mark.]]> <![CDATA[The Beat goes on]]> For more than 50 years, Southern California artist George Herms has been making collage, assemblage and sculpture from discarded, everyday objects. An exhibition of Herms' recent work will be on display at Palo Alto's Smith Andersen Editions May 16-June 20.]]> <![CDATA[From backyard to table]]> At first glance, Plontz might seem like your average Silicon Valley startup: Two enthusiastic brothers working together in a Palo Alto garage, complete with a wall covered in Post It notes and a multi-colored hammock, to disrupt an industry they care deeply about.]]> <![CDATA[From backyard to table]]> At first glance, Plontz might seem like your average Silicon Valley startup: Two enthusiastic brothers working together in a Palo Alto garage, complete with a wall covered in Post It notes and a multi-colored hammock, to disrupt an industry they care deeply about.]]> <![CDATA[Books: The horrifying, and wonderful, complexities of parenthood]]> Chara Burnett and Helen Waters are close friends, professionals, Palo Alto mothers and authors of the new book, "If Only Someone Had Told Me: Wickedly straight talk about parenting kids 0-5."]]> <![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[Bringing back the Eichler aesthetic]]> Eichler homes are beloved for their light-filled open spaces, their clean design and harmony between indoors and out. But what happens when an Eichler atrium goes wrong?]]> <![CDATA[Marketing at the high end]]> Everyone knows the local real estate market is hot, with many homes continuing to sell almost as soon as they are listed, often with multiple offers and for well over the listing prices.]]> <![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.]]>