‘THE CONGRESS’ Film Review

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If given the choice to be young forever, would you jump at the opportunity? Actress Robin Wright (Princess Bride, House of Cards) is given that choice, albeit through contractual agreements, by the fictional Miramount Studios in Ari Folman’s (Waltz with Bashir) The Congress. Studio executives propose her body and facial expressions should be scanned by advanced computers with motion capture technology so they can puppeteer her image into c-grade films and, as the greedy studio head Jeff (Danny Huston) would argue, “keep her young forever.”

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“The One I Love” Film Review

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If you could be with the ideal version of your partner would you be happier? Is embracing them for their flaws part of the accepted insanity that is love? The One I Love aims to answer that by reinventing a familiar premise with excellent performances and a quirky, clever script fusing relatable human drama with science fiction.

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“Who Took Johnny” Film Review

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“Who Took Johnny”: What sounds like the beginning of a nail-biting Hollywood thriller is a sad and disturbing reality—one that American parents face each and every day and is the main focus of documentary Who Took Johnny, a dissection of the stranger-than-fiction disappearance of Iowa paperboy, Johnny Gosch, a boy who seemingly “vanished into thin air” and a case that still remains unsolved.

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REFUGE Film Review

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REFUGE. Amy Behr (Krysten Ritter) becomes a mother out of unexpected circumstances. She tries to raise her two younger siblings who struggle with day-to-day life: her younger brother, Nat (Logan Huffman), writes to-do lists concerning mundane tasks, like attempting to converse with other people, after he has a brain tumor removed that mildly disables him . Amy’s teenage sister, Lucy (Madeleine Martin), has a hatred of high school and experiments with drugs and shoplifting as her grades slip.

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A Vintage Food Tour in Old Towne Orange

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ORANGE COUNTY, CA – When I first look at the outside of Ruby’s Streamliner Diner in Orange, there isn’t anything wonderfully distinctive about it—and to many travelers, the same sentiment could be assumed of Orange County itself. Thanks to reality television, the OC is viewed by outsiders as a cultural wasteland; a place where plasticized housewives claw and snarl at each other over designer handbags. However, there is an extensive arts and cultural scene growing faster than weeds through cracks in the pavement …

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Dinner with Winemaker Piergiorgio Castellani

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ORANGE COUNTY, CA – As I approach the Antonello Ristorante entrance, the warm, humid temperatures and blustering Santa Ana winds are painting beads of sweat across my face. My guest and photographer for the night is snapping photos—his striped tie fluttering in the breeze on a warm Southern California evening. It is both our first time dining here at Antonello Ristorante, a highly-acclaimed Italian restaurant and landmark of Orange County for the past three decades, boasting an authentic menu and impressive wine list that captures Old World sensibilities.

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A Winter Menu Southwestern Style

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As we try to make room on the table and rearrange our plates in order from lunch to dinner, we decide that our first conquest on the lunch menu will be the Winter Arugula Salad—a peak of arugula drizzled with Champagne vinaigrette and topped with creamy goat cheese crumbles, roasted golden beets, pickled leeks, shaved roasted fennel, crunchy noodles, and crisp gala apples. The salad is simple—but not to a fault. The Champagne dressing and goat cheese meld together delightfully and the added crunch of the Asian noodles, bell peppers and apple frolic with the taste buds, never feeling overwrought by an overuse of contrasting flavors and textures.

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Porktoberfest

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It is Halloween’s Eve, a little before 7 P.M. I pull into the parking lot outside of Five Crowns Restaurant and Steakhouse and immediately start to panic—valet parking. Suddenly I’m extremely nervous, not because I fear strangers driving my car, but because my car is literally beginning to disintegrate—rendering it almost inoperable. After three broken door handles inside and outside, getting in and out of my car has proven to be a difficult and ridiculous affair: I have to roll down my window and open it from the outside door handle (fortunately only halfway broken) to get out.

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Pacific Symphony’s “Rodrigo’s Concierto”

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In the center of the lobby, classical guitarist Joseph Yashar crawls his fingers across guitar strings in a masterful rendition of Romance Anonimo, one of the most gorgeous and recognizable Spanish guitar pieces of all time, yet sadly attributed to an unknown composer. Others in the lobby are creating their own poetry with large magnetic tiles boasting phrases from Federico García Lorca’s poetry. The activities are an enticing precursor to the night’s main event and a burst of applause and the raising of wine glasses begin to emerge as the guitarist concludes, echoing the last note with precise fingertips.

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‘GMO OMG’ PLANTS SEEDS OF KNOWLEDGE

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The crusade for answers involves a series of interviews with politicians, seed salesman and trips across America and the world—some leading as far as an international seed vault concealed within a Norwegian mountain. But the film, at its core, mainly serves as a journey of Seifert’s to educate his children, who have a love of collecting seeds, why they should be concerned about new genetically modified seeds on the market.

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Double Header of Talent: Shaun B and Orlando Napier at Harvelle’s

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He is a thin, handsome man in a striped shirt and jeans, sipping on Stella Artois and bobbing to the music–and I realize it’s the second headliner of the night, Orlando Napier–and since we are standing inches from the speakers, I flip into a blank page of my notebook and write “Break a leg up there” and hold it up to him. He smiles and shakes my hand twice before hopping on stage, embracing a glistening-with-sweat Shaun B. who concludes his set with supercharged covers of Stevie Wonder and The Turtles’ “Happy Together.”

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No Room For the Ordinary

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As the band fades out, the man in the bowler derby starts to climb a ladder to where the tightrope begins. He stops to sweep out his arm over the audience, clutching a bouquet of flowers, and begins his trek across the tightrope above faces draped in cherry lipstick and blue eye shadow, everyone frantically trying to capture the moment with their camera phones, and me scribbling details in an orange notebook. The crowd and I reward the tightrope walker with a much deserved crackle of applause and it is after this moment that the co-owner of the bar, Mark Houston, arrives, blazing through the crowd in a grey suit and whirlwind of smiles, hugs, and handshakes from the many friends who have come to support him. And although I have never met him before, Mark sets aside time to speak with me, giving me a tour of the location and tells me of his vision for No Vacancy, explaining how he wants the bar to rise above the cheesiness of Hollywood Boulevard as well as restore a treasured landmark and era of Los Angeles history.

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