Saturday, 04 December 2021

Arts & Life


The challenge of coping during the pandemic has affected the entertainment business in multiple ways. One of them being how films are not only produced but released to the public.

Some films go straight to a streaming platform. Others, like the James Bond film “No Time to Die” waited for what seemed like forever for its rightful place on the big screen.

Warner Brothers, using its HBO Max streaming service, may have started the trend of releasing its films simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming platform.

Apparently that practice will change next year when Warner Brothers films assigned for theatrical release will run exclusively in cinemas for at least 45 days before hitting their paid video service.

Netflix is getting in on the action with its hybrid release of the comedy action film “Red Notice,” which was released in theaters for one week prior to its debut on its streaming service.

With an all-star cast of Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and the striking Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”), “Red Notice” probably benefits from the marketing tool of exposure on the big screen.

Netflix went big in other ways as well, staging a live premiere event at the L.A. Live event complex, which as recounted in “The Hollywood Reporter” trade publication “delivered a scene reminiscent of a major Hollywood award show.”

“Red Notice” takes its title from an Interpol advisory to its member countries that a fugitive fleeing a country is internationally wanted for evading justice. This would apply to Ryan Reynolds’ Nolan Booth, an international art thief trying to steal a historic golden egg.

As legend goes, according to the film’s fictional prologue, Cleopatra was gifted three Faberge-like golden eggs, of which two were discovered and the third missing one is the target of fortune hunters we’ve seen in films like “Indiana Jones” and “National Treasure.”

A notorious criminal like Nolan Booth will spare no effort to steal a precious golden egg, and he manages to get caught after being tracked to Rome by none other than Dwight Johnson’s FBI Agent John Hartley.

After Booth gets sent to an isolated Russian prison that feels like a Soviet gulag, Hartley himself ends up there as well subsequently getting framed for the heist by Gal Gadot’s The Bishop, another art thief eager to piece together a three golden egg collection for herself.

With Booth and Hartley engineering a daring prison break, it is one of the action highlights, including a wintry shootout at the prison gate as the duo hijack a helicopter that barely escapes rocket fire.

While Booth and the federal agent are forced into a tenuous partnership, intrepid Interpol inspector Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya) is hot on their trail. Hartley will need to find The Bishop to clear his name and having to rely on help from Booth is, well, kind of unsettling.

As to be expected, Booth and Hartley bicker and banter in what one calls a marriage of convenience, and at one point Booth, in his ubiquitously snarky tone, claims that he wants a divorce and is taking the children.

Another bad guy in the picture is the oddly-named Sotto Voce (Chris Diamantopoulus), a diminutive arms dealer whose fancy party is infiltrated by Booth and Hartley, and The Bishop shows up in a slinky red dress for a choreographed fight with them.

Sotto Voce is as about a ludicrous villain as you can imagine. For no apparent reason, other than maybe emulating Vladimir Putin, he takes his shirt off to reveal his tattooed torso while threatening Booth and Hartley, still chained to a post after being tortured.

One obvious point about this comedic heist caper is that despite its not-so-disguised lifting of thematic elements from other action films, the stellar cast of the three leading characters are the selling point to fun adventure.

Speaking of a copycat formula, a climactic scene involves an adventure into the Argentinian jungle in search of the missing egg hidden in an underground Nazi warehouse that reminds one of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

“Red Notice,” and this is not necessarily a bad thing, is running on its star power of charismatic actors doing their usual stuff. That would mean Ryan Reynolds’ comic riffs, Dwayne Johnson’s stoic intensity and Gal Gadot’s sexy allure and streetwise toughness.

Something endearing about “Red Notice,” with all of its hijinks and caustic banter, is that in spite of its huge budget there is no pretension of artistic merit. This is not an entertainment for high-brow critics. It’s nothing more than just escapist fun.

Dare to view the closing moment of “Red Notice” and not think a sequel is either already in the works or the producers await a public clamoring for the next installment. The actors are certainly charismatic enough to warrant a return engagement.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Humor in poet­ry does not always soft­en the blow secret­ed with­in a poem.

Michelle Peñaloza knows that a tiny grenade sits in the mid­dle of ​“Dop­pel­gänger,” a seem­ing­ly pass­ing com­ment, but one full of all the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, shame and com­plex­i­ty of fam­i­ly lore and our culture’s painful truth: ​“it’s more like­ly she is/​racist.”

But there is, in the poem, a ten­der­ness that lies in the poet’s appre­ci­a­tion that her ​“tita” is more than this. She is also a myth, a sav­ior, a queen, and more, she is tired, and in this she is Oprah’s ​“dou­ble walker”.

By Michelle Peñaloza

It upsets my tita
that people think she
looks like Oprah. She says
she wants to be a queen
in her own right. I think
it’s more likely she is
racist. Or maybe she doesn’t
want the rest of us to expect
a car (!) and a car (!) and a car(!).
Or maybe my tita is tired
of being a savior and a myth.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Michelle Peñaloza, “Doppelgänger” from The Georgia Review, Winter, 2020. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Craig Santos Perez packs into this love sonnet, “Love in a Time of Climate Change,” echoes of many famous love poems, from Robert Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee (Sonnet 43),” to Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18,” to Neruda’s “Sonnet XVII.”

In the title, he alludes wittily to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

But to what end, one may ask?

To remind us of the persistence of love through times of catastrophe and change over the course of history, and to remind us that in clever and sensitive hands, a “recycled” love song can seem fresh, current and deliciously urgent.

Love in a Time of Climate Change
By Craig Santos Perez

I don’t love you as if you were rare earth metals,
conflict diamonds, or reserves of crude oil that cause
war. I love you as one loves the most vulnerable
species: urgently, between the habitat and its loss.

I love you as one loves the last seed saved
within a vault, gestating the heritage of our roots,
and thanks to your body, the taste that ripens
from its fruit still lives sweetly on my tongue.

I love you without knowing how or when this world
will end. I love you organically, without pesticides.
I love you like this because we’ll only survive

in the nitrogen rich compost of our embrace,
so close that your emissions of carbon are mine,
so close that your sea rises with my heat.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Carlos Santos Perez, “Love in a Time of Climate Change” from Habitat Threshold (Omnidawn Publishing, 2020.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

UPPER LAKE, Calif. — After a year off due to COVID-19, the informal series of “Concerts with Conversation” at the Tallman Hotel resumes on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 14, at 3 p.m. with a performance by the accomplished blues guitarist Terry Robb and a guest appearance by the sax great Nancy Wright.

This will be the first of six Sunday concerts extending through April of next year in the Meeting House next to the Hotel.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing Terry Robb back at the Hotel,” said Tallman owner Bernie Butcher. “He was scheduled for a concert here in April 2020, just after we had to close down due to the pandemic.”

“All precautions have been taken to assure a safe and pleasant Sunday afternoon concert experience this year,” says Butcher. “Attendance has been limited to spread out the seating and all guests and performers must show proof of vaccination.”

Terry Robb is one of the leading acoustic interpreters of the blues genre on the West Coast. He is a Canadian fingerstyle guitarist, composer, arranger and record producer with 15 solo CDs to his credit. He is a member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame. Robb’s original compositions draw on the Delta blues, ragtime, folk, country and jazz traditions.

Nancy Wright is one of the most highly respected and in-demand sax players on today’s blues, Jazz and R&B scene. She has also emerged in recent years as an award-winning singer, songwriter and band leader. She has played to sold-out audiences at both the Soper Reese Theatre and at the Blue Wing Blues Festival.

Here are the five additional concerts coming up in the Tallman series:

Sunday, Dec. 12: Vocalist Paula Samonte with the Pierre Archain Concept. Paula is a favorite in Lake and Mendocino Counties and, among other honors, has been a soloist with the symphonies of both counties. The Pierre Archain Concept consists of jazz piano great Barney McClure with Gabe Yanez on drums and Pierre on bass.

Sunday, Jan. 23: Folk music singer, songwriter and guitarist Rita Hosking, backed by Sean Feder on banjo and dobro. In song and story, Hosking shares with the audience her upbringing in rural Shasta County and the old-time band of mountain characters that shaped her musically.

Sunday, Feb. 20: This will be a rousing afternoon of music with the dynamic pianist Steve Lucky and the vibrant guitarist, vocalist and entertainer Carmen Getit. It will be a lively mix of jump blues, swing, jazz and rare gems from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.

Sunday, March 13: Jazz violinist Mads Tolling together with guitarist Jeff Massanari. Mads is a Danish American violinist, composer, two-time Grammy Award winner and former member of the Turtle Island Quartet. One of the Bay Area’s most in-demand guitarists, Massanari is fluent in many styles including straight-ahead jazz, fusion, blues, rock and country.

Sunday, April 24: Outside in the garden (weather permitting), this season-ending concert will feature the world-famous avant-garde jazz trio Charged Particles, with special guest Paul McCandless on reed instruments. Charged Particles features Murray Low on keyboard, Aaron Germain on bass and percussionist Jon Krosnick.

The Sunday afternoon concerts run from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Riffe’s Meeting House next to the hotel. Seating capacity has been reduced this year, so people are encouraged to purchase tickets as far in advance as possible. Many concert-goers reserve for a late brunch or early dinner at the Blue Wing Restaurant next door.

Tickets at $30 plus tax are available online at or by calling the Hotel at 707-275-2244, Extension 0. Coffee and cookies are served to guests and the Tallman is offering a 10% discount on hotel bookings that weekend for people purchasing concert tickets.


A trippy homage to swinging ‘60s London and twisted tale of time-travel to a horrific nightmare, Edgar Wright’s “Last Night in Soho” often seems like the polarized world of the dark side of sex and graphic violence that would be the hallmark of a David Lynch film.

As a country girl from Cornwall with dreams of becoming a fashion designer, Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) is about to venture forth to the big city of London, leaving behind her doting grandmother (Rita Tushingham).

Orphaned at a young age, Ellie aspires to follow in her late mother’s footsteps. That may explain why her bedroom, complete with posters and ephemera from the 1960s, looks like a shrine to a bygone era.

The unsophisticated Ellie proves to be an outcast to the hip other girls at the fashion school. Her mean-girl roommate and the other party girls are so obnoxious that she leaves her dorm for a Soho rooming house run by Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg in her last movie role).

While Ellie’s designs show promise, they are fittingly retrograde to the ‘60s era. Her obsession with the past soon thrusts her into that Carnaby Street period as she dreams of a stunning blonde named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) who sings Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield tunes.

Any doubt that Ellie has ventured into the mid-1960s is dispelled when emerging onto a street where a movie theater’s marquee hosts an oversized poster of Sean Connery as James Bond in “Thunderball.”

As Sandie’s carefree lifestyle in Soho looms large in Ellie’s mind, the fashion student becomes so increasingly fixated on her alter ego’s world that she dyes her hair blonde and dresses in vintage clothes.

At times it seems like Ellie is inhabiting Sandie’s body, but soon recoils at the advances made by Sandie’s pimp Jack (Matt Walsh), a slick scoundrel with an ugly streak of thuggish behavior. The glamorous world of Sandie is a total illusion.

“Last Night in Soho” is ultimately a psychological thriller that offers more style than substance, and that would not be so bad but for the increasingly repetitive nature of the horror elements of ghoulish men as disturbing visions.

On the other hand, while the Sixties nostalgia of great music and fashions delights, Anna Taylor-Joy brings the era so vividly to life that one wishes her screen time would have been even greater.


The French mystery thriller “Only the Animals” is an art house film that made its mark at the 2019 Venice Film Festival and is now making its way to limited theaters.

A blurb on the poster calls it “A French Fargo,” which might be a stretch but for the film’s quirkiness and the fact that a snowstorm in rural France reminds one of a cruel winter in North Dakota.

How do five characters on two continents factor into the death of one socialite woman in the highlands of southern France where one can drive for miles and see nothing but snowdrifts and occasional livestock?

For one thing, director Dominick Moll may have been inspired by Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” in that the film’s structure of adopting successive points of view creates mystery and suspense.

In the press notes, the director disabuses that notion, observing that everything revolves around the mystery of Evelyne Ducat (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) where “the points of view of his characters are incomplete, intertwined, and do not necessarily cover the same period.”

Switching viewpoints, “Only the Animals” reveals the secret connections between a reclusive farmer, an unfaithful husband and wife, a lovelorn waitress and an African internet scam artist, exposing a world of greed, lust, betrayal, and loneliness.

The film opens in the shantytowns of Ivory Coast’s capital city where Armand (Guy Roger N’drin), a young black man, is seen riding a scooter with a goat on his back. Your first thought is how does he figure in the story?

From coastal Africa, we move quickly to a frigid winter in rural France where married social worker Alice (Laure Calamy) is having an affair with morose farmer Joseph (Damien Bonnard).

Alice is the first to spot Evelyne’s abandoned car on the side of a desolate road. The police question Joseph who claims to know nothing about the driver but why are strange things happening on his property?

Shifting back in time, the bisexual Evelyne strikes up a tempestuous relationship with young waitress Marion (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) during a visit to a coastal Mediterranean city.

Tension arises when Evelyne, who’s just looking for sexual gratification, rebuffs Marion’s professed love. Does this make the young woman a suspect for murder?

What about Alice’s husband Michel (Denis Menochet), so desperate for an affair that he falls victim to Armand’s cyber-scam posing as the sexy Amandine who keeps asking for money?

What binds everyone in “Only the Animals” are deep, dark secrets and a search for love, often in the wrong places. Well, there’s also the tale of murder and intrigue to hold one’s interest.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

The Higher Logic Project. Courtesy photo.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — Halloween events are taking place in Middletown on Sunday afternoon and evening.

From 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday you can come to a Day of the Dead celebration with DJ Dragonfly including face painting and an altar for loved ones passed at Dance Yogis in Middletown.

All family members are welcome and encouraged to participate in honoring ancestors in a fun and sacred way. Dance Yogis is located at 21248 Hwy 175 in Middletown. Participation is by donation, $10 to $20.

Then, from 7 to 10 p.m., the Higher Logic Project will perform outdoors in central Middletown at the Middletown Art Center.

It’s been a long time since this beloved Lake County-based band has performed locally and there is a lot of excitement around the event. Tickets are $15 and concert proceeds will benefit HLP friend Alma “Cötí” Husson, wellness.

The current configuration includes Dooby Wells lead singer, Chris Clark on bass, Travis Austin on guitar/voice, Peter Wilson on guitar, Zack Yurik drums, Gabriel Winter keyboards and Michael Gabriel voice and steel drum.

The concert will be postponed if it rains.

The Middletown Art Center is located at 21456 State Highway 175 in Middletown at the corner of Highway 29.

Upcoming Calendar

12.06.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
12.07.2021 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
12.09.2021 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
12.11.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Rodman Preserve Saturday self-guided walks
12.11.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
12.13.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
12.14.2021 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
12.16.2021 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
12.18.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Rodman Preserve Saturday self-guided walks

Mini Calendar

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