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‘Fading Gigolo’ can’t balance comedy and drama

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Fading Gigolo is actor John Turturro’s fifth film, which came as a bit of a surprise to this reviewer, as I missed the bus on “Romance & Cigarettes” (a musical), “Passione” (a documentary), and “Illuminata” (a period comedy). And “Mac,” his first film from 1992, is so dim in my memory that I might not have seen it at all. Regardless, “Fading Gigolo” is two things: a love letter to a New York City that is fast disappearing, a world of bodegas and small shops and affordable brownstones. It’s also a similar mash note to his co-star Woody Allen, whose film romanticized exactly that world.

The set-up also reminds us of mid-’90s Allen: He plays Murray, an old friend of Mr. Turturro’s Fioravente (such a name!), and when both find themselves at the end of employment and needing some cash, Murray half-jokingly suggests that his friend, an eternal bachelor, turn to the oldest profession in the book. Murray will be his pimp, and like an agent, take 10 percent. (This is much better than the 50-50 between artist and gallery owner, he points out.)

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ART REVIEW: The Red Depths – Eye-opening Pacifica exhibit explores the secret art of Carl Jung

To paraphrase those Dos Equis ads, the Pacifica Institute doesn’t usually hold art exhibits open to the public, but when it does, it has to be by Carl Jung. After all, without psychologist Jung, this double-campus Institute would probably not exist (all due respect to Joseph Campbell, et al., but you catch my drift.) The irony here is that up until only the last decade, nobody really knew that Dr. Jung was much of an artist.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Cafe Del Sol’s Strawberry or Mango Blended Margarita

Strawberry or Mango Blended Margarita

Strawberry or Mango Blended Margarita

Remember spring? No, we don’t either. It was a scorcher the other day, but as it started to cool down, we here at Drink of the Week got on our bikes for a ride alongside our fabulous beach, down toward the Bird Refuge. It was just another reminder that we’re lucky to live here and do not have to only visit for the weekend.

Our ride ended at Cafe del Sol, which has a very nice happy hour during the weekdays and a beautiful view over the estuary every day. And they remembered us from our visit many years ago. Even bartender Kyler Barbee remembered our faces and told us he’s read every column since.

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ART REVIEW: Derelict Dreams – Larry Mills Jr.’s witty snapshots ache with loneliness

'Hampton Beach, NH

Full disclosure up front: Larry Mills Jr. only shares this reviewer’s family name, not his DNA. For a while, Mr. Mills left Santa Barbara for colder climes out east, places that his wife knew well. The move seemed permanent, but as those of us who have waved goodbye to old friends leaving Santa Barbara know happens often, they returned. (Maybe it’s the kind of weekend we had last Saturday). Fortunately for us he brought back his photographs of that time, and very droll they are, for the exhibition, “I’m Over Here,” at Art Resources Framing & Gallery, through March 29.

Subtitled “Two Years of Getting Lost in New England,” this collection of 40 or so photos discover the odd, trash-strewn and God-fearing backside of the region far outside its usual cliches. Hardly an orchard, or a multi-colored autumn tree, is to be seen in Mr. Mills’ work. These are shots of neighborhoods and back alleys, backwaters and abandoned lots that the tourist bureau would rather you not see.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Dargan’s Patrick’s Pride

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Ah, the luck of the Irish! Or, shall we say, the luck of the Drink of the Week team, to walk into Dargan’s when bartender Patrick Owens was tending to his flock. Indeed, to impress a birthday girl over at a corner table, we watched him fold up a napkin and tuck it under his black shirt collar, making him look like a vicar. We knew right then that this witty man would rise to our St. Patrick’s Day challenge of an appropriate cocktail.

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Drink of the Week: Bar Seven’s Old Fashioned

Photo by Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

Photo by Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

A year in the life of a bar in downtown Santa Barbara is like dog years: impressive. The fickle forces of commerce, that right combination of newness and familiarity, the magical price point to draw in customers, keep them, and also to keep paying rent is a tricky thing to do. And to do it in the rapidly gentrifying and expensive Funk Zone? Well, that’s a thing all to itself.

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Bad Time in the Death Zone – ‘THE SUMMIT’ DETAILS INFAMOUS K2 CLIMB

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BBC/Ireland Film Board documentary “The Summit” explains in detail the disastrous 2008 expedition to climb K2, the second highest peak in the world. According to experienced climbers, K2 may be shorter than Everest, but it’s harder. Despite excellent conditions — clear skies, very little wind, and decades of experience and skill among the groups of international climbers — eleven climbers lost their lives, and others lost toes to frostbite in their efforts to rescue their comrades.

“The Summit” plays out like a murder mystery of sorts. Is it K2 in the drawing room with the crampon? Or was there an accomplice? Was it bad luck or negligence? In the end, “The Summit” seems to suggest that it’s the popularity of climbing K2 itself that had a lot to do with it. One wouldn’t think there’d be a bottleneck of climbers trying to climb a vertical wall of ice, but most of us don’t run in those circles.

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Figures of 12 – MICHAELKATE’S LATEST SHOW FOCUSES ON THE BODY IN ART

'The Aerealist,' Tara Patrick

‘The Aerealist,’ Tara Patrick

'Cancun Series, No. 4,' John Carlander

‘Cancun Series, No. 4,’ John Carlander

In Figure When: Through Feb. 23, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Mon. - Sat., 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sun. Closed Wed. Where: MichaelKate Interiors and Art Gallery, 132 Santa Barbara St. Cost: Free Information: michaelkate.com or 963-1411

In Figure
When: Through Feb. 23, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Mon. – Sat., 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sun. Closed Wed.
Where: MichaelKate Interiors and Art Gallery, 132 Santa Barbara St.
Cost: Free
Information: michaelkate.com or 963-1411

Michael Kate puts the abstract on hold this month for a themed show of figurative painting. Curator and artist Brad Nack may have been slightly winking when he said he chose the theme because he wanted to give himself a challenge (he’s in the show with several paintings). But hey, whatever gets the creative juices flowing.

This is a show with ten artists tackling the human figure in various ways, from sci-fi pulp art to the roughest of class sketches. More than any previous show — I believe, anyway — this is meant to be taken as a journey in order, starting at the doors and moving counter-clockwise around MichaelKate. (But if you just want to move right to the back where those comfy recliners are, that’s fine too.)

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The best movies you may not have seen – These alternative film gems from 2013 are worth tracking down

"Frances Ha" IFC Films photo

“Frances Ha”
IFC Films photo

End-of-Year Lists in Film get a bit redundant after the 10th or so. The consensus is formed — and rightly so: “Gravity” was awe-inspiring amazing. Woody Allen finally made a good film again with “Blue Jasmine.” “Before Midnight” completed the excellent trilogy. “12 Years a Slave” is probably going to win everything, deservedly so. “Dallas Buyers Club” will also pick up awards for its two strong leads. And then there are the ones that have just opened (“Inside Llewlyn Davis”) or are about to open (“American Hustle”), but most of us aren’t film-festival hoppers who saw these in Toronto or Cannes.

So here’s a list of the unsung, the little seen, the ones that passed us by, the streaming-only, and the ones you need to seek out, in no particular order … plus a few guilty pleasures. (Caveat: not everything has a copyright stamp of 2013 on it, but this year is when they became available)

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The Vanished Pin-Up Queen – NEW DOC ON BETTIE PAGE FILLS IN HER MYSTERIOUS HISTORY

Music Box Films photos

Music Box Films photos

For someone whose artistic output consists of pin-up photography, 16mm reels of stripteases, and little else, the impact of Bettie Page eclipses that of another 20th century female icon, Marilyn Monroe. Ask yourself this: when’s the last time you saw a Monroe look-alike walking down the street? But for a Bettie Page clone? One served me coffee yesterday, albeit with an arm full of tattoos.

In “Bettie Page Reveals All,” a muddled, but fun documentary, one can see how this model attracted legions of fans across several generations. Her personality jumps out of every photo taken of her, from swimsuits and nudes to her staged bondage photos, either as dominatrix or submissive. She’s having fun, a rare blend of naughty and nice.

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