Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Arts & Life


The saga of a lazy, overweight panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) began 16 years ago when he dreamed of leaving his family’s noodle shop to join the world of Kung Fu to study with his idols, the legendary Furious Five.

For this chapter of the lovable panda’s adventures, “Kung Fu Panda 4” begs the question of whether eight years after the last episode this fourth journey of an action-comedy franchise is necessary.

Whether the answer is negative, what matters most is that young fans of the franchise are the target audience and the relative dearth of family-friendly films makes the fourth “Kung Fu Panda” a worthwhile entertainment even if the episodes may have run their course.

Time does not look to be on Po’s side either. After three death-defying adventures defeating world-class villains with his courage and martial arts skills, Po’s standing as the Dragon Warrior is facing an unwanted retirement.

Po’s warrior mentor Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) decides to tap the rotund martial artist to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, which is not exactly the destiny he wants.

Returning to his roots, Po is busy starting his own noodle restaurant, and reconnecting with his adoptive goose father Mr. Ping (James Hong) and his biological father Li (Bryan Cranston).

Other than his own concerns, there are obvious problems since Po knows as much about spiritual leadership as he does about dieting, and he also needs to quickly find and train a new Dragon Warrior before assuming his lofty new position.

A new enemy arrives on the scene in the shapeshifting tiny lizard known as the Chameleon (Viola Davis), a wicked sorceress with her beady little eyes coveting Po’s Staff of Wisdom, which would give her the power of the master villains Po had vanquished to the spirit realm.

Desperately needing some help, Po reluctantly enlists crafty, quick-witted thief Zhen (Awkwafina), a fox who gets under his fur but whose skills prove invaluable.

Slapstick humor and generous fight sequences with plenty of predictable action results in adventure for “Kung Fu Panda 4” that should certainly appeal to the target audience. Innocuous family fun is delivered as expected.


Beware of unintended consequences. This adage apparently did not occur to three childhood friends during their adolescent years when they created an imaginary friend who would take the blame for their pranks.

As the director of “Dumb and Dumber,” Peter Farrelly, who performs the same duties for Amazon Prime’s raunchy comedy film “Ricky Stanicky,” works in his comfort zone of portraying characters that have failed in many ways to leave adolescence behind.

Dean (Zac Efron), JT (Andrew Santino), and Wes (Jermaine Fowler) are first seen in 1999 as their younger selves, pulling a Halloween practical joke that goes so horribly wrong that they create the fictional Ricky Stanicky as the scapegoat.

The deception works so well that the ruse carries on into adulthood. When JT’s wife Susan (Anja Savcic) plans a baby shower, the trio of friends living in New England claim that Ricky has cancer as an alibi to leave town for a gambling trip to Atlantic City.

While gambling and drinking at a casino, they meet Rock Hard Rod (John Cena), a crazed alcoholic who wants to be an actor to do something more profound than performing bawdy parodies of famous rock stars at the dingy Slot Swamp Casino.

A premature birth of Susan’s baby causes the gang to rush back home, where the existence of good friend Ricky comes into question, particularly from JT’s suspicious mother-in-law who seems to have figured out the fictitious nature of someone no one else has ever seen.

As the spouses and partners of the trio demand to finally meet the fabled Stanicky, the boys decide on the dubious scheme to hire celebrity impersonator Hard Rock Rod and bring him to life.

With the mystery man apparently in “remission,” Stanicky arrives to attend the Jewish ceremonial of the baby boy’s bris, going so far as to lend a hand in the ritualistic tradition.

With a lot of bravado and swagger of an ersatz cowboy, Hard Rock Rod portrays his alter ego with a fabricated backstory of charitable work helping starving people in Africa

Just so you know that the subterfuge is fraught with risk, Dean’s wife Erin (Lex Scott Davis), a television journalist seeks to advance her career by pushing the idea of a story about Stanicky’s heroic nonprofit work.

Meanwhile, seeking to embellish his acting craft, Ricky commits to his role so successfully that he manages to impress Mr. Summerhayes (William H. Macy), the boss of Dean and JT, that he’s offered a high-paying corporate job for which he is obviously not suited.

The gang realizes they have created a monster, as the unintended consequences come into full play. Even before the story arrives at this stage, “Ricky Stanicky” succeeds in delivering enough gags and laughs for an amusing diversion.

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

UKIAH, Calif. — The School of Performing Arts & Cultural Education, or SPACE, presents Noche de Estrellas directed by Olivia Zamora on Saturday, March 16, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The performances will take place at the SPACE Theater, 508 West Perkins St., Ukiah.

Noche de Estrellas this year will be 100% live mariachi music with some local community members getting a chance to perform with the mariachi for the very first time.

The show will feature Luther Burbank Center’s Mariachi’s Ensemble, Mariachi Cantares de Mi Tierra.

LBC’s Mariachi Ensemble is a year-round program serving over 120 students focusing on much more than music. Led by LBC’s Music Specialist, Matthew Isais Bowker, students learn critical social and emotional skills including perseverance, leadership, cooperation, and collaboration in addition to technique, musicianship, and stage presence through the lens of mariachi.”

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for youth under 18.

Tickets are available and Mendocino Book Co. (cash or check), SPACE box office and www.spaceperformingarts.org.

For information, call 707-462-9370 or visit www.spaceperformingarts.org.

The water towers near Middletown, California, that will be transformed by the “Water Basket” project. Photo courtesy of the Middletown Art Center.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Rancheria, Callayomi Water District, and the Middletown Art Center are inviting Middletown area residents and participants of the Middletown Area Town Hall, or MATH, to join the jury for the Water Basket Project design selection.

They are seeking two representatives from MATH attendees and two2 representatives from the Middletown area public.

In the event that there are more qualified candidates than available slots, a blind selection will take place. Additionally, up to two additional community seats may be added if the number of interested participants exceeds 20.

The jury will be tasked with selecting two to four designs for each tank to move to the public input stage. Approximately 20 designs have been submitted.

To be considered for the jury process, please submit a brief statement explaining why you believe you would be a good fit for this task. Include your name, address, phone number, and email, and either email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or drop off your statement and contact information in a sealed envelope at the Middletown Art Center, located at 21456 Highway 175.

The jurying process will take place in mid-March, on a date and time convenient for all seated jurors at the Middletown Art Center. The exact date and time are to be determined but will likely be in the late afternoon or evening.

Selected designs for each tank will be available for public viewing and input in April both prior to and after the MATH meeting, and for two weeks at the Callayomi Water District Office, the Tribal Office, and the Middletown Art Center. Exact dates will be announced.

This call for jurors aims to find a design that will resonate with the community within the context of the project's goals. For more information on the project and design criteria, please visit https://middletownartcenter.org/water-basket.html.

For inquiries or further information, please contact the Middletown Art Center at 707-355-4465 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Middletown Art Center is a Lake County nonprofit dedicated to engaging the public in art making, art education, and art appreciation. Through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and community events, the Art Center provides a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, striving to create an inclusive and accessible space for all.

To learn more and donate to support other MAC arts and cultural programs visit middletownartcenter.org or call 707-809-8118. The MAC is located at 21456 Highway 175 in Middletown.

From left to right, Claire Jacobs as Annelle, Angela Galli as Clairee, Marlena Shapiro as Quiser and Laura Barnes as Shelby. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County Theatre Co. announced its production of “Steel Magnolias,” set to captivate audiences at the stunning Boatique Winery.

Showcasing the timeless charm of Robert Harling's classic play, this production promises an unforgettable theatrical experience against the backdrop of picturesque vineyards and rolling hills.

The Lake County Theatre Co.’s rendition of “Steel Magnolias” will run on March 15, 16 and 17, and March 22, 23 and 24, offering multiple opportunities for audiences to immerse themselves in the heartfelt story of love, friendship and resilience.

Set in the cozy intimacy of Boatique Winery, this production offers a unique ambience, enhancing the emotional depth of the narrative. Audiences can expect to be transported into the charming Southern world of Truvy's Beauty Salon, where laughter and tears intertwine, and bonds are forged that withstand life's toughest trials.

In celebration of our esteemed seniors, the Lake County Theatre Co. is delighted to host a special “Senior Night” on March 15. All seniors aged 60 and above can avail themselves of discounted tickets priced at $15, allowing them to join in the magic of “Steel Magnolias” at a fraction of the cost.

“We are thrilled to bring Steel Magnolias to the stage at Boatique Winery,” said Becky Vreeland, director of the production. “The combination of this timeless story and the enchanting setting promises to create an unforgettable theatrical experience for our audiences.”

Tickets for Steel Magnolias at Boatique Winery are available now. Don't miss the opportunity to witness this beloved play come to life in one of Lake County's most beautiful settings.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.lctc.us.


Together, the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, have an undeniably eclectic style touching on different genres.

Notable, in no particular order, are “Raising Arizona,” “Fargo,” “The Big Lebowski,” and “No Country for Old Men,” just to name a few.

Going his own way with “Drive-Away Dolls” is Ethan Coen directing and co-writing the script with his wife Tricia Cooke. There’s an interesting story about their unconventional relationship that one can easily check on the internet.

A brief description of this one-brother effort is a lesbian road trip in which two young women, the libidinous Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and sexually uptight Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan), travel from Philadelphia to Tallahassee.

They rent a “drive-away” car that needs to be delivered to where they are going. One of the highlights just might be the encounter with rental agent Curlie (the amusing Bill Camp) who runs a dubious establishment.

Jamie’s just had a bitter breakup with Sukie (Beanie Feldstein), a Philadelphia cop who shows up later in an amusing confrontation with two thugs in pursuit of her ex-lover and Marian.

The road trip is an excuse for Jamie, who speaks with a hillbilly Southern accent, to frequent every lesbian dive bar on their journey. What the girls don’t know is that they were given the wrong car which contains a mysterious briefcase and hatbox.

A nasty crime boss known as The Chief (Colman Domingo) has tasked two lunkhead goons, the loquacious Arliss (Joey Slotnick) and ineptly trigger-happy Flint (C.J. Wilson), to retrieve the contents of the drive-away Dodge Aries.

The closet lesbian Marian, a bookworm avidly reading Henry James novels, eventually loses her inhibitions. Matt Damon shows up as Senator Channel, who has an interest in the briefcase, and Sukie arrives on the scene to get rid of an annoying small dog Jamie left behind.

During the trip to Florida, the girls have a blowout on the highway. Maybe the flat tire is symbolic, as the air goes out of “Drive-Away Dolls” long before the final destination.

While “Drive-Away Dolls” may be offbeat (with the help of some psychedelic interludes), any hope for a zany screwball comedy never fully materializes as one would wish for a film with an ostensible Coen knack.


The TCM Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood for its usual four-day extravaganza of a wide range of programming topics beginning on Thursday, April 18. Festival attendees also get the chance to attend “meet and greets” with TCM guests and enjoy panel discussions.

The central theme is “Most Wanted: Crime and Justice in Film.” While the film schedule is only partially available, the 50th anniversary presentation of “Chinatown,” a neo-noir starring Jack Nicholson’s private eye embroiled in a political corruption coverup and murder investigation, fits the theme.

In addition to the classic venue of the Chinese Theatre for screenings, TCM will be celebrating its 15th annual Classic Film Festival by returning to one of its original homes in the beautifully restored and beloved Egyptian Theatre.

In partnership with the American Cinematheque and owned by Netflix, the Egyptian is capable of screening digital cinema, 35mm and 70mm film, and nitrate prints. The theater will host revealing conversations as TCM hosts and notable guests get a chance to this glorious temple of cinema.

TCM is pleased to announce two of the confirmed screenings at the Egyptian will be a nitrate 35mm print of 1950’s “Annie Get Your Gun,” as well as a new 70mm print of “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962).

The Festival will open in a red carpet gala event with the 30th anniversary screening of the classic neo-noir “Pulp Fiction,” and two-time Academy Award-nominee, Golden Globe and Emmy winner John Travolta will be in attendance.

“Pulp Fiction” is described by Ben Mankiewicz, TCM Primetime Anchor and Official Host of the Festival, as “Quentin Tarantino’s magnum opus and the beginning of a well-deserved comeback for John Travolta.”

Among the announced films, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “North by Northwest” (1959) fits the theme. In this case, the most wanted person is Cary Grant’s debonaire advertising executive forced to run for his life after being mistaken for a secret agent.

In a case of mistaken identity, Grant’s Roger Thornhill is thought to be a man by the name of George Kaplan by James Mason’s foreign spy Philip Vandamm and his henchman Leonard (Martin Landau).

While the bad guys try to eliminate Thornhill, circumstances lead the advertising man to be framed for murder. On the run from the police, Thornhill manages to board a train to Chicago where he meets Eva Marie Saint’s beautiful blonde, Eve Kendall, who helps him dodge the authorities.

Is there more to Eve than what appears to be? A dramatic escape at the top of Mt. Rushmore is breathtaking. “North by Northwest” is ranked among the greatest American films of all time by the prestigious American Film Institute, a well-deserved accolade.

More exciting news about the 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

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

Gwendolen van Wyk (Viola/Cesario) and Dakota Laiwa McKay (Orsino) in the Mendocino College production of Twelfth Night, the musical. Photo by Scott Spears.

UKIAH, Calif. — The Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department will present the musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night” this month in Mendocino College’s Center Theatre on the Ukiah Campus.

Originally produced by the Public Theatre in New York City in 2016, this joyous jazz-funk musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy “Twelfth Night” is set in a modern world inspired by the music and culture of New Orleans.

This musical comedy about love and mistaken identities will run for two weekends only March 7 to 17 in the Mendocino College Center Theatre.

Conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub, the play features a large multi-generational cast of performers. The show features an onstage New Orleans-style jazz-funk band.

“It will be an extraordinary spectacle that will make your heart sing,” said Director Reid Edelman.

The production is appropriate for all audiences ages 11 and older.

With musical direction by Janice Hawthorne Timm, original choreography by Eryn-Schon-Brunner, and vocal direction by Marilyn Simpson, the production will feature costumes and scenery created by students in Mendocino College’s CTE program in technical theater under the direction of faculty & staff members Steve Decker, Kathy Dingman-Katz, and David Wolf.

The associate music director is Charlie Seltzer and alumna Shianne Robertson is the costume design assistant. Sarah Jansen is the production Stage Manager. The assistant stage manager is Phaedra Swearengin.

The talented cast features 23 actors and singers and eight onstage musicians, including many students and alumni of the Theatre Arts Department’s Conservatory Cohort ensemble. Conservatory alums Rickie Emilie Farah and Dakota Laiwa McKay play Countess Olivia and Duke Orsino, the two royal patrons of the realm of Illyria where the action unfolds.

The plot thickens when Viola (played by college theatre alumna Gwendolen van Wyk) and her twin brother Sebastian (played by local musician Julian Sterling) are separated in a shipwreck.

Viola comes to Ilyria and decides to disguise herself as a male in order to obtain a job in Orsino’s court. When Orsino sends Viola, now disguised as Cesario, to woo Olivia on his behalf, Olivia falls in love with Cesraio. Meanwhile, Viola has fallen in love with Orsino, creating a romantic love triangle which drives the plot.

When Sebastian too washes up on the shores of Illyria, looking identical to Cesario, a hilarious comedy of mistaken identities ensues.

The show also features theater alum Charm Kilbane as the pirate Antonio who rescues Sebastian and falls in love with him. Feste the clown (played by theater major Heidi Peterman) holds the antics together with her humorous jests and musical wit.

The subplot involves a prank executed by Olivia’s uncle Sir Toby Belch (played by theater major Eduardo Lalo Torres) and housemaid Maria (played by theater major Jasmine Norris) in which Olivia’s pompous butler Malvolio (played by Carlo Amora-Mora) becomes hilariously unhinged.

Supporting roles also include Schuyler Marcier as Belch’s friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Percival Knutson as the groundskeeper Fabian, and a wide array of professional local musicians, actors and several delightfully talented children.

The cast also includes Les Clow, Hannah Hinrichs, Shianne Robertson, Gina Henebury, Laura Henebury, Esteban Orozco, Tommy Thurston, K.L. Whiterock, Apollo Anderson, Cora Brunner, Margot Dowdney, Prema Sophia Peralta and Owen Sapien.

The stage band features music directors Janice Timm and Charlie Seltzer as well as Joe Swearengin (percussion), Michael Charnes (guitar), Jean-François Buy (Bass), Vicente Dominguez (Trombone), Kobi Hasunuma (trumpet) and Alejandro Dominguez (Saxophone).

Twelfth Night will have a “pay what you wish preview” on Thursday, March 7. Opening night is Friday March 8. Opening night will include a free gala reception starting one hour before the show.

The performance on Saturday, March 9 benefits the Mendocino College Foundation and student scholarships. A free glass of wine is included with the ticket price for this performance.

Following the opening weekend, additional performances are Thursday, March 14, Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $20 general, $15 students and seniors, and are available at the Mendocino Book Company, online at www.ArtsMendocino.org and at the door as available.

The performance on Thursday, March 14, is a special discount night, with all tickets costing only $10. Audiences are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

For information, call 707-468-3172 or visit http://www.mendocino.edu/the-arts/theatre.

Upcoming Calendar

04.16.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
04.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
04.18.2024 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Earth Day celebration
04.20.2024 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Earth Day Celebration
Calpine Geothermal Visitor Center
04.20.2024 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Boatique Wines Stand-up Comedy Night
04.25.2024 1:30 pm - 7:30 pm
FireScape Mendocino workshop
04.27.2024 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Northshore Ready Fest
04.27.2024 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Prescription Drug Take Back Day
04.27.2024 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Inaugural Team Trivia Challenge

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.