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CHRISTMAS IN THE CLOUDS (2001-95 minutes, rated PG)

Christmas in the Clouds” is part romantic comedy, part screwball comedy, and part historic breakthrough. The history is made because the movie is about affluent Native American yuppies. So many movies about American Indians deal in negative or spiritual stereotypes that it’s nice to find one that takes place at an upscale Indian-owned ski resort (Robert Redford’s Sundance). The only alcoholic in the cast is a white undercover investigator for a guide book.

The romance begins through a misunderstanding. Through an online dating service, Joe Clouds on Fire (Sam Vlahos) is paired off with Tina Pisati (MariAna Tosca). She’s a chic New York professional woman, whose name sounds Italian but whose family name is Little Hawk. He’s a likable codger whose son Ray Clouds on Fire (Tim Vahle) manages the resort. Joe has not been entirely honest about his age, and is about 30 years older than Tina. Meanwhile, the resort is expecting a surprise visit from the critic of luxury hotels, and Mary the reservations manager (Sheila Tousey) keeps an eagle eye for anyone checking in who looks like they can spell Zagat.

Of course Mary the manager thinks Tina Pisati is the critic. Of course Tina thinks that handsome young Ray is her pen pal, not crusty old Joe. And of course when Stu O’Malley checks in, no one fingers him as the critic, because he is grumpy, unkempt and half-loaded; it’s M. Emmet Walsh.

Tina is upgraded to a luxury corner suite. O’Malley gets shunted to a budget room, where he suffers from what passes for the flu and may involve a large percentage of hangover. Tina has her eye on Ray. Ray thinks Tina is beautiful and sexy but refuses to cater to her because he is too ethical to kowtow to a critic. Old Joe knows the score but maintains a studious silence about his pen-pal correspondence, which no one at the resort knows about.

And then there is the matter of Earl (Graham Greene), the resort’s chef, who has become a devout vegetarian and tries to discourage the customers from eating meat. He has a disconcerting way of referring to the animals on the menu by their first names, and grows sorrowful when someone orders the turkey, which is a beloved pet.

Old Joe dreams of winning a Jeep Cherokee in an approaching bingo tournament. Grumpy old O’Malley hauls out of bed to play bingo. An eventually the two old-timers both end up in the Cherokee, stranded in a blizzard, while misunderstandings pile up back at the resort.

Kate Montgomery, the writer-director, has such affection for these characters that we can feel it through the screen; they’re not simply pawns in the plot, we sense; they represent something she wants to say about the Native Americans she knows. And the actors, all with successful careers behind them, must be fed up with playing losers in social problem dramas; Greene a natural comedian, expands magnificently as the vegetarian chef with an effortless line of patter about soy products, analog foods and healthy nutrition.

As for Ray and Tina, well, in all versions of basic romantic comedy, we want them to kiss, they want to kiss, and the plot perversely frustrates all of us. But the end of “Christmas in the Clouds,” after everything has worked out more or less as we hoped it would, I felt a surprising affection and warmth. There will be holiday pictures that are more high-tech than this one, more sensational, with bigger stars and higher budgets and indeed greater artistry. But there may not be many with such good cheer.

“Christmas in the Clouds” was first featured at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and includes a cameo by Santa Fe’s own, Wes Studi. (Summary paraphrased from a Roger Ebert review)

Suggested admission, $5….you may bring food and drink into the space that is purchased from our friends at La Plancha!

Coming in January….rescheduled, ‘Lonely are the Brave’. Christmas Clouds




Screening on Thursday, Nov 12 at 7 PM-

What’s Cooking (2000, 109 minutes)

London based director Gurinder Chadha brings attention to the divergence and unity of our ethnic melting pot at Thanksgiving in this vibrant homage to family.

Four families prepare turkey dinners and struggle to come to terms with the secrets, generational disagreements and alternative lifestyles that threaten to spoil their celebrations. The African-American Williamses are having a nouveau cuisine dinner, much to the disapproval of a criticizing mother-in-law. Elizabeth Avila (Ruehl) is cooking her first Mexican banquet as a single woman. The Jewish Seegil’s are trying to understand their lesbian daughter (Margulies), while the Nguyen’s prepare a Vietnamese spread and try to shut out the fact that their son is involved in something that will intrude on all the families’ festivities.

Funny but sharply observed, cleverly resolved without being neat, “What’s Cooking?” provides a quartet of compelling, resonant and superbly acted tales for the price of one, plus a mouth-watering visual feast of culinary delights. Although this is a fine ensemble cast, top marks go to Alfre Woodard and Mercedes Ruehl as very different matriarchs. Woodard’s elegant, compressed businesswoman trying to cook up a storm and battle against her mother-in-law for familial supremacy is a masterclass in dignity, while Ruehl embodies poised female liberation and vitality as a woman re-learning to enjoy herself.

Like a good meal, “What’s Cooking?” is a combination of fresh ingredients mixed together with skill to create a well-balanced harmony of diverse flavours. Delicious.


  September, 2015


Screening at La Tienda in El Dorado on Thursday, September 10, at 7 PM:

Gas, Food, Lodging (1992)

Love and sex complicate the lives of Nora Evans (Brooke Adams) and her two teenage daughters in this smart, sassy film about coming of age in a small New Mexico town. Seventeen-year-old Trudi Evans (Ione Skye) is beautiful, rebellious and very promiscuous – much to the dismay of her mother. Her younger sister, Shade (Fairuza Balk), fantasizes about love while watching afternoon movie matinees. And Nora auditions a colorful cast of suitors while waiting tables in the local diner.

Life takes a wild turn when Trudi announces that she’s pregnant, and the father of her baby mysteriously disappears. The girls’ long lost father (James Brolin) appears out of nowhere, hoping to make up for lost time. Shaping their lives in unpredictable ways, each new change teaches Nora and her daughters about love, life and each other.

Filmed in Deming, NM, this is also the first New Mexico made movie ever directed by a woman, (Allison Anders). It is 100 minutes long.

  There is a suggested donation of $5 and you can also bring food and drink into the theatre, thanks to the courtesy of our friends at the La Plancha Restaurant.
or more information, please contact Jeff Berg at 466.1634 or


  August, 2015
Screening at La Tienda in El Dorado on Thursday, August 13, at 7 PM:

Mystery Movie!

We aren’t going to tell you the title of the movie for August, but here are some clues:

– A small portion of it was shot in New Mexico and the film was released in the late 70’s.
– It was directed by one of the most popular directors of the late 70’s and stars an actor whose popularity was at its peak when this film was made.

-It is an adventure/thriller that we are sure will have you on the edge of your seat.
-It has a two hour running time.
-Most of the film was shot on location and is a remake of a French film.

-Steve McQueen was scheduled to be the star, but he turned down the role due to his commitment to fellow Santa Fe resident, Ali MacGraw.

If you guess the title, you get free admission!

Special note to folks on the Reel New Mexico Email list….the film announced in the July Email, ‘Gas, Food, Lodging’, has been postponed.

There is a suggested donation of $5 and you can also bring food and drink into the theatre, thanks to the courtesy of our friends at the La Plancha Restaurant.

For more information, please contact Jeff Berg at 466.1634 or

 Tentative titles….September–Gas, Food, Lodging…the first NM made feature film directed by a woman

October….Santa Fe (1997) or White Sands (1992)



Reel New Mexico, June, 2015

Screening at La Tienda in El Dorado on Thursday, June 11, at 7 PM, will be the documentary feature, ‘The Silence of Cricket Coogler’, produced by El Dorado resident, Richard Startzman (Mother O’Keeffe).  Special guest will be author, Paula Moore, author of ‘Cricket in the Web’.

Book sales onsite courtesy of COLLECTED WORKS!

This documentary investigates the mysterious death of an 18-year-old waitress in New Mexico in 1949. Silence of Cricket Coogler is a Political Murder movie–but this horrific rape and murder wasn’t a random crime; instead, the young beauty was a victim of political corruption and Mafia connections After doing his own investigation, mystery writer Tony Hillerman lent his insight to the film as well.

The feature-length film covers all aspects of Ovida “Cricket” Coogler’s unsolved murder, which changed history in Las Cruces and New Mexico.

Coogler was last seen alive at 3 a.m. Thursday, March 31, 1949, when she entered an official state car on Main Street in downtown Las Cruces. Her body was found 17 days later in a shallow grave south of Las Cruces. Jerry Nuzum, a professional football player and former NMSU Aggie, was arrested for the murder and then released for lack of evidence.

Students at the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, now New Mexico State University, were so enraged by Nuzum’s arrest that they submitted a petition to the governor requesting a grand jury be appointed to investigate the murder. The grand jury was unable to indict anyone for Coogler’s murder, but the investigation resulted in the removal of the sheriff from office and the shutdown of local gambling joints.

The grand jury would not give up — it handed down 58 indictments against 25 people.

The documentary is narrated in part by the late John Ehrlichman with commentary by famed New Mexico author, the late great Tony Hillerman. In his remarks, Hillerman says “this strange little murder, and the incredible effort to cover it up, caused a kind of outrage that cleaned up New Mexico.”

Moore is the author of the 2008 book, ‘Cricket in the Web’, and has done years of research on the never-solved case. She will discuss her research and findings on Ms. Coogler’s demise, which involved numerous high level politicians in New Mexico.

Here is an interview with Ms. Moore:

 Film Trailer –

There is a suggested donation of $5 and you can also bring food and drink into the theatre, thanks to the courtesy of our friends at the La Plancha Restaurant.

For more information, please contact Jeff Berg at 466.1634  or

Coming in July… The Hired Hand, directed by and starring Peter Fonda – Made in New Mexico


Screening on Thursday, May 14 at 7.PM, at La Tienda Performance Space in El Dorado, SWEET LAND (2005, 110 MINUTES)-  Sweet Land is a poignant, sweet and often funny lyrical celebration of land, love, and the American immigrant experience.

When Lars Torvik’s grandmother Inge dies, he is faced with a decision – sell the family farm on which she lived since 1920, or cling to the legacy of the land. Seeking advice, he turns to the memory of Inge and the stories that she had passed on to him.

 Inge arrived in Minnesota in 1920 to marry a young Norwegian farmer named Olaf but her German heritage and lack of official immigration papers makes her an object of suspicion in the small town, and she and Olaf are forbidden to marry. Alone and adrift, Inge goes to live with the family of Olaf’s friend and neighbor Frandsen and his wife Brownie, where she learns the English language, American ways, and a hard-won independence.

Inge and Olaf slowly come to know each other, and against the backdrop of endless farmland and cathedral skies they fall in love, a man and woman united by the elemental forces of nature. Still unable to marry, they live together openly, despite the scorn of the neighbors and the disapproval of the local minister.

 Based on Will Weaver’s short story A Gravestone Made of Wheat and shot on location in Southern Minnesota, Sweet Land is that rare independent feature that uses painterly images and understated performances and music to tell a universal story of love and discovery.

For more information, please contact Jeff Berg at 466-1634, or check

You are now able to order and bring food and drink from La Plancha, the fine adjoining restaurant and enjoy it in the Performance Space, offering a casual dinner and a movie type event.

The $5 suggested donation/admission at the door is used for expenses and to bring in filmmakers for other screenings.

Reel New Mexico- April, 2015


Playing on Thursday, April 9 at 7.PM, ‘THE HI LO COUNTRY’, (1998), based on real characters known by Albuquerque based author, Max Evans and shot entirely in New Mexico.  (Rated R)
Based on Evans’ iconic book, Billy Crudup (Without Limits) plays Woody Harrelson’s best pal, just returned to New Mexico from service in World War II with hopes of starting a cattle ranch free from the greedy clutches of a local rancher (Sam Elliott) who dominates the town of Hi-Lo like a boot clad kingpin. Harrelson joins in the effort, but tensions rise when he connects with the sultry seductress (Oscar winner Patricia Arquette) with whom Crudup has fallen inexplicably in love. Harrelson has provoked others as well, and he seems primed for a fall with his free-wheeling attitude and refusal to change with the times.  Invited guest is author/journalist Robert Nott, who recently co-wrote a book with Evans about director Sam Peckinpah.

Also in April – On Thursday, April 2, 7 PM- ‘An Evening with Gandhi and King’, presented by Heaven on Earth Creations and Reel New Mexico. 

Join Santa Fe Documentary Film Producer Cynthia Lukas for “AN EVENING WITH KING AND GANDHI” on Thursday, April 2, 2015, 7:00 p.m., at the Performance Space at La Tienda in Eldorado, Santa Fe. There will be an admission charge of $5.00. This program will last about 90 minutes.

Lukas will present the acclaimed PBS biography of King,  “In Remembrance of Martin,” and show clips from the upcoming documentary about the final, tragic and triumphant years of Gandhi’s life, “Gandhi’s Gift.”  This will be the first major documentary about Gandhi made in the U.S.  Lukas will lead a discussion about how King’s dream was shaped by Gandhi and how both of them might assess whether their dreams have been achieved.  For more information, contact Lucas at 466.4025.

And on Friday, April 17, 6.45 PM at the El Dorado Library....Made on Rte 66- a compilation of clips from movies made on (or near) Rte 66, from Illinois to California, with live narration by Jeff Berg.  This is a FREE 90 minute presentation and a Santa Fe premiere!

For more information, please contact Jeff Berg at 466-1634 or check

You are now able to order and bring food and drink from La Plancha, the fine adjoining restaurant and enjoy it in the Performance Space, offering a casual dinner and a movie type event.

The $5 suggested donation/admission at the door is used for expenses and to bring in filmmakers for other screenings.



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