Our Weekly Picks: June 31-July 6

Pub date June 29, 2010



The Hidden Fortress

There are certain experiences that, when given the chance, you should never pass up. Skydiving, for instance. Eating unusually good pizza. Seeing a Kurosawa film on the big screen. Well rejoice, reader, because at least one of those three is within your immediate grasp. UC Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive is celebrating the centennial of Akira Kurosawa’s birth with a summer-long retrospective. On June 30, it will be showing The Hidden Fortress (1958), which directly inspired the (good) Star Wars trilogy and by proxy, pretty much every lighthearted action/fantasy caper you’ve ever seen. Also keep an eye out for The Seven Samurai (1954) on July 17, Yojimbo (1961) on July 24, and Ran (1985) on Aug. 21. (Zach Ritter)

7 p.m., $5.50–$9.50

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft, Berk

(510) 642-5249




God’s Lunatics

One of the main problems with today’s secularist revival is that it has no sense of the grotesque. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are bright dudes, but they can be just as dour and unyielding as their fundamentalist targets. They tend to lose sight of the notion that fanatics are more susceptible to mockery than they are to sober polemics. Enter award-winning author Michael Largo, whose new book God’s Lunatics takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of faith’s more ridiculous manifestations. The work presents a Victorian freak show of cult leaders, mystics, and crusaders from throughout history, chronicling the chaos and pitch-black comedy that inevitably results when humans exchange rational thought for passionate, earnest insanity. (Ritter)

7 p.m., free

Modern Times Bookstore

888 Valencia, SF

(415) 282-9246




Young Frankenstein

If you’ve seen Mel Brooks’ classic spoof Young Frankenstein (1974), you know that migrating humps, rolls in ze hay, and correcting people’s mispronunciation of his name are all in a day’s work for the young Dr. Frankenstein. But apart from his monster’s debut, which features a classy take on “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” he’s not necessarily one for musical numbers. Until 2007, that is, when the stage musical adaptation of the film premiered in Seattle, then migrated to Broadway, following in the footsteps of Brooks’ successful musical reworking of The Producers (1968) with collaborator Thomas Meehan. Now SF gets a taste of the wackiness, perhaps followed by the inevitable (if unfortunate) readaptation into film. (Sam Stander)

Through July 25

Tues.–Sat., 8 p.m. (also Wed. and Sat., 2 p.m.);

Sun, 2 p.m., $30–$99

Golden Gate Theatre

One Taylor, SF

(415) 551-2000






Many of the images in Bill Armstrong’s “Renaissance” series possess the eeriness of a certain strain of uncanny portrait photography, but these photos don’t incorporate living models. They’re defocused captures of Renaissance-era drawings that Armstrong has painted over with bright swathes of color. The out-of-focus effect combines with his choice of colors to lend the photos a haunting depth, so much so that it’s sometimes easy to forget the inanimate qualities of the subjects. Despite their vivaciousness, the sometimes bizarre hues prevent the images from seeming entirely organic. By photographing works of printed art, Armstrong plays with the idea of the photographic subject, resulting in these deceptively simple and fascinating shots. (Stander)

Through Aug. 28

Opening 5:30–7:30 p.m., free

Dolby Chadwick Gallery

210 Post, SF

(415) 956-3560





San Francisco Frozen Film Festival

The San Francisco Frozen Film festival’s mission statement insists “we seek to unfreeze the arts frozen beneath the weighty realities of prejudice, poverty, ignorance, and isolation.” I’m just hoping that means the name does not, in fact, reference Mark Twain’s played-out ol’ chestnut about summer temperatures in San Francisco. Whatever. This intriguing, up-and-coming fest plunges into its fourth incarnation with Dive, a doc about Dumpster diving, and continues with a variety of shorts programs (doc, experimental, animated, comedic — there’s even a “crime and western” category!), plus features like Do It Again (Kinks), about a fan’s rabid quest to get his favorite band to reunite, and 16 mm New Jersey surf film A Pleasant Surprise. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Sat/3, $10

Roxie, 3117 16th St, SF




Left of Oz

No matter how many times The Wizard of Oz is revamped, remade, or spoofed, the results are always different from what came before. This summer season, Left of Oz comes to Ashby Stage, and if you couldn’t guess by the title, the tagline — “Dorothy Comes Out!” — gives away the game. Dorothy swaps the yellow brick road for a bus to San Francisco, where she hopes to find herself and some Sapphic loving. Left borrows clichés associated with San Francisco (tie-dye, marijuana, yoga) and merges them with the fantasy elements of Victor Fleming’s 1939 movie, flipping the whole sparkly thing on its head. There may have been previous queer readings of Oz, but Left has to be among the most playful. (Ryan Lattanzio)

Through July 18

Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun, 7 p.m., $25–$50

Ashby Stage

1901 Ashby, Berk.

(510) 841-6500




Carte Blanche

It may be impossible to predict the music game, but so far DJ Mehdi is 1 for zero. Sure, these days it’s not uncommon for a hip-hop single to blatantly cop a beat from Daft Punk, but French DJ Mehdi Favéris-Essadi has been mixing the hip-hop and dance since the days when finding Daft Punk on your rap CD was like finding a cockroach in your cereal. Now the Ed Banger cohort has hooked up with U.K. house DJ Riton to form the duo Carte Blanche, and the pair are banging out hard Chicago house like it’s next in line to take over the world. With Mehdi’s track record, I wouldn’t necessarily count it out. With White Girl Lust, Alona, and Shane King. (Peter Galvin)

9 p.m., $15


444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880




“Mission Muralismo Celebrates the Graff Convention”

If there’s one thing the de Young Museum is prospering at recently, it’s the way it has been bringing SF communities not usually done right by the fine art world into its fold, and respectfully. From establishing its Native American Programs Board to this week’s continuation of the Mission Muralismo street art event series, more of the neighborhood is finding reasons to get its bags searched to enter that crazy bronze building. At the Graff Convention, the city’s top burners and sprayers will share their knowledge in lecture form, and Audiobraille will supply funky Latin jazz beats. Just don’t bring your new aerosol — that shit will get taken for sure. (Caitlin Donohue)

5–8:45 p.m., free

de Young Museum

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., SF

(415) 750-3600





Fillmore Jazz Festival

San Francisco has no shortage of street fairs. But unlike those held in the duller byways of suburbia, each gathering has its own neighborhood flavor: the Haight hosts a hippie happening, Union Street conveys a yuppie flair, and the Fillmore pays homage to the music that made it famous back in the day: jazz. Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington rocked the local clubs then, and while the area has changed dramatically over the years, there’s a bit of a flashback feel during this annual fest. Along with the usual street food and craft vendors, there’ll be stages of talent, including Bobbie Webb and the Smooth Blues Band, Kim Nalley, Marcus Shelby Orchestra, the Coltrane Church, and much more. (Eddy)

Through Sun/4

10 a.m.–6 p.m., free

Fillmore between Jackson and Eddy, SF





“Pooches on Parade”

For its second year in a row, Half Moon Bay hosts “Pooches On Parade,” where you can show off your dog-walking skills — oh, and your dog, of course — if Fido or Fifi is up to par, that is. If you don’t have a dog, the event coordinators are willing to spare their imaginary dogs, Cuff and Link. Even a stuffed animal will suffice. Afterward, if all the doggone mayhem awakens your carnivorous appetite, there’s a “Bark BQ” where you and your pooch can dine while enjoying a live band. Unless you’re a staunch cat person, so many dogs in one place is probably reason enough to make the trip down coastside. (Lattanzio)

Noon, free ($10 for same-day parade registration)

Main Street

Half Moon Bay




“Tango in the Square”

As we’ve all been repeatedly reminded, “it takes two to tango.” But before pairing off, it might be useful to learn a few basics by yourself. You can start by promenading (yes, that’s a step) over to Union Square for “Tango in the Square.” The event is part of Union Square’s 2010 Jewels in the Square series, which offers free lessons in milonga, tango, and vals (tango waltz). With hot new moves, you’ll be ready to hit the square’s open dance floor. Choose among a variety of partners (professional and amateur), watch performances by experienced tango dancers, or simply enjoy the live music by the Argentine tango band Tangonero. (Gaydos)

2 p.m., free

Union Square

Powell and Geary, SF




Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration

If patriotic displays of gunpowder are what you seek on America’s 234th birthday, Bay Area skies will not let you down. Particularly brave San Francisco residents and their pushy out-of-town guests can head to Pier 39 for a full day of Uncle Sam-endorsed fun, with live music (including “the soft rock explosion of Mustache Harbor” — God bless irony, and God bless the U.S.A.), street performers, and fireworks galore. Pray for an unfoggy night, kids. Alternative: live in the Mission? Get thee to your roof to spot all the homespun, charmingly dangerous fireworks that inevitably appear every July 4. You’ll be up all night listening to them anyway. (Eddy)

3–9:30 p.m., free

Pier 39, SF



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