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Events listings: Oct 8-14

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WEDNESDAY 8

Mylene Fernández-Pintado City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus, SF; www.citylights.com. 7pm, free. The Cuban novelist reads from A Corner of the World.

“Making History by Making Maps” Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics, 518 Valencia, SF; www.shapingsf.org. 7:30-9:30pm, free. Panel discussion as part of Shaping San Francisco’s public talks series, with author Dick Walker (The Atlas of California: Mapping the Challenge of a New Era). Join the related free “Bikes to Books” tour by meeting at Jack London Street (at South Park, SF), Sat/11, 1pm, and cycle through streets named for notable SF authors and artists; fittingly, the end point is North Beach’s City Lights Bookstore.

THURSDAY 9

ArtLaunch: SF Open Studios Exhibition Opening Reception SOMArts Cultural Center, Main Gallery, 934 Brannan, SF; www.somarts.org. Opening reception tonight, 7:30pm. Free. Exhibit runs through Nov 9. Get a peek at 450 artworks contributed by artists participating in the SF Open Studios event (more info on SF Open Studios at https://artspan.org).

Satire Fest 2014 Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter, SF; http://satirefest.com. 9am-5pm, $20. (Check website for additional events, including live drawing and a “Boatload of Cartoonists” cruise.) Through Sun/11. Celebrate satire with animators, web-comics creators, and political cartoonists, with hands-on events, performances, exhibits, and more. Participants include Keith Knight, Will Durst, and longtime Bay Guardian contributor Tom Tomorrow.

Union Street Wine Walk Union between Gough and Steiner, SF; www.sresproductions.com. 4-8pm, free (sampling tickets, $25). Restaurants and merchants offer wine tasting and small bites at this fifth annual neighborhood event.

FRIDAY 10

Litquake Various venues, SF; www.litquake.org. San Francisco’s annual literary festival turns 15 this year, with a week full of live readings, performances, panels, and multimedia events, including tributes to Octavio Paz and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It kicks off today with “Viva Fifteen: Litquake’s Quinceañera 15th Anniversary Bash” (7pm, $15, Z Space, 450 Florida, SF).

SATURDAY 11

Death Salon Fleet Room, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.deathsalon.org. Day session 10am; night session 6-9pm, $30-45. “The culture of mortality and mourning” is examined from all angles at this event, with participants like author Loren Rhoads (speaking about the history of SF’s cemeteries); hospice-care worker Betsy Trapasso; attorney Jordan Posamentier (speaking about death with dignity laws); musician Jill Tracy (performing songs composed inside of Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum); comedian Beza Merid (speaking about the pop culture of cancer); a discussion of “ghostly sexual encounters” with Dr. Paul Koudounaris, and many others.

Indigenous Peoples Day Powwow and Indian Market Berkeley Civic Center Park, Allston at Martin Luther King Jr, Berk; www.idpowwow.org. 10am-6pm, free. Intertribal dancing, dance contests, Native American foods and crafts, singing and drumming, and more highlight this 22nd annual event.

Leap’s 31st Annual Sandcastle Contest Ocean Beach (adjacent to the Great Highway between Balboa and Fulton), SF; www.leaparts.org. 10:30am-4:30pm (sandcastle building finishes at 2:30pm), free. They call ’em sandcastles, but this annual competition yields so much more. Past years have seen giant frogs, sea monsters, sharks, and pyramids (complete with camel) appear on the beach.

“Pride: Parade, Prom, Community” PhotoCentral Gallery, Hayward Area Park and Recreation District, 1099 E St, Hayward; www.photocentral.org. Opening reception today, 2:30-5:30pm. Free. Exhibit runs through Dec 6. Photographers and Guardian contributors Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover present a new exhibit of images capturing the SF Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade (1984-1990) and the Hayward Gay Prom 2014.

World Veg Festival SF County Fair Building, 1199 Ninth Ave, SF; www.worldvegfestival.com. 10:30am-6:30pm, $3-10 donation (free for kids under 12). Through Sun/12. The SF Vegetarian Society’s annual event features cooking demos, exhibitors, speakers, entertainment, a “Children’s Corner,” and more.

Yerba Buena Night Yerba Buena Lane, Jessie Square and Annie Alley, Yerba Buena Lane, SF; www.ybnight.org. 6-10pm, free. Free outdoor festival of music, dance, art, and performance, with five stages of entertainment, giant video projections, and interactive installations.

SUNDAY 12

Blessing of the Animals First Unitarian Church of SF, 1187 Franklin, SF; www.uusf.org. 2-3pm, free. Bring your furry, feathered, scaly, or otherwise creature-tastic companions (or just a photo of them) to this symbolic ritual, held in the tradition of SF patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi.

MONDAY 13

World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off IDES Grounds, 735 Main St, Half Moon Bay; weighoff.miramarevents.com. 7-11am, free. Who will reign supreme at this 41st annual battle of the bulge, dubbed the “Superbowl of Weigh-Offs”? Last year’s champ tipped the scales at 1,985 pounds — that’s a lotta pie! *

 

Stage Listings: Oct 8-14, 2014

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Stage listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com.

THEATER

OPENING

The Dumbwaiter Unscripted Theatre Company, 533 Sutter, SF; http://therabbitholesf.com. $25. Opens Fri/10, 8pm. Runs Sat/11, Mon/13, and Oct 16-18, 8pm; Sun/12, 2pm. Through Oct 18. Rabbit Hole Theater Company performs Harold Pinter’s sinister farce.

Not a Genuine Black Man and The Waiting Period Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $30-100. Opens Thu/9, 8pm. Not a Genuine Black Man runs Thu-Fri, 8pm; The Waiting Period runs Sat, 5pm. Through Nov 22. Brian Copeland performs two of his autobiographical solo pieces in repertory.

Pastorella Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Opens Thu/9, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 25. No Nude Men Productions presents Stuart Bousel’s “play about un-famous actors,” a comedy set backstage at a small theater production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.

Shocktoberfest 15: The Bloody Débutante Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $30-35. Opens Thu/9, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat and Oct 28-29, 8pm. Through Nov 22. Thrillpeddlers promise “an evening of horror, carnage, and song” as part of the company’s annual Grand Guignol extravaganza of short plays.

Wrestling Jerusalem Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission, SF; www.theintersection.org. $25-30. Previews Wed/8-Thu/9, 7:30pm. Opens Fri/10, 7:30pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 26. Aaron Davidman returns to Intersection with his hit solo performance, an exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

BAY AREA

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; www.theatreworks.org. $19-74. Previews Wed/8-Fri/10, 8pm. Opens Sat/11, 8pm. Runs Tue-Wed, 7:30pm (also Oct 29, 2pm); Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Nov 2. TheatreWorks performs Stephen Sondheim’s grisly, Tony-winning musical.

The Woman in Black Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway, Redwood City; http://dragonproductions.net. $10-30. Previews Thu/9, 8pm. Opens Fri/10, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 2. Dragon Theatre performs Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s horror novella.

ONGOING

Absolutely Fabulous Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.eventbrite.com/e/absolutely-fabulous-abfab-tickets-12641718721. $15-35. Thu, 8pm; Fri, 11pm. Through Dec 12. The hit British sitcom takes the stage thanks to the Royal British Comedy Theatre — despite its name, an SF company with a cast that includes Terrence McLaughlin, ZsaZsa Lufthansa, Annie Larson, Dene Larson, and Raya Light.

Adventures of a Black Girl: Traveling While Black Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; www.brava.org. $15. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 26. Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe performs her funny, poignant exploration of the impact of African migration.

The Barbary Coast Revue Sub/Mission Gallery, 2183 Mission, SF; www.barbarycoastrevue.com. $20. Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 29. Join Mark Twain on an interactive musical tour of Gold Rush-era San Francisco.

Cock New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed/8-Sat/11, 8pm; Sun/12, 2pm. English playwright Mike Bartlett’s 2010 Olivier Award-winning drama is a sly form of theatrical bait-and-switch, a play less about gay relationships, sex, or cocks per se (though it does unfold inside a cock-fighting pit) than about the web of power and need in which we can find ourselves ultimately defined — and thus owned — by others. The central character is John (a gradually sympathetic if energetically high-pitched Stephen McFarland), the only character whose name we actually learn, though that (and the generic name itself) amounts to ironic underscoring of his lack of personhood. He’s just left his longtime live-in boyfriend (Todd Pivetti) and begun a romance, for the first time in his life, with a woman (Radhika Raq). But the relative freedom and respect, as well as sexual adventure, he finds in this new relationship competes with the pull of his old ties and he soon waffles in a muddled identity crisis he finds it difficult to articulate — so others do it for him, in a battle of wills that includes John’s boyfriend’s recently widowed father (a sure and subtle Matt Weimer), full of paternal fight and truly crushed by the threatened demise of a relationship he’s long since accepted and now counts on. Director Stephen Rupsch’s production for New Conservatory Theatre Center suffers from uneven performances and takes some time getting started, but the play’s straightforward ideas crystallize nice and chillingly by the end. (Avila)

Die! Mommie, Die! New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Previews Fri/10, 8pm. Opens Sat/11, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 2. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Charles Busch’s campy comedy.

Do I Hear a Waltz? Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndstmoon.org. $25-75. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm (also Sat/11, 1pm). Through Oct 19. 42nd Street Moon opens its 22nd season with this 1960s-set tell of a lonely American tourist (Tony nominee Emily Skinner) vacationing in Venice.

Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $32-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow’s musical comedy revue all about food.

Ideation San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. $20-120. Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 8. SF Playhouse performs the world premiere of Aaron Loeb’s darkly comic suspense thriller.

The Late Wedding Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.crowdedfire.org. $15-35. Wed/8-Sat/11, 8pm. Crowded Fire Theater performs a world premiere commission by Christopher Chen, a “journey of the soul” inspired by the work of Italian fabulist novelist Italo Calvino.

Noises Off! Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. $38. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 25. Shelton Theater performs Michael Frayn’s outrageous backstage comedy.

Old Hats ACT’s Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-120. Wed/8-Sat/11, 8pm (also Sat/11, 2pm); Sun/12, 2pm. This is a show I could watch every night: death- and age-defying master clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner in an evening of updated and re-envisioned vaudeville-style shtick, supported by the bright and irresistible charm of singer-songwriter Shaina Taub and her versatile band (Jacob Colin Cohen, Mike Brun, Mike Dobson, and Justin J. Smith). Steppenwolf Theatre’s Tina Landau directs this buoyant Signature Theatre production, which returns Irwin and Shiner to the Geary after ACT’s 2001 production of Fool Moon. It’s can’t be easy to instill so traditional a formula with this many surprises and genuine laughs, but Irwin, Shiner, and company sure make it look that way. (Avila)

Pippin Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor, SF; www.shnsf.com. $45-210. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 19. This new production of Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schartz’s 1972 musical won the 2013 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.

Ransom, Texas Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, SF; www.tidestheatre.org. $10-30. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 18. Virago Theatre Company performs William Bivins’ Texas-set tale of escalating tension between a father and son.

Semi-Famous: Hollywood Hell Tales from the Middle New venue: Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $20-100. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Oct 19. Don Reed’s latest solo show shares tales from his career in entertainment.

Slaughterhouse Five Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $20-50. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 3pm). Extended through Oct 26. Eric Simonson’s adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 classic, performed by Custom Made Theatre Co., could prove a bit of a nonlinear whirlwind for any theatergoers who haven’t read the book. Like Billy Pilgrim (in “a constant state of stage fright … because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next”), the audience plummets to the futuristic planet of Tralfamadore, flashes back to the gruesome Dresden bombings, even further back to Billy as a fragile and temperamental little boy, and then forward to Billy in a mental hospital. Each of the show’s 11 actors takes on a variety of roles, and scenes last just a few minutes, with abrupt transitions marked by a loud, futuristic thrumming signal that demands attention even during breaks in the action. Minimalist set design and mimed “props” urge audience members to fill in the gaps and use their imaginations, with further enhancements offered by three large panels displaying animated versions of Vonnegut’s line drawings. Among the actors, the supporting cast is particularly effective, including the multifaceted Sal Mattos (as a ferocious German soldier, an American prisoner of war, and a mental patient), and Stephanie Ann Foster, as both Pilgrim’s emotionally eager wife and a compassionate, fatherly prisoner. Sam Tillis also has a nice (if sociopathic) turn as a vengeful war prisoner who promises to murder everyone who has crossed him. (Haley Brucato)

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma, SF; www.sfneofuturists.com. $11-16. Fri-Sat, 9pm. Ongoing. The Neo-Futurists perform Greg Allen’s spontaneous, ever-changing show that crams 30 plays into 60 minutes.

Yeast Nation (the triumph of life) Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, SF; www.rayoflighttheatre.com. $25-36. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Oct 25 and Nov 1, 2pm). Through Nov 1. Ray of Light Theatre performs the West Coast premiere of the new rock musical by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann (Urinetown).

BAY AREA

An Audience with Meow Meow Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-89. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat and Oct 16, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through Oct 19. This self-styled “musical play” by a winking “post-post-modern” diva (the vocally and comically talented Australian chanteuse Meow Meow) is in fact much thinner than either category suggests — more like a tired music hall variety act. Written by Meow Meow and adapted and directed by Kneehigh’s Emma Rice, the routines are premised on the imperiousness and insecurities of a soi-disant megastar whose band and stage crew gradually abandon her, leaving her alone with her adoring audience. While there are one or two musical moments worth perking up a little for — in particular a vocally potent version of “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” and a mood-shifting rendition of Hans Eisler and Bertolt Brecht’s “The German Miserere” that feels incongruous here, like part of another and better show — the going is otherwise tough, the narrative forced and clunky in the extreme. Rice’s staging not only lacks inspiration but comes with a dismal abundance of low-hanging call-out-the-audience participation laughs. Barry Humphries’ Dame Edna (presumably an inspiration here) could get away with this get-the-guests approach, being a weightier and far wittier character. But here it comes across as a desperate attempt to sell a poorly written sketch supporting some unevenly appealing musical numbers. (Avila)

Fire Work Live Oak Theatre, Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.theatrefirst.com. $10-30. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Oct 19. TheatreFirst presents the world premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s romantic comedy.

Lovebirds Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-100. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Oct 18. Marga Gomez brings her solo show to Berkeley after runs in SF and NYC.

The Whale Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $35-58. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm; Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Oct 26. Marin Theatre Company performs Samuel D. Hunter’s drama about a 600-pound man who reconnects with his troubled teenage daughter.

Year of the Rooster La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; http://impacttheatre.com. $10-25. Thu/9-Sat/11, 8pm; Sun/12, 7pm. Impact Theatre performs Eric Dufault’s comedy, told from the point of view of a rooster that enters cockfights.

PERFORMANCE/DANCE

BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason, SF; www.improv.org. $20. This week: “Improvised Twilight Zone,” Fri, 8pm, through Oct 24; “Zombie Horror Serial,” Sat, 8pm, through Oct 25.

“Blush Comedy” Blush! Wine Bar, 476 Castro, SF; (415) 558-0893. Wed/8, 8pm. Free. With Stefani Silverman, Ben Feldman, Jessica Sele, Drew Harmon, Steve Lee, and Emily Epstein White.

Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña’s Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sat/11, 16, 26, 6:30pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.

Doc’s Lab 124 Columbus, SF; www.docslabsf.com. This week: “Learn From Me: Comedy Showcase,” Thu/9, 8pm, $8-10; comedy with headliner Laurie Kilmartin, Sat/11, 9pm, $15-90; “Doc’s Comedy Open Mic,” Tue/14, 7pm, free.

“Dream Queens Revue” Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, 133 Turk, SF; www.dreamqueensrevue.com. Wed/8, 9:30pm. Free. Drag with Collette LeGrande, Ruby Slippers, Sophilya Leggz, Bobby Ashton, and more.

Feinstein’s at the Nikko 222 Mason, SF; www.feinsteinssf.com. This week: “Broadway Bingo,” Wed/8, 7pm, $15; Joey Arias, Fri/10, 8pm, $25-40; Marlena Shaw in “California Soul,” Sat/12-Sun/11, 7pm, $35-50.

“Hell in the Armory” Armory, 1800 Mission, SF; www.hellinthearmory.com. Tue-Sat, 7pm-midnight. Through Nov 1. $45. Kink.com celebrates Halloween with this decidedly adult, immersive, BDSM-themed haunted-house tour.

“Hubba Hubba Revue’s Pirates!” DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, SF; www.dnalounge.com. Fri/10, 9:30pm. $15-30. Burlesque and variety show with a pirate theme.

“Jump Ship Mid Way” CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Fri-Sat and Oct 16, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Oct 19. $20. Kegan Marling’s new performance (with Mica Sigourney) explores image struggles in the gay community.

“Lakansyel: Fifth Annual Haitian Dance, Music, and Arts Festival” Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/10-Sat/11, 8pm. $25. Visiting and local artists perform in this celebration of Haitian culture.

Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sun/12, 7:30pm. $18-20. Improvised theater works created from personal stories shared by audience members.

“Magic at the Rex” Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter, SF; www.magicattherex.com. Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $25. Magic and mystery with Adam Sachs and mentalist Sebastian Boswell III.

“Out of Line Improv” Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; outoflineimprov.brownpapertickets.com. Sat, 10:30pm. Ongoing. $12. A new, completely improvised show every week.

Portals Tavern Open Mic Comedy Portals Tavern, 179 West Portal, SF; (415) 731-1208. Mon, 9pm. Ongoing. Free. Locals perform at this comedy night hosted by Justin Alan.

“Red Hots Burlesque: Burlesque in Your Neck of the Woods” Neck of the Woods, 406 Clement, SF; redhotsburlesque.com. Thu, 8-10pm. $10-20. Ongoing. Dottie Lux and company bring burlesque to the Richmond District for this weekly show.

San Francisco Comedy College Purple Onion at Kells, 530 Jackson, SF; www.purpleonionatkells.com. Ongoing. $5-15. “Weekly New Talent Shows,” Wed-Thu, 7pm. “Purple Onion All-Stars,” Wed-Thu, 8:15pm. “The Later Show,” Wed-Thu, 10pm. “The Cellar Dwellers” Fri-Sat, 7:30pm.

“Terminator Too: Judgment Play” and “Point Break LIVE!” DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, SF; www.dnalounge.com. Nov 7 and Dec 5, Terminator at 7:30pm; Break at 11pm. $20-50. The raucous, interactive staged recreations of two of 1991’s greatest action films return to the DNA Lounge.

“Walk the Plank Comedy Competition” Neck of the Woods, 406 Clement, SF; www.neckofthewoodssf.com. Sun, 7pm. Through Oct 26. Free. With host Danny Dechi.

BAY AREA

Bay Area Flamenco Festival La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berk; http://bayareaflamencofestival.org. Thu/9, 8pm. Additional events held Fri/10-Sat/11, 8pm, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, SF, and in Santa Cruz (check website for details). $30-50. Top flamenco performers from Seville, Spain take the stage; the fest also includes workshops and master classes.

“MarshJam Improv Comedy Show” Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. Fri, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Improv comedy with local legends and drop-in guests.

“Paul C.’s Homeroom Journal” Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, 2704 Alcatraz, Berk; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sat/11-Sun/12, 8pm. $15-30. Dance Up Close/East Bay presents this dance theater collage choreographed and performed by Stranger Lover Dreamer. *

Psychic Dream Astrology: Oct 8-14, 2014

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Mercury is still retrograde and there’s a lunar eclipse on the 8th. Expect high intensity! It’s time to change or be changed, folks.

ARIES

March 21-April 19

Don’t overcompensate for your intense feelings by acting defensively, Aries. If you feel wicked emotional that’s because of the serious Lunar eclipse in your sign; be brave enough to confront your emotions, not other people, or to explain away what you feel. Clarity will come through your heart, not your head this week.

TAURUS

April 20-May 20

You’ve got to take a leap, Taurus. There is no path that is safe from risk, and no matter what you do, you will incur consequences. Instead of obsessing on details, ask yourself what the most wonderful gamble would be for you to take- and then take it! You’re on the verge of something great this week.

GEMINI

May 21-June 21

You’re overwhelmed and you need to call your limits, Gemini. You may feel like you’re running out of time and you have to do it all right now, but the truth is if you screw things up because you’re half cocked, then you’ll really have wasted your time. Prioritize and take things step by step this week.

CANCER

June 22-July 22

If you look outside of yourself for answers you will continue to have this awful anxiety, Moonchild. The lunar eclipse on the 8th may feel like it’s breaking your brain, but it’s really trying to set you free. Be true to yourself above your fears and honor your heart above your head. Be brave and heartfelt this week.

LEO

July 23-Aug. 22

With the lunar eclipse on the 8th you will have some very real relationship issues to contend with, Leo. Flush out your intentions before you confront people to make the best of this momentous energy. Be honest about what’s driving you because you’re in a great place to transform dynamics that aren’t working.

VIRGO

Aug. 23-Sept. 22

Do not force your will on others or get so attached to your vision of how you think things should be that you cannot see the beauty in what is. Your ego runs the risk of getting in your way, Virgo, so be on the lookout. Being too rational and reasonable can be a fancy way of not accepting where you’re at, pal.

LIBRA

Sept. 23-Oct. 22

If you’re not scared you’re not paying attention. This week your greatest desires are demanding to be felt, and the drive to have what you really-super want is as terrifying as it is exciting. Take a steady approach to what you feel destabilized about and tackle your fears en route to your dreams.

SCORPIO

Oct. 23-Nov. 21

You aren’t meant to take on other people’s energies, even though you are so very good at it. There’s helluv crazy vibes out there, and if you’re not careful you’ll feel like you’re drowning in them. If you feel off, make sure it’s for a good reason. You may need to take a time-out from people to get grounded this week.

SAGITTARIUS

Nov. 22-Dec. 21

Embrace your vulnerabilities, Sag. There are so many high emotions racing around you (some your own, some belonging to others) that it would be easy to become reactive and make a big deal of minor malfunctions. Let things play out and don’t act on every feeling you have this week.

CAPRICORN

Dec. 22-Jan. 19

You just have to choose to be happy, Cappy; that’s it. It doesn’t matter if you have to break up with your date, cash in your 401K, or eat your cat’s organic Meow Mix, it’s your time to finally stop indulging in dancing with the Devil you know. Let go of what’s not working for you, even if it’s terrifying.

AQUARIUS

Jan. 20-Feb. 18

It’s not important whose fault it is, Aquarius. Seriously. All you need to worry about is what you’re going to do with the status quo. Things have changed and it’s on you to adjust to them; don’t blame others for being where they’re at. Go with the flow instead of lamenting how it used to be, or how you think it should be now.

PISCES

Feb. 19-March 20

Make no mistake, Pisces, everything that’s going on for you is a beckoning from the Universe to step up and be the person you want to be. You’re not being challenged, you’re being given opportunities. Know that your accomplishments are not luck- they’re a validation of your awesomeness. Take it all in.

Want more in-depth, intuitive or astrological advice from Jessica? Schedule a one-on-one reading that can be done in person or by phone. Visit www.lovelanyadoo.com

 

Rep Clock: Oct 8-14, 2014

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Schedules are for Wed/8-Tue/14 except where noted. Director and year are given when available. Double features marked with a •. All times pm unless otherwise specified.

“ARAB FILM FESTIVAL” Various venues in SF, Oakl, Berk, and Palo Alto; www.arabfilmfestival.org. Most shows $12. Now in its 18th year, the AFF showcases contemporary, independent Arab films and filmmakers. Oct 10-23.

ARTISTS’ TELEVISION ACCESS 992 Valencia, SF; www.atasite.org. $8. “Gaze: 30,” a survey of 30 years of independent film and video by women, Thu, 8. “Other Cinema:” Expanded cinema with John Davis and Sweet Tooth, Sat, 8:30.

BALBOA 3630 Balboa, SF; cinemasf.com/balboa. $7.50-10. “Thursday Night Rock Docs:” As the Palaces Burn (Argott, 2014), Thu, 7:30.

BERKELEY FELLOWSHIP OF UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS 1924 Cedar, Berk; www.bfuu.org. After Innocence (Sanders, 2005), Thu, 7.

CASTRO 429 Castro, SF; (415) 621-6120, www.castrotheatre.com. $8.50-11. •Lucy (Besson, 2014), Wed, 7:30, and Samsara (Fricke and Magidson, 2011), Wed, 9:15. “How We Got to Now with Steven Johnson,” Thu, 7:30. Free event; tickets available at kqedstevenjohnson.eventbrite.com. Arab Film Festival: May in the Summer (Dabis, 2013), Fri, 7:30. Tickets and full information at www.arabfilmfestival.org. Spartacus (Kubrick, 1960), Sat, 1. Sunrise (Murnau, 1927), Sat, 8. With live Wurlitzer accompaniment by Warren Lubich. Key Largo (Huston, 1948), Sun, 2:45, 7. Harper (Smight, 1966), Sun, 4:45, 8:55. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), Mon-Tue, 5:15, 8 (also Mon, 2:30). 4K restoration.

EMBARCADERO CENTER CINEMA One Embarcadero Center, SF; www.sffs.org. $10-12. Difret (Mehari, 2014), Thu, 7. With filmmaking team and SF Film Society artists-in-residence Zeresenay Berhane Mehari and Dr. Mehet Mandefro in person.

MECHANICS’ INSTITUTE 57 Post, SF; milibrary.org/events. $10. “CinemaLit Film Series: Alternative Realities:” Fellini Satyricon (Fellini, 1969), Fri, 6.

NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER 25 Van Ness, SF; www.artsedmatters.org. Free. Arts is the Root (Arts Ed Matters, 2014), Sat, 1. Short-film release party.

NEW PARKWAY 474 24th St, Oakl; www.thenewparkway.com. $10. “Doc Night:” Tongues of Heaven (Chang, 2013), Tue, 7.

NEW PEOPLE CINEMA 1746 Post, SF; www.berlinbeyond.com. $12 (full day pass, $50). “Berlin and Beyond Autumn Showcase:” Megacities (Glawogger, 1998), Sat, 11am; Enemies/Friends: German Prisoners of War in Japan (Krause, 2013), Sat, 2; Dreamland (Volpe, 2013), Sat, 4; Diplomacy (Schlöndorff, 2014), Sat, 7; Banklady (Alvart, 2013), Sat, 9:15.

PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE 2575 Bancroft, Berk; (510) 642-5249, bampfa.berkeley.edu. $5.50-9.50. “Alternative Visions:” “Now and Then: Bay Area Student Film Festival 2014,” Wed, 7. “Activate Yourself: The Free Speech Movement at 50:” Sons and Daughters (Stoll, 1967), Thu, 7; Operation Abolition (Lewis, 1960) and “The Riotmakers” (Methvin, 1971), Tue, 7. “Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien:” The Sandwich Man (Hou, Tseng, and Wan, 1983), Fri, 7; Cute Girl (1980), Fri, 9. “Endless Summer Cinema:” This Is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984), Fri, 8. “Discovering Georgian Cinema:” Three Lives: Parts 1 & 2 (Perestiani, 1924), Sat, 5:30; The Case of Tariel Mklavadze (Perestiani, 1925), Sun, 4. “Eyes Wide: The Films of Stanley Kubrick:” A Clockwork Orange (1971), Sat, 8:30.

ROXIE 3117 and 3125 16th St, SF; (415) 863-1087, www.roxie.com. $6.50-11. Abuse of Weakness (Breillat, 2014), Wed-Thu, 7, 9:15. “Bay Area Docs:” Tongues of Heaven (Chang, 2013), Wed, 7. “Frameline Encore:” The Circle (Haupt, 2014), Thu, 7. Björk: Biophilia (Fenton and Strickland, 2014), Fri-Sun, 7, 9:15 (also Sat-Sun, 2:30, 4:45). Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (Wirkola, 2014), Fri-Sat, 11:30. #Stuck (Acher, 2014), Oct 10-16, 7, 9 (also Sat-Sun, 3, 5). Arab Film Festival, Mon-Tue. Tickets and full information at www.arabfilmfestival.org.

SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; (415) 454-1222, www.cafilm.org. $6.50-$10.75. Mill Valley Film Festival, Wed-Sun. For tickets ($8-14) and complete schedule, visit www.mvff.com.

TEMESCAL ART CENTER 511 48th St, Oakl; www.shapeshifterscinema.com. Free. “Shapeshifters Cinema: Cyrus Tabar,” Sun, 8.

YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS 701 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. $8-10. “Lest We Forget: Remembering Radical San Francisco:” Chan is Missing (Wang, 1982), Thu, 7:30; Alcatraz is Not an Island (Fortier, 2001), Sun, 2; “Newsreel Collective Shorts,” Sun, 4. *

 

Go for Goth

0

cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM On paper, it seems like an odd match: director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett of indie horror hit You’re Next (2011), and British actor Dan Stevens, Downton Abbey‘s erstwhile heir. On screen, however, the trio’s The Guest is the boogeyman movie of the year, weaving a synth-scored tale of a small-town family startled by the sudden appearance of a soldier (Stevens) who claims to have known the son and brother they lost in Afghanistan. David is polite, handsome, and eager to assist in any way — whether it’s carrying kegs into a party with just-out-of-high-school Anna (Maika Monroe), or breaking faces on behalf of bullied teen Luke (Brendan Meyer).

You know what happens when something’s too good to be true, and the filmmakers know you know, enabling them to have a great time teasing out this trick-or-treat of a thriller, which is set during the cell phone era but references films like 1987’s The Stepfather and John Carpenter’s 1980s heyday (which, again, they know you know — and love, just like they do). I spoke with all three during a recent phone interview.

San Francisco Bay Guardian The Guest reminded me of another thriller that came out this year, Cold in July — both tell contemporary stories using 1980s retro style. What inspired that approach?

Simon Barrett After You’re Next, Adam and I wanted to think about what got us making movies in the first place. All three of us came of cinematic awareness during the 1980s, so a lot of the movies that inspired us were genre films of the mid-to-late ’80s. We wanted to do something that had that same fun spirit and aesthetic, but we didn’t just want to do an homage or an imitation, because that’s really easy and lazy. It was about taking that same tone those movies had, and doing something original with it. That was our goal from the very beginning, when Adam started talking about The Terminator (1984) and Halloween (1978).

Adam Wingard I read an article recently about how the most homaged filmmaker of the year is John Carpenter. There’s this weird zeitgeist of filmmakers who are inspired by Carpenter and other ’80s filmmakers. All of us making these movies are around the same age, and we all grew up on movies like Big Trouble in Little China (1986). It seems like that’s what’s in the air.

SB They Live (1988) is one we’ve referenced quite a bit — the humor in that film is so extraordinarily innovative and insane. There’s never any overt jokes, but there’s a fight scene in an alley that keeps going and going, until it becomes hysterical. That’s the humor that we were influenced by and respond to: letting something become ridiculous, and calling attention to the ridiculousness, but still taking your story and characters seriously. Carpenter just nailed that and I don’t think he gets enough credit for it.

SFBG Dan, were you a fan of horror before making The Guest?

Dan Stevens Adam and Simon are far more steeped in that specific genre than I am, but I certainly grew up on a lot of cult 1980s and 1990s American horror films. The Halloween films were huge in the UK. The action thriller genre was also massive, and something we were kind of baptized with in Britain.

AW It’s interesting how these cult 1980s genre films are, pretty much worldwide, a good connecting point. When we first talked, Dan and I had a very easy conversation, because we had those through lines. Beyond that, we both connected on understanding the sense of humor in Simon’s script, and realized we should be working together.

SFBG The soundtrack — which includes Sisters of Mercy, Front 242, and Love and Rockets — plays a huge role in The Guest. What motivated your musical choices?

AW Growing up in Alabama, I knew these pot dealers who were super gothed out. I always thought that was interesting, that even in the smallest towns there are still these weird subcultures. Through people like that I became aware of bands like Death in June and Front 242. I always thought that would be an interesting thing to bring into a movie, because I hadn’t seen somebody take a realistic approach to goth sensibilities.

I had a couple of songs in mind that I thought would be good for the movie, but I didn’t want to just make a film that had a bunch of music that I thought was cool. If it’s gonna be in there, it’s got to be story-oriented and character-motivated. I knew, also, that this wasn’t a straightforward horror film, but that I wanted it to take place during Halloween. So the approach to horror in The Guest isn’t necessarily in terms of it trying to be scary. It was more taking that goth approach to it in general, which is like having fun with the macabre and that type of energy. It’s more like fun-scary imagery than it is actually horrifying. 2

 

THE GUEST opens Fri/10 in Bay Area theaters.

By George

0

FILM/LIT It’s anyone’s guess how many films and videos George Kuchar made before his death in 2011 (Portland’s Yale Union is valiantly attempting a comprehensive retrospective, which they estimate will take seven years), but there’s material for at least a hundred more in The George Kuchar Reader (Primary Information, 336 pp., $27.50). Tracing a singular life in movies from the Bronx-bound 8mm melodramas Kuchar made with his twin brother, Mike, on through the boundlessly nutty video conflagrations emerging out of his classroom at the San Francisco Art Institute, the book collects handwritten screenplays, letters, underground comics, meteorological observations, and UFO diaries. Reader editor Andrew Lampert will be in attendance at two special screenings in the coming weeks to report on these deep-sea dives into Kuchar’s self-described cinematic cesspool.

That Kuchar’s literary artifacts should be hilarious and not a little wise is no surprise, but it’s worth pausing to note the extent to which the writing itself illuminates Kuchar’s creative methods. Take the letters of recommendations he wrote for his SFAI students — an obligatory form of writing if there ever was one, but for Kuchar an occasion for uninhibited characterization: “This winged spirit, reared in semitropical heat, can banish the chill that has descended upon your patrons; so turn up the heat and witness what only equatorial nearness can nurture”; “His unbridled lust for livid living endows the fruits of his labor with intoxicating incense. Sniff these works at your own risk as the aroma reeks of secret scents from a Garden of Eden gone mad with flower power”; “He’s a lone figure swimming upstream to a different drumbeat.” No cliché is safe. Kuchar’s persistence in slugging it out with these once familiar figures of speech surely says something about the way he approached a dramatic scene.

Implicitly skewering heroic strains of avant-garde poetics, Kuchar’s accounts of his own filmmaking almost always turn on the body. Take this metabolic account from a 1964 article for Film Culture:

“Many nights I lay awake in my sheets burning with the fever of a new movie script … Sleep only comes when extra sugar is pumped into my body due to the excessive emotional tension that grips me during these celestial periods. The sugar makes my body hot thereby opening its big pores. Then the sweat of my ordeal seeps out in a stink of creativity and new germ has been born. A germ that will grow into the virus of 8mm movies. In the morning I awaken, fresh, vibrant, but constipated with the urge to release a lump of cinematic material.”

So filmmaking is fever, open pores, sweat, stink, germs, and viruses; the film itself, a load of shit. One begins to sense that the many Joycean digressions on “exciting gastric distress” peppering these pages are less a matter of any particular tummy trouble than Kuchar’s underlying conviction that the creative muse is ineluctably bound to more basic drives.

Bodily fixations notwithstanding, Kuchar was plenty canny about film aesthetics, whether pinpointing the underlying motivations for “these gigantic, moving billboards” (“IT WAS LOVE AND OBSESSION”) or situating his own fortuitous ascendancy in the 1960s avant-garde: “You’d develop them [8mm films] cheap at the local camera store and in five or 10 years the emulsion would crack and chip in time for the 1960s, avant-garde film explosion. No need to bake your footage in an oven like so many artists were doing: your home movies had already deteriorated into art.” Not that Kuchar wasn’t grateful: An early letter to Donna Kerness evinces little enthusiasm for his work as a commercial artist but adapts a more familiar exuberance when describing his latest 8mm production about a brawling ménage-a-trois.

The final 50 pages of the Reader are dedicated to a poignant last testament stitched together from the “endless emails of unexpurgated excess” Kuchar sent Kerness in 2010-2011. Even in his teenage letters to Kerness, it’s clear that Kuchar felt unusually at ease writing to the star of his Corruption of the Damned (1965). Describing an earlier melodrama, he writes with unusual candor how “I was very inspired by Arlene and her kin. They are very mixed up and sometimes they are damaging their lives but I like them anyway probably because I’m just like them.” Fifty years later, sick with love and cancer, Kuchar treats Kerness more as a confessor than a confidante. “Anxious to reveal secrets I usually kept under wraps,” Kuchar doesn’t spare any detail in describing his yearning for a long-time “midnight caller” named Larry: “Instead of realizing that he’s just what you call a sex buddy, I turn the whole thing into a live or die, Victorian romance.”

Even in his hour of darkness, Kuchar couldn’t help but seeing his own trials as material for a grand melodrama. “Being the egotistical movie director that I am, I want the motion picture of my life to be an X rated, inspirational saga of the nerdy Bronx kid who walked the red carpets of Hollywood while flirting with the red light districts of Sin City.” In a more reflective mood he writes to Kerness, “Expressing all this in certain chosen words and constructed sentences made the mental and medical troubles take a back seat to creative engineering: an arrangement of letters and punctuations to coalesce the chaos that contaminated my cranium.”

Kuchar writes of depressive anxiety, rampant insecurity, sexual hang-ups, and plenty of confusion in the face of “getting old and dreaming young” — but not a word of boredom. “Since I’m an actor anyway, I see the personal issues I penned (or typed) as emotional motivations in an ongoing (for a time anyway) B-movie.” B-movies aren’t really a wellspring of inspiration; that was all George. A final photograph shows him standing in front of a Denny’s, eyes on the skies like always. 2

 

OFF THE SCREEN: MOVING PICTURES AND WRITTEN WORDS: CELEBRATING THE GEORGE KUCHAR READER

Oct. 15, 7pm, free

Exploratorium

Pier 15, SF

www.exploratorium.edu

A CRIMINAL ACCOUNT OF PLEASURE: THE GEORGE KUCHAR READER

Oct. 18, 7:30pm, $8-10

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

www.ybca.org

Con and on

0

arts@sfbg.com

FILM There is probably no clinical study proving that a penchant toward being devious, ruthless, or even sociopathic makes a person particularly inclined toward writing crime fiction. But it can’t hurt. Patricia Highsmith has been dead two decades now, and one suspects there are still a few breathing souls who’d enjoy dancing on her grave. A bridge-burning bisexual (at least one ex-lover committed suicide) who openly admitted preferring cats — and, oddly, snails — to people, she was prone even when sober toward rants of variably racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-whatever-else-you-got nature. The Texas-born, Manhattan-raised European émigré frequently seemed to hate her own gender and country. Famous and successful after the publication of Strangers on a Train in 1950 (and the release of Hitchcock’s film version the next year), she didn’t need to be nice. So, that worked out for her.

Abhorrent as she might have been in person, her misanthropy turned golden in print, most famously via the five — yes, just five — novels she wrote about the ingeniously amoral Tom Ripley over a nearly 40-year span. A man who gets away with everything, frequently including murder, fellow expat Ripley invents himself as whatever and whomever he pleases, burying evidence (and any inconvenient bodies) whenever he risks being found out. We root for him even as we recoil at his actions, because he’s simply taking advantage of the wealth and privilege others are too stupidly complacent to protect from people like him.

One shudders to think what Highsmith would have made of the 1999 film Anthony Minghella made of 1955’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (already adapted in 1960 by Rene Clement as Purple Noon). It’s a wonderful movie, but its compassion toward Matt Damon’s Ripley as a closeted gay man only pushed to violence by desperate insecurity is about as far from the author’s icy wit and admiration for the scoundrel as one can get.

Ripley-free The Two Faces of January is presumably much closer to her intentions. The first feature directed by Hossein Amini, who previously wrote screenplays for a rather bewildering array of movies (from Thomas Hardy and Henry James adaptations to 2011 noir abstraction Drive and 2012 fairy tale mall flick Snow White and the Huntsman), it turns her 1964 novel into an elegant wide screen thriller very much of a type that might have been shot by Hitchcock, Clement, or someone else a half-century ago. You could even mistake Alberto Iglesias’ score for Bernard Herrmann at times. (Not the times when he’s lifting motifs whole from Arvo Pärt, though.) And if you still don’t think they make them like they used to, there’s Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and Oscar Isaac doing a damn good job of acting, and looking, like glamorous movie stars of yore.

Mortensen and Dunst’s Chester and Colette MacFarland meet the Isaac’s Rydal while they’re amid some sort of European grand tour in 1962 Athens — even staying at the Grand Hotel — and he’s a bilingual New Jerseyan of Greek descent eking out a living as a tour guide for Ivy League debutantes. Jaded, adventuresome types, the MacFarlands are intrigued enough to hire this openly gawking wannabe for a tour of the marketplace, then invite him and the Yankee heiress he’s momentarily snagged (Daisy Bevan as Lauren) for dinner.

It’s a pleasant evening they’d all soon file and forget. Or would have, if fate didn’t bring Rydal back alone to the couple’s hotel to return an item Colette carelessly left on the taxi seat. He finds Chester struggling with a man — whom he identifies as some drunk he’s simply wrestling back to his own room. But this fib thinly conceals a rapidly expanding sinkhole of criminality (already including major investment fraud and accidental murder) which Rydal now finds himself an accessory to. Rydal recognizes opportunity as well as risk in his new “friends'” urgent need to evade the authorities. But even as he helps them flee the hotel and city, he worries over the much younger, loyal yet nakedly vulnerable wife being dragged down by a “swindler” spouse. And as the awkwardly twined trio travels to less populous Crete, Chester (or whatever his name really is) worries his second wife — what happened to the first, anyway? — might well be swayed by someone as youthful, handsome, and blameless as Rydal.

At the one-hour point, The Two Faces of January looks, particularly in comparison to Mingella’s rather epic film (interestingly, that late director’s son Max is a producer here), like it might be something delicate yet rather simple — a portrait of a doomed marriage, its faults exposed by the third party the couple must take on amid crisis. But after this leisurely yet never boring buildup, Highsmith and Amini deliver so many harrowing complications you might end up shocked that this ultimately quite expansive seeming tale occupies just 96 trim minutes.

Mortensen, whose looks only grow more eerily, faultlessly chiseled with age, is so excellent-as-usual that one just has to shrug away puzzlement that he isn’t a bigger star — sufficiently occupied with his other creative outlets (painting, poetry, etc.), this actor clearly doesn’t care that he isn’t getting Brad Pitt’s roles, let alone his money. Having been raised in the system, Dunst would probably choose being Sandra or Reese if she could (and she certainly could, ability-wise), but fortunately the cards didn’t fall thataway. Now 34, she has the unfashionable heart-shaped facial prettiness of another generation’s wholesome starlets like Doris Day or Sandra Dee. If this particular role doesn’t begin to plumb the darker depths she’s more than capable of (as 2011 in Melancholia), it draws upon the same bottomless well of empathy she last tapped as another endangered spouse in 2010’s All Good Things. Which is, indeed, a very good thing.

As for Isaac, is this really the same guy from last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis? You can glimpse the same subtle, stage-honed technique in what’s superficially a much easier pretty-male-ingenue role. But yeesh: Looking like a fresh scoop from the same gelato tub that once surrendered young Andy Garcia, he sure cleans up nice. *

 

THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY opens Fri/10 in Bay Area theaters.

The Doctorow is in

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arts@sfbg.com

LIT Like the Internet itself, Cory Doctorow seems to be everywhere all at once.

Novelist, essayist, activist, and co-founder of the influential website Boing Boing, the Canadian-born, London-based writer is having a particularly peripatetic autumn, traveling from the UK to various locations throughout Europe and North America.

October finds Doctorow — author of the science fiction novels Makers, Little Brother, and Homeland — making two stops in the Bay Area. First, he’ll be in Berkeley to sign In Real Life (First Second, 192 pp., $17.99), a graphic novel produced in collaboration with El Cerrito-raised, Los Angeles-based illustrator Jen Wang, then to San Francisco to discuss (with his Boing Boing business partner, David Pescovitz) his forthcoming nonfiction title, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age (McSweeney’s, 192 pp., $22).

In Real Life is based on “Anda’s Game,” a 2002 Doctorow short story. While living in the Bay Area in the mid-1990s, Doctorow heard programmers and other techies expressing their anxieties about the trend toward outsourcing jobs to India. Having grown up in Toronto, not far from where the North American auto industry was headquartered, Doctorow was reminded how, in the years after NAFTA, car workers who were losing their jobs felt great animosity toward Mexican workers.

“Which I always thought was tremendously misplaced,” he says. “I mean, it wasn’t Mexican workers who moved the jobs to Mexico; it was the bosses living right around the corner.”

Some of those memories informed “Anda’s Game.” Its comics adaptation, In Real Life, follows a high school student as she learns to navigate Coarsegold Online, a massively multiplayer role-playing game. Anda loves being a hero and a role model in the digital word, but when she befriends a poor Chinese kid who works incredibly long hours on behalf of wealthier players from developed countries, she begins to understand the inequities of the system. When she pushes her new friend to stand up for his rights, Anda can’t foresee the consequences of her actions.

Wang, the author-illustrator of the graphic novel Koko Be Good, says she was introduced to Doctorow by First Second. Her adaptation of his original work required some back-and-forth by e-mail, and she ended up scrapping approximately half the book at one point and starting over.

“We did this all online,” she says. “So this will be the first time I’m meeting him, when he comes to do this book tour.”

Of collaborating with Doctorow, Wang says, “The biggest challenge for me was working with someone so [well-known]. I wanted to capture Cory’s vision, even though I was doing all of the drawing and writing, to produce something he could be proud of.”

In Real Life works well for both teen and adult readers, making its political points amid exciting depictions of digital battles. Wang’s manga-influenced style complements Doctorow’s subject and theme while finding a colorful vitality all its own.

“Jen did all the hard work and such a great job,” Doctorow says. “All the stuff that is less than salutatory in there I’m sure is my fault. Everything that is brilliant is hers.”

A former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctorow plays an entirely different game with his latest book-length nonfiction project, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free. The volume explores the uses and abuses of copyright and presents a manifesto for creators of all stripes who want to succeed in the 21st century.

“It’s the latest incarnation of things I’ve taken a lot of runs at over the years,” he says. “I’ve been involved in information policy for a long time. I’ve written lots of articles and have a couple of collections of essays on the subject, but I really wanted to do something book-like and substantial.”

The inspiration for the book came in the wake of a 2009 O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference. Doctorow spoke at the event about how video game companies, the music industry, and film studios were all trying, through digital rights management and other strategies, to limit the public’s ability to share the information and entertainment they enjoyed. He proposed the following law: Any Time Someone Puts a Lock on Something That Belongs To You and Won’t Give You the Key, That Lock Isn’t There For Your Benefit.

After the speech, Doctorow chatted with his agent, Russell Galen, who also represented Arthur C. Clarke, famous not only for 2001: A Space Odyssey but for his Three Laws of science fiction. Galen told Doctorow, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t just have one law. You have to have three.”

Doctorow was able to complete the triad, and the new rules are part of his new book. They deal with the methods of capturing and holding attention on the Internet and what copyright means (Information Age: Fame Won’t Make You Rich, But You Can’t Get Paid Without It; and Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, People Do).

During his appearance with Pescovitz at the JCCSF, Doctorow is likely to address questions from the book, such as whether lesser-known artists can flourish on the Internet and how giant entertainment companies can avoid alienating their customers. In both In Real Life and Information, Doctorow pays much attention to how the present-day Internet, with its ability to connect people while also spying on them, can be used for both liberation and suppression.

“Regardless of our own individual fortunes or needs, our primary allegiance needs to be to a free and fair society,” Doctorow insists. “The arts should always be on the side of freedom and fairness and free speech.” 2

IN REAL LIFE

Oct. 16, 7:30pm, free

Mrs. Dalloway’s

2904 College, Berk

www.mrsdalloways.com

INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE

Oct. 29, 7pm, $25-35

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

3200 California, SF

“>

A joyful noise

0

esilvers@sfbg.com

LEFT OF THE DIAL Christopher Owens, San Francisco resident, has a problem.

It’s one of those problems that maybe doesn’t sound like a problem to people who didn’t achieve critical darling status in the artistic industry of their choice by age 30, but it is a problem nonetheless. The problem is that Girls, his old band, was a very, very good band that wrote complex but catchy, rocking but intimate songs, drawing from ’80s power-pop and ’60s doo-wop and orchestral rock to talk about breakups and his escape from a deeply complicated childhood ensconced in the cult-like Children of God sect of Christianity. Girls was instantly, recognizably, good — in a way that seemed, on first listen, to stem from very little effort, though the depth of Owens’ confessional songwriting forced you to understand otherwise if you spent 30 seconds thinking about it.

The Christopher Owens problem is that after two albums of very good music by his very good band, the band broke up and he decided to go it alone, and not everyone was impressed with the result. Lysandre, Owens’ debut solo work, released in January of last year, was a concept album, full of proggy theatrical flair and flute solos. It had moments where it shined, but it was not the seamless work we’d come to expect from the songwriter; Owens himself later admitted he just sort of had to get it out of his system.

Fast-forward about 18 months, and the music press seems almost breathlessly relieved by his second go. A New Testament (Turnstile), released last week, is indeed easier on the ears. It’s a straight-up countrified Owens, an identity he’s hinted at previously but never fully embraced, with clear gospel influences and a renewed appreciation for pop structure and aesthetics; it allows Owens’ first-person lyrics to take center stage again. (He’ll play songs from the new record at Great American Music Hall Sat/11).

Is it a safer record than his previous effort? Sure. Does it follow more conventional Americana-pop rules? Yep. Does he sound like he’s having more fun actually making the music? Hell yes.

It’s that sense, actually, that seems to be confusing and alarming critics left and right (to an amusing degree, if you were to read, say, a dozen reviews in a row.) Christopher Owens seems happy. The Christopher Owens? He of the loaded religious upbringing, who made a name writing incredibly well-crafted songs about doomed relationships? How could he?

“That reaction has definitely surprised me,” the 35-year-old says with a laugh. He’s a little weary from doing press interviews all day from his home in SF when I catch up with him by phone about a week before the record comes out, but otherwise seems like he’s in good spirits.

“For one, the writing spans about four years, so it doesn’t make sense to paint it as a ‘Oh, he’s happy now,’ type of thing. Yes, I’m grateful for a lot in my life right now.” (One can’t help but think his stable, long-term relationship and relatively recent sobriety have played a part, though he doesn’t really want to discuss either topic.)

“I would never set out to make a ‘positive record,’ but I’m glad it’s having that effect on people.” He thinks a moment. “I also think that’s maybe just the sound of a lot of people working together who like each other very much, having fun.”

Those people include producer Doug Boehm, who produced Lysandre, as well as Girls’ acclaimed second record, Father, Son, Holy Ghost; the band also includes a keyboardist, drummer, and guitarist who played on that Girls album. Other people — like gospel singers Skyler Jordan, Traci Nelson, and Makeda Francisco, who provide backup on “Stephen,” a weighty, cathartic elegy of a song for Owens’ brother who died at age two — were instrumental in how Owens selected tracks once he decided this was going to be his country record. (He has hundreds of songs and half-songs to choose from, written and stored away on his computer at home.)

The overwhelming influence of gospel — not to mention the biblical record title — will likely come off as something of a wink to longtime Owens fans; his struggle to reconcile his ultra-religious upbringing and the tumultuous period of his life that followed his leaving the church at age 16 are both well-documented.

But the reference isn’t quite so straightforwardly tongue-in-cheek, says Owens. Gospel, in particular, has come full circle for him.

“I’ve had a long history with spiritual and religious music,” he says. “We weren’t Pentecostal, but it was still about asking God to take away your burdens. There’s a desperation to it, a genuineness and earnestness.

“If you talked to me about gospel music in my teens I would probably have been very disparaging, but as I got older and calmed down more in my 20s, I started appreciating it as music,” he says. “The fact of, we’re going to sit around and sing together, and what that does to the energy in the room.”

It was in his early 20s that someone gave him a record by the singer Mahalia Jackson, known as “the Queen of Gospel,” also known for her contributions to the Civil Rights movement. The gift was almost as a joke, says Owens.

“Knowing my history [with religion], it was ‘Here, Chris, you’ll like this,'” says the singer. “But I remember realizing, this woman is fantastic. So it’s been about coming to a place where I can see the value in the music itself, which I think is part of the point. ‘Let us make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’ And as I started to write and play music myself, it’s been about figuring out a way to do that with a non-religious quality, how to strip the music of its religious associations. I’ve listened to a lot of Elvis’ gospel albums…

“If you’re from the Ukraine and you walk into a gospel church, even if you don’t understand the language, you’re still going to get goosebumps,” he continues. “There’s still power in the sound.”

As for the Christopher Owens problem: Judging by early reviews, he’s appeased some Girls fans who were left cold by his first solo effort. Not that he puts too much stock in other peoples’ opinions of him. He’s happy with the record. And yeah, he admits, he is happy, in general, at the moment. And yet:

“It’s kind of funny that people are thinking of the record like that. Because even when you have these blessings, life always goes both ways. I think life is an uphill climb,” he says. “If you’re climbing the right way.”

CHRISTOPHER OWENS

With The Tyde and Carletta Sue Kay

Sat/11, 9pm, $21

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750

www.slimspresents.com

Still Steppin’

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arts@sfbg.com

The Boogaloo is a dance, descended from the Twist but landing firmly between the Philly Dog and the Skate.

“I like to dance. Always did,” says Oscar Myers, who turns 70 next week, while demonstrating his moves in front of a whooping, sweating, grinning 1am crowd at San Francisco’s Boom Boom Room. Myers knows the Boogaloo because he was there when it happened, and because he plays the melange of funk, soul, jazz, and Latin music that make up its unique sound.

Myers, a trumpet player, percussionist, and singer, has been a Bay Area mainstay for decades, but if you wandered into any of his regular nights here or Madrone Art Bar, you might not immediately realize you were in the presence of a musical forefather.

“Want something slow, something fast, or something half-assed?”

His band, Steppin’, plays tunes by Lou Donaldson, Melvin Sparks, and Ivan “Boogaloo Joe” Jones, alongside classics by James Brown and Michael Jackson. The 30-somethings in Steppin’ are talented, but all eyes are usually on the man up front: It’s Myers who played with James Brown, Ray Charles, Charles Mingus, Lowell Fulson, and R&B icon Jimmy McCracklin. There aren’t many musicians of Myers’ era left — much less playing regular late-night gigs around San Francisco. (His next will be his 70th birthday party, at the Boom Boom Room this Friday, Oct. 10.)

No one ever asks for anything “half-assed.”

Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in 1944, Myers moved to Charleston, South Carolina as a kid. His father worked the graveyard shift at the city water pump station and dug actual graves during the day. His parents weren’t especially musical, but they had a piano, on which Myers began to pick out songs by ear. Through the family’s record player, he got to know the era’s swing greats: Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. He picked up the trumpet as a teenager, which got him into the orchestra and marching band at North Carolina A&T, alongside classmate (and future saxophone legend) Maceo Parker.

oscar
Oscar Myers. Photo by Saroyan Humphrey.

Following college, he joined the military, landing in San Francisco after serving in Vietnam. He doesn’t talk about it much, but he was wounded in the Tet Offensive, and ended up in physical therapy at the Letterman Army Hospital in the Presidio. He ultimately decided to stay: “The Bay Area was humming,” says Myers, with an inimitable, throaty husk in his voice. “There was music coming from everywhere.”

His list of collaborators is an index to the Bay Area’s music history — “The Bishop” Norman Williams, Jackie Ivory, Julian Vaught, Bill Bell, Bill Summers, and Babatunde Lea — and his gigs map out its nearly forgotten musical nervous system: the jazz, funk, and R&B clubs that once hosted the area’s thriving scene.

By the ’90s, Myers was leading a band that included two former bandmates of James Brown: organist Louis Madison and saxophonist C.A. Carr. Madison — a member of the Famous Flames, who were unceremoniously fired by Brown after a gig in San Francisco in 1959, reportedly after asking to be paid fairly — is rumored to have penned such Brown hits as “I Feel Good,” “Try Me,” and “Please, Please, Please.” Sans Brown, the Flames stuck around the Bay for good.

“How many of y’all know who the Godfather of Soul is?”

In the early ’90s, Myers got a call from James Brown’s manager, saying Brown wanted to meet up with Madison and this new bandleader in San Francisco. Myers declined, citing their gig at Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland that night. Since two of Brown’s alumni were in the band, Myers added, Brown should actually come to them. Sure enough, during the show, Brown showed up with his wife, and the band broke into “I Feel Good.” After “I’ll Go Crazy,” Brown rushed the stage to hug his old band-members.

Soon after, Brown invited Myers to sit in on trumpet when he played the West Coast. Myers did about eight gigs with Brown, a perfectionist who notoriously fined his musicians for mistakes.

“All that’s true,” says Myers, though he didn’t personally receive any penalties. “He’d go down to the front of the stage and be leaning and crying and singing and then he’d hold up his hand: $5.” Don’t miss a note, was the lesson. “And don’t be late either!”

“I’ve never seen so many dead people breathing in my life!”

It takes a lot to get away with chastising a crowd. “He can tell the audience to shut up and it’s ok, because he has the credibility to do it,” says organist Wil Blades, who’s been playing with Myers for over a decade, since Blades was 20. “Oscar has big ears and he knows how this music should sound, because he came up with it.”

Mentorship is important to Myers, who now lives with his wife off Alamo Square. “Nowadays, you don’t see that stuff happening, where the older cats let the younger ones come and play and test their knowledge,” says the bandleader. Go to any Myers gig, and you’ll see one or two young musicians trying to prove their worth. If Myers likes what he hears, they’ll receive a smile and a handshake at the end of the night.

That said: “If you can’t play I’m not going to let you get up there. If you’re bad, I’ll run your ass off stage.” He’s not kidding.

“He let me up there and gave me an old-school butt-whooping,” remembers Blades. “That’s how you really learn this music, to me. You don’t learn it in school.”

How does it feel to be playing on his 70th birthday? “I did it when I was 69!” says Myers with a laugh. “You’re blessed just to be here this long. You can wake up, open your eyes, wiggle your toes, everything’s working. Everything from here on out is gravy for me.”

Which might explain why, on a typical night, you’ll find him dancing spontaneously during a set break, even when the curtain is down and the audience can’t see a thing.

OSCAR MYERS & STEPPIN
With Bootie Cooler & DJ K-Os
Fri/10, 9pm, $10
Boom Boom Room
1601 Fillmore, SF
www.boomboomblues.com

 

Treasure hunting

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esilvers@sfbg.com

Tuckered out from Hardly Strictly Bluegrass? Yeah, us too.

Thing is, October — that’s San Francisco’s summer, if you’re a newbie — is just getting started. Next up is Treasure Island Music Festival (Oct. 18-19), now in its eighth year, aka your annual opportunity to look out at the bay and the twinkling city in the distance, pull your hoodie tighter around yourself, and say “I should come out here more often.”

Even if it’s the only time of year you find yourself on the isle, it’s a damn good one. TIMF is a beauty of festival, design-wise: Two stages within shouting distance of each other plus staggered performances throughout the day mean you don’t get caught up in festival FOMO. And the visual art and DJs it attracts thanks to the Silent Frisco stage pump it up with a distinctly San Franciscan flair (in case, for example, you ingest so much of something that the temperature and skyline aren’t enough to help you remember where you are).

Here are our picks for the best of the fest.

TV on the Radio
Very few bands can accurately claim to sound like the future and the past at once, but these Brooklyn rockers — who have been teasing singles from their new release Seeds, out this November — zoom pretty effortlessly back and forth, with bass, synths, keys, and horns that come together for a damn good dance party.

Ana Tijoux
We first fell for the French-Chilean artist’s textured, colorful blend of Spanish language hip-hop with jazz and traditional South American instruments in 2006 — when her collaboration with Julieta Venegas was everywhere, and we didn’t even get sick of it. Since then she’s only grown more intriguing, and less like pretty much anything else happening in Latin music. Check out this year’s Vengo if you need convincing.

The Growlers
Psych-y surf-punk from Costa Mesa that can help you visualize beach weather, regardless of that middle-of-the-bay breeze cutting through your clothes.

Ãsgeir
This Icelandic folk-tronica phenom is only 22, but he’s already been buzzy (especially abroad) for a good chunk of his adult life. We’re curious to hear how the lush songs off his debut album translate live.

 

TREASURE ISLAND MUSIC FESTIVAL

Oct. 18-19, $89.50-$295

Treasure Island

www.treasureislandfestival.com

Meta-boredom

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER At the outset of The Late Wedding, actor Kathryn Zdan explains that we are about to be taken on “an anthropological tour of imagined tribes and their marriage customs.” She also explains that the play we’re watching is a play that we’re watching, and that a playwright has written it, under the spell of another author, Italian postmodernist Italo Calvino, whose playfully imaginative style in books like Invisible Cities and If on a winter’s night a traveler… unravels the standard narrative regime in favor of open-ended possibility and self-conscious reflection on art and consciousness. This strategy brought Calvino international acclaim 40 or 50 years ago. But Bay Area playwright Christopher Chen’s latest is too beguiled by its literary inspiration to get very far as a work of its own.

At some level, The Late Wedding wants to explore the nature of human communication and communion through a fourth-wall-scaling ensemble of six actors — alternately playing characters from made-up civilizations and swapping the Narrator hat to address the audience about their experience in the theater — and an offstage “playwright” who can’t keep his banal musings about groceries and whatnot from intruding into his own narrative.

The first of these couples (played in an initially amusing, offhand manner by Lawrence Radecker and Michael Anthony Torres) lounges around remembering the party of the night before, relieved to find they feel the same way about it. They then become extremely agitated, struggling to confirm the details of more distant shared memories on the vacation islands of Calaman — as if this agreed on map of memory were the only bridge between them. The same islands, as some unattainable ideal or some real place or both, come back later as a destination in an intergalactic space hop for another character (played by Zdan) who may be reuniting with her estranged wife (Lauren Spencer). Their estrangement followed Zdan’s character’s strict adherence to the marital customs of her society — namely, maximizing the anticipation and desire of romance by forestalling the wedding night indefinitely, and raising a family with someone else meanwhile. A third couple (played by Michele Leavy and Ogie Zulueta) receives a visit from a scholar (Radecker) intrigued by their view of marriage as a kind of living death. Interlarded with the marriages are lots of direct address, a wayward plot or two, and the intrusive personal thoughts of an increasingly distracted playwright.

For this Crowded Fire premiere, scenic designer Melpomene Katakalos conjures onstage an imposing all-white (later transparent) wall of open cubicles with sundry objects inside. It’s a mash-up of the grand vertical cities of Louise Nevelson’s monochromatic wall pieces and the private, idiosyncratic worlds of Joseph Cornell’s boxes, and it promises some intricate architecture, spanning the subjective and the social realms of reality. But the play only faintly delivers on that promise. It wouldn’t have mattered as much if the dialogue was more compelling, but it tends to strain in pursuit of novelty and humor. Artistic director Marissa Wolf, meanwhile, has her actors deliver their lines in a presentational manner that is fitfully effective at best at striking a rapport with the audience, while the couples mingle flat humor with saccharine sincerity as they limn the contours of their relationships.

Even a leap from fantastical anthropologies to distant space travel can’t save The Late Wedding from a sense of inertia. This might be because it owes too much to its source of inspiration. We’re told about Calvino right away, and Chen’s own imagination seems hobbled from that point on, more concerned with transposition than with pursuing ideas for their own sake. To make matters worse, the play’s meta-narrative and postmodern confusion are already overly familiar as a theatrical strategy, rather pre-postmodern, like ersatz Pirandello. The feigned concern for the audience over the odd non sequitur therefore feels misplaced, quaint, and vaguely patronizing. There may be potential for real mystery and meaning to emerge from the play’s artful dodging, but a way has to be cleared for it through all the pseudo-novelty and rigamarole. 

THE LATE WEDDING

Wed/8-Sat/11, 8pm, $15-35

Thick House

1695 18th St, SF

www.crowdedfire.org

 

Bearing it all

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE Whatever else Keith Hennessy’s homespun ritual Bear/Skin offered its audience last Wednesday night at the Joe Goode Annex, it brought the rain. One night’s worth fell on the thirsty ground and into a record-making drought, displaying itself marvelously on the clothes and flattened hair of the last audience members to wander in as Hennessy walked about the postindustrial performance space in fuchsia track shorts prepping the show, his first solo since 2008’s Bessie-winning Crotch.

A white teddy bear recognized from that earlier solo sat propped against a far wall of the stage area, beside a white rabbit, though from some angles you’d miss them both thanks to one of two large silvery obelisks that stood nearby — both composed of Mylar sheets hoisted maybe 10 and 14 feet high on wire rigging. More of the material was stuffed into an oversized Mission Street market bag, among other colorful piles and pools of materials around the floor of the white utilitarian box theater, much of it referenced in the single-page program: “Floral tights, inheritance from Remy Charlip; plaid blanket skirt, inheritance from my family; pompom tail, Lisu people in northern Thailand; embroidered neck piece, fabric market in Dakar, Senegal; credit cards, personal collection.”

Personal objects and personal history would soon reverberate with a collective consciousness, a political and animal consciousness, in a sacramental performance that, among other things, seemed to limn the potential for an alternative destiny on an ever more blighted planet. (In an alternately hushed and rustling moment later that night, those extra space blankets covered the audience, almost as if to shield it for a moment, not from space rays, but from all the noxious energy beamed from every orifice of a loud, lurid, snooping, thieving hydra that is entirely local.)

The first incarnation of Bear/Skin was in spring 2013 at Subterranean Art House in Berkeley, during an edition of the roving monthly performance series of East-Bay collective SALTA. It was the centenary of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, an avant-garde assault on convention that became a modernist classic. Hennessy both addressed it and appropriated a key part of it, not reverently but critically and creatively. His partly impromptu and wholly brilliant 40-minute performance was built around a comical bear suit, a feed-backing microphone, intimate direct address, a discussion of three “suicide economies,” and his re-creation of the last section of Vaslav Nijinsky’s choreography in that seminal ballet — a series of dozens of jagged leaps that Hennessy’s middle-aged body essayed with remarkable, heaving determination, doubling the ballet’s sacrificial climax with one of his own.

These elements are all retained in the latest iteration, though amid further elaboration, not all of which works equally well. The aforementioned moment with the audience under Mylar blankets acts as a bridge between two rough halves, as Hennessy, donning the personal articles and totems listed in the program, reemerges as a glittery thrift-store shaman amid a Hardkiss track and a scattering of patterned laser light. The piece builds intelligently, shrewdly toward this new climax, with a kind of honesty few artists can manage so well. But it both broadens and dilutes those original components in a progression of movements that feels more rigid, less fluid, while not necessarily adding depth to the themes or experience.

At the same time, Bear/Skin will continue to evolve. It’s slated for more San Francisco and East Bay showings in January, right after it returns from New York, where young but astute maven of contemporary dance-performance Ben Pryor has slotted it into 2015’s American Realness festival. It is a must-see.

Moreover, some of the newer elements are commanding — especially an original poem near the beginning, an inspired response to epidemic police violence. Hennessy speaks with pounding legs and trembling form, in a furious rapid-fire monotone that evokes the banal bullets of Hollywood’s white male machine-gun entertainment. If that sounds didactic, it is and it isn’t — which is to say, it is only in the best sense of a clear, precise blow. Hennessy is not just an inimitable but also a highly skilled performer, and the intersection of his political awareness and his performance “realness” is a purposefully relaxed, open and porous zone in which a genuine sense of moment rises gently but surely, like some measure of the miraculous or of simple joy, some small grace; a little rain maybe for a world on fire. *

www.circozero.org

Cel mates

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arts@sfbg.com

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL One of the Mill Valley Film Festival’s signature if under-celebrated programs is its long-running Children’s FilmFest, which lets families enculturate their offspring with an annual sidebar of movies from around the world — non-English-language ones given live translation for those viewers not yet up to reading text at the speed of subtitles. There’s always some animation in the mix, and this year, in addition to several shorts and the French-Belgian 3D feature Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants (which was unavailable for preview), two titles measure the form’s state-of-the-art across a span of nearly 75 years.

The golden oldie, offered in a free outdoor screening at Old Mill Park Oct. 10, is 1941’s Hoppity Goes to Town — the second and last feature from Fleischer brothers Max and Dave, still best known for their cartoons starring Betty Boop, Popeye, and Superman. (The beautifully designed latter remain the movies’ most faithful representation of the original comic books.) Despite those successful series, the siblings were increasingly dogged by bad luck, internal friction, studio inference, corrupt accounting, and other factors. After Walt Disney waded into feature animation with 1937’s spectacularly successful Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the duo followed suit, uprooting their entire organization — and nearly quadrupling its size — to make 1939’s Gulliver’s Travels in the cheaper environs of southern Florida. Nonetheless, that film cost a fortune, ultimately losing money despite its healthy box-office performance. No friendly competitor, Disney purportedly snapped after seeing it, “We can do better than that with our second-string animators.”

Their precarious financial position made worse by a deteriorating personal dynamic, the brothers nonetheless moved forward with Hoppity (originally called Mr. Bug Goes to Town), an original story penned after they failed to win the screen rights to Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Life of the Bee. Its hero is a happy-go-lucky grasshopper who tries his best to relocate the insect residents of “the Lowlands” when their community is threatened by rising foot traffic — a broken fence has made this tiny patch of urban green a destructive shortcut for oblivious human beings. He also battles villainous Mr. Beetle for the hand of bee ingénue Honey.

Partway through production, debt forced the Fleischers to sell their studio whole to distributor Paramount, which kept them on under humiliating circumstances — they could be fired from finishing their own film at any moment. Its release delayed to avoid competing with Disney’s Dumbo (1941), the film finally opened on Dec. 5, 1941, exactly two days before Pearl Harbor threw the nation in a state of shock.

Hoppity never recovered from that ill fortune, falling into the public domain after its copyright was allowed to expire. As a result, it was seen for years mostly in low-quality copies by budget distributors. It’s not a great movie. The Fleischers’ antic strengths were best suited to the short format; the sentimentality and melodrama then required for a family feature came much more naturally to Disney. But it still merits the cult love gradually earned over subsequent decades, notably for then-innovative multiplane “3D” backgrounds that add a vertiginous depth to the contrasts in bug-vs.-human perspective.

One wonders what the Fleischers might have wrought if given the artistic and commercial freedom apparently enjoyed by Brazilian Alê Abreu on The Boy and the World — one of those extremely rare animated features these days that feels entirely handcrafted and personal, no matter how many umpteen illustrators and technicians get credited in the final credit crawl. This dialogue-free adventure finds a stick-figure tot wandering from his rural home in pursuit of the father forced to look for work in the distant city. The closer our wee protagonist gets to “civilization,” the more dehumanizing and nightmarish what he witnesses becomes.

One wonders what the average under-12-year-old would make of a movie that scarcely shrinks from blunt sociopolitical indictment: Its innocent’s journey encompasses militaristic fascism, garbage-foraging poor vs. infinitely privileged rich, empty consumerist distraction, and the death of traditional indigenous life. Nonetheless, this parabolic parade of injustices never feels too didactic because of the dazzlingly varied execution. Alê draws on everything from modernist painting masters to collage and (briefly) live action footage in a visual presentation that grows ever more complex and intoxicating. (Fans of Brazilian roots music will find the soundtrack by Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurlat equally thrilling.) The term “masterpiece” gets thrown around a little too easily, but it’s hard to think of a recent animated feature more deserving of the term than this imaginatively ambitious yet refreshingly intimate one. *

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL

Oct 2-12, $8-14

Various North Bay venues

www.mvff.com

 

Bridgeworthy

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Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, US/France/Switzerland/Germany) A cunning backstage drama occupying the middle ground between Olivier Assayas’ naturalistic dramas and reality-bending puzzles, Clouds of Sils Maria is set in the Swiss Alps and more nearly in the charged intimacy between an aging actress (Juliette Binoche) and her young assistant (Kristen Stewart). The grand dame has been cast in the same play in which she made her name decades earlier, only now she’s playing the older half of a Sapphic duo. “The play’s the thing,” and as actress and assistant rehearse lines they are simultaneously testing the bounds of their shared privacy. Further complicating things, Assayas’s brash characterization of the young starlet (Chloë Grace Moretz) cast opposite Binoche in the play invariably recalls Stewart’s own tabloid trials; like any hall of mirrors, entering Clouds of Sils Maria is much simpler than finding your way out. Assayas certainly isn’t the first filmmaker to examine slippages between actor and role, and yet he seems uniquely sensitive to rendering performance as simultaneously being a matter of artifice and absorption — the fact that it’s never entirely one thing or the other is what keeps things interesting. Fri/3, 8:45pm, Sequoia; Mon/6, 1pm, Smith Rafael. (Max Goldberg)

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (Al Adamson, US, 1971) MVFF had the bright idea this year of inviting Metallica to be its artists-in-residence, with each of the four members selecting a new or revival feature for the program. The most eccentric choice by far is guitarist and diehard horror fan Kirk Hammett’s. Drive-in schlock king Al Adamson’s 1971 cult classic is a triumph of lurid incoherence starring genre veterans Lon Chaney Jr. and J. Carrol Naish (both in their last film appearances), the director’s busty peroxided wife, Regina Campbell, Russ Tamblyn of 1961’s West Side Story (and Adamson’s 1969 biker epic Satan’s Sadists), and as Count Dracula, one Zandor Vorkov — aka Roger Engel, a goateed stockbroker who got the part because the filmmakers couldn’t afford forking out $1,200 for their first choice, John Carradine. Cobbled together from stock footage, a prior abandoned feature, and whatever trendy ideas came to mind (LSD, biker gangs, etc.), Dracula vs. Frankenstein is the ultimate exploitation-movie example of make-do disorder so profound it achieves a sort of surrealist genius. Fri/3, 10pm, Smith Rafael. (Dennis Harvey)

 

Imperial Dreams (Malik Vitthal, US) Focused on survival rather than violence, Malik Vitthal’s accomplished first feature offers a strong riposte to those who dismiss crime in African American communities as some kind of pervasive racial characteristic. Released from a prison stint on an assault charge, Bambi (John Boyega) wants nothing more than to keep his nose clean and reconnect with his four-year-old son (played by twins Ethan and Justin Coach). The latter has been raised — if you can call it that — by Bambi’s strung-out mother (Kellita Smith) and drug-dealing uncle (Glenn Plummer); the boy’s own mother (Keke Palmer) is still stuck in prison herself on an unrelated charge. It’s no healthy environment for a kid, or an adult either, since the uncle keeps trying to force Bambi back into illegal doings. Our protagonist can’t get a job without a driver’s license; can’t get a license without paying the back child support his imprisoned ex didn’t even file for; as a parolee, can’t move into government housing with his brother (Rotimi Akinosho); and can’t seem to make a move without local cops suspecting the worst of him. This low-key, Watts-set drama is sobering but not hopeless, and the tenderness between father and son never feels like a sentimental ploy. Sat/4, 5:30pm, Lark; Sun/5, 2pm and Oct 8, 11:30am, Smith Rafael. (Harvey)

 

Diplomacy (Volker Schlöndorff, France) Based on Cyril Gely’s play — itself inspired by real-life events — this drama from Volker Schlöndorff (1979’s The Tin Drum) is set during the waning days of World War II and stars the actors who originated the stage roles: Niels Arestrup as weary German military governor von Choltitz, and André Dussollier as crafty Swedish consul-general Nordling. Diplomacy puts a tighter focus on chaotic Paris, circa August 1944, than previous works (like 1966’s similarly-themed Is Paris Burning?), with most of the action confined to a hotel suite as the men discuss von Choltitz’ orders, handed down from a spiteful Hitler, to blow up Paris as the Allies loom. Nordling’s negotiating skills are already known by history, but how he got there, as imagined here, makes for tense, tightly-scripted and -acted viewing. Sat/4, 8pm, Sequoia; Oct. 8, 3:30pm, Smith Rafael. (Cheryl Eddy)

 

Charlie’s Country (Rolf de Heer, Australia, 2013) David Gulpilil memorably made his film debut as the nameless aboriginal youth whose ability to live off the land in harsh Outback terrain saves two lost British children in Nicolas Roeg’s 1971 Walkabout. Forty-three years later he’s an embittered hostage to “civilization” yearning for that near-extinct way of life. Living on a reservation in northern Australia, chafing under the regulations of well-intentioned government overseers (or “thieving white bastards,” as he calls them), he tries to regain some sense of independence and harmony with nature by hunting — only to have his weapons confiscated. Peers who remember traditional ways are dying out or being hauled off to urban hospitals where they feel completely alienated. This latest from ever-idiosyncratic Aussie director Rolf de Heer (2006’s Ten Canoes, 1993’s Bad Boy Bubby) is one of his more conceptually simple efforts, sans elements of fantasy, black humor, or outrageousness. But it’s all the more poignant for its clear-eyed purity of intent. Sun/5, 7:45pm, Lark; Oct. 8, noon, Sequoia. (Harvey)

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz, Israel/France/Germany) Ever felt trapped in a relationship? Odds are what you went through was nothing compared to the maximum-security imprisonment suffered by the titular protagonist in siblings Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz’s Israeli drama. The former plays a middle-aged woman who was married off at age 15, and three decades of incompatibility later has decided the only solution is divorce. (By this point she’s already lived separately with most of their children for several years, supporting them with her own work.) But that can only be granted by a Rabbinical Court whose three members seem to see almost no reason why man should put asunder what God purportedly joined together in matrimonial contract. Seemingly out of sheer spite, the strictly religious (and humorless) husband played by Simon Abkarian further drags the process out for months, even years by refusing to cooperate when he doesn’t flat-out refuse to show up for mandated court sessions. Set entirely in the plain courtroom, this Israeli Oscar submission is claustrophobic both physically and psychologically — the strangling sensation of being in a situation our heroine’s culture and laws won’t permit escape from is excruciating at times. Mon/6, 7:30pm, Sequoia; Oct. 8, 6pm, Smith Rafael. (Harvey)

 

What We Do in the Shadows (Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, US/New Zealand) Before you groan “Oh no, not another mockumentary horror spoof,” be informed that this is THE mockumentary horror spoof, rendering all other past and prospective ones pretty well unnecessary. Vijago (Taika Waititi) is our 379-year-old principal guide as a film crew invades the decrepit Wellington, New Zealand, home he shares with three other undead bloodsuckers: Callow newbie Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), who refuses to do his assigned domestic chores; medieval Transylvanian warlord Vladislav (Jermaine Clement), still “a bit of a perv” torture-wise; and Nosferatu-looking mute Petyr (Ben Fransham), who’s scarier than the rest of them combined. When the latter recklessly “turns” local layabout Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), his loose lips — really, you don’t want to go around telling every pub acquaintance “I’m a vampire!” when you really are — threaten this fragile commune of murderous immortals. Though it loses steam a bit toward the end, Shadows is pretty hilarious for the most part, with its determined de-romanticizing of vampire clichés from Bram Stoker to Twilight. Tue/7, 7:45pm, and Oct. 9, 4pm, Smith Rafael. (Harvey)

The Theory of Everything (James Marsh, UK/US) It’s instant attraction when Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) meets Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), though a dark cloud passes over the sweet romance between the Cambridge students when Stephen learns he has motor neuron disease. The odds are against them, but they get married anyway; as Stephen’s fragile condition worsens, his fame as a brilliant physicist grows. Though The Theory of Everything suffers from biopic syndrome (events are simplified for dramatic convenience, etc.), director James Marsh (2008’s Man on Wire), working from Jane Hawking’s memoir, does offer an intimate look at an extraordinary marriage that ultimately failed because of utterly ordinary, ultimately amicable reasons. In the end, the performances are far more memorable than the movie itself, with Redmayne’s astonishingly controlled physical performance matched scene for scene by Jones’ wide-rangingly emotional one. Oct. 9, 7pm, Smith Rafael. (Eddy)

In Order of Disappearance (Hans Petter Moland, Norway/Sweden/Denmark) Stellan Skarsgård makes like Liam Neeson in this bloody yet droll revenge saga. His unfortunately named Nils Dickman is a Swedish émigré living in a remote Norwegian community, working as a snow plowman. When their only son is kidnapped and killed — the innocent victim of a co-worker’s stupid plan to steal cocaine from major-league drug traffickers — his wife bitterly assumes he must have been the hapless addict that circumstances paint him as. But Nils refuses to accept that explanation, his own dogged investigations (and heavy fist) soon exposing a complex web of goons responsible, most notably rageaholic vegan racist villain Ole (Pal Sverre Hagen). He triggers full-scale war between local and Serbian crime factions to eliminate those few perps he doesn’t off himself — an ever-rising body count marked by onscreen titles commemorating each latest casualty. Hans Petter Moland’s film has been compared to Tarantino, and indeed there are similarities, but the frozen-north setting and bone-dry humor are Scandinavian as can be. Oct. 10, 5:45pm, Smith Rafael; Oct 12, 2:45, Sequoia. (Harvey)

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL
Oct 2-12, $8-14
Lark Theater
549 Magnolia, Larkspur
Cinearts@Sequoia
25 Throckmorton, Mill Valley
Smith Rafael Film Center
1118 Fourth St, San Rafael
www.mvff.com

You better recognize

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cheryl@sfbg.com

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL The Mill Valley Film Festival opens with selections by Oscar nominees (Men, Women & Children director Jason Reitman), winners (The Homesman director Tommy Lee Jones), and multiple winners (Hilary Swank stars in The Homesman). But while MVFF prides itself on star power, it’s also a champion of unsung artists, exemplified by a quartet of documentaries in this year’s lineup.

Robert A. Campos and Donna LoCicero’s 3 Still Standing charts the careers of veteran San Francisco comedians Will Durst, Johnny Steele, and Larry “Bubbles” Brown. All were integral members of SF’s booming stand-up scene in the 1980s, and seemed destined to emulate breakout stars Robin Williams and Dana Carvey (both are interviewed; the film is dedicated to Williams). The giddy energy contained in footage from the Holy City Zoo, where Williams got his start, is undeniable. For a hot minute — Durst won a prestigious comedy contest; Brown brought his self-deprecating digs to The Late Show with David Letterman; Steele scored a big-shot agent — fame, or at least lucrative TV and movie deals, seemed inevitable.

The doc jumps ahead 20 years without ever pinning down why superstardom proved elusive, but there were some obvious factors: The comedy-club scene cooled, and most of the big names moved to Los Angeles’ greener pastures. And one gets the sense that none of the men longed to play a goofy neighbor on some generic sitcom; the paycheck would’ve been nice, sure, but to hear them discuss the joys of stand-up suggests they’ve come to embrace living the dream on a slightly smaller scale. The crisply-edited 3 Still Standing benefits enormously from the fact that everyone interviewed is hilarious — with responses spiraling into riffs — though it might’ve been interesting, as part of the film’s then-and-now structure, to look at SF’s current indie comedy scene, which is livelier than it’s been in years thanks to venues like Lost Weekend’s Cinecave. (Fodder for a future doc, perhaps?) Along with a trio of screenings, 3 Still Standing‘s festivities include a Sat/4 performance with Durst, Brown, and Steele, plus Sun/5’s Robin Williams: A Celebration, a free showing of clips culled from the late great’s many MVFF appearances.

As it happens, Durst turns up in another MVFF doc about an SF artist whose career path has been highly unpredictable. Settling into Plastic Man: The Artful Life of Jerry Ross Barrish knowing nothing about its subject, the viewer might be forgiven for thinking that William Farley’s doc (produced by MVFF programmer Janis Plotkin) is about an elderly sculptor who delights in crafting figures of people and animals from found objects made of plastic.

And it is — but Jerry Ross Barrish also happens to be the son of a professional boxer (who had Mafia connections). He’s been a bail bondsman since 1961 (a staunch progressive, he bailed out Berkeley’s free speech protesters in ’64, San Francisco State rioters in ’68, and multiple Black Panthers). He’s a San Francisco Art Institute-trained filmmaker who acted in a 1974 George Kuchar short before making his first feature, 1982’s Dan’s Motel, which landed him a spot in New York’s prestigious “New Directors/New Films” series. (His final film, 1989’s Shuttlecock, co-starred Durst.) Oh, and there was also that DAAD award he won in 1986, which enabled him to live in Berlin for a time and play a director in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987).

It’s an incredible life story, and Plastic Man — buoyed by Beth Custer’s dynamic score — manages to cram in all of the above, while keeping its focus trained on Barrish’s present artistic passions. He has trouble selling his work or getting gallery representation because “the plastic is holding him back,” according to one art-world observer. In other words, trash ain’t hip. But his work is whimsical and cleverly crafted, and it makes people happy — enough that Barrish scores a huge project at the end of the film that locals just might recognize.

German director Doris Dörrie (2002’s Enlightenment Guaranteed, 2007’s How to Cook Your Life) travels to Mexico City for the meticulously observed Que Caramba es la Vida, about female musicians who’ve added their talents to the male-dominated mariachi world. We meet three segments of this rarefied group. First, there’s a single mother who frequents gritty mariachi hotspot Plaza Garibaldi. “It’s horrible being surrounded by men,” she bitterly reports, but as soon as she croons her first staggeringly soulful note, it’s apparent why she’s pursued such a difficult line of work. Mariachi is less fraught for the other subjects, whose outlook on the culture’s sexism is mitigated by the fact that they perform in groups that are extensions of their own families. There are the housewives who comprise Las Estrellas de Jalisco, singing melodramatic tunes at birthday parties or — in Que Caramba‘s most moving sequence — during a Day of the Dead memorial. Most delightfully, there are the “still standing” members of Mexico’s first all-female mariachi troupe, 50 years on but still full of energy and rousing vocals.

The final film in this gang of four is presented as part of a tribute to its maker, Chuck Workman, the editing wizard behind those rapid-fire montages that pop up on Oscar telecasts. In Magician, Workman takes on Orson Welles, whose 1941 Citizen Kane is often called the greatest film ever made — but who suffered a subsequent career of studio interference, budgetary woes, and general creative frustration. “He was the patron saint of indie filmmaking,” Richard Linklater asserts, a theory amply supported by this essential primer of Welles film and interview footage, expertly stitched together with Workman’s trademark flow. *

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL

Oct 2-12, $8-14

Various North Bay venues

www.mvff.com

Strictly speaking

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LEFT OF THE DIAL When Slim’s booker Dawn Holliday first met with Warren Hellman in 2001, she had no way of knowing that the quaint little music festival the investor wanted to organize would grow to be one of San Francisco’s most fiercely cherished traditions.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which runs this Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5 (featuring this rather impressive lineup of bands, whose music you’ll find in the YouTube playlist below) is special for a number of reasons. It’s free, thanks to an endowment from the late sir Hellman. You can’t buy alcohol. You won’t find huge video screens projecting tweets about the festival in real time. To get distinctly San Francisco on you and use a word I generally avoid, its vibe — yes — is about a solar system away from certain other huge music festivals in Golden Gate Park that shall remain nameless. And it just couldn’t take place anywhere else.

Little story for ya: Four years ago this week, I moved back to the Bay Area from New York. I was unemployed and aimless and temporarily living with my parents again at 26, and the future was terrifying. I was regrouping, but I didn’t know if I was back here for good. The day after I landed — hungover, disoriented by the smells and sounds and lack of sensory overload of not-New York City — I headed to Hardly Strictly with a few old friends. I remember foraging our way into the park, just pushing toward the music, and literally stumbling out of a wall of shrubbery to find Patti Smith just starting her set.

The crowd was insane: people tightly packed in, drinking, passing joints, hollering, bundled in seven layers each, sitting on each other’s shoulders, stepping on each other’s army blankets full of microbrews and organic rice chips and apologizing as they tried to push up closer to the stage.

My eyes darted from the older woman with flowing batik-print pants, eyes closed, swaying joyously by herself, to the young couple with matching dreads who were tripping on god knows what, to the balding-but-ponytailed and potbellied man who seemed to be trying to get a hacky sack game going to the beat of “Because the Night.”

I don’t want to speak for all Bay Area kids, but I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about large groups of hippies — there’s just a saturation point when you grow up here. Unlike so many of my transplant friends, I have never found the remnants of the Summer of Love overly enchanting; this is what happens when you are forced to watch the documentary Berkeley In the Sixties in high school history classes. I am also, for what it’s worth, not the biggest fan of crowds.

I knew I’d been gone a while because I was in love. I’d never been so happy to see ridiculous, stoned, absolutely beside themselves weirdos all doing their own weird things next to each other and nobody caring. Little kids dancing with grandparents; teenagers making out. I felt like I’d stumbled onto some sort of magical island, one where nobody talked about the stock exchange and everyone was incredibly, almost purposefully unfashionable and the thought of waiting in line to get into a club was ludicrous. I wanted to live in this smelly pile of humanity forever, and that was a new one for me. I knew I’d been gone a while because I was seeing SF the way transplants see SF. And I also knew I was home.

That atmosphere, I learned while talking to Holliday last week, is absolutely by design.

“I think of it more as a gathering of music lovers than a festival, really,” says Holliday, who’s booked Hardly Strictly every year since its inception. “I think having no fences — you can walk away at any time — and not selling alcohol makes a huge difference in people’s attitudes.”

As for the task of putting together a lineup each year that appeals to everyone from teenagers to folks in their 70s and 80s — the announcement of Sun Kil Moon, Deltron 3030, the Apache Relay, Sharon Van Etten, and others had many pronouncing this the hippest (read: appealing to folks under 40) lineup in years — Holliday says she actually keeps it relatively simple.

“When it started, and I kind of still do this, it was just with Warren in mind,” she says. “I was thinking about what he hadn’t heard yet. I knew he didn’t start listening to music until later in life, so I wanted to book music that I thought he should be turned on to. As long as there was some kind of roots in it. The Blind Boys of Alabama, Gogol Bordello, all stuff that he would really love to hear, but he’d never go out and see because he went to bed at 9:30. That was my goal for 12 years. ‘What would blow Warren’s mind?'” She laughs, noting that Hellman’s early bedtime is also the reason for the festival ending not long after dark.

“I don’t think [my booking] has changed that much with his passing,” she says. “It’s still music that I feel doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. Nothing’s bigger than the Fillmore. A lot of the bands don’t fill our rooms [Great American Music Hall and Slim’s], so a lot of people get to hear music they’re not normally exposed to. The age range is all over the place. And with bands that usually are a higher ticket, it’s a an opportunity for fans to go see $60, $70 shows for free.”

The park itself also has a lot to do with how she books: “I walk through it and see what I hear,” she says. “The contours of the meadows at different times of the year speak differently to you. Sometimes when I walk down JFK, I still hear Alejandro Escovedo singing, and that was eight years ago now.”

She also has a long-running wish list of artists; Lucinda Williams and Yo La Tengo, both playing this year’s fest, have been on it for some time. And she’s especially looking forward to the annual tribute to those who’ve passed away, which happens Saturday afternoon at the banjo stage — Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, and the Ramones will all be honored this year.

“It’s the best gift,” she says. “I mean if someone were able to give us world peace, I’d say that was the best gift. But since no one’s going to — yep, this is the best.”

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is all day Fri/3 through Sun/5, for free, of course, in Golden Gate Park. Check www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com for set times, and visit our Noise blog at www.sfbg.com/noise for more coverage of the fest. Until then — we’ll see ya in the park.

 

Psychic Dream Astrology: Oct 1-6, 2014

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Oct. 1-7, 2014

Mercury goes retrograde Oct. 4-25. Don’t take it personally when miscommunications occur, and triple-check things on your end, friends.

ARIES

March 21-April 19

You don’t need to know how you’re going to get it done, but you do need to commit to trying. This week will test your resolve to make good on some changes you’re trying to execute, Aries. Set yourself up for success by putting yourself into situations you can handle, even if that means moving slower than you’d prefer.

TAURUS

April 20-May 20

You may find yourself pulled by the lure of the brightest and shiniest thing, instead of what you believe would make you most happy. Choose wisely, Taurus! When opportunity tests your values is when your true colors come out; do what’s right, and not just what’s convenient right now.

GEMINI

May 21-June 21

This week you’ve got to be willing to step forward and do what’s right, Twin Star. You are changing and you have your sights set on much brighter horizons (hazzah!), but if you keep on acting like the same, small old you, how will the world know it? Step up and be the person you want to become.

CANCER

June 22-July 22

Everything is moving slowly and it’s a test of your patience and an opportunity to grow deeper roots. Let go of what’s not working for you, Moonchild, because you’re going someplace new and you don’t want your old crap polluting the pool of your new awesomeness. Slow and steady wins this race.

LEO

July 23-Aug. 22

The shit that isn’t working is here for a reason, Leo. Don’t get so attached to your idea about how life ‘should’ be that you ignore what is. If you stop trying to control things and go with the flow, things will be much easier for you this week. Try really hard to stop trying so hard, my friend.

VIRGO

Aug. 23-Sept. 22

You don’t need to fix stuff this week, even if you feel uncomfortable. When things aren’t secure there’s often a reason for that, so ask yourself how you got here, because it wasn’t by accident, Virgo. Retrace your steps so you can see where you need to pick up and reroute your progress.

LIBRA

Sept. 23-Oct. 22

Your relationships are in a great place, but are you in the right position within them? In your efforts to be diplomatic you may find that you’re not always totally being yourself, and it’s hard to have meaningful intimacies with people if you’re not totally there. Show up with all your ugly bits this week.

SCORPIO

Oct. 23-Nov. 21

Fear of failure will stop you in your tracks and mess with your beautiful head if you let it. Instead of looping through a mental obstacle course of what-ifs, be proactive, Scorpio. You are capable and strong; all you’re missing is belief in yourself and a bit of patience. It’s better to try and fail than sit around worrying about it, pal.

SAGITTARIUS

Nov. 22-Dec. 21

Move slowly enough to take your vulnerabilities with you, Sag. It’s easy enough to have an inspired vision for what you want, but the hard part is being emotionally rooted enough to receive it. Get right with yourself before you put yourself out there this week, so when you do, you can take in what’s coming your way.

CAPRICORN

Dec. 22-Jan. 19

Your job is to receive the love being offered to you, Capricorn. Let it light up the parts inside of you that you’re all too used to keeping in the dark. This week the stars are trying to get you to (for reals) let happiness, love, and success in. Stop working so hard to get it and absorb what you’ve already got.

AQUARIUS

Jan. 20-Feb. 18

There’s no reason for you to feel bad about where you’re at, Aquarius. You’re not in control of what’s coming your way, but you can take responsibility for how you respond. Be willing to learn from your past and you’ll be able to see that this is just part of your process when it comes to big transitions.

PISCES

Feb. 19-March 20

Go forth slowly, my friend. Everything thing is awesome in your life but I fear that you somehow missed that memo. Take a breather and consider all that you have to be grateful for. Don’t just think about it; really feel good about what you’ve got going for you. Gratitude is a fear-buster, Pisces.

Want more in-depth, intuitive or astrological advice from Jessica? Schedule a one-on-one reading that can be done in person or by phone. Visit www.lovelanyadoo.com

 

Rep Clock: Oct 1-6, 2014

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Schedules are for Wed/1-Tue/7 except where noted. Director and year are given when available. Double features marked with a •. All times pm unless otherwise specified.

ARTISTS’ TELEVISION ACCESS 992 Valencia, SF; www.atasite.org. $6. “Other Cinema:” “Rick Prelinger’s Yesterday and Tomorrow in Detroit,” Sat, 8:30.

BALBOA 3630 Balboa, SF; cinemasf.com/balboa. $7.50-10. “Thursday Night Rock Docs:” The Who’s Tommy (Russell, 1975), Thu, 7:30. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), Tue, 7:30.

BERKELEY FELLOWSHIP OF UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS 1924 Cedar, Berk; www.bfuu.org. The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism, and Community (Macksoud and Ankele, 2013), Thu, 6:30.

CASTRO 429 Castro, SF; (415) 621-6120, www.castrotheatre.com. $8.50-11. •To Have and Have Not (Hawks, 1944), Wed, 7:05, and Dark Passage (Daves, 1947), Wed, 5, 9. •Jaws 3-D (Alves, 1983), Thu, 7:30, and Drive Angry (Lussier, 2011), Thu, 9:25. •Christine (Carpenter, 1983), Fri, 7:15, and Carrie (De Palma, 1976), Fri, 9:25. Frozen (Buck and Lee, 2013), presented sing-along style, Sat, 1. Advance tickets ($11-16) at www.ticketweb.com. •The Bad Seed (LeRoy, 1956), Sat, 7:05, and Village of the Damned (Rilla, 1960), Sat, 5:30, 9:30. Gandhi (Attenborough, 1982), Sun, 7.

CINECAVE Lost Weekend, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.lostweekendvideo.com. $10. “Zucker Fairey,” short film screening as “Talkies” comedy night, with other performances including Shadow Circus Creature Theatre, DJ REAL, and Karen Penley, Fri, 8:30.

CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM 736 Mission, SF; www.thecjm.org. Free. A Mighty Wind (Guest, 2003), Tue, noon.

EXPLORATORIUM Pier 15, SF; www.exploratorium.edu. Free with museum admission ($19-25). “Saturday Cinema: A Cinematic Study of the Fog in San Francisco,” short films, Sat, 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3, 3:30.

GOETHE-INSTITUT SF 530 Bush, SF; www.goethe.de/ins/us/saf/enindex.htm. $5 suggested donation. “100 Years After WWI:” Diaries of the Great War — Part 3 and 4 (Peter, 2014), Wed, 6:30.

JACK LONDON FERRY LAWN Clay and Water, Oakl; www.jacklondonsquare.com. Free. “Sing-along Cinema:” Frozen (Buck and Lee, 2013), Fri, sundown.

MECHANICS’ INSTITUTE 57 Post, SF; milibrary.org/events. $10. “CinemaLit Film Series: Alternative Realities:” 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (Pal, 1964), Fri, 6.

MISSION CULTURAL CENTER FOR LATINO ARTS 2868 Mission, SF; www.sfimmigrantfilmfestival.com. $10. Immigrant Film Festival, narratives, docs, and shorts about immigrant people from around the world, Sun, 2 and 4. Visit website for additional screening venues and dates.

NEW PARKWAY 474 24th St, Oakl; www.thenewparkway.com. Free. “First Friday Shorts: Sistah Sinema — Zombie Love,” zombie-themed films by queer women of color, Fri, 6.

142 THROCKMORTON THEATRE 142 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; www.leftcoastensemble.org. $15-30. “Films and Interludes,” silent films accompanied by live scores with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Thu, 8.

PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE 2575 Bancroft, Berk; (510) 642-5249, bampfa.berkeley.edu. $5.50-9.50. “Alternative Visions:” “Projection Instructions:” Outer and Inner Space (Warhol, 1965), with “Christmas on Earth” (Rubin, 1963), Wed, 7. “Jean-Luc Godard: Expect Everything from Cinema:” Numéro deux (Godard and Miéville, 1975), Thu, 7; Comment ça va (Godard and Miéville, 1978), Sun, 5. “Eyes Wide: The Films of Stanley Kubrick:” 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Fri, 7:30; Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Sat, 8:40. “Endless Summer Cinema:” Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (Burton, 1985), Fri, 8. “Discovering Georgian Cinema:” Little Red Devils (Perestiani, 1923), Sat, 6:30.

ROXIE 3117 and 3125 16th St, SF; (415) 863-1087, www.roxie.com. $6.50-11. Starred Up (Mackenzie, 2013), Wed, 9:15; Thu, 9:30. 20,000 Days on Earth (Forsyth and Pollard, 2014), Wed-Thu, 9:30 (also Wed, 7; Thu, 7:15). “Synesthesia Film Festival: Screening #7,” short films, music videos, student works, web series, and more, Wed, 1. Nas: Time is Illmatic (One9, 2014), Thu, 7. Abuse of Weakness (Breillat, 2014), Oct 3-9, 7, 9:15 (also Sat-Sun, 2:30, 4:45). Nymphomaniac Uncut (von Trier, 2014), Sat-Sun, midnight. “Pirate Night:” •The Last Hijack (Palotta, 2014), Sun, 7, and Fishing Without Nets (Hodierne, 2014), Sun, 9.

SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; (415) 454-1222, www.cafilm.org. $6.50-$10.75. Last Days in Vietnam (Kennedy, 2014), Wed-Thu, call for times. Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct 2-12. For tickets ($8-14) and complete schedule, visit www.mvff.com.

VOGUE 3290 Sacramento, SF; www.cinemasf.com/vogue. $8-$10.50. Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity (Gund, 2014), Wed-Thu, 3, 5, 7.

YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS 701 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. $8-10. “Lest We Forget: Remembering Radical San Francisco:” The Times of Harvey Milk (Epstein, 1984), Thu, 7:30; The Fall of the I-Hotel (Choy, 1983), Sun, 2. *