Nov. 30, 2005

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Oddballs, Events, & Rep

Alien That's Alien singular, not Aliens plural, and erstwhile SW writer Kathleen Murphy will probably help frame the unanswerable debate about which film is better—this, the 1979 Ridley Scott original, or the 1986 James Cameron sequel. This is probably Scott's 2003 director's cut. Its soundtrack and mix have been cleaned up, the cinematography digitally tweaked, some scenes restored, and still other scenes trimmed and tightened. Here's what's new and interesting about this edit, 26 years later: AIDS and ebola and SARS have given a whole new mortal resonance to Sigourney Weaver's (disregarded) concerns about quarantine and infection. The bickering, class-divided shipmates also reflect the movie's origins in Thatcherite England. They're fractious proles in the service of a corporate overlord whose computer proclaims, "Crew expendable." Capitalism has a double set of jaws and acid blood. (R) Experience Music Project (JBL Theater), 325 Fifth Ave. N., 206-367-5483. $4-$6. 4 p.m. Sun. Dec. 4

The Cockettes As this 2002 documentary reminds us, the Cockettes were a ragtag bunch of San Francisco dropouts—men, women, gay, straight, whatever—who found constructive purpose in that anarchy. Beginning circa 1969 at the Palace Theatre in North Beach, the communal performers threw together increasingly vivid but scrappy camp musical entertainments that became so hip that the Cockettes reached Broadway in 1971. There they promptly bombed, of course, under the pressure of New York's heightened critical scrutiny. The journey traced here is an exhilarating celebration of androgyny, pansexuality, and social liberation. Above all else, the Cockettes' brief glory demonstrates the enduring human potential—in the right circumstances, with the right encouragement—to make our lives as colorful as our dreams. (NR) STEVE WIECKING Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9:15 p.m. Thurs. Dec. 1-Sat. Dec. 3.

Diggers Benefit Fundraiser Local director Cheryl Slean screens some of her earlier short work in an evening that also includes music from Paul Benoit and Strange Jerome, and multi-media art from Marita Dingus. Francine Seders Gallery, 6701 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-782-0355. 7 p.m. $10. Thurs. Dec. 1.

D.O.A. Edmond O'Brien stars as the man trying to discover who poisoned him in this 1950 noir. It's the ultimate deadline movie, as he tries to solve the crime, and perhaps save himself, with only a week to live. Who poisoned him and why? Could it be his fiancée, punishing him for his wild bachelor weekend in San Francisco? Is it the femme fatale he met? Or possibly Neville Brand, who's following him with a gun? O'Brien's just an ordinary Joe, not a master detective, which makes the tale—told mostly in flashback—all the more gripping. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9:15 p.m. Wed. Nov. 30.

59 Seconds Film Fest Irina Danilova and Hiram Levy will introduce the screenings of these (very) short works, which are both limited to 59 seconds and thematically linked, somehow, to those numerals. The traveling collection also includes stops in NYC, San Francisco, and San Diego. (NR) 911 Media Arts Center, 402 Ninth Ave. N., 206-682-6552. $5-$7. 8 p.m. Fri. Dec. 2.

First Morning Victor Vu's Vietnamese-American family drama is screened as a fundraiser for the Helping Link community service organization. In the film, a family gathers after a mother's stroke, only to confront a variety of previously dormant secrets. Call for price. (NR) Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., 206-781-4246. 6 p.m. Fri. Dec. 2.

Independent Exposure Eighteen short films are scheduled into one program (which repeats). Subjects include imperialism, kissing dogs, and a woman with a serious stocking fetish. Best of all, you can order drinks during the shows. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9 p.m. Wed. Dec. 7.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Wes Anderson's 2004 comedy limps into port coated with the rust of nostalgia and studded with the barnacles of whimsy. That's not to say it's a sinking ship, not when crewed by Bill Murray (at the helm), Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum. The Belafonte, as Steve Zissou's marine research vessel and floating movie studio is called, stays afloat just as long as you want it to and not one knot longer. While not a deep picture or an improvement on The Royal Tenenbaums (it's more like a maritime sequel), it sails a uniquely amusing course through imaginary archipelagos and chimerical sea creatures. Anderson's charts are fake, but fun. (R) Egyptian, 805 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. Midnight. Fri. Dec. 2-Sat. Dec. 3.

Mutiny on the Bounty The 1935 version stars Charles Laughton as tyrannical Captain Bligh and Clark Gable as the rebellious deckhand who turns against him. Of course, as we all know now from reading Caroline Alexander's revisionist (and more accurate) history The Bounty, Bligh was more the fellow you'd rather have steering the ship. Screened on video; admission includes discussion and snack. (NR) Movie Legends, 2319 N. 45th St., 206-632-2092. $5. 1 p.m. Sun. Dec. 4.

Pootie Tang Given the pants-peeing audacity of Pootie Tang's inspired prologue, it's a shame how thuddingly inept and unfunny the remainder of this 2001 comedy is. At the onset, producer Chris Rock and cronies from his undiluted HBO days give us a blaxploitation banana split: inarticulate, crime-fighting celebrity Pootie Tang (think Bean for the playa set) takes on a smorgasbord of gimmicky, Dick Tracy-style baddies, armed with his dead poppa's ass-whuppin' magic belt. It's as dead-on and breezy as Boogie Nights' Dirk Diggler documentary, until writer-director Louis C.K.'s well goes entirely dry. Pootie Tang (Lance Crouther) crusades to dissuade kids from devouring the malt liquor and cigarettes marketed by a despicable WASP corporation, which could've been hilarious—even important—social commentary, but C.K. paints his one-joke hero into a corner that a feature-length film cruelly magnifies. As he lingers on Pootie Tang's bizarre, nebulous image, the coolness drips away like custard, revealing merely an uninteresting freak. (PG-13) ANDREW BONAZELLI Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. 11 p.m. Fri. Dec. 2-Sat. Dec. 3.

SIFF Poster Auction & Screening Here's your chance to bid on the famous Saul Bass poster for Vertigo, along with several dozen others of varying origin and age. It's guaranteed to be less stressful than holiday shopping at the mall, and there's champagne included before the evening screening of Christmas Holiday. That 1944 yuletide noir is set in New Orleans, where cast-against-type Deanna Durbin gets all tawdry singing in a saloon (Irving Berlin's "Always" is among her numbers). Gene Kelly also pushes the envelope as a hooligan (no singing or dancing for him); Robert Diodmak directs this version of Somerset Maugham's novel, adapted by Herman J. Mankiewicz with multiple flashbacks that recall his script for Citizen Kane. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $10-$12. 4 p.m. Sun. Dec. 4.

Singin' in the Rain It's a sing-along presentation, with lyrics projected on the screen, like a karaoke bar. Only you're all expected to sing together with Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, and Gene Kelly (co-director with Stanley Donen). The superlatively witty book, like we need to tell you, is by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and the songs are (mostly) by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Have a cocktail and enjoy. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. Noon, 2, and 4:15 p.m. Sat. Dec. 3. Noon and 2 p.m. Sun. Dec. 4.

Vibrator A writer and a trucker embark on an intense, sex-filled road trip punctuated by long periods of silence and soup eating. Director Hiroki Ryuichi actually comes from the Japanese porno industry, but the film will likely bore hard-core fans. (NR) UW Gowen Hall, Room 201. Free. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. Dec. 1

 
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