The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 12/01 Film: Laughter, Then the Gunfire A flop when first released in 1939, The Rules of the Game presented pre–World War II France in unheroic, foolish microcosm at the country estate of a Jewish aristocrat where servants and masters are equally committed to romantic misbehavior. It didn't help, of course, that the businesslike Nazis were about to invade and swiftly conquer a nation that director Jean Renoir depicts as being completely frivolous. But in the postwar era, his film grew in estimation, seeming less a farce and more a classic—often ranked second in critics' polls to Citizen Kane. The reason, in part, for Rules' re-evaluation is its insistence on the humanity beneath the madcap antics and bed-hopping. From the social-climbing rabbit poacher to the cuckolded gentlemen to the silly, straying wives, everyone is accorded their dignity. People may behave ridiculously, but their impulses are utterly serious. Or, to quote one of the most quoted lines in cinema, "Everyone has their reasons." Metro, 4500 Ninth Ave. N.E., 781-5755, landmarktheatres.com. $7.50–$10. 7 and 9:15 p.m. BRIAN MILLER THURSDAY 12/02 Visual Arts: Falling on Hard Times There's something sad about the empty old space once occupied by Elliott Bay Book Co., its shelves ripped out and "For Rent" signs in the windows—yet another vacancy in blighted Pioneer Square. Yet the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) brought new life to the cavernous space, albeit temporarily, for its recent 24-hour art marathon. And in its smaller adjacent storefront, the new Memory Upgrade show also has links to the gloomy economy. Its 16 artists were selected for how they "responded to the global financial crisis by changing various aspects of their work." Meaning if you can't afford paint, you use your own blood? Or reverse old canvases to paint on the other side? Or, says Nia Michaels of her small tin icons of imaginary saints, "When the economy turns rough, the first reaction is to go even smaller. Go smaller and pray." (Through Jan. 1.) CoCA Pioneer Square, 310 First Ave. S., 728-1980, cocaseattle.org. Free. Reception: 6–9 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Classical: Seasonal Circus Thanks to Ed Sullivan and the legion of jugglers (and worse) he showcased on his variety show for decades, Khachaturian's frenetic "Sabre Dance," originally a balletic evocation of high-leaping warrior bravado, became the ubiquitous accompaniment to—and sonic signifier of—cheesy vaudeville hijinks. But Seattle Symphony's taking pains to restore a little dignity to the combination of classical music and circus acts with Cirque de la Symphonie. Popular in past years, the holiday special brings a cast of talented aerialists, acrobats, balancers, and more, from top troupes around the globe, to match visual delights to aural ones. Eric Garcia conducts. (Through Sun.) Benaroya Hall, Third Ave. & Union St., 215-4747, seattlesymphony.org. $17–$99. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT Film/Books: Holiday in L.A. "There is a real absence of good gay Christmas movies," says Los Angeles author/film scholar Alonso Duralde. The lights, the pageantry, the festive decorations—Christmas really deserves more love, from a gay perspective, than Halloween. For that reason, in conjunction with his Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas (Limelight, $16.99), Duralde will be screening and discussing the underrated 2005 comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, in which Val Kilmer plays a tough gay private detective trying to protect Robert Downey Jr. during the highly artificial Christmas season in L.A. "It's a cult movie that is slowly gaining steam," says Duralde. "Setting it during Christmas just reinforces the notion that L.A. is one big movie set. Downey Jr. narrates it in a very self-conscious style. And I think Kilmer's an underrated comedian." (True! And his character, actually called Gay Perry, surely deserves a sequel. Or, failing that, a sitcom.) Duralde's book also reminds us how some unlikely movies—Three Days of the Condor, Gremlins, Night of the Hunter—are set during the holidays. Christmas, he notes, signifies redemption, which all screenwriters adore. A book signing and discussion follow the screening. Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684, central-cinema.com. $6. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER FRIDAY 12/03 Visual Arts: In the Bags Ladies, what's in your purse? (This reporter's stash includes a cell phone, makeup, and dog biscuits.) Clutch It! The Purse and the Person—A Century of Women's Purses is an impressive collection of 250-plus handbags and their contents. There are purses made out of bottle caps, cigarette wrappers, and melon seeds, as well as contemporary high-end designs by Louis Vuitton and Prada. What's inside them is even more intriguing. Flappers in the '20s carried coins, compacts, and lipstick, while '50s suburban housewives transported lozenges, children's toys, and movie-ticket stubs. "Clutch It!" provides an insightful yet playful glimpse at the lives and changing roles of women that will appeal to fashionistas as much as to history buffs. And it's certain to make you give greater thought to why you tote around what you do all day. (Ends Feb. 14.) Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., 324-1126, seattlehistory.org. $6–$8. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. ERIKA HOBART SATURDAY 12/04 Fashion: Retro Appeal Silk tea gowns and perky cloches, saddle shoes and fringed flapper dresses—the Jazz Age was a time when fashion gained its freedom. In the Roaring '20s, American women discovered the chic examples of Chanel, Schiaparelli, and Vionnet—women who defined elegance with their sleek, original designs. (I shudder to think what these luminaries would think of Ke$ha and Snooki.) Fashion know-it-all Lorraine O'Neal pays tribute to that era by hosting the third Seattle Vintage Fashion Show, part of the jazz-crazy Savoy Swing Club's Killer Diller Weekend. O'Neal's snagged Vain to style her models (read: the hair will look amazing), and the show's clothing will be a lot more interesting than the musty stuff on the racks at Goodwill. Period pieces have been sourced from O'Neal's personal trove—she's been collecting for 15 years—and various donors, including one thrifty 84-year-old who kept her grandmother's wardrobe, perhaps waiting for an event just like this. Ballard Oddfellows Hall, 1706 N.W. Market St., 419-9132, vintagefashionshow.wordpress.com. $12. 7:30 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSON Visual Arts: Broken Chairs There's one small poster of Chairman Mao in Wang Huaiqing: A Painter's Painter in Contemporary China, since the artist began his training in the early '60s, before the Cultural Revolution. But Wang, who recently attended the opening of his first American museum retrospective, swiftly moved beyond propaganda and into allusive, historically infused abstraction. And he keeps the politics and symbolism veiled. His large canvases often involve furniture, which seems benign. Then recall, however, that for the average Chinese peasant, furniture was historically a luxury; anyone who didn't sit on the ground was a station above you. At the same time, traditionally carved wooden furniture is also being junked in the new, booming China, whose throwaway culture is beginning to resemble our own. (See Homeless Furniture for one such example.) Wang's shattered chairs—some wood scraps extend off the canvas and onto the wall—allude to both those aspects of Chinese tradition. Its ancient structures become blurred in modernity, the half-forgotten foundations of a partly transformed nation. (Through April 10.) Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E. Prospect St., 654-3100, seattleartmuseum.org. $5–$7. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLER MONDAY 12/06 Books: Everyone's Unique Yes! After being ignored in favor of Portland and Vancouver, B.C., in his first book, Christian Lander has put us in the subtitle of Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, From Seattle's Sweaters to Maine's Microbrews (Random House, $15). There's even an accompanying line drawing to illustrate our heavy woolen smugness and ossified Nirvana pride. But, Lander cautions, "When talking to a Seattle white person about music, it's best to let them believe that their city's relevance extended well beyond a brief period from 1991 to 1994." Whiter Shades of Pale is organized by region and subject; it's a taxonomy of behaviors and affinities—Christopher Guest movies, ironic ugly-sweater parties, the iPhone Hipstamatic app—which like-minded urbanites use to pretend we aren't all so alike. The book's an insightful, hilarious chronicle of our desperate attempts to be unique, from fetishizing sea salt to collecting vintage maps. (A corollary: No one admits to shopping at IKEA, though we all do.) All of which serves the white person's goal: "to be slightly different from their friends and to inspire at least a small amount of jealousy." During the coming holiday season, this book is the perfect gift for someone exactly like you. Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

 
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