This Week's Recommended Events

THURSDAY 11/17

Stage: Law & Disorder

The conventional assumption is that live theater is an immediate, in-your-face experience, while film and television are mediated and distant. The performance work of New York's visiting Temporary Distortion troupe turns those ideas around. In their world, film and video peer into all the corners of our emotional landscape. Live actors often stand isolated in Plexiglas closets, interacting with films, just one element in an elaborate multiscreen construction. Stationary and surrounded by moving images, these performers speak their lines as if in a phone booth, while their onscreen counterparts live in a larger world. Their work often draws from classic film genres, and Americana Kamikaze, a riff on Japanese horror films, is available through OntheBoards.tv. Making its U.S. premiere, Newyorkland is inspired by tough cop movies from the '70s (think of Popeye Doyle in The French Connection) and TV police procedurals. No surprise that director Kenneth Collins is the son of a policeman and scenographer William Cusick has worked on Law & Order. (Through Sun.) On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, ontheboards.org. $25. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ

Dance: Points of Access

Alonzo King's San Francisco–based LINES Ballet has a name that shortchanges its work. King's choreography displays mind-blowing feats of flexibility and technique, yet he crafts far more than just impressive body lines. He fuses multicultural dance with classical ballet, and his hybrid vision includes the musicality and movement quality of non-technical dance. The results are nuanced shapes, risky partner work, and heavily contrasted movement themes. As part of the UW World Series, the LINES company will perform Dust and Light and Scheherazade, both relatively recent works from 2009. The former features impeccable flow and creature-like floor work, set to an equally exquisite baroque soundtrack. Scheherazade showcases innovative point work that could make even a prima ballerina tilt her head in fascination. King's choreography is daring while still accessible, making this a great show to attend for dancers and non-dancers alike. (Through Sat.) Meany Hall (UW campus), 543-4880, uwworldseries.org. $20–$41. 8 p.m. AARON GORDON

FRIDAY 11/18

Film: Acts of Devotion

Tormented by suspicious parishioners and his own spiritual anguish, the young cleric (Claude Laydu) in Robert Bresson's 1951 Diary of a Country Priest lives on stale bread soaked in wine, burning the candle of his devotion at both ends as he becomes unduly involved with the domestic drama unfolding at the local château. Bresson's movie is almost as demanding in its purity as the priest. The film is experiential: The priest's suffering is not to be explained but lived, and the action is explicated by his voice-over narration, punctuated by shots of his journal entries as they're being written. Its every sound and image unobtrusively precise, Diary is a movie of emphatic understatement: contemplative yet abrupt, eloquent and blunt, oblique but lucid. The priest is a contradictory personality—self-effacing, willful, and honest to a fault in his attempt to save the château's mistress (the movie's only professional actress) from a despair he recognizes all too well in himself. Few artists since the Renaissance have so convincingly wed the aesthetic to the spiritual. Diary's final shot makes its allegory absolutely apparent even as the priest's last words—"All is grace"—suggest cinema itself is the holy sacrament. (Through Sun.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$9. 7 & 9:15 p.m. J. HOBERMAN

SATURDAY 11/19

Books: Space-Age Can-Do

The Space Needle, Elvis, the Monorail, the Bubbleator at the Food Circus . . . there was even a nightclub with feathered and occasionally topless showgirls (!) on the Seattle Center campus, which was specially cleared and created for our city's grandest postwar celebration. Part of the charm of flipping through historians Paula Becker and Alan Stein's The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World's Fair and Its Legacy (HistoryLink.org, $39.95) is the nostalgia, but there's also a bit of a rebuke in its futuristic, optimistic pages. 1962 was a time when we built things, when we got things done. Boeing jetliners, the new I-5 freeway, a second bridge across the lake—we didn't suffer from political gridlock or debates about stimulus spending and deficits. The looming 50th anniversary coincides, too, with the current Mad Men chic, a longing for JFK-era glamour and political certainty. And such ambition! The Century 21 Exhibition, as it was called, had a space-age theme, since the Russians had already beaten us into orbit and Boeing was becoming a major player in the aerospace industry. And the visitors—Igor Stravinsky and Van Cliburn, Nixon and RFK, Dennis the Menace and Nat King Cole! Seattle craved, and got, the recognition that its boosters and government officials believed would bring more tourists and trade. But in truth, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Amazon would've probably happened without it, and the money-losing Seattle Center itself has proven a white elephant despite a half-dozen redevelopment schemes. Today, can you imagine anyone proposing another World's Fair in Seattle? Where we'd have to condemn properties and issue bonds? And the traffic? Not a chance. Today, Becker and Stein will discuss and show images from their book; the library is also opening a special exhibit, Space Ages: A History of the Century 21 Exposition Grounds, which runs through next September. Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 386-4636, spl.org. Free. 1 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Comedy: We Follow Her

The Office is managing to survive without Steve Carell; the same might not be true if NBC lost Mindy Kaling, the phenomenally funny actress who plays the series' ego- maniacal, airheaded customer-service rep Kelly Kapoor. Kaling, who's been writing for the show since she was 24 (she now also directs episodes), recently authored Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) (Crown, $25), which details her transformation from elementary-school fat kid to adorable and famous comedienne. The book is an inside look at Kaling's love life (two back-to-back chapters are called "Someone Explain One-Night Stands to Me" and " 'Hooking Up' Is Confusing"), her hobbies ("With the exception of Japanese businessmen, no one likes karaoke more than I do"), and her legendary Twitter feed, @mindykaling. (A recent tweet: "Can everyone buy my book please? I wanna quit the business and home-school my kids real weird"). Also mentioned are her Office co-stars, including the Shoreline-raised "frenemy" with whom she appears at tonight's Rainn Wilson and Friends comedy benefit show for The Mona Foundation, a Seattle-based educational nonprofit for women and girls worldwide. "Seattle is Twilight country!" Kaling recently tweeted at Wilson. "Also hoping to do a book thing earlier that day. Seattle loves brainy things, Frasier taught me." Other Wilson Friends appearing tonight include Phoenix Jones, the former SW cover-story subject who helped inspire Wilson's movie Super; Chris Pratt (who grew up in Lake Stevens), the lovably oafish Mouse Rat frontman Andy Dwyer on The Office's sister show, Parks & Recreation; and Pratt's real-life wife, Anna Faris (who grew up in Edmonds), who should demand that Kaling write her next movie. And co-star in it, of course. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $31.25–$51.25. 8 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSON

SUNDAY 11/20

Film/Winter Sports: Pratfalls and Snowfall

At 86, Warren Miller is long retired from the company he sold, which still produces ski movies bearing his name. (The latest, . . . Like There's No Tomorrow, plays McCaw Hall Friday and Saturday; see page 50.) Now living up in the San Juans, with a ski home in Montana, Miller ventures down tonight for a reception (5 p.m.), a Q&A with local journalist Neal Thompson, and a screening (at 6 p.m.) of one of his favorite movies, the 1981 comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy. What's the connection to his own filmmaking? "The art of storytelling is reduced to its ultimate simplicity in that film," explains Miller (no relation to me). The tale of a Kalahari bushman whose community is disrupted by an empty Coke bottle tossed from a plane is full of slapstick and pratfalls, just like Miller's own ski movies, which he began making in 1949. "I grew up in the Depression," he says, "when people really wanted to laugh. Someone falling off a chairlift—you feel better knowing you're not so dumb as to have ever done that yourself." Indeed, part of the charm of Miller's old ski movies, drolly narrated by the director, is the incidental humor—the refusal to take a leisure sport seriously. "There's really a fun side to a pothole in a parking lot splashing mud every time a car drives through," says Miller. (For examples, note that Woodsky's in Fremont will be running old-school Warren Miller ski movies from 6–8 p.m. the prior Thursday.) One reason he sold the enterprise, he recalls, was being told in the '90s that "ski films should not be funny." In his spirit, no one would ever mistake The Gods Must Be Crazy for anthropology, and you can expect Miller to laugh loudest at its innocent gags. (Ticket includes reception, hors d'oeuvres, and no-host bar.) Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., 324-9996, siff.net. $85. BRIAN MILLER

 
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