The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 1/4

Comedy: Growing Haynes

Andy Haynes lives in New York City now, but he remains the quintessential Seattle comedian. His subject matter, drawn from everyday life, is edgier and more sarcastic than that of the king of observational humor, Jerry Seinfeld. Haynes' hair and clothing appear to be an afterthought (he looks faintly like early-SNL Seth Meyers), and his anecdotes are delivered as though he's seated next to you at Linda's, not standing onstage in front of hundreds of fans. He's going places—Haynes recently performed on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon—but he remains emblematic of the scene that nurtured him. Never before has a man cracking wise about Nazis, homosexuality ("It gets sweater"), and the stench of homeless subway commuters seemed so darn cuddly. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000, chopsuey.com. $10–$15. 9 p.m. MIKE SEELY

THURSDAY 1/5

Film: Small Crimes

Beginning a 10-film retrospective at SAM, François Truffaut's 1959 delinquency tale The 400 Blows still resonates through the isolation of essential details, which stand out with the focus of unblemished memory: that ancient, gouged, chalk-coated classroom that's seen a thousand wiseasses sent to its corner; the horror of impending discipline as a teacher's called into the hallway; the tactile, gasping chill from the milk that Antoine quaffs from a stolen bottle during a night on the street. It is the nature of the film for those who love it to recognize themselves in it, and so it never fully recedes into history. Fourteen-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud appears for the first time as Antoine Doinel, who begins a cycle of punishment and retaliatory misbehavior that inexorably mounts, burying him under an accretion of lies, accidental arson, plagiarism, truancy, and petty larceny. Eventually the boy leaves the cramped apartment he shares with his hard, bottle-blonde mother and clownish, cuckolded stepfather for the more peaceful climes of the juvenile detention center. The film was Truffaut's arrival, a triumph of publicity at Cannes, the loudest early success of the loose confederation of New Wave filmmakers, and a milestone in autobiographical cinema. His 1958 short Les Mistons ("The Brats") precedes the feature. (Thursdays through March 1.) Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, seattleartmuseum.org. $59–$66 series, $7 individual. 7:30 p.m. NICK PINKERTON

Photography: Faces of Conflict

After nine years, nearly 4,500 military fatalities, and thousands more seriously wounded, the Iraq War is finally over. Soon after the U.S. invasion, New York photographer Suzanne Opton began to make portraits of the men and women who serve, posing them near-identically in her series Soldier, with heads resting on the ground. Eyes open and closed, some looking relaxed, others just tired, their faces were compared to those in a morgue back in 2008, when Opton bought billboard space to display them in Minneapolis–St. Paul during the Republican National Convention. Naturally the billboard company canceled the contract for fear of offending attendees. Said Opton of her subjects, "They may look troubled, but it's not easy to be a soldier. Why should that be hidden from us?" In a second series on view, Many Wars, she drapes veterans—some going back to WWII—in robes and places them in almost classical poses, as if they'd stepped out of a painting. In a real sense, they have. Art history is full of nobly posed warriors with raised swords, flapping banners, and valiant steeds. Opton does away with all that, dispensing with medals and uniforms, notions of bravery and patriotism. You just get a name, no rank, and maybe the length of service. Their sacrifice and our respect is implicit, but it's the gulf between us that may be the real subject of Opton's lens. (Through early February; also note closing reception with the artist on Thurs., Feb. 4.) Platform Gallery, 114 Third Ave. S. (Tashiro Kaplan Building), 323-2808, platformgallery.com. Free. Opening reception 6–8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

FRIDAY 1/6

Stage: Rush Jobs

The whole point of the annual 14/48 Theater Festival, in which 14 new 10-minute plays are created over two weekends, is to accept the format's hasty limitations. Facing his fourth outing at 14/48, actor/playwright MJ Sieber says "You're definitely setting up a chance to fail—usually on the first night [Friday], which then informs the second night's performance." Themes are assigned at random, and the writers' response is usually to aim for laughs. "That's what I've always shot for," says Sieber. "Having sat through thousands of 14/48 performances, it seems like SNL-style sketch comedy works best." Also, it's wise to maintain a character-first approach to writing. "I don't think about the plot beforehand," he adds. More advice: Hew to realism or go completely beyond it (into the zany), and keep the stagecraft simple: "If you're gonna have any props, it's best to be minimal—a stapler and a cell phone." (Seven new shows are created next Fri. & Sat.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, acttheatre.org. $20–$25 ($40 pass). 8 & 10:30 p.m. Repeats Sat. BRIAN MILLER

Dance; Serious and Twisted

Ron Smith and Jaret Hughes dance for the past and the present. Hughes' group, Twisted Elegance, pays homage to the hip-hop music and style of the '90s, while Smith's Throne Level ensemble stays true to more current styles like vogueing and street jazz. Together these two have created an upbeat, lighthearted, and full-out urban dance show called Live in the Drum 3: A Night of Twisted Elegance. It's impossible not to bounce in your seat when you see Smith's gritty moves or Hughes hitting each "boom-kack" of the music with the precision of Janet and the flair of Michael. Smith has a knack for humorous vulgarity: In Throne Level, his dancers pull down their pants to reveal superhero-patterned underwear, only to start doing the dougie. Hughes, the SuperSonics' first male dancer, asks that his dancers sport serious "fierce" faces while performing. If anything, his lightning-fast, energetic choreography requires a serious mind to keep track of what move comes next. I should know, since (disclosure) I'm one of the performers. Bellevue College's Carlson Theatre, 3000 Landerholm Cir. S.E., 425-564-1000, brownpapertickets.com. $15. 8 p.m. AARON GORDON

Film: The Secret Agent Before the Artist

Director Michel Hazanavicius and his star, Jean Dujardin, scored a hit at SIFF '06 with OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, a hilarious French spy spoof set in the mid-'50s. They followed with a lesser sequel (OSS 117: Lost in Rio), but their first genuine American success is The Artist, which has been earning superlatives from Cannes to its current U.S. release (Oscar nominations are expected). In Cairo, Dujardin plays the sexist, chauvinist secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (code name OSS 117), who doesn't know the first thing about the world outside his Paris tailor's shop. Nor does he care to learn. Upon arrival in Egypt, he's yawningly incredulous that people speak Arabic—not French? Zut alors!—and worship a strange god. This whole Islam thing, he predicts, it'll never last. Though assigned a chic local assistant (Bérénice Béjo, also in The Artist), and attracting notice from a sexy princess, our man in Cairo is mainly confounded by the chicken plant he must run as a cover for his covert operations. And he's haunted by the memory of his dead WWII buddy Jack, with whom he played many a manly, joyous paddleball game on the beach, then wrestled ecstatically in the surf. Oh, how they laughed together, Hubert and Jack! Laughed! OSS 117 is deliciously and authentically textured with the cheesy rear-screen projection, tailored JFK suits, and trim Jackie dresses of the era, but Hubert's retrograde ignorance of the world still resonates. As an incurious, self-assured, colonialist idiot barges through a foreign culture he doesn't understand, making enemies and offending the natives at every turn, the film is as much foreign-policy critique as comedy. Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 781-5755, landmarktheatres.com. $8.25. Midnight. (Repeats Sat.) BRIAN MILLER

SATURDAY 1/7

Stage: Where Have I Heard This Guy?

Stephen Tobolowsky is not a name you'll immediately recognize, but his face is unmistakable. Turns out his voice is, too. The veteran actor has played memorable supporting roles in 100-plus films (recall Ned "Bing" Ryerson, the cheerful bald guy Bill Murray slugs in Groundhog Day) and myriad TV shows (lately including Glee, as pervy teacher Sandy Ryerson). He's even the subject of a 2006 documentary, Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party, which you can find on DVD. But it's in telling stories on his weekly podcast and syndicated radio show, The Tobolowsky Files, that the artist has found his true calling. His fireside chats, heard Saturday afternoons on KUOW, are comforting and gripping. His earnest, conversational tales bounce between the personal and the professional; and despite his long showbiz resume, he always provides common ground with the listener and never name-drops. (One example: his droll account of how a polite, unknown Brad Pitt apologizes for sitting in his chair on the set of Thelma & Louise.) Tonight he'll be telling stories and taking your questions. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $19–$24. 8 p.m. CHRIS KORNELIS

Books: The Recovering Debutante

Just as American expats who flocked to Paris in the '20s often had to deal with a skeptical "Oh, like Hemingway?", any young woman who moves to New York after college is now judged by the standard of Carrie Bradshaw. To her incredulous relatives back in North Carolina, Jane Borden must continually insist that, no, her life is not just like Sex and the City. Struggling through the usual array of temp jobs and waitressing gigs in a post-9/11 metropolis, Borden began to collect the vignettes related in her memoir I Totally Meant to Do That (Broadway, $14). Instead of tawdry tales of drunken hookups (assuming there were any), this young journalist and comedienne muses upon the disconnect between her friendly Southern upbringing and the don't-look-at-me code of the street. Just because a stranger has the same R.E.M. Green concert tour T-shirt as you, she realizes, doesn't mean you should strike up a conversation with him. There's no Gawker snark to her travails, which often read like letters home from an exotic, foreign land where the delis are open all night, women aren't expected to marry, and "proper" manners gradually erode with experience. She's more Erma Bombeck than Candace Bushnell. Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

TUESDAY 1/10

Stage: Oblivously in Love

Perhaps it's heresy to say it, but the last thing I expected to work in the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story was the love story between Tony and Maria. Yes, I realize the show is a classic—in fact, there are few scores I'd rather hear more than that of this Bernstein/Sondheim masterwork. I'd pay top dollar just to listen to the Sharks and Jets holler "Mambo! Mambo! GO!" at each other before the orchestra tears into the punctuating brass of "Dance at the Gym," let alone thrill to the heartstopping "America." Let's be honest, though: Tony and Maria can be real drips. Tony, supposedly a former gang member, runs around proclaiming corny stuff like "We got magic!", and Maria's virginal appeal seems awfully dim next to the high-wattage va-va-voom of that show-stealer Anita. But this latest tour, in which late librettist Arthur Laurents' Broadway direction is recreated by David Saint, beautifully articulates the pure ache and desire between this naive pair of sweethearts. The physical staging is often sublime: Just as Tony's final note in "Maria" starts to float toward the proscenium arch, the lady in question slides into view on her balcony, ready to take up a heated "Tonight." By the time the tragic denouement earns its tears when Maria's shawl becomes her widow's veil, a dark echo of its tender use during the faux-wedding play of "One Hand, One Heart," you understand more than ever that these are two kids so smitten—and, frankly, so turned on—that they can't fully comprehend that anything could stand in their way. (Through Sun.) The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $25–$80. 7:30 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

 
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