The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 2/1

Books: Chord of Resolution

Rock lit is on the rise. Soon after Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids won the 2010 National Book Award, Brooklyn-based Jennifer Egan was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for her tremendous A Visit From the Goon Squad. Egan's fourth novel effectively Proust-icizes the rock-memoir genre by spinning out tales of a variegated cast of characters—from Bennie, an '80s punk leader (of fictitious band the Flaming Dildos) turned millionaire New York record exec, to Lou, a rock-star father attempting to impress his estranged kids with an African safari, to Dolly, a failed publicist reduced to working on a Hollywood-style image overhaul for a South American dictator. By the end, Egan, a finessed and wildly creative writer, ties up all these characters through bonds of love, blood, and rock 'n' roll. (Presented by Seattle Arts & Lectures.) Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., 621-2230, lectures.org. $5–$70. 7:30 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSON

THURSDAY 2/2

Film: Attack of the Balloons!

Unspeakable violence afflicts the stick-figure characters drawn by animator Don Hertzfeldt, whose Oscar-nominated 2000 short Rejected includes the timeless complaint "My anus is bleeding!" In the same film, a guy who dares not to wear a silly hat to a meeting of silly-hat wearers is beaten to death. Lesson: Heed the sign about the silly hats. Those are just some of the miseries inflicted in the dark-humored shorts that Hertzfeldt will screen and discuss tonight. His latest effort, the 23-minute It's Such a Beautiful Day, continues the misadventures of Bill, a poor nebbish who was essentially born—well, drawn—to suffer. (We're guessing the film doesn't end so beautifully for him.) Other titles include Billy's Balloon—in which a child's red balloon goes murderously amok—and The Meaning of Life (which can be summed up as cruelty, suffering, and absurdity). SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., 324-9996, siff.net. $10–$15. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

FRIDAY 2/3

Film: Warning: Perdition Ahead

"Fin du cinéma"? At the white-hot cresting moment of his epochal first phase, Jean-Luc Godard conjured his 1967 Week End, a yowling, hilarious black nightmare of capitalist Armageddon, abandoning the fervent romance of his earlier films and plunging nose first into the shit-pit of bourgeois greed. A homicidal couple embark on a car trip to visit the woman's sickly father, immediately entering a provincial/Dantean landscape of bloodthirsty drivers, ceaseless car wrecks, imaginary personas, cannibalistic revolutionaries, and feral consumerism. ("My Hermés handbag!" Mireille Darc's antiheroine screams after a burning crash.) The layers of social critique are so many that even Marxists, spouting rhetoric, touting rifles, and eating tourists in the woods, are roasted in the film's furnace. Overflowing with, famously, not "blood" but "red," it's a high-spirited, irreverent gob in the eye, but Weekend is also one of JLG's most energetic statements of cinematic élan—venturing a dialogue, among filmmaker, movie, and the viewing world, the depth and seriousness of which have no real rival. (Through Thurs.) SIFF Film Center, 305 Harrison St., 324-9996, siff.net. $5–$10. Call for times. MICHAEL ATKINSON

Stage: We Belong to the Land

Although the 5th Avenue is billing the show as Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (to distinguish it from, what, the Bertolt Brecht version?), you hardly need those legendary names to advertise whose fabled state you're entering. The exclamation point says it all. And for this revival, the 5th plans to use local choreographer Donald Byrd and his Spectrum Dance Theater to make sure the 1943 classic steps in time. Given that Byrd's company electrified the 5th's West Side Story five years ago, you'd do well to watch what becomes of this piece's famed (and sometimes dreaded) Dream Ballet. We've also been promised an examination of race in turn-of-the-century America—a dubious prospect, yet director Peter Rothstein has interestingly upped the stakes by casting a black actor as Jud Fry, the farmhand who sends an erotic chill down the lily-white spine of Laurey and rattles her cowboy love Curly. And you'll get a score that, especially if you haven't paid it heed in a while, still sounds both fresh and as unshakeable a part of you as your DNA. There's a bright golden haze on the meadow . . . (Previews begin tonight; opens Feb. 9; runs through March 4.) 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., 625-1900, 5thavenue.org. $29–$119. 8 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

Stage: Shape-Shifter

You won't find any actor in the region more suited than Nick Garrison to inhabit Doug Wright's 2004 Pulitzer- and Tony-winning I Am My Own Wife. The chameleonic Garrison is too often easily summed up as a gender-bender, when he's much better described as a performer with an uncanny handle on the slippery, sometimes sad, but often comical nature of identity. He made his name in town (and abroad) packing theaters as the transgendered German rocker of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, then moved on to Oscar Wilde (in Empty Space's Vera Wilde), a nasty female nurse named Fay (Intiman's Loot), a gay marine biologist charged with repopulating the planet (boom, at the Rep), and, most recently, one of the ugly stepsisters in the 5th Avenue's Cinderella. Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German antiques collector, played her life as one long, complicated role. Born a biological male, she began dressing in women's clothes as a teenager, murdered her abusive father, survived the Nazis, then continued to flout convention in Communist East Berlin. Her murky, occasionally unreliable story says as much about the unknowable definition of truth as it does about heroism. But when Garrison's done bringing Charlotte—and more than 30 other characters—to life, you may want to cheer, anyway. (Previews begin tonight; opens Feb. 8; runs through March 4.) Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 443-2222, seattlerep.org. $12–$59. 8 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

 
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