The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

THURSDAY 5/3

Film: The Defendant

Big-screen interpretations of Joan of Arc are often ridiculous (Jean Seberg in Saint Joan, Milla Jovovich in The Messenger), occasionally epically confident (Sandrine Bonnaire in Joan the Maid), and once reached the sublime (Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc). In his 1962 The Trial of Joan of Arc, Robert Bresson cast Florence Delay, a 20-year-old university student, as his heroine, and she emerges as one of the most perfect of his director's "models": a steadfast teenage saint whose stoic countenance is punctured once, at the film's beginning, by a burst of tears. Bresson rejected acting; he wanted his nonprofessional performers simply to be, part of his notion of film as a pure art form. The script for Joan of Arc adheres quite closely to the actual record of the trial and of the rehabilitation process 25 years later: Joan is interrogated and taken back to her cell repeatedly, the back-and-forth of the inquisition and the clang of Joan's shackles providing the film's rhythm. Delay, her limpid eyes frequently downcast, isn't "unexpressive" but unsentimental; though austere, she is unwavering, resolute. She gave her director what he wanted, but gives audiences more: a new way to access and appreciate history's most remarkable adolescent visionary. (A Bresson retrospective continues through May 10.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$10. 7 p.m. MELISSA ANDERSON

FRIDAY 5/4

Books: Written in Stone

As the saying goes, funerals are for the living. A corollary: Memorials are for politicians and the special-interest groups who lobby them. Who decides what Civil War general gets commemorated in an Atlanta park? What dead Indian chief is selected for bronze immortality here in Seattle? And in New York City, soon after 9/11, what design—all submitted anonymously in a juried competition—should be built at Ground Zero? That's the starting point for Amy Waldeman's wildly acclaimed novel The Submission (Picador, $15), published last year and now the subject of Seattle Public Library's "Seattle Reads" program. A journalist who's written for The New York Times, Waldeman clearly understands the dynamics of power in that city, how protests are organized and talk-radio tirades directed at the ears of elected leaders and their appointees. The latter include the memorial jury, where one wealthy 9/11 widow finds that other grieving families don't share her refined taste. She and the other jurors opt for a walled garden whose architect, after the votes are counted, is revealed to be a Muslim-American born in Virginia. Though secular in every outward respect, Mohammad Khan is soon made a symbol of terrorism by The New York Post and anti-Islamic lobbying groups. The jurors, led by a retired banker, try to cling to principle but find that political support only goes so far. The public may be bigoted and unreasonable, but the public gets you elected or cast out of office. Khan becomes an indignant pinball in a politicized process, and The Submission is a fascinating, engrossing study in good intentions gone wrong. (See spl.org for Waldman's branch library appearances on Thurs. and Sat.) Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 386-4636. Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Dance: Birds and Elephants

Alice Gosti has been flinging food around in a series of works about family and home. (Her Spaghetti Company is named after her usual ammunition.) But for the launch of this triple bill, the pasta should stay on the plate—or so we judge from the title of her piece, I always wanted to give you a pink elephant. The occasion is SCUBA, a project that aims to get young choreographers on the road. Its sponsors are Velocity Dance Center, ODC Theater in San Francisco, and Philadelphia Dance Projects. Alongside Gosti, Allie Hankins is also a local talent, with a new solo piece based on the life and work of dance legend Vaslav Nijinsky, called Like a Sun that Pours Forth Light but Never Warmth. Gabrielle Revlock is the out-of-towner, from Philadelphia, and her A Fork and Stick Thing, based on birds responding to hip-hop music, sounds like it could pass for an animal-behavior research project. (Through Sun.) Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., 325-8773, velocitydancecenter.org. $15–$18. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZ

Film: Grand Opening

Tonight's opening shorts program in the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (aka STIFF) is sold out, and that's a good thing for the fest and its main venue this year, the Grand Illusion. (There are also three days of programming at the Varsity and Central Cinema.) Since 2005, STIFF has been itinerant (both on the calendar and the map), with various ancillary bar-hopping events on its menu. But the GI is ideally suited for an intimate seating of 70 filmgoers, with a cafe next door to discuss the movies. Since SIFF just announced its schedule last week, here's a chance to see more than a dozen features and docs whose directors might insist—possibly with good reason—that their movies have been unfairly overlooked. (Through May 12.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., trueindependent.org. $8 (individual), $50 (pass). 6 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

SUNDAY 5/6

Comedy: It's Always His Line

At first blush, many would peg Greg Proops as a Daily Show/Colbert Report type of comic: a smart, well-read guy whose riffs lean decidedly to the left. Plus he's been a regular panelist on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, both its English and American iterations. But he's not just some liberal jester who mocks Tories and Republicans. For starters, Proops is never afraid to offend his audience. And while his humor is heavy on wordplay and witty pop/sociopolitical references, he's not condescending or gimmicky. He's a dynamic comedian, one whose impressions go beyond mere caricature. Proops draws from his improv background, fully slipping into character when necessary. Tonight he'll be recording an episode for his podcast, The Smartest Man in the World. Maybe he's kidding, maybe he's not. Parlor Live Comedy Club, 700 Bellevue Way N.E. (Lincoln Square), 425-289-7000, parlorlive.com. $12–$20. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN J. BARR

 
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