The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

WEDNESDAY 5/23

SIFF: Out of Time

"I love Aubrey Plaza," a colleague recently told me about her desire to see Safety Not Guaranteed. Never having watched Parks and Recreation, I now agree. With her deadpan impatience/intelligence, Plaza plays Darius, an intern at Seattle magazine sent to the Olympic Peninsula to help write a snarky takedown of some poor schmuck who thinks he's invented a time machine. Only the sad, lonely Kenneth (Mark Duplass) isn't quite so pitiful as he first seems. Working as a grocery-store clerk, driving a rusty old Datsun, and possibly paranoid about government agents monitoring him, Kenneth turns out to be a melancholy, time-obsessed, kindred soul to Darius. She's fixated on a family tragedy in her past, and Kenneth seems equally unhappy with the present. There's something way back that he wants to fix (unless that something lies in his own head). Directed by Colin Trevorrow, who'll attend tonight's screening, Safety capers through the now with comic assurance, but it's always weighted by history and memory. A bright young thing of the moment, Plaza possesses a gravity beyond her years. (The movie opens June 8.) SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., 324-9996, siff.net. $11. 7 p.m. (Repeats 4:30 p.m. Fri.) BRIAN MILLER

THURSDAY 5/24

Baseball: Shat Albert

Sure, Chone Figgins was an awful free-agent signing, arguably the worst in Mariners history. But Mariner fans will only have to put up with him and his $8.75 million yearly salary for another year and a half (unless the club releases him sooner), whereas fans of the visiting Los Angeles Angels are saddled with Albert Pujols for the next decade, at an average annual cost of $23.7 million. Figgins is hitting below .200 with two home runs, a start that has understandably led to his benching. Yet the Mariners' chief rival for the AL West cellar keeps trotting out Pujols, who's posted statistics nearly identical to Figgins' (a former Angel), to first base every day. Having shunned a similarly lucrative offer from his employer of the previous decade, the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols has always gotten a pass from the media because he's been a noble stepdad to a special-needs daughter and never lets an interview slip by without an overt Christian reference. But like many elite athletes, he's a surly prick with a dozen cars he doesn't need. Here's hoping Cardinal Nation comes out in drunken force to remind Pujols what a traitor he is, and that St. Louis looks primed for another trip to the World Series without him. (Four-game series runs through Sun.) Safeco Field, 1250 First Ave. S., 346-4001, seattle.mariners.mlb.com. $20 and up. 7:10 p.m. MIKE SEELY

Books: History in Suspension

An Irishman living in New York, Colum McCann captured that city during a distant yet resonant era in his National Book Award–winning 2009 novel Let the Great World Spin. He begins with the ragged, near-bankrupt metropolis of 1974, at the very moment when Philippe Petit is about to wire-walk between the towers of the World Trade Center. Packed with characters (including two rivalrous Irish brothers), the novel expands panoramically, as if viewed by the unnamed Petit himself, 110 stories above. Below lies a city of strivers and survivors. There are miserable addicts and compassionate priests, moments of kindness and rank stupidity. Things seem on the verge of collapse, despite the heroics overhead—and dozens of smaller instances of courage and love that go unreported on the ground. (The next year would bring the famous "Ford to City: Drop Dead" headline in the Daily News.) But if Let the Great World Spin has a theme, it's the connectedness of New Yorkers: All those flawed citizens have a collective strength, like the wires in the cables that support the Brooklyn Bridge. Twenty-seven years later, with McCann then a resident of Manhattan, that mutual support would be demonstrated on a September morning. McCann never mentions 9/11, but you can feel the jet engines riffle the pages of his remarkable novel. Presented by Seattle Arts & Lectures. Benaroya Recital Hall, 200 University St., 621-2230, lectures.org. $15–$70. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

FRIDAY 5/25

Festivals: Might Makes It Alright

With last year's attendance estimated at 275,000, the Northwest Folklife Festival is bigger than the ongoing SIFF (about 150,000), bigger than out-of-town rival Sasquatch! (22,000), bigger than Bumbershoot (100,000). The four-day festival, now in its 41st iteration, will feature 800 acts on 25 stages: music, dance, theater, storytelling, juggling—yes, there will always be juggling—and more. This year's boldface names may be Shelby Earl and Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band, but Folklife is all about discovery—wandering, eating, and encountering the music; it's a democracy of the ears. The things that make Folklife such an artless good time are exactly the kind of things hipster tastemakers tend to dislike. Folklife is unexclusive, there's not much sense of fashion, and the audience gets to do more than hand over money and adulation. It has become refreshingly out of step with many of the prevailing attitudes—and totally unlike the other big music and arts festivals in town. And don't call Folklife stodgy! It's even got an app this year (for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone) to help keep track of its huge schedule. Seattle Center, nwfolklifefestival.org. $10 suggested. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. (Through Mon.) DESMOND FLEEFER

MONDAY 5/28

SIFF: Fatal Encounter

If you took the Ian Birk/John Williams shooting and moved it to an island off the coast of Australia, you'd get something akin to the situation explored in The Tall Man, Tony Krawitz's superb documentary about the mysterious death of an Aboriginal drunk taken into custody by a white cop on Palm Island. Only here the cop isn't a jacked-up novice to the badge, but rather a seasoned "gentle giant" who's well-respected by Aboriginal leaders. While the filmmaker's sympathies clearly lie with the natives, he shrewdly constructs a nuanced narrative that lets viewers draw their own conclusions, and the score and cinematography give The Tall Man an artistic depth not often found in documentaries. Pacific Place, 600 Pine St., 324-9996, siff.net. $11. 6:30 p.m. (Also: SIFF Cinema Uptown, 3:30 p.m. Wed., May 30.) MIKE SEELY

TUESDAY 5/29

Avant-Classical: Odd Company

A violinist of Hilary Hahn's popularity and acclaim could easily be resting on her laurels—content with a very well-remunerated career playing Mendelssohn in Muncie and Sibelius in South Bend, never venturing further afield than, say, an album of Gershwin transcriptions. She didn't have to team up with avant-garde German musician Volker Bertelmann, aka Hauschka, who conjures haunting, spacious, sometimes quirky soundscapes mixing electronica with all sorts of inside-the-piano experimenting. (Sometimes bouncing a ping-pong ball on the strings is just the creepy touch a piece needs.) And she certainly didn't need to fly to Iceland and make a totally improvised CD with him (Silfra, just out on Deutsche Grammophon). Here just last October with an unconventional recital program that offered a generous handful of commissioned works, Hahn returns—not to the Benny, but to the Neptune—for a concert of more improv with Hauschka, solidifying her status as the classical superstar friendliest to the odd and unusual. (Read about Hahn's iPod faves on Reverb.) The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $35. 8 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT

 
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