The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events

THURSDAY 9/27

Film: She Done Him Wrong

This fall's noir series at SAM is called Women in the Shadows, and that category certainly includes Barbara Stanwyck in tonight's Double Indemnity. Her double-crossing Phyllis is perhaps the genre's iconic femme fatale—a sultry schemer who, in Billy Wilder's superior 1944 adaptation of James M. Cain's crime novel, seduces a sap (Fred MacMurray) and tricks him into murdering her husband. Walter's pal and fellow insurance investigator (Edward G. Robinson) is the only figure of decency in the movie. And he warns Walter about what will inevitably follow the fatal train "accident" that Phyllis orchestrates: "Murder's never perfect. Always comes apart sooner or later. And when two people are involved, it's usually sooner." Stick around after the screening, when Top Pot will offer special noir donuts and TASTE restaurant will serve custom cocktails. (The Big Heat and Fargo are among eight more titles screening Thursdays through Dec. 9.) Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3100, seattleartmuseum.org. $63–$68 series pass, $8 individual. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Film: Man Out of Time

The shorthand for No Rest for the Wicked, which opens this weekend's Festival of New Spanish Cinema, would be Bad Lieutenant in Madrid. But Inspector Santos Trinidad (José Coronado) isn't all bad. Sure, he's a dissolute drinker who guns down three people in a bar fight, yet his cover-up leads to the discovery of some even worse characters. In the new, multiethnic Spain, Trinidad looks something like a disco-era dinosaur with his handlebar mustache and aviator shades. His revolver also makes him a relic, but it leaves no shell casings behind as evidence. Considerably more modern is Ana Chacón (Helena Miquel), whose investigation as a judge—more like a prosecutor in our legal terminology—goes beyond Trinidad to drug-smuggling Colombians and finally a citywide bomb plot. She's the principled, honest agent of an overburdened criminal-justice system, and Trinidad her dark double. Yet both turn out to be pursuing the same ultimate foe, she with a computer and he with a shotgun. (Six other features run through Sun.) SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., 324-9996, siff.net. Opening reception $20–$25; other screenings $5–$10. 8 p.m. (Repeats 3:30 p.m. Sat.) BRIAN MILLER

SATURDAY 9/29

Comedy: Ballot Vox

Even as we're dying for the election season to be over already, no matter how much we're sick of it, each new week brings a fresh gaffe or face-palm moment to savor. Especially in our blue-state bastion of liberal smugness, the Romney/Ryan antics—from false marathon times to those lazy, entitled 47 percenters—have made for endless indignant clicks on Wonkette, Gawker, and The Huffington Post. Serving the same market is the progressive radio host now visiting from L.A. with her Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour. Miller is a regular among cable-TV pundits, but not a voice of strident attack. Liberals tend to flop on the radio (see: Air America), so Miller adapts a more chiding, big-sisterly approach to her adversaries. Let others rant; she prefers to be reasonable. Appearing here with her frequent radio guests John Fugelsang and Hal Sparks, Miller will likely be the calmest person on stage. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $25–$150. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

MONDAY 10/1

Books/Classical: Bach of Ages

Paul Elie's book Reinventing Bach (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30) is structured not unlike one of his subject's fugues. The recurring theme is Bach's music and its continuing relationship, especially in the 20th century, to technological breakthroughs: pioneering recordings by Bachian high priests Albert Schweitzer and Pablo Casals; Leopold Stokowski's appearance in Fantasia, conducting his own sumptuous orchestral transcription; Glenn Gould's 1982 rerecording of his signature work, the Goldberg Variations, in the game-changing digital format. The countersubject is Bach's own life—which also touched a techno-musical watershed moment when the composer was summoned to test Frederick the Great's just-invented piano. Intercalary episodes bring in more cameos than the cover of Sgt. Pepper's cubed: biologist James Watson and bluesman Robert Johnson, Judy Collins and The Baroque Beatles Book, Yo-Yo Ma playing at Steve Jobs' funeral, all embellishing Elie's encyclopedic assemblage of nearly every appearance of Bach in high and low culture over the past century. (Nearly: He omitted what was my second-grade introduction to Bach, and possibly yours—Apollo 100's flower-power hit "Joy," which synths up "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" to a caffeinated shuffle beat and hit #6 on the pop singles chart in 1972.) Addicted to metaphor, Elie's descriptions of music can be sharp and tantalizing (in the Prelude of Bach's G-major Cello Suite, "the melody is let out like a kite on a string"). If elsewhere he piles strained allegorical readings onto unremarkable facts a tad too high, that only shows his exuberant, bottomless fascination with his subject. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, town hallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT

Photography: Over the Fence

More than 50 artists, regional and national, are represented in the annual buffet that is Photolust. There's no overarching theme to the show, since the artist-donated images will be sold at the concluding benefit auction on Saturday, Oct. 20. (You can also make bids online.) Among the locals we like are Bill Finger, Eirik Johnson, Daniel Carrillo, and Annie Marie Musselman, who's shot for us in the past. She's previously documented rehabilitation efforts at the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Arlington; in a new series, taken at Wolf Haven International (near Tenino), she profiles those top-line predators being bred in captivity before their introduction to new habitats. "I photograph through very small holes in an incredibly strong fence, which protects me," Musselman writes, "but barely keeps me from falling in love with these highly intelligent, beautiful beings." Other subjects in Photolust include children, landscapes, and nudes—also all beautiful, but none with such sharp teeth. Photo Center NW, 900 12th Ave., 720-7222, pcnw.org. Free. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Books: Late-Night Literature

Since Sherman Alexie burst onto the literary scene in the early '90s, he's been so productive as a poet, short-story writer, novelist, and even film director that you still picture him as the laughing, long-haired young man on the book jacket. It's a bit of a shock to realize that our city's pre-eminent fiction writer is now at mid-career, a man in his mid-40s with wife and kids. He still plays basketball, but maybe a step slower—like the rest of us graying jocks. Alexie's new anthology, Blasphemy (Grove Press, $27), spans some 20 years, adding 15 new stories to favorites like "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven." In the new "Basic Training," he describes the carnival attraction/sport of donkey basketball (new to me, at least), in which players ride donkeys around the court. As father and son ply the family trade, the story is initially comic and full of funny asides. (On the Blackfeet reservation, a woman explains how "Mormons are the superstars of trying to save Indians," and one of the donkey wranglers frets how his herd sport has "suddenly become a nearly exclusive Republican tradition.") But then the tone shifts: The son wants to leave the business, there's a wreck, and the donkeys assume a tragic grandeur (there's your artistry for you: From humble materials and plain language, Alexie builds to poignant effect). Why the late start? (The reading concludes at midnight.) Blasphemy's official publication date is tomorrow, Tuesday, so the typically energetic Alexie wants to get an early start on things. Maybe he hasn't slowed down at all. (Events follow on Oct. 8 at University Book Store and Oct. 23 at Third Place Books.) Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. 10 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

 
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