Wednesday, Jan. 28
As a child of 7, raised in a secular, privileged family, Nazila Fathi witnessed Iran’s 1979 revolution, when a conservative Islamic tide transformed the world around her. This is how The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran (Basic Books. $28) begins. By 2009, by which time Fathi had been a New York Times correspondent for more than 10 years, she fled the country with her husband and two children—a decision made shortly after being informed that snipers had her photo and the command to kill her. Although Fathi thought she and her family might eventually return to their homeland, they were urged to stay away, forcing them to live in exile—to this day. In her memoir, the Bethesda, Md.-based Fathi shares how modern Iran has created a robust middle class despite economic sanctions (and, lately, falling oil prices). It will be interesting to hear her perspective from afar on how that middle class might now be chafing at Iran’s restrictive regime. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhall seattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 30
2015 Oscar-Nominated Short Films
The final lineup to this twofold collection—animated and live-action—always seems to be written in pencil, not ink. Surprised by their good fortune, directors and distributors scramble to include their prints in time for this omnibus, from which I was able to preview a half-dozen titles. On the animated side (10 titles, 82 minutes), I particularly liked Me and My Moulton, a girl’s recollection of life in 1965 Norway. The middle daughter (of three), our narrator forever wears a large No. 2 on her blouse, but leads the negotiation as the three girls try to convince their carless bohemian parents to buy them a bicycle. (A Moulton turns out to be a fancy imported English bike.) The colors radiate warm hues from Klee and Kandinsky, and the linework by director Torill Kove evokes both Peanuts-style innocence and a dawning beatnik awareness (an effect aided by West Coast jazz with a cool Wes Montgomery timbre).
On the live-action side (five titles, 118 minutes), look for Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky, Blue Jasmine) as a meek, defeated woman working the suicide-prevention hotline. Directed by Mat Kirkby and James Lucas, the 21-minute The Telephone Call is one of those very old-fashioned but effective “Keep talking!” kind of dramas, as poor Heather begs, beseeches, and cajoles her caller—who’s overdosed on pills—to see the few redeeming bits of happiness left in life (and, by extension, in hers as well). Who voices the unseen caller? It took me 10 minutes to guess the 2001 Oscar winner. You may have to wait for the end credits. (Through Thurs.) Seven Gables, 911 N.E. 50th St., 632-8821. $10.50. See landmarktheatres.com for showtimes.
Internet Cat Video Festival
While Seattle’s famous existential kitty, Henri le Chat Noir, will not be attending this second edition of the popular traveling highlights reel, his owner, Will Braeden, will be on hand instead. It’s all for the best: Henri eschews the limelight to observe his daily life and its rituals—feeding, napping, using the kitty door—quietly, cynically, alone. “While I’m sure the thieving filmmaker will spread his usual lies about me,” Henri says, “I do support any event where people gather to worship cat videos.” Braeden, creator of the Henri YouTube series and a bestselling book, Henri, le Chat Noir: Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat, personally curated the reel—from the main festival at Minneapolis’ Walker Arts Center—and will again host this year’s event. Admission includes a light snack and access to KAC’s ongoing group show, Imaginature. Kirkland Arts Center, 620 Market St., 425-822-7161, kirklandartscenter.org. $25. 7 p.m. (plus 3 p.m. Sat., 7 p.m. Sun.)
The Beatles are dropping like flies. While John and George are gone, Paul and Ringo are profitably filling stadiums and will likely continue touring until they drop. (Their work ethic was established early in the pubs and bars of Liverpool and Hamburg.) After they’re gone, however, the number of recordings and scholarly studies is only likely to increase; like Shakespeare, the Beatles’ compact body of work will keep academics publishing for years to come. One such scholar is Freiman, most recently the editor of All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release. Yet he’s no musty campus intellectual, since his preferred lecture hall is the cinema. His touring program Deconstructing the Beatles has a popular following among fans of the group—which is to say almost every living American, from boomer to millennial. During this year’s visit, he’ll expound upon the Beatles’ early recordings (at 5 p.m.) and Revolver (at 8:30 p.m.), with the White Album and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band also on the schedule. Additionally, SIFF will screen a digitally restored edition of A Hard Day’s Night (Sat.–Sun.), released in 1964 to help launch the eponymous album. Not only does the film include signature hits (“Can’t Buy Me Love,” “She Loves You,” etc.), but it’s a tremendously enjoyable romp—directed by Richard Lester, written by Alun Owen, indebted to both the English music hall and French New Wave—that established each moptop’s persona in the public imagination. And now, Freiman will argue, they can never be forgotten. (Through Sun.) SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., 324-9996, siff.net. $10–$15. 5 & 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 31
Anyone lucky enough to have seen this comic perform will know that—besides sometimes starring in movies like Big Fan and Ratatouille—Oswalt is a serious student of movies. He jokes about them with an insider’s knowledge, he reels off Hollywood trivia with more authority than IMDb, and now he’s finally written a book on the subject: Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From an Addiction to Film (Scribner, $25). As a young comic in the ’90s, new in L.A., Oswalt began a self-taught total-immersion program in film—his DVD player never empty, spending evenings at the New Beverly Cinema, that West Hollywood shrine of repertory and arthouse movies. During that period, besides nurturing a love for Billy Wilder pictures, Oswalt was finding his feet as a comic: first writing for MADtv (anyone remember that show?), then discovering his confidence onstage. (And from there, eventually, to the soundstage.) Tonight he’ll be joined in a discussion about movies, showbiz, and life in L.A. by expat comedy writer George Meyer, now a Seattle resident, who made his bones on The Simpsons, another rich trove of movie gags and genre parodies. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 621-2230, lectures.org. $35 (includes book). 7:30 p.m.