Also: Susan Skilling and Lynne Woods Turner, Mickey One, Nancy Stark Smith, and Sean Astin.




Alphabetical (Source/Astralwerks), the second album by this French quartet, at first seems too affectless and distracted to leave much of an impression—another '80s pastiche album for a time when we're inundated with them. But the tunes sink in deeper than you might figure. Alphabetical is the sound of an act better known for doing other things—the soft-focus house of their 2000 debut, United—going soft-rock, and doing it surprisingly well. This is their first U.S. tour, with West Indian Girl and Mercir opening. 9 p.m. Tues., Dec. 7. $12 adv. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 206-324-8000. MICHAELANGELO MATOS




Minimalism is usually a cold, calculating brand of visual art. But Seattle's Skilling and Portland's Turner manage to inject a hefty dose of emotion into simple, austere forms. Skilling's recent paintings (including Moon Flower, pictured) offer passionate glimpses into the heavens—a place of frosty moonlight and orblike objects that recall the intense spiritual iconography of Morris Graves. Turner's drawings create a captivating place of concentric rings and faint dots, all sketched so lightly as to be nearly invisible. There's no need to revive the tired "Northwest Mystics" label, but these two artists definitely deliver a quiet, meditative art that's a refreshing blend of complexity and subtlety. Reception: 6 p.m. Thurs., Dec. 2. 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat. Free. Greg Kucera, 212 Third Ave., 206-624-0770. ANDREW ENGELSON




Warren Beatty almost torpedoed his career by making this 1965 film, a star vehicle that's also an Americanized French new wave picture. He stars as a paranoid stand-up comic who hunkers down and hides out from the mob in Chicago under an assumed name. If his act kills, will the Organization kill him? Made for under a million, it had under a dozen viewers and went deeper underground than Mickey did; few films have ever so nearly disappeared. But Roger Ebert called it a neglected masterpiece, the best film ever shot in Chicago (after Medium Cool). Why not give its existential angst a chance? You won't get another opportunity to catch it on the big screen anytime soon. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Fri., Dec. 3–Thurs., Dec. 9. Call for prices. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. TIM APPELO




The word "founder" usually evokes a dusty picture of a frock-coated man, yet that image is far from reality in the world of Contact Improvisation, where Smith is anything but antique. One of the originators of that subtle and twisty dance style, Smith has exemplified both its physical liveliness and its egalitarian spirit throughout a long career spent sliding through the air. Dance Arts Groups sponsors an evening with Smith that also features fellow dancer Peter Bingham and musician Mike Vargas. 8 p.m. Fri., Dec. 3. $12–$14. Velocity MainSpace Theater, 915 E. Pine St., second floor, 206-686-7343. SANDRA KURTZ




Sure, Frodo lives, but only because loyal Sam saved his ass on Mount Doom. Now, the actor who really emerged from the Fellowship and into the fore tells about his experiences in the memoir There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale (St. Martin's, $24.95). Eighteen months in New Zealand with backbiting actors and an army of orcs can't have been easy, but Astin claims to have relished the experience. Are there tales to be told of ripping up Wellington bars with Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortenson, and company? You can ask, but don't expect an LOTR confidential. Raised in Hollywood by show business parents, Astin's no Hollywood brat. What happens in the Fellowship stays in the Fellowship. 7 p.m. Wed., Dec. 8. $5 (or free with purchase of book at University Book Store). Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 206-634-3400. BRIAN MILLER

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