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Oddballs, Events, & Rep
Bad Santa Working from a story by the Coen brothers, Terry Zwigoff's 2003 affront to anyone who holds the holidays sacred is vile, hateful, and—for most of its 90-odd minutes—utterly soulless. That said, I can't imagine chortling so heartily, and guiltily, at a blacker black comedy this year. Billy Bob Thornton, who plays a self-loathing, foul-mouthed, alcoholic safecracker who annually dons white beard and red suit for his criminal M.O.: He and his elfin cohort (Tony Cox) loot a department store every Christmas Eve and live large for the rest of the year. Whoomp, there's your plot. Santa simply follows Thornton's misanthropic human wrecking ball through affluent Phoenix suburbia and asks us simply to identify with his morbid Christmas dispirit. No problem. (R) ANDREW BONAZELLI Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5.50-$7.50. 11 p.m. Fri. Dec. 22-Sat. Dec. 23.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Last year's rendition of Douglas Adams' 1979 cult classic book is entertaining, but it does go over-the-Hollywood-top with special effects and mushy romance. Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman from the original BBC The Office) is about to be demolished inside his house, until his best friend Ford (Mos Def) intervenes. Along with the dopey President of the Galaxy (Sam Rockwell in Dubya mode), they stick out their thumbs for a ride, and the interstellar journey starts. A depressed robot, an all-knowing computer, a couple of talking mice, and an appearance by John Malkovich are the things that you don't want to miss. Brits and Adams cultists may quibble about this Guide's authenticity, but it's mostly harmless fun. (PG) MICHELLE REINDAL Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9.25. Midnight. Fri. Dec. 22-Sat. Dec. 23.
It's a Wonderful Life Welcome to Pottersville. Young George Bailey is beaten until he's bleeding from the ear. Later, played by Jimmy Stewart, he shakes his uncle by the lapels, berating the "stupid old fool" like a scene from a film noir. He despairs, "I'm at the end of my rope! I wish I'd never been born!" Long before American Beauty, Frank Capra gave us the original midlife crisis movie, with Stewart in the Kevin Spacey role. Life has passed George by, and he's trapped by career, mortgage, and marriage. Despite Capra's 1946 post-war optimism about family, community, and the bountiful promise of the suburbs, you still can't shake off George's dark vision of reality. This U District holiday tradition has now reached its 36th year. (NR) BRIAN MILLER Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. Continues through Dec. 28.
Keep on Walking: Joshua Nelson, the Jewish Gospel Singer Nelson, an African-American, is also a Hebrew teacher and a gospel singer. Presented by the Langston Hughes Underground Railroad series, this short documentary follows him through Newark, St. Louis, Stockholm, and Jerusalem as he "transcends the differences between races and faiths through his music." (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684, www.central-cinema.com. $5. 7 p.m. Thurs. Dec. 21.
The Leader 15 Pepperspray Productions, a local indie media collective, screens this installment of its video quarterly, which archives activism here and around the world. Topics include the recent barn-raising of a low-power FM radio station in Woodburn, Ore., a Coast Salish elder's story of his heritage, and an interview with Lt. Ehren Watada, the Tacoma-based soldier who refused deployment this year to Iraq. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684, www.central-cinema.com. $5. 7 & 9:30 p.m. Wed. Dec. 20.
Two Front Teeth First-time director Jamie Nash (who wrote the screenplay for the upcoming alien horror film Altered) is not interested in the cozier aspects of the season. Here, a tabloid writer haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past gets on the wrong side of a demonic Santa. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684, www.central-cinema.com. $5. 9:30 p.m. Thurs. Dec. 21. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Fri. Dec. 22-Sat. Dec. 23.