The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

THURSDAY 12/16 Dance: Pasta for Three For most dancers, performing at a movie house would seem like an unusual venue. But after presenting works in airport terminals and orchards, Alice Gosti probably thinks a cinema is fairly conventional. (At least it has a roof, right?) Wherever the setting, the Italian-born, UW-trained dancer and choreographer engages her environment. Performing the 2008 Airport Project at Sea-Tac, she danced looping sequences around check-in counters and luggage. Back home in Perugia, she bounded up and down a stone staircase in PortaSole. But food is at the center of her new Something Just Happened at 1:19 p.m., which involves plates of spaghetti and fellow dancers Devin McDermott and Laara Garcia. On her website, Gosti warns, "Make sure not to wear your most fancy clothes and aim to sit in the first rows. Trust me!" Whether she's going to throw pasta at viewers or dance with it—that remains to be seen. Or eaten. (Through Sat.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $15–$20. 8 p.m. SANDRA KURTZFRIDAY 12/17 Film: Sweet and Sour If, in its 40th-annual holiday screening at the GI, Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is like a warm, familiar serving of eggnog, this weekend's late-night companion, Bad Santa, is the unexpected mouthful of vodka hidden in the mug. First you gag, then you realize drinking it is the right thing to do, the only way to survive Christmas. Terry Zwigoff's scabrous comedy makes a mockery of family, holiday, and bogus sentiment; Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic, misanthropic Santa for the ages. The two films complement each other nicely, and we recommend you watch them back-to-back. Much as we love to see James Stewart rescued from the brink of Yuletide despair, the nihilism of Bad Santa is a necessary antidote to the seasonal sugar rush. Never mind all that gift-giving and goodwill-toward-men stuff. As Thornton tells one kid sitting on his lap, "The world ain't fair. You've gotta take what you need when you can get it." Even if that means robbing a department store and getting shot in the process. (Bad Santa plays tonight and Sat.; It's a Wonderful Life continues through Dec. 30.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, $5–$7. 6, 8:30, and 11 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Installation Art: Mad Science Long before steampunk or Burning Man or the Internet, for a certain category of nerd, the words "Tesla coil" would cause instant goosebumps. You flash back to the laboratory or middle-school science fair when you first witnessed the buzzing, glowing, magical contraption. It instantly summons Metropolis and Frankenstein ("It's alive!"), and somehow embodies all science fiction its circular incandescence. Seattle-based artist Allan Packer feels the same way. And for two nights, his repeating 20-minute film/installation The Ozone Room will include a Tesla coil, his igloo-esque Corvus Corax sculpture, and—both film and sculpture—The Time Machine, a large brass molecule of sorts that looks to have been deposited on Earth by extraterrestrials. It should be an immersive experience in alternative science history. (Repeats Sat.) Annex Theatre, 1100 E. Pike St., 728-0933, $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER Film: Rescued From Flames Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno is a posthumous psychodrama that, according to film archivist and co-director Serge Bromberg, grew out of a chance encounter in a stalled elevator with Clouzot's widow. Bromberg persuaded her to give him access to a particular Holy Grail: the surviving 15 hours of rushes and test footage from French director Clouzot's abandoned, would-be 1964 masterpiece, Inferno. Starring Serge Reggiani and Romy Schneider, Inferno was meant to portray jealousy as a form of mental illness, but the real head case was its director. Clouzot (1907–1977) was unable to finish the movie. As both the survivors interviewed and the surviving footage makes clear, the attempt drove him half-mad. Inferno was an ambitious production. Columbia Pictures provided an "unlimited budget," much of which was spent on visual experiments involving superimpositions, dappled light patterns, funhouse-mirror distortions, and color inversion meant to convey a deranged consciousness. But rather than communicating his protagonist's madness, Clouzot appears to be documenting his own. Who knows how these fantastic shots of Schneider lying naked in the path of an onrushing locomotive or covered with glitter and smoking a cigarette in reverse would have played in the finished film? Who cares? For all the irrationality that fueled Clouzot's project, it's reasonable to assume that the finished Inferno would never have been any better than this arrangement of its shards. (Through Thurs.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$9. 7 and 9 p.m. J. HOBERMAN SATURDAY 12/18 Stage: Going Ber-Cirque What did trapeze artists, fan dancers, fire spinners, and Eastern European folk musicians do, say, 15 years ago, before Seattle's burlesque/cabaret boom made these all reasonably remunerative, if maybe not quite full-time, career paths? Colonizing the neglected outlying territories of its neighbors (pop music, "legit" theater, and circus), the variety scene gathered showbiz miscellaneacs under a big striped tent and seemingly willed a local circuit of clubs and theaters out of nothing to launch an aesthetic of genial loucheness, reaching back into entertainment history to spice it with influences from Weimar to the Wild West. It's the avant-garde at its most alluring, an artistic social contract at its least complicated: Watch me and I'll show you something worth watching. For its seasonal midnight show, Mezzo Lunatico, TZZ has brought together some of the city's best of the best, including El Vez, quite possibly the world's only Latino Elvis impersonator; Nick Garrison, whose legendary Re-bar performances in Hedwig and the Angry Inch are only a fraction of his extensive stage resume; and Orkestar Zirconium, a brass band so irresistibly rousing that you'll begin to suspect that you must be at least a bit Balkan. Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer St., $20. 11:45 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT SUNDAY 12/19 Sports: When Feathers Fly The Atlanta Falcons' rising star Matt Ryan is the quarterback Matt Hasselbeck used to be. Thanks to a litany of injuries to his linemen and receivers and a generally inept running game, Hasselbeck now presides over a Seahawks attack with no balance and little punch. He's thrown eight interceptions in the past three games, and is playing with a fractured left wrist. (Ouch.) Opposite him today, the Falcons' third-year signal caller recalls the Hasselbeck of five years ago, who led Seattle to its only Super Bowl. Ryan completes 63 percent of his passes, keeps mistakes to a minimum, and displays poise under pressure: He's led six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime this season. An NFC-best 11–2, Atlanta's well-balanced offense features 1,100-yard rusher Michael Turner, 1,200-yard receiver Roddy White, and tight end Tony Gonzalez, whose next stop is the Hall of Fame. Yet there's hope for Hawks fans, even after Sunday's 40–21 bad trip in San Francisco. Tied for the NFC West lead with St. Louis at 6–7—with every loss by at least 15 points—Seattle has the good fortune to play in one of the most mediocre divisions in NFL history. Only two teams have the dubious distinction of making the playoffs with a losing record, both in the strike-shortened 1982 season. With one win in their final three games, the Hawks could be the third. Qwest Field, 800 Occidental Ave. S., 622-4295, $56 and up. 1:05 p.m. MICHAEL MAHONEY Literary: Singing the Faith Maybe you're a little Nutcracker-ed out; maybe if you hear one more damn Christmas carol, you might slug someone. So for a quieter celebration of the holidays, the Short Stories Live series is offering three tales read with a minimum of fuss or false frivolity. The radio-polished voices of Jean Sherrard, Frank Corrado, Julie Briskman, and Paul Dorpat will be brought to bear on Muriel Spark's "The Seraph and the Zambesi," Ron Carlson's "The H Street Sledding Record," and Grace Paley's "The Loudest Voice." In the latter, a Jewish girl in New York leans to sing Christmas carols because of her powerful pipes. When her mother complains, her father retorts, "You're in America! Clara, you wanted to come here. In Palestine the Arabs would be eating you alive. Europe you had pogroms. Argentina is full of Indians. Here you got Christmas." The story's narrator, the girl, is equally resigned to the annual Christmas hegemony over the Jewish holidays. "We learned 'Deck the Halls' and 'Hark! The Herald Angels,' " she says, "and we weren't embarrassed." With accompaniment by John Owen on steel guitar. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $13–$15. 4 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

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