The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events


Film: Open Wide

As summer draws to an end, let us revisit the greatest summer movie ever made: Jaws, which became the top-grossing film of all time (not allowing for inflation) after its June 1975 release. When pitched Peter Benchley's novel, the 28-year-old director Steven Spielberg realized, "This is kind of a sequel to Duel!" In place of the marauding big rig, a marauding shark. In place of the small car piloted by Dennis Weaver, we have the famously too-small boat containing Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss. The constant, of course, is the fear of a larger, more powerful adversary whose elusive presence is more felt—thanks to John Williams' rumbling ostinato—than seen. Filming off Martha's Vineyard was protracted and delayed by the malfunctioning mechanical sharks, but this ultimately worked in Spielberg's favor. He shot around the missing fish, concentrating on scenes where his three heroes are frantically searching for it. Everyone's vainly scanning the horizon in Jaws, staring into the water and looking through binoculars. Spielberg may be a master of spectacle, but its opposite is the terrifying lack of visual information, the malevolent unseen. (Jaws begins a Thursday-night repertory series, through Sept. 27, also including High Noon, Chinatown, and The African Queen.) Sundance Cinemas, 4500 Ninth Ave. N.E., 633-0059, $8-$10.50. Call for showtimes. BRIAN MILLER

Books: Polar Oppositions

Transplanted to the Northwest from Hollywood, where she wrote for shows including Arrested Development, Maria Semple now treats her new home with a satirical second novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette (Little, Brown, $25.99). It is unabashedly set among that smug class of Seattleites with too much money, excess self-regard, and an air of privilege that the author will inevitably burst. Semple's heroine is an ex-architect living on Queen Anne with her 14-year-old daughter and husband (a Microsoft baron). She's a selfish, oblivious, overmedicated near-recluse who can't bring herself to renovate their crumbling mansion. Far from L.A., Bernadette is ill-prepared for our torrential rain and mudslides, ill-inclined to make allies at her daughter's private school, and ill-disposed toward our parochial Craftsman architecture. As Semple's diary of a mad housewife grows more madcap, ranging all the way to Antarctica, it becomes an entertainingly Ephronesque beach read comprising e-mails, court documents, blog entries, and the narration of Bernadette's daughter—the only sensible character in the book. (Fellow novelist Laurie Frankel will also read from her Goodbye for Now.) Eagle Harbor Books, 157 Winslow Way E. (Bainbridge Island), 842-5332, Free. 7:30 p.m. (Also: University Bookstore, 7 p.m. Wed., Sept. 19.) BRIAN MILLER


Film: "We Ain't Such Dogs as We Think We Are"

Scarecrow Video has built an entire DVD kiosk, almost a shrine, featuring Ernest Borgnine, who died last month at  age 95. There, you can load up on movies from a career that spanned Broadway to Hollywood to McHale's Navy to cameos on The Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants. Then walk over to the Ave to see Borgnine's Oscar-winning turn in Marty (1955), a career-defining role that ensured he'd never just be cast as another Italian-American heavy. The tale of a shy Bronx butcher, unmarried at the advanced age of 34 (!), Marty is a sentimental but still wrenching study in loneliness. Also receiving Oscars were director Delbert Mann and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, who had staged the drama on live TV two years earlier (Rod Steiger starred). Chayefsky, a Jew given an Irish nickname during the war, knew something about the smothering weight of ethnicity, family, and tradition. While Marty courts a meek schoolteacher (Betsy Blair) over one long Saturday night, his mother and aunt despair over dead husbands and the children who leave. The world is changing: Manners are in decline, Marty's shop is threatened by the A&P, and dates are requested over the telephone. In one long take, Borgnine receives a rejection with eyes closed, sad as a statue; how many actors would dare that today? And in the movie's most famous speech, Marty tells his mother, "Whatever women like, I don't got it! I'm just a fat little man!" Even in today's era of Facebook and online dating, many single viewers will know exactly how he feels. (Through Thurs.; beginning Saturday, the GI is also featuring Borgnine in The Wild Bunch.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, $5-$8. 6:15 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Drinking/Film: From Darwin to Duplass

Ten years ago, a 45-minute mockumentary called The Reid-Secrest Olympics was released by novice Seattle filmmaker Jason Reid. The plot was simple: Two lifelong frenemies—Reid as the Lion, schoolteacher Matt Secrest as the Dove—would train for and compete in a series of athletic events, from one-on-one basketball to arm wrestling to the 100-yard dash, to determine who was the superior specimen. Innovative and charming, it made a minor splash locally, and was accepted by a few small-time film festivals around the country. Then came the Duplass brothers' Do-Deca-Pentathalon, released here last month. That film's plot was—with brothers competing instead of friends—almost exactly the same as that of Reid, who's since garnered widespread acclaim as the creator of Sonicsgate. Was this the result of plagiarism by the mumblecore darling Duplass brothers, or is Reid simply Alfred Russel Wallace to their two-headed Darwin? Reid will be sure to address these and other pressing matters as he celebrates his first film's 10th-anniversary in his home neighborhood of Georgetown, where the doc will be screened along with a slew of never-before-seen extras. And, just as they did 10 years ago, the taps will flow. And flow. Georgetown Stables, 980 S. Nebraska St. $5 (no beer)-$10 (drink your face off). 9 p.m. MIKE SEELY

Stage: Heard and Now Seen

Radiolab is all about curiosity—one reason why the public radio program, heard at 1 p.m Saturdays on KPLU, has become so popular. Bringing their intelligence and comedic sensibility with them, Radiolab hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad are now performing a live touring show called Radiolab Live: In the Dark. The program focuses on the evolution of sight and shares stories of people who have profound personal experience with darkness, literally and figuratively. These include a NASA astronaut who was trapped outside his space shuttle and two sightless men's different approaches to blindness. The show blends journalism and storytelling elements familiar from its weekly broadcasts, with songs from Thao Nguyen, performances from modern dance company Pilobolus, and comedy from Dave Foley. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, $36-$46. 8 p.m. (Repeats Sat.) ALLISON THOMASSEAU


Dance: Summer Recess

The media is full of behind-the-scenes work, from restaurant tales on the Food Network to training-camp reports in the sports section, and the dance world isn't any different. For those who like to see the "before" picture, take a look at Flight Deck, the annual showing from Open Flight Studio. Every summer, the studio gives a few dance artists the best vacation they could have—time to work on new movement without a specific assignment in mind. This summer's residents, Christin Call and Natascha Greenwalt Murphy of Corliolis Dance, and Jody Kuehner, of just about everywhere in town, will no doubt use the materials they've developed over the last few weeks—and perhaps some new tricks, too. Open Flight Studio, 4205 University Way N.E., 632-0067, $5-$10. 7 p.m. (Repeats Sun.) SANDRA KURTZ

Festivals: Back to Blue

It's a toxin-filled Superfund cleanup site. It's a fetid ribbon meandering its way through industrial Seattle. And it's the most important waterway in our city's history. It's the Duwamish, which has actually been getting much cleaner in the past four decades as Boeing and other polluters have redirected their pipes and environmental regs have reduced sewage runoff. Much credit also goes to the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, which is sponsoring today's Duwamish River Festival on the South Park side of the river. The educational and family-oriented event will include food, live music, dancing, children's activities, and complimentary boat and kayak rides. There's also a 9 a.m. participation event ($20-$35), with a scenic walk starting at Alki, kayaks departing from Seacrest Park, and bikers leaving the start/finish at Duwamish Waterway Park for a leisurely tourist loop through Georgetown and South Park (both with relatively light traffic during that hour of the morning). Duwamish Waterway Park, 7900 10th Ave. S., 954-0218, duwamish Free. Noon-4 p.m. BRIAN MILLER


Benefits: Literacy Fest

The average tutor usually sets up shop at the library, not at the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. (aka 826 Seattle), part of Dave Eggers' national reading and writing nonprofit effort. But these quirky storefronts—ranging from San Fran to Chicago to Brooklyn—provide public-school students aged 6-18 with palpable fodder for their imaginations, that, once fueled, are further primed with publishing projects, field trips, and valuable one-on-one tutoring, all for free. Each storefront sells T-shirts, buttons, etc. to help fill the coffers. But tonight, thirsty philanthropists over age 21 can raise a pint of beer in support of 826 Day. An an event also featuring prizes and live music, all you have to do it sit on your tuchus and buy a few rounds of 826 Luminosity—a crisp and refreshing golden ale made just for the occasion; 100% of the proceeds from those pints goes directly to 826 Seattle. And if that leaves your own reading ability impaired by the time you leave, it's probably best not to teach or tutor on Monday morning. Naked City Taphouse and Brewery, 8564 Greenwood Ave N., 725-2625, Free. 4-7 p.m. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

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