Film: An Angel Gets His Wings
Times are tough in Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life. Banks are failing. People are losing their homes. Veterans are returning from a bloody war abroad. Families are falling apart. And all these stresses converge during the holidays, when there may not even be enough money in the household to buy any presents. Sound familiar? In the GI's 42nd annual screening of this seasonal favorite, the distressed town of Bedford Falls could today be Anytown, U.S.A., and beleaguered banker James Stewart could be any small businessman struggling to remain solvent. If It's a Wonderful Life is arguably the best Christmas movie ever made, that's because it's certainly one of the most depressing. Our suicidal hero is given a future vision—courtesy of a visiting angel—of bankruptcy, death, poverty, and evil, unfettered capitalism (hello, Lionel Barrymore). Even his wife (Donna Reed) ends up a spinster in the alternate universe of Pottersville. Before the inevitable tear-swelling plot reversal, the movie is 100 percent grim. Yet amazingly, 66 years later, it preserves the power to inspire hope for better days ahead. (Through Dec. 27.) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, grandillusioncinema.org. $5–$8. 6 & 8:30 p.m.
It's about 99 percent certain that tonight's and Friday's performances by Louis CK are sold out. Still, if there's one stand-up comic in America today who'd justify your shameless begging on the sidewalk, it's him. The guy started in the mid-'80s as a writer and performer of fairly routine jokes. Then, after abbreviating his surname (from Szekely), he began to burrow deeply into his personal life—dating, balding, marriage, divorce, newfound wealth, bad sex, parenthood, etc. Nothing was out of bounds, and his career took off. Yet one shouldn't mistake his self-lacerating candor for ordinary oversharing. Louis isn't confessing so much as dissecting. His self-disgust is merely the sharp edge of the scalpel he uses to excise the disgusting cancers of our broader culture. Everything he finds wrong about himself—or so he says, for comic effect—is what we ought to recognize in ourselves: pettiness, vanity, selfishness, and sanctimony. Fresh off hosting SNL, on hiatus after the third acclaimed season of Louie on FX, Louis is taping his current tour for an HBO special. Which, in truth, is probably the only way you'll see this show. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 682-1414, stgpresents.org. $45. 6 p.m. (Also: 7 p.m. Fri.)
Stage: Younger Brothers
If you spent part of your younger days alone in the dark watching The Matrix and Hong Kong action movies, or even if you didn't, Nanda may seem awfully familiar. The self-described "Acrobaticalist Ninja Theater" quartet—originally from Port Townsend, now based in Portland—has been honing its martial arts/break-dance/gymnastics/juggling/joke-cracking skills on the festival circuit, from the Moisture Festival to Bumbershoot. In the revised version of The Jacket, about four adventurers searching for a magical coat that bestows superhuman powers, are elements of vaudeville, parkour, mime, capoeira, "kung faux" (sorry!), and plenty of sight gags for the kids. Parents will appreciate the humorous asides and the evident debt to the Flying Karamazov Brothers, who have praised Nanda's act. Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave., 425-893-9900, kpcenter.org and nandatown.com. $20–$65. 7:30 p.m. (Also: 8 p.m. Sat.)
Football: A Welcome Bump
Even without their magnetic young quarterbacks, tonight's 49ers/Seahawks matchup would be the game to watch: playoff-primed division rivals playing their penultimate regular-season game in the noisily forbidding Clink. And then there are the QBs. After early-season starts that saw him bailing from the pocket like a Jefferson nickel, rookie Russell Wilson is proving to be the leader Pete Carroll insisted he was when he made him the starter over the higher-paid Matt Flynn. From San Fran, Colin Kaepernick comes with even more drama, replacing a winning if not exciting Alex Smith five weeks ago to the shock of a re-energized Niners Nation. All this makes for great TV, and the NFL announced last week it was moving the game to this evening, bumping the Jets and Chargers from the marquee time slot. That's a mixed blessing for people going to the game, as it will surely mean even colder nighttime temperatures to bear with the December rain. But in a city always so insecure about its pro-sports cred, it's good to feel wanted. CenturyLink Field, 800 Occidental Ave. S., seahawks.com. $65–$425. 5:20 p.m.