The Weekly Wire: This Week's Recommended Events


Film: Looking Ahead

If there ever was a distaff equivalent to Charlie Chaplin, it's the great Giulietta Masina, who plays the title role of Cabiria in her husband Federico Fellini's 1957 Oscar winner Nights of Cabiria. Masina (1921–1994) easily could've been a star of the silent era. Words are almost completely extraneous to her indelibly affecting performance as an innocent Roman hooker who longs for love and luck. Cabiria is a whore enduring constant hardship and indignity, which makes the movie a kind of grim, late entry in the neorealist canon. At the same time, Cabiria cuts a figure of waifish yet eternally optimistic pathos that silent-era audiences could've responded to (although the sexual subtext would've been censored). In either era, and ours, Masina simply breaks your heart with her character's forward-looking determination. In a sense, she's Italy—impoverished and humiliated, but still struggling for better days after the war. And her husband's love for her shows in every frame. The film begins SAM's nine-film Viva l'Italia repertory series, running Thursday nights through March 7. Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, $63–$68 series, $8 individual. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER


Film: Life During Wartime

Two German boys are born in mid-'20s Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), one the author and the other the protagonist of The Tin Drum, the great 1959 novel by Günter Grass. This Oscar-winning 1979 adaptation doesn't include the postwar portions of the book, but it's a marvelously eventful recollection of a tumultuous time. Young Oskar (David Bennent) is so disgusted by what he sees around him, both familial and political, that he vows to stop growing. It's a protest, and he pounds his toy drum with indignation. His angry shrieks shatter glass. Why do adults betray one another? How can they be so oblivious to Hitler's menace? Why is the world so filled with corruption and cruelty? Little Oskar can't change anything, but he can observe. "I prefer to be a member of the audience," he tells a circus midget, who corrects Oskar: "Our kind must perform, or the others will take over the show." And indeed the Nazis do arrive, welcomed by Oskar's doltish father; then follow the Soviets, who will end the German presence in that corner of Europe. How Oskar survives this upheaval isn't a matter of heroism; for Grass, he's an uncompromising little monster, a stone in the gut of history that won't be digested. This is the 163-minute cut of The Tin Drum, with footage restored by director Volker Schlöndorff, screening from a new digital print. (Through Thurs.) SIFF Film Center, 305 Harrison St. (Seattle Center), 324-9996, $5–$10. Call for showtimes. BRIAN MILLER


Comedy: Prize-Giver

Though he presents himself as the laziest comic in America, addicted to junk food, pot, and movies, Doug Benson is actually quite the networked, industrious striver. Always an SRO event at Bumbershoot, his Doug Loves Movies podcast attracts loyal fans eager to match their trivia chops against Benson and his cohort. (Regulars include Paul F. Tompkins, Scott Aukerman, and Patton Oswalt—but that's no guarantee who'll appear today.) One hand on his smartphone—to check IMDb and e-mailed questions—and the other on the microphone, Benson is ever the friendly, shambling host. He was an early adapter to social media and Twitter, another reason for his devoted followers—many of whom attend his shows with special signs and costumes, something like Let's Make a Deal. Also, it doesn't hurt that Benson, always generous with his guest panelists, also dispenses plenty of free swag and prizes to his Twitter mob—sometimes even using a slingshot to send them out to the cheap seats. Why the odd, early start time? 420 is stoner lingo for toking up, now legal in Washington state, but please remember that the Parlor is a no-smoking venue. Parlor Live Comedy Comedy Club, 700 Bellevue Way N.E., 425-289-7000, $20. 4:20 p.m. BRIAN MILLER


Stage: One Fierce Fräulein

The titular transgender of the 1998 off-Broadway musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch has become the equivalent of Tosca or Norma for ersatz alt-culture icons—a way to prove their pipes and test their mettle as the ultimate diva. Any actor who's deft with gender games, and every drag queen who can actually sing, wants to star in this John Cameron Mitchell/Stephen Trask cult classic, a Rocky Horror Show for the new century (and also a 2001 movie). Through dark comic monologues and songs backed by a surly band, despairing East German lounge singer Hedwig regales us with her tale of a botched sex-change operation and, by the end of the evening, becomes whole again in body and soul with a magnificent cry for "Midnight Radio" (a kind of punk-pop "Vissi d'arte"). No argument here that Jerick Hoffer, the Hedwig of this Balagan/STG co-production, has paid his dues—the Cornish-trained drag performer (aka Jinkx Monsoon) recently played Moritz in Balagan's Spring Awakening and Angel in Rent at the 5th Avenue. (He also claimed a spot on RuPaul's Drag Race, which resumes January 28 on the Logo channel.) Hoffer is guided here by director Ian Bell, a local pro who's got the off-kilter-comedy thing down cold. (Through Jan. 27.) The Moore, 1932 Second Ave., 877-784-4849, $17.50–$32.50. 7:30 p.m. STEVE WIECKING

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