The Pick List: The Week’s Recommended Events

Wednesday, Dec. 11

Rawstock: Klausterfokken

This periodic package of short films is given a Yuletide name, if not theme, with about a dozen titles, including the locally made comedy/crime serial Every Day Is a Journey. Sorting through about half the program, there’s some impressive use of computer effects and animation in two of the student efforts—as when an astronaut plummets to an eerie planet in Grounded, there to be confronted by doubles and then multiples of himself. Christian Palmer’s Nightvisions was shot in the wee hours on Capitol Hill with a greenish hue, apparently using no lighting save the street lamps, as we follow a young Rainier-swilling couple on a possible hook-up. There’s a ragged Cassavetes-like energy to their cavorting, arguing, and wavering commitment to sex. A regular at Rawstocks past, the very deadpan New York artist and filmmaker Mitch Magee has contributed several webisodes of Plants & Disco. Wearing a satin ’70s jacket, our very serious record producer (Magee) explains how houseplants can inspire great dance music. “I think we could learn a lot from the wax-leaf privet,” he solemnly instructs two feuding dancers (the whole corps wears pastel leotards out of A Chorus Line). Privets aren’t for hedges that exclude, says Magee; “The privet wants to keep people in, so we can all stay safe and warm and love each other.”  Then, of course, the music swells, and they dance, dance, dance. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., $10–$15. 8 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 12

Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutracker

As in their past stagings of the show, Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann offer two versions of holiday entertainment. The early show allows kids, meaning things are a bit less risqué. Then the late show is 21-and-over, for a boozier crowd that wants to see a little more skin (or at least hear more jokes about Yule logs and who’s been naughty or naughtier). If you’ve been to see or are planning to see Nutcracker at PNB this season, Land of the Sweets makes for a nice tonic. It’s a loose riff on the same E.T.A. Hoffmann source material, mostly using Duke Ellington’s jazz version of Tchaikovsky’s score. The format is kind of like an old ’60s talk show (we’ll just say Merv Griffin’s), with Verlaine and McCann as hosts to an array of drop-by guests. Some are hoofers, some are trapeze artists, and some are ecdysiasts. Supporting talent will include Miss Indigo Blue, Waxie Moon, Babette La Fave, and plenty of familiar faces—well, familiar legs—from Spectrum Dance Theater and Ballet Bellevue. (Through Dec. 28.) The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333, and $33–$58. 7 & 10 p.m.

Auntie Mame

Assuring readers it wasn’t a memoir, Patrick Dennis nevertheless wrote a character named “Patrick Dennis” into his 1955 novel Auntie Mame, creating a camp archetype out of the flamboyant free spirit charged with raising her orphaned nephew. The smash novel became a play, a 1958 movie, a musical, and a movie musical, the first two starring Rosalind Russell in all her bangle-braceleted, cigarette-holder glory. Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s wisecracking screenplay has Mame enrolling young Patrick in a “progressive” school (meaning the students run around naked and play “Fish Family”) and later doing her best to save grown-up Patrick from marrying lockjawed prep princess Gloria Upson (raised on an estate named Upson Downs) and vanishing into the black hole of gray-flannel suburban Connecticut—while providing countless little gay boys ever since with lessons in fabulousness. (This is the annual fundraiser and holiday party for Three Dollar Bill Cinema; get there early to meet and mingle, shopping bags in hand.) Pacific Place, 600 Pine St., $10–$12.50. Mixer at 6 p.m., movie at 7:30 p.m.

LaToya Ruby Frazier

The latest recipient of SAM’s biannual Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship, Frazier is a young photographer who grew up in the declining steel town of Braddock, Penn. (coincidentally where the new Christian Bale movie Out of the Furnace is set). Her new show, which she’ll discuss tonight, is called Born by a River—meaning the environmentally blighted Monongahela River, into which industrial waste was poured for over a century. Until recently, Frazier was known as a documentary photographer in the tradition of Jacob Riis or Dorothea Lange, showing us what it’s like to be poor and black in the Rust Belt. These folks were her neighbors in “The Bottom,” a neighborhood prone to flooding like New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. And when the Monongahela floods, it carries a toxic sludge that fills basements and brings disease. Adding to her black-and-white portraits (often of herself and family), Frazier recently hired a helicopter to frame overhead color views of Braddock, which has shrunk to 10 percent of its peak population when the mills were booming. Lots are being scraped, rusty mills are being scrapped (or parted out to China), empty houses are demolished, and railway freight cars sit idle. Yards are filled with neat rows of huge white haz-waste bags, filled with contaminated soil. Like Detroit, Braddock is charged with managing its own sad decline. (Show opens tomorrow and runs through June 22.) Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, $12.50–$19.50. 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 13

It’s a Wonderful Life

First, of course, we are obliged to note that the Grand Illusion is playing Frank Capra’s 1946 movie tonight through January 2, its 43rd annual screening of the holiday favorite. Of course you should see that. But tonight also offers the chance to experience a live stage version of the same tale, performed by Seattle Radio Theatre. (Now in its 14th year, this show is also becoming a holiday tradition.) Who’s playing the Jimmy Stewart role—meaning suicidal banker George Bailey? None other than popular TV host John Curley, who radiates the same wholesome, decent vibe. As his guardian angel, radio talker Dave Ross will bring some of his liberal spark to the part of Clarence, a pointed contrast to Mr. Potter, the Mitt Romney of his day. (If there were a guy during the 1940s with a car elevator and offshore trusts in the Cayman Islands, it would be Mr. Potter.) Other cast members include Jim Dever, Tracey Conway, Lee Callahan, John Maynard, Dolores Rogers, and Chris Topping. Rob Jones directs the show, with live music and sound effects, all to be broadcast in real time on KIRO-FM. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, and $5–$15. 8 p.m.

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