This Week's Picks: January 8 - 14, 2014
Should a charity that relies on donations to fund its good works be picky about the source of its cash flow? It's a conundrum as relevant today as it was in 1905, when George Bernard Shaw first scripted it into Major Barbara, about a Salvation Army officer who happens to be the estranged daughter of a wealthy munitions magnate. When Pops puts up the dough to fund her church — matching donations already given by a booze manufacturer — Barbara is beyond flummoxed. What's a morally upstanding woman, deeply devoted to her cause, to do? Described as "a devilishly funny satire exploring themes of business, faith, family, and philanthropy," this production teams American Conservatory Theater with Theatre Calgary, and features a cast of both Canadian and American actors. (Cheryl Eddy)
Through Feb. 2
Previews tonight through Sat/11, 8pm; Sun/12, 7pm
Opens Jan. 15, 8pm; runs Tue-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm, $20-$140
ACT's Geary Theater
415 Geary, SF
If Elvis Presley had survived his doctor-enabled substance abuse problem, he would have turned 79 yesterday (and if he is still alive, as the conspiracy theory suggests, he probably had one hell of a party). Celebrate the rock 'n' roll legend in royal style by taking in 1958's King Creole, often cited by fans and critics as his best big-screen effort. It casts the singer-actor as a New Orleans ne'er-do-well who happens to have the voice of an angel, showcased in tunes like the title track, "Trouble," and "Hard Headed Woman." Yeah, the Big E starred in a lot of stinkers, but King Creole isn't one of them, with a supporting cast that includes Vic Morrow, Walter Matthau, and Carolyn "Morticia Addams" Jones — plus sure-handed, noirish direction by Michael Curtiz (1942's Casablanca, 1945's Mildred Pierce). Diehard King devotees Will Viharo and Monica Cortés Viharo TCB as hosts of this birthday-themed "Thrillville Theater" screening. (Eddy)
474 24th St, Oakl.
After the Light
On a page written long ago by Virginia Woolf lies an abstraction of feelings: passion, defeat, nostalgia, anxiety. Though Woolf chose words to express these emotions, she believed that "love had a thousand shapes." In After the Light, choreographer Liss Fain uses the human body and Woolf's words in a dance installation to add to the thousands of shapes of the human heart. Threading together music by Dan Wool, a set by Matthew Antaky, and costumes by Mary Domenico, this performance constantly shifts, ebbing like the ocean tide that once led Woolf to the lighthouse. After the Light gives the public a brief understanding of "miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark," which we continue to carry, even when the darkness closes in again. (Kaylen Baker)
Thu/9-Sat/11, 8pm; Sun/12, 2pm, $15-$35
450 Florida, SF
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival auditions
It's that time of the year when cash, even for non-indulging shoppers, seems to have evaporated. There is no better remedy to beat those post-holiday blues than with a great show, at a good price, in a superb location with comfortable seats where you can watch dance for six hours or more — should you be so inclined. The yearly auditions for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival are a love feast of world dance. What you get is a taste of what these artists are all about: five minutes for soloists and duets; 10 minutes for groups. To see some of them, perhaps for the first time, in a magnificent professional theater is its own reward. You can also engage in a guessing game of who might (and who might not) make it into June's 36th annual SF Ethnic Dance Festival. (Rita Felciano)
Today, 3:20-9pm; Sat/11, 11am-6:30pm; Sun/12, 11am-7pm, $10 (children under 12, free)
UC Berkeley, Berk.
Tearing up stages for nearly two decades now, Santa Cruz rockers the Chop Tops take traditional rockabilly and chuck the owner's manual, boosting the power, streamlining the chassis, and hot rodding it into something that's all the band's own. Perennial favorites at the Viva Las Vegas festival, the trio has toured across the country and performed as far away as Australia — but local fans can check out the action tonight at the Elbo Room, where Sinner, Shelby, and Brett are guaranteed to blow the roof off the joint with their always incendiary set of what they call "revved-up rockabilly." With South Bay psychobilly icons Hayride To Hell. (Sean McCourt)
With Hard Fall Hearts, Blacktop Tragedy
647 Valencia, SF
"For Your Consideration: A Selection of Oscar Submissions from Around the World"
So you spent your entire holiday posted up in a movie theater, consuming America's potential Oscar fodder (American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, etc.) Time to cross some cinematic borders, film fans, and sample contenders in the Foreign Language Film category. Sure, the shortlist has already been announced, but the Smith Rafael Film Center is screening a wide swath of submissions; even if they didn't all make the Academy's final cut (one that did: World War II spy tale Two Lives, from Germany), they're all worthy of attention. Others in the series include In Bloom, about two teen girls in post-Soviet Georgia; Swiss bee documentary More Than Honey; New Zealand's White Lies, about three generations of Maori women; Argentina's The German Doctor, about Nazi Josef Mengele's post-war life in South America; and Polish director Andrzej Wajda's biopic Walesa, Man of Hope. And that ain't even all of it: there are also films from Canada, Czech Republic, Sweden, Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Austria, and Romania — no passport required. (Eddy)
Through Jan. 16, $6.50-$10.75
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center
1118 Fourth St, San Rafael
"Prom Night: Redux"
I skipped my prom. There, I said it. I failed at being a teenager and I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I really don't think I missed out, since I "went to the prom" about 10,000 times by watching just about every high school movie ever made. There's no guarantee of pig's blood or a muttered apology from Blane or a Mean Girls-style symbolically broken crown, but there will be slow dancing, strapless gowns, corsages, terrible suits, and probably some crimped hair at "Prom Night: Redux," a benefit for SF IndieFest, which turns Sweet 16 this year. By the time you read this, the full schedule for this year's fest (coming up in early February) will be posted on www.sfindie.com, but no need to wait for juicy moviegoing, since the Roxie is also kicking off the brilliantly-titled "I Was a Teenage Teenager" series (all teen flicks, all the time), tonight through Jan. 14. DJs Shindog (New Wave City) and Junkyard (Litterbox) rock the tunes, and yes, a king and queen will be crowned. They're all gonna laugh at you! (Eddy)
3543 18th St, SF
"Bowie and Elvis Birthday Bash"
For those keeping score at home, that makes two Elvis birthday events (and two DJ Shindog events) in a single Selector spread. But while the King's b-day is indeed an occasion worthy of multiple peanut butter and banana (and bacon) sandwiches, we cannot forget that Mr. Presley shares a birthday with David Bowie. And when the music, videos, and film performances of these legends collide, it'll be a magic night of sequins, scarves, and platforms in the Tenderloin. For the fourth year, the "Bowie and Elvis Birthday Bash," with DJs Shindog, Cammy, Moonshine, and Andy T, promises jams "from 'Hound Dog' to 'Diamond Dogs'" — and don't be cruel, Ziggy, do your part by outfitting yourself in homage to one (or both at once!) of these well-dressed twin stars. (Eddy)
950 Geary, SF
Last April, the San Francisco Cinematheque devoted one of its "Crossroads 2013" programs to local experimental filmmaker Scott Stark and his dazzling, haunting mannequin epic The Realist. Stark returns with brand-new work in Shapeshifters Cinema's first program of 2014, both collaborations with Allison Leigh Holt: dual projector performance Nocturnal Symmetries, which delves into "dreamlike urban and natural landscapes;" and Treasures of the Big House, "a playful, yet manic interaction between two performers using toys, household objects, and toiletries out of control." Watch where you're aiming those golf tees! Also on the bill are a pair of older Stark works, Right (2008), a 13-minute exploration of right-wing ideology in the context of the 2003 Iraq invasion; and the 20-minute More Than Meets the Eye: Remaking Jane Fonda (2001/2006), an homage to the actor and cultural icon via a re-creation of one of her workout videos. (Eddy)
Temescal Art Center
511 48th St, Oakl.