Keep a Goin' Most people agree that the '70s were a golden age for American film and film writing. Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese created challenging works with major studio money; Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper used low-budget horror to launch nasty commentaries on the American family; the cult movie was a new phenomenon; and critics ranging from the witty, maddening Pauline Kael to the brainy, maddening Robin Wood authored great essays and bickered with each other. "Seven From the Seventies" begins a weeklong tribute to the decade with its biggest film: Nashville. As Kael says, Nashville is "a constant discovery of overlapping connections," about a country where politics and entertainment are interchangeable and everyone's a groupie. See Karen Black as a chilly Tammy Wynette-type; Gwen Welles and Barbara Harris as wannabes with a dream; Geraldine Chaplin as the most irritating reporter in cinematic history; and the lovely Ronee Blakley (whose career torpedoed when she married Wim Wenders) as a doomed Loretta Lynn-figure in Altman's epic 8 1/2-in-Opryland. The lights go down at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight, S.F. Tickets are $3.50-5.50; call 668-3994.
Somebody's Watching Me In Patrick Tierney and Eric Saks' new half-hour documentary Neglectosphere, a real camera watches people's reactions to fake surveillance machines placed in various Los Angeles municipal buildings. Technopranks are Tierney and Saks' forte: A one-minute pseudo-infomercial (called Hide), a six-minute "media virus" short (called NeglectoMIX), and a "video sketchbook" (called Neglectonotebook) round out a program by the dastardly duo; neglect it not at 7:30 p.m. at Refusalon Gallery, 20 Hawthorne, S.F. Admission is $5; call 558-8129.
Hungary Eyes Up until World War II, Hungary's economy was thriving, and the country's arts -- photography in particular -- flourished. Andr Kertesz and Brassai are among the best-known photographers from the period, perhaps because they left the country before reactionary regimes (who forced artists to make propaganda) took over. "Hungarian Photography: 1920s and 1930s" has work by Kertesz and Brassai, and a number of more obscure talents. The show's style ranges from pictorialist to social documentary to modernist; it's open for view from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Robert Koch Gallery, 49 Geary St., S.F. Free; call 421-0122.
She's Onstage An annual showcase of theater by women, "Taking Shape" is 8 years old. In the past, the series has given Anne Galjour, Marga Gomez, and Greta Sanchez a chance to try out new shows. This year's second weekend of works in progress includes Triple Tongues by Sherry Hicks, The Passing by Anita Johnson, Boxes by Barbara Tajima, and Fertile Ground by Carmel Winters. Capped by a post-show discussion, the program starts at 8 p.m. at Brava Studio Theatre, 2180 Bryant, S.F. Tickets are $10; call 487-5401. "Taking Shape" continues Thursdays-Sundays through Feb. 17.
Spontaneous Production A seven-member performance ensemble, True Fiction Magazine has 137 years of collective improvisational experience. In recent months, they've become a staple of Sedge Thompson's weekly West Coast Live radio show, appearing twice a month. The latest show by the spontaneity experts -- "TimeLines" -- begins at 8 p.m. at 450 Geary Studio Theater, 450 Geary St., S.F. Tickets are $10-12; call 824-1559. "TimeLines" continues Thursdays-Saturdays through March 2.
Art Attack Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney, William Wegman, and Jean Dubuffet are some of the famous names at the "USArt" show -- one of those expos where a bunch of small galleries show their stuff in a big building. Works on display date from 1800 until the present. Have a look-see from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion, S.F. Admission is $10; call 441-3400. "USArt" continues through Feb. 4.
Showtime at the Center Since the '70s, a number of African-American comedians -- Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Redd Foxx, Shirley Hemphill, LaWanda Page, and Eddie Murphy, to name a handful -- have achieved mainstream success. But clubs for "black comedy" (Geoffrey's Inner Circle in Oakland is an exception) are still few and far between. The 10-year-old "Bay Area Black Comedy Competition" gives fresh stand-ups a free forum: The preliminary and semifinal rounds of the competition begin at 8 p.m. (through Feb. 4) at Center for the Arts, 700 Howard, S.F. Tickets are $10; call 978-2787.
Men With Big Guns From the mean daddy/soft son dynamic of Howard Hawks' Red River to Clint Eastwood's recent The Unforgiven, the western has always been dominated by male-bonding themes. Arguably, Sam Peckinpah is king of the genre, and arguably, The Wild Bunch is his greatest film. The cast is filled with grizzly, potbellied codgers like Warren Oates and Ernest Borgnine -- not a single matinee idol sissy in sight! See bridges collapse (hint: symbolism) and guys shoot each other at 8 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, Castro & Market, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.
Dance, Drink, and Eat Folk singing, folk dancing, and -- of course -- borscht and caviar are part of the eighth annual "Russian Festival." Some people will sip Russian tea and others will guzzle flavored vodka from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Russian Center, 2450 Sutter, S.F. Admission is $5-7; call 921-7631. The festival continues through Feb. 4.
Wet and Wacky Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, and Cyd Charisse will be at the gala reopening of the Lark Theatre -- on film. They star in the so-perky-it-makes-you want-to-kill musical Singin' in the Rain, which begins a year-round program of revivals and premieres at the '30s art-deco theater; the coming months promise tributes to Louis Malle (R.I.P.), local documentarian Rob Epstein, and Pedro Almodóvar (whose upcoming The Flower of My Secret made a bunch of top-10 lists in the year-end issue of Film Comment). The lights go down at 8 p.m. at Lark Theatre, 549 Magnolia, Larkspur. Tickets are $5-10 (includes complimentary munchies); call 924-3311.
Sing and Sign Cabaret stalwarts like Andrea Marcovicci, David Staller, Amanda McBroom, Barbara Carroll, and Mary Cleere Haran momentarily leave the lounge, singing and signing (autographs) for free at "A Cavalcade of Stars." In conjunction with the "Mabel Mercer West Coast Cabaret Convention," the event starts at 2 p.m. at Star Classics, 425 Hayes, S.F. Free; call 552-1110.
Bond, Justin Bond Justin Bond has performed as women named Kiki and Hazy in the past few years, but it's been awhile since he graced the stage as himself. "Bonds Have More Fun" brings the smart, stylish one back to the Bay Area, with reliable sidekick Kenny Melman tinkling the ivories, and a special cameo by Miss Hattie Hathaway. DJs Deena Davenport and Alvin A-Go-Go of Baby Judy's spin loony tunes after the show till 3 a.m.; "spy drag" suggestions for audience members include .007, Pussy Galore, Honey West, Maxwell Smart, "99," and Emma Peel. The doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 11 p.m. at Cocktails, 205 Ninth St., S.F. Tickets are $7-11; call 781-8224 (ext. 176).
Back to the Roots Along with Son Volt and S.F.'s Tarnation, the Geraldine Fibbers lead a new wave of country-influenced rock bands. The L.A.-based group's debut LP, Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home, mixes violin, viola, banjo, and lap steel with guitars. Like Tarnation's Paula Frazer, lead singer Carla Bozulich (who used to front sex/synth merchants Ethyl Meatplow) has a dramatic, melancholy voice -- hear her at 10 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F. The Brilliantines and Polar Goldie Cats open. Tickets are $8; call 621-4455.
It's Not a Mirage Today, Peter O'Toole has been reduced to hawking snack foods on TV commercials, but once upon a time he signified all things British and regal and "in good taste." In David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole's portrayal of T.E. Lawrence matches the wide-screen desert-landscape cinematography (courtesy of Freddie Young). What's that dot on the horizon? Could it be Omar Sharif riding up on his camel? Find out at noon, 4:30, and 9 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, Castro & Market, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.
Brainiac One of the highlights of last year's AFRO SOLO performance festival was Nena St. Louis' Do You Want to Buy My Brain? A funny portrayal of one woman's battle against an imaginary Siamese twin she hopes to kill with "pretty pink pills," the piece is Part 3 of a trilogy by St. Louis called Finding the Golden Thread. See St. Louis wage war with her inner voices at 3 p.m. at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $10; call 861-8972. Finding the Golden Thread also plays Sunday, Feb. 11.
Writers' Rights The author of more than 30 books, Pramoedya Anata Toer is Indonesia's best-known writer. All of Toer's writings are banned in his home country, though; he has lived under city arrest in Jakarta since 1979, when he was released from prison, where he had been incarcerated without trial for 14 years. Alice Adams, Peter Dale Scott, Tracy Johnston, Jack Marshall, and Naomi Schwartz pay tribute to Toer in a reading co-sponsored by A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books and Pen Center USA West; the event starts at 7:30 p.m. at 601 Van Ness, S.F. Free; call 441-6670.
More Than a Mouthful The winner of this year's Longest Book Title Award is Jerome Rothenberg. In Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry Vol. 1 From Fin-de-Sicle to Negritude, Rothenberg and co-editor Pierre Joris collect poems and other documents produced from 1890 to 1945. The resulting cast of contributors includes blues queen Bessie Smith; surrealist jokester Salvador Dali; modernist trickster Gertrude Stein; and poet/essayists Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda. Rothenberg reads from and discusses the book at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books, 1941 Shattuck, Berkeley. Free; call (510) 486-0698.
Starlust Taking its title from one of Douglas Sirk's films, "Magnificent Obsessions" is a program of shorts exploring relationships between real people and dream lovers. Like Fred and Judy Vermorel's amazing book Starlust, Laura Poitras' Exact Fantasy: a film about media correspondence and bringing the stars down to earth focuses on fan letters as a form of projection. (Poitras also examines call-ins to radio talk shows.) In the award-winning Black Sheep Boy, director Michael Wallin visualizes and analyzes his own desires, which run toward a particular type of young man. Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi's Animali Criminali (a short about animal magnetism with turn-of-the-century nature footage) concludes the show at 7:30 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant, Berkeley. Tickets are $3.50-5.50; call (510) 642-1124.
Creepy Carrie Nineteen seventy-six's Carrie has some of Brian De Palma's most flamboyant directorial touches, from the spinning camera and split-screen effects of the fiery prom sequence to a final shock that reduces the film from a genuinely traumatic experience to a sick joke. The latter trick became a regular horror motif (Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street is almost ruined by a similar ending), but the best element of the film is its performances: John Travolta and Nancy Allen as evil bullies; P.J. Soles as a girl who always wears the same dumb hat; Betty Buckley as a kind gym teacher; and most of all, Piper Laurie as a religious maniac mom and Sissy Spacek as the tortured titular character. (In the fine, perverse tradition of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, the director includes a short scene where his son is tortured -- Carrie uses telekinesis to make him wipe out on his bike.) Relive high school hell and witness cinema's second-most-traumatic shower scene at 7:15 and 9:35 p.m. at a special benefit for the Sick & Twisted Players (who will appear before each screening) at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 668-3994.