This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, October 15, 2003
In our ongoing battle to equate independent filmmaking with indie rock (director = songwriter; actor = singer; boom mike holder = bass player), we chanced on a strong ally, seemingly as bent as we are on moving movies out of theaters and getting them into bars, living rooms, and all-ages clubs. Other Cinema Digital is an alternative DVD-distribution project involving that tireless champion of microcinema, Craig Baldwin. We can be reasonably sure his decades of programming at Artists' Television Access will ratchet up the quality of these releases. In the next few months, the outfit plans to put out four editions: Experiments in Terror, a collection of oddities in the horror-film genre; The Subject Is Sex, which is self-explanatory; Bill Morrison's Decasia, about deteriorating nitrate emulsion; and Baldwin's own Spectres of the Spectrum. Clips from all four are screened (or "walled," possibly) starting at 9 p.m. at Amnesia Bar, 853 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 290-0401 or visit www.othercinemadvd.com.

Thursday, October 16, 2003
When one considers the pantheon of great ballet composers, the names Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev likely spring to mind. Twentieth-century Polish composer Pawel Szymanski probably doesn't make the list -- yet Lines Contemporary Ballet Artistic Director Alonzo King thinks enough of the modern maestro's work that he's setting a second originally choreographed ballet to Szymanski's music (the first being 1995's String Quartet). This as-yet-untitled piece features architectural movements accented by dancers who mirror each other's steps, with live accompaniment by members of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra on strings and vibraphone. The Japanese-influenced Koto rounds out the program, which opens tonight at 8 (and continues through Sunday) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $15-50; call 978-2787 or visit www.yerbabuenaarts.org.

Friday, October 17, 2003
There was no one in Hollywood like Tallulah Bankhead before she wedged one elegant foot into cinema's back door. Flamboyant, angular, daring, and gifted, with a honking patrician voice, a sublime sense of comic timing, and a healthy disregard for the goody-two-shoes morality of the '40s and '50s, Bankhead was such an utter oddball that most movie moguls had no idea how to use this gin-soaked bundle of sardonic humor. She died in 1968, having never reached the silver-screen heights of her peers. But take heart, Tallulah lovers, the winsome wit is back -- at least in spirit. New York stage pranksters Clark Render and David Ilku evoke the age of the fierce female by donning her look in drag for "Dueling Bankheads," a night of theatrical dialogue celebrating the hard-nosed dame. The bons mots start spewing at 8 at the Center, 1800 Market (at Octavia), S.F. Admission is $20 (or $30 for tomorrow's performance, which includes a cast party); call 865-5555 or visit www.sfgaycenter.org.

Saturday, October 18, 2003
As a shiny Airstream trailer gracefully rounds a bend in the road, its aluminum siding gleams, giving the impression that it's been freshly washed. Inside, jaunty travelers eagerly await their arrival at the next destination, ready to make friends and learn about a new place. But the people inside this shiny object aren't a family of tourists circa 1959; they're members of the projet Mobilivre/ Bookmobile project collective, a group of dedicated do-it-yourself artist types. The trailer is full of handmade and small-press works of book art, a medium this Montreal- and Philadelphia-based organization is dedicated to sharing with people all along its tour itinerary. This fall, the group's members have already set up camp outside numerous book- and art-friendly spots like schools, galleries, and bookstores. Starting at 11 a.m., they'll be at Southern Exposure, 401 Alabama (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-2141 or visit www.mobilivre.org.

Sunday, October 19, 2003
Everyone has to wait around sometimes. Sometimes waiting is a reminder that although we're not really in control in the larger cosmic sense, we can still eventually reach our destinations and get what we want. Maybe. Samuel Beckett's most famous play, Waiting for Godot, concerns two friends, Vladimir and Estragon, who face this situation like most people do: They bicker, they get tired, they tell jokes. Although criticized during its first run in Paris in 1953 as a silly piece of theater with no plot, Godot has since been recognized as an important piece of theater with no plot. Meanwhile, "Didi" and "Gogo" have become existentialist poster children -- irritating, dumb, even suicidal, but warm and real in their determined belief that meaning exists. In this ACT production, running through Nov. 16, Peter Frechette and Gregory Wallace create the leading roles, and Carey Perloff directs. This evening's performance begins at 7 at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $11-68; call 749-2228 or visit www.act-sf.org.

Monday, October 20, 2003
When Anne Waldman read at a recent literary event in North Beach, we didn't know who she was; we had rather predictably gone to see other, somehow more famous versifiers. They were great, and the evening was lovely -- everyone was wearing buttons that said "Fuck Art, Let's Dance" -- but Waldman upstaged the entire all-star cast, truth be told. Her combination of devout Buddhism and modern woman's anger is often cited when critics discuss her work, and someone usually invokes her "intense physicality," but it's Waldman's poetry that's best. It's funny and mean and smart (no surprise, then, that her fans include Patti Smith and Bob Dylan). Tonight she presents her latest book of new and selected poems, In the Room of Never Grieve, starting at 7 at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.

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