Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away -- all right, four years ago in California (San Francisco and Silicon Valley, especially) -- a big chunk of the populace was giddy with stock-option optimism. By 2002, the buzz had faded and hordes of Internet start-ups and New Gold Rush workers had vanished as quickly as they'd appeared. Jennifer Thompson, Kristin McGinn Straub, and Mark Woloschuk's brisk and bracing American Dream 2.0 tracks a trio of such young entrepreneurs -- Greenhome.com founder Axil Comras, Silicon Valley software engineer Murali Krishna Devarakonda, and Mission District dancer and choreographer Krista DeNio -- as they ride the swells of economic boom and bust. Their aspirations may be classically American, but opportunity sure ain't what it used to be. DeNio watches zooming rents push artists and spaces like Dancers' Group out of the Mission; later, the mass evaporation of jobs in the Valley diminishes the Indian-born Devarakonda's joy at trading in his H-1B visa for a green card.
Neither an in-depth character study nor a social-issue exposé, the colorfully shot 52-minute doc is best viewed as a bittersweet and vaguely nostalgic slice of recent Bay Area life. It's also an ideal time-capsule piece for future historians: Its protagonists' journeys, from lofty ambitions to shrunken expectations to a kind of resigned pragmatism, mirror their generation's. American Dream 2.0 has its theatrical premiere Wednesday; filmmakers, artists, and politicians take questions after the evening screenings. Show times are 2, 7:15, and 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday, 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. on Thursday, at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 668-3994 or visit www.redvicmoviehouse.com.
-- Michael Fox
Picture-taking cell phones are everywhere, including on those silly TV commercials. Is there truly a need to digitally capture sock-stealing gnomes? Nevertheless, with the snowballing ubiquity of camera-capable communicators, someone was bound to explore the artistic potential of the lo-fi images generated in the cellular medium, and local curators Kurt Bigenho and Gregory Cowley are the first to have done so. The "Mobile Phone Photography Show" promises thousands of cell-phone images, e-mailed from around the globe, with the intriguing, immediate shots displayed via video monitors, projectors, kiosks, a photo booth, and a wall plastered with thumbnail prints. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Rx Gallery, 132 Eddy (at Mason), S.F. Admission is free; call 474-7973 or visit www.rxgallery.com.
-- Mark Rowell
Does It Matter?
Culture is like air: It's all around and you often can't see it or smell it, but you'd need some pretty fancy equipment to survive without it. What's more, most people take it for granted and don't understand how it works. This is where director Brian Shapiro and his multidisciplinary performance group CultureWorks come in. The Institute for Relativity Studies, a fictional scientific organization they created, looks into subjects that concern us all. Research Findings Number 3: So Much Seems to Matter is the troupe's latest "study" -- on language and music (which is stronger?), mathematics and mythology. Although we think taking potshots at Deepak Chopra (as in the "Dr. Deepocket Chumpchange" character) is sorta over, we figure the myth about "the origin of white people" makes up for it. Show time is 8 p.m. nightly at Station 40, 3030B Mission (at 16th Street), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 824-1403 or visit www.cultureworksinc.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Leonard Nimoy sees God
For those who only know him from his iconic television and film work, Leonard Nimoy is also a visual artist, children's book author, poet, and narrative recording artist. (Translation: Trekkies, give it a rest.) He's here to talk about his contribution to the "100 Artists See God" exhibition, Shekhina. Nimoy's photographs of the female form are inspired by the cabalistic idea of the female side of God (sometimes called Shekhina), and his work examines the relationship of spirit to body.
A panel discussion with Nimoy conducted by Contemporary Jewish Museum Director Constance Wolf starts at 9:30 a.m. at Grace Cathedral, Gresham Hall, 100 California (at Taylor), S.F. Admission is free; call 749-6300 or visit www.gracecathedral.org. "Artist Lecture: Leonard Nimoy" begins at 2 p.m. at the CJM, 121 Steuart (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 591-8801 or visit www.thecjm.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Kids these days. They have no respect for nothin', probably wouldn't even give up their seats for a sweet old grandma on the bus. Funny thing is, adults are worse. But even those who want to be polite can't always figure out how: What's a person to do if she finds a pit in her martini olive? SF Weekly columnist Social Grace, aka Charles Purdy, provides regular solace to such sufferers. His new book, Urban Etiquette, is subtitled Marvelous Manners for the Modern Metropolis, and he reads from it at 7 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Turk), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit www.bookstore.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser