Fans of quirky cinema rediscovered Bill Murray years before Lost in Translation. As a tycoon who competes with an oddball prep school student for a teacher's affections in Rushmore, Murray supplied a layered performance that garnered sympathy for a grade-A jerk-off. Since the Saturday Night Live quipster had coasted through light comedies for decades by milking his trademark smirk and smartass delivery, the Rushmore performance was a real breakthrough.
Or was it? Prompted by the actor's ascendance to iconic status, the Roxie re-examines Murray's oeuvre in the seven-day film series "What About Bill Murray?" Things get off to a curious start with the bizarro 1984 cult movie Nothing Lasts Forever, which features an enthused Murray as the entertainment director for a cruise to the moon. Next up is the aforementioned Rushmore, a must-see for Lost in Translation fans who didn't catch this precursor to his popular renaissance. Following that, the Roxie screens two of Murray's crowd-pleasing comedies -- the deathless yukfest Caddyshack and the mental-health satire What About Bob? But those who really want a peek at Murray-the-thespian should stick around for the series' last gasp, next Thursday's Mad Dog and Glory. This little-seen 1993 film was marketed as a Robert De Niro vehicle, but it's Murray who truly shines as a talkative loan shark. I'm annoyed that the Roxie left out a few of my fave performances -- where's the deconstruction of Murray as slap-happy tranny Bunny in Tim Burton's Ed Wood? -- but for Bill boosters this redux is a fine start. See Nothing Lasts Forever at 6, 8, and 10 p.m. Friday (the series runs through July 15) at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Nobel Prize winning Chilean Communist horseback-riding poet/diplomats aren't exactly a dime a dozen. In fact, we're pretty sure that the only one around, Pablo Neruda, passed on in 1973. During "La Semana Nerudiana/Neruda's Week," Bay Area fans celebrate what would have been the beloved wordsmith's 100th birthday with the appropriate international flair. An exhibit of visual art inspired by the centennial is already up, and the week includes a new documentary, ¡Pablo Neruda! ¡Presente!, and performances by Chilean musicians Claudio and Francisco Araya. The event kicks off with a community poetry-reading marathon starting at noon Sunday at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck (at Prince), Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 849-2568 or visit www.lapena.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Vintage Dirty Laundry
Jerry Stahl let his naughty bits hang out in his memoir Permanent Midnight (later made into a film with a sweaty Ben Stiller), exposing himself as both a drug addict and a writer for the puerile sitcom ALF. His new book, I, Fatty, attacks an equally scurrilous subject -- the late, defamed Fatty Arbuckle, who slid from cinematic adulation to worldwide infamy after being falsely accused of rape and murder following a wild night at the St. Francis Hotel. Get the dirt on the scandal starting at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Rise of the Slow
In an age when everything seems to be speeding up, San Francisco's Long Now Foundation exists specifically to promote more deliberate living: Its most celebrated project is a mechanical clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years. Fewer people are aware that the group hosts cool monthly "Seminars About Long-Term Thinking," a series that featured Brian Eno on the dais back in November. This time the mouthpiece is Jill Tarter, who discusses SETI's computerized hunt for space signals at "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence -- A Necessarily Long-Term Strategy," starting at 8 p.m. in the Fort Mason Conference Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free; call 383-7837 or visit www.longnow.org.
-- Joyce Slaton