Stateside, Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni is mostly revered for one mod-freakout of a thriller: the 1966 movie Blowup, in which a swinging '60s photographer believes he may have captured a murder on camera and obsessively searches for the truth by enlarging the negatives. Francis Ford Coppola used the same plot to better effect in his The Conversation, but Blowupremains iconic while the rest of Antonioni's work has been all but forgotten. The Istituto Italiano di Cultura calls for a re-examination with "Composizioni/Scomposizioni: Art and Films of Michelangelo Antonioni," an art exhibit and retrospective that looks at the director's movies, from his first (1950's Chronicle of a Love, in which an unfaithful wife and her lover plot to snuff out her husband with disastrous consequences, screening Dec. 4) to his best (noted 1960 mystery The Adventure is a sure draw on Dec. 8), with a focus on Antonioni's early work. To this end, the Istituto begins most feature film screenings with one of the many shorts he lensed before his big break. See The Crime followed by Blowup at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, 425 Washington (at Battery), S.F. Admission is free; call 788-7142 or visit www.sfiic.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
An artful holiday tree
Installation artist Sonja Meller's work sometimes takes on the "big questions": She once filled a forbidding Gothic chapel with dozens of shiny red apples hanging from threads. They might have been meant to signify sin in the hearts of the outwardly devout, or they may have been a comment on knowledge and the Garden of Eden. In any case, it was staggeringly beautiful.
But her current exhibit, "Sonic Fruit," while it does invite contemplation, is more soothing. Located in the famously beautiful Chapel of the Chimes, Meller's creation is a tree hung with golden fruits, every one holding a tiny, tinkered-with music box. They play Brahms, but each is missing a different single note. Visitors are invited to pull strings that activate the boxes: Select one, or several, to hear various tinkling tunes through Dec. 18 at the Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont (at Ramona), Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 654-0123.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Pepperoni and Prosody
When the moon hits your eye
If poetry is an acquired taste, the folks at "Poetry & Pizza" have come up with an excellent way to acquire it. Your donation gives you license to attack an all-you-can-eat buffet of thin-crust New York-style pizza as you dig the work of local bards -- or, in the case of this month's open reading, throw in some bons mots yourself.
Proceeds usually go to charity, with recent readings benefiting the Hogtown Creek Review and the Sarcoma Foundation of America. But tonight's profits will be used to offset the expenses of "P&P" itself. The reading and eating start at 7:30 p.m. at Escape From New York Pizza, 333 Bush (at Montgomery), S.F. Admission is $5; call 421-0700 or visit www.poetryandpizza.homestead.com.
-- Michael Vaughn
Deco the Halls
The mall is full of chintzy crap and plastic knickknacks. Put something altogether swankier in your gift boxes by shopping at the "Art Deco and Modernism Holiday Sale." Hundreds of dealers display vintage jewelry, furniture, clothing, housewares, and other groovy goods at the two-day event starting at 10 a.m. Saturday (11 a.m. Sunday) at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St. (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $6-8; call (650) 599-3326 or visit www.artdecosale.com.
-- Joyce Slaton