If you're bored with the never-ending train of installments in the Batman saga, along with its bevy of generally talented directors who falter terribly in bringing the dark knight of Gotham to life (excluding Tim Burton, of course), the original Caped Crusader might be a refreshing alternative. And no, we're not talking Adam West in purple tights.
Georges Franju's mesmerizing 1963 film Judex, a remake of Louis Feuillade's serial-comic crime drama, uncovers one of the most underrated icons of superhero history. Franju also directed the surrealist documentary Blood of the Beasts and the classic horror film Eyes Without a Face, so Judex is equal parts Jean Cocteau and Vincent Price, with just a smidgen of Marvel Comics.
The titular character is part hero and part master of illusion, and is fashionably equipped with a secret lair where he interrogates prisoners via a television monitor, as well as a loyal fleet of circus freaks and other renegades who take care of some of their boss' dirty work. Judex's archnemesis, a greasy banker named Favraux who leaves a trail of woebegone widows and all-purpose misery in his wake, is assisted by the sexy Marie Verdier (aka Diana Monti), a lissome acrobat with an impressive costume collection. Franju cast American stage magician Channing Pollock as Judex, even incorporating Pollock's creepy trademark act with birds into the dreamlike masked ball/kidnapping scene. Maurice Jarre's macabre score strangely meshes with all the manic car chases. See Judex tonight at 8 at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890 or visit www.atasite.org.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
Ever wonder what happened to your fingernail clippers after they were confiscated at the airport immediately following Sept. 11, 2001? Michele Pred did. She was so curious that she went looking for them, found them, and turned them into art. Her solo show, "(re)collections," includes an image of an American flag made of razor blades, another from pocket knives, and a nest woven from cell phone rechargers. Pred reclaimed her materials from SFO dumpsters, although we're not sure how. The opening reception starts Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (and the exhibit continues through Aug. 20, with an artist's talk on July 23) at Brian Gross Fine Art, 49 Geary (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is free; call 788-1050 or visit www.briangrossfineart.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Write This Book
And walk a mile in my heels
Our favorite is "Ask, Tell." But in 50 Ways to Support Lesbian and Gay Equality, a collection of snappy essays in answer form, plenty of other suggestions are worth checking out, too. For San Franciscans, some of the advice may be overkill: "Study Something Queer" is one of the essays' titles. Do we really need any prodding to rent But I'm a Cheerleader again?
Most of the pieces, however, are more serious in nature. "Value Families Like Mine" was contributed by the son of a lesbian couple, while Scott J. Hamilton reminds readers to "Advocate for Our Elders," and Debra Chasnoff writes "Talk to Children About LGBT People: It's Elementary." Editor Meredith Maran and writers Diva Dan, Renate Stendhal, and Emily Doskow read at 6:30 p.m. in the San Francisco Public Library Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4400 or visit www.sfpl.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Attaboy cleans house
Nobody nails anguished beasts, otherworldly monsters, and cartoon characters gone horribly wrong quite like the artist Attaboy, whose work has appeared in galleries, newspapers, and toy stores for years. Now he's packing up and moving, clear across the street, in a trip he intends to fund with "Attaboy's Yart Sale," a first-ever event featuring more than 600 drawings from the past five years. Mounted, tellingly, on tables and clotheslines rather than on gallery walls, the pieces will be grouped by price, and you should pause a moment to consider those prices: $10, $20, and $50 per original, many of which have appeared on calendars and whatnot. "There's one drawing of an octopus that's been on 50 different products," says Attaboy. "Come get it for $20, you bastards."
A Glimpse Into Burma
According to Emma Larkin, an American journalist writing under a pseudonym, Orwellian themes of censorship, surveillance, and torture are alive and well in Burma, decades after the author penned his novel about the country, Burmese Days. Larkin's book, Finding George Orwell in Burma,researched during a two-year trip, chronicles the state of the government in light of recent actions, from the ousting of the head of Military Intelligence, Gen. Khin Nyut, to the disruption in the spy network. Tonight she'll discuss how these events are being manipulated by the nation's secretive leaders. The reception starts at 5:15 at the World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter (at Grant), Second Floor, S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 293-4600 or visit www.itsyourworld.org.
-- Michael Leaverton