By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
FRIDAY, MARCH 20
Directed in three parts by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho, Tokyo! doesn’t expose the city so much as its citizens, sometimes quite literally. In the opener, Gondry’s “Interior Design,” an aspiring filmmaker’s girlfriend finds herself so useless in cosmopolitan Tokyo that she morphs into furniture. Carax’s “Merde” creates monster-movie terror via the bloody antics of a homeless gnome, who puts the city on edge with random killings and confounds the courtroom with leprechaun gibberish. The finale, Bong’s “Shaking Tokyo,” follows a recluse (hikikomori, in the vernacular) with a monklike penchant for stacking empty pizza boxes just so, who finally exits his house after 10 years only to find everyone else in the metropolis has shut themselves in. Odder than Japan itself, thanks to its decidedly non-Japanese directors, this cinematic triptych transforms Tokyo’s surreality into a nearly inexplicable study of disconnect in an ultra-urban world. (Actress Ayako Fujitani appears in person Friday, 7:30 p.m.) Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; runs Fri.-Thurs., March 20-26. (310) 281-8223. —Derek Thomas
WON’T YOU COME HOME, AL AILEY?
How appropriate that Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has included L.A. in the ensemble’s 50th anniversary tour. Before he founded his eponymous dance troupe 50 years ago, Alvin Ailey started his dance career with the legendary choreographer Lester Horton, whose L.A.-based company was one of the few racially integrated of that time. Ailey may have started here, but it was in New York that he established his troupe and in the gospel music of his Texas childhood that he found his choreographic voice in his masterpiece, Revelations. A half-century later, the Ailey tradition is helmed by one of his signature dancers Judith Jamison, and the company signature work, Revelations, concludes each of the four repertoire programs. Check www.musiccenter.org for the specific repertoire for the six performances. At the Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Wed.-Sat., March 18-21, 7:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun., March 21-22, 2 p.m.; $25-$105. (213) 972-0711. —Ann Haskins
LIGHTS! CAMERA! FLEET-FOOTED ACTION!
Gracefulness isn’t a prized commodity in contemporary fantasy-adventure films, so to see 1924’s The Thief of Bagdad, one of the pioneering films of the genre, is to be transported not just to a distant land but also to a bygone era of silent cinema, when mainstream entertainment could be this unashamedly balletic. Director Raoul Walsh’s film, now showing in a restored print, follows the exploits of the titular thief (Douglas Fairbanks, at his most impossibly pretty) as he tries to woo an Arabian princess (Julanne Johnston). Because this is a movie and not real life, those attempts at courtship don’t involve dinner dates and heartfelt talks but, rather, a series of physical challenges in order to acquire an elusive magic chest. The Thief of Bagdad’s three major selling points — William Cameron Menzies’ exceptional larger-than-life sets; Hampton Del Ruth’s innovative special effects; and Fairbanks’ grinning, athletic exuberance — remain undiminished after 85 years, but what comes across strongest is the film’s striking tonal contrast to the many popcorn movies that have followed in its path. Granted, the thief’s arduous quest recalls the videogame plotting of modern-day action films, and Walsh’s emphasis on spectacle over character has become a genre staple, but The Thief of Bagdad’s dashing, boyish charm displays none of the machismo overkill or kid-friendly preciousness that coarsens so many of its spiritual descendants. At a time when big-budget blockbusters are only getting more juvenile, The Thief of Bagdad stands apart as a wonderfully grownup adventure film: sweet of spirit, fleet of foot, and so delightfully quaint that for younger viewers its old-fashioned romantic sweep and wide-eyed joy will feel positively revelatory. Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Fri., March 20, 7:30 p.m.; $5. (310) 247-3600. —Tim Grierson
SATURDAY, MARCH 21
YOU CAN BÊTE YOUR NOIRE ON IT
Of its Hotel Horrors and Main Street Vice tour, Esotouric host Kim Cooper says: “I enjoy the fruits of downtown’s resurgence as much as anyone, but for every cute little wine bar and restored architectural gem, there’s a century-thick layer of human struggles crying out to be remembered. I think our modern pleasures taste a little sweeter when washed down with the voices of the past. Some of them are screaming, some are hooting with lust, others cry softly. If you come along on this tour and close your eyes, you can hear them, too.” Hot cha! Meet at Cafe Metropol at 923 E. Third St., downtown; Sat., March 21, noon-4 p.m.; $58 (March babies ride for $3.33 with a fully paid companion.) —Libby Molyneaux
E.A.R. YE, E.A.R. YE
One night, composer Daniel Wohl awoke to an odd image on his TV. “The set was turned to a ‘nonchannel,’” he recalls, “and the screen was mostly filled with black-and-white static, except for a faded image of what looked like an old couple dancing. The image would come in strongly and then recede into the static.” The experience led to Wohl’s recent work, +ou- (plus ou moins), which he describes as “music heard through a veil of noise.” This week, you can hear +ou- and much more from our young American pioneers of new and experimental music when the California E.A.R. Unit takes over the stage at REDCAT, with a program as invigorating as it is challenging. Among the other works: Oscar Bettison’s seductive Gauze Vespers, a Zenlike flute meditation punctuated by jarring percussion and the tinkling commentary of toy pianos; Ryan Brown’s Our Friend Adam, a jazzy avant-garde combination of humor and existential curiosity that’s a takeoff on Our Friend Atom, a short film that introduced the atom bomb; Christine Southworth’s gamelan-inspired Jamu for ensemble and electronics; Clay Chaplin’s structured improvisation Rememories, in which music and 3-D video comment on the relationship between time and memory; and a new work from the “czar” of the Carlsbad Music Festival, Matt McBane. At Redcat, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Sat., March 21, 8:30 p.m.; $16-$20, student tickets available. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org. —Mary Beth Crain
SUNDAY, MARCH 22
Ice Pick of the Week
WE ARE THE WORLDS
Is winter over already? In fact, did winter even arrive here this year? Los Angeles may not seem like a winter wonderland, especially to those around the rest of the country who are still digging out their cars from piled-up banks of snow, but this week our fair city gets to host the ISU World Figure Skating Championships for the first time in the history of the competition, which started in 1896. The truth is, Southern California has had a long relationship with figure skating; Peggy Fleming, Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner, Sasha Cohen, and, of course, Michelle Kwan (the sport’s equivalent to Michael Jordan) are among the many skaters who were raised in the Southland. And several skaters with local ties compete this week, including El Segundo’s Evan Lysacek, a two-time World bronze medalist; Del Mar’s Rachael Flatt, an energetically appealing jump specialist; veteran pairs team Rena Inoue & John Baldwin; and the precociously talented young skaters Bebe Liang and Mirai Nagasu. Korea’s Yu-Na Kim and Japan’s Mao Asada (who might attempt an unprecedented quad jump) should battle for the gold in the ladies event, but keep an eye on Flatt and Ohio’s relatively mature Alissa Czisny (age 21), the new U.S. champ, who skates with a welcome artistic elegance. On the men’s side, Lysacek could be tested by fellow Americans Jeremy Abbott and Brandon Mroz, Canada’s Patrick Chan and last year’s World champ, the redoubtable Brian Joubert of France. The pairs competition will likely come down to three of China’s high-flying, death-defying teams: Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao, Qing Pang & Jian Tong, or Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang. In the more formally grounded and graceful ice dancing event, we’re pulling for the terminally vivacious Tanith Belbin and partner Benjamin Agosto to finally snag their first World gold medal. Staples Center, 11th & Figueroa sts., downtown; Sun., March 22-Sun., March 29. (888) SKATE09 or www.isuworlds2009.com. —Falling James
AND YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK
Burbank is home to such major motion picture studios as the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., Touchstone, Columbia and (well, it’s close) Universal Studios. None of them have anything to do with The First Annual Burbank International Film Festival. The weeklong fest kicks off today with an inauguration ceremony and screening of The Brothers Warner, a documentary directed by by Cass Warner (granddaughter of Warner Bros. founder Harry Warner). The fest will also screen the doc Faire: An American Renaissance and include a medieval party where guests are encouraged to come in corset and tights and such. Woodbury University, 7500 Glen Oaks Blvd., Burbank; Sun., March 22-Sun., March 29. For schedule: (888) 767-4631 or www.burbankfilmfestival.org. —L.M.
MONDAY, MARCH 23
HOW TO BE AN ASSHOLE, L.A. VERSION
Stephen Farber’s Reel Talk film series gives us the opportunity to see romantic thriller Duplicity before the masses. Then we can go to Whole Foods — the one on San Vicente, of course — and talk loudly about the movie until even Reese Witherspoon gives us the evil eye. We’ll dissect Julia Roberts’ performance and post-baby bod and comment on Clive Owens’ shirtless scene, which we heartily approve of. Then we’ll talk up the supporting performances by Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson until Shirley MacLaine storms out of the store, forgetting to pay for her wheatgrass. Wadsworth Theatre, on the Veterans Administration grounds, Bldg. 226, West L.A.; Mon., March 23, 7 p.m.; $20. (213) 365-3500. —L.M.
TUESDAY, MARCH 24
KAREN KILGARIFF, DISCOMFORTABLE
The former head writer for Ellen and Mr. Show leaves her house for a little standup action. —Libby Molyneaux
L.A. WEEKLY: Kilgariff — what kind of name is that?
KAREN KILGARIFF: It’s Irish and, if what I’ve been told is correct, it means little church on a hill.
Who do people say you look like?
My mother, Delta Burke, Natalie from Facts of Life and, if someone is trying to kiss my ass, Sherilyn Fenn. Once, in the early ’90s, I got Björk from a doorman in San Francisco. I burst into tears of joy.
Who are your comedy heroes?
The earliest one I can think of is Jane Doorknacker. She was a standup in San Francisco and in the late ’70s she did the traffic report on KFRC, the local AM station we listened to on the way to school. When she came on, all you heard was her talking, and everyone else in the booth laughing hysterically. I just sat there thinking, “I want to do that.” I was also rubbing my hands together maniacally and rocking back and forth. I made carpool uncomfortable for the other children.
If you could never leave one block of L.A., where would it be?
The one my house is on, and I rarely do, and stop judging me.
If the Internet is to be believed, you have won “numerous Emmy and PGA Awards.” What do you do with them?
I gave a ton of them to my parents, I donated several to charities for children born without Emmys, and I use four as pool-cover holder-downers.
What topics will you be discussing at Drunk Onstage?
I’ll unveil my new uniword— Joaquinix! Why bother saying his first and last name when you can combine the two and shave seconds off your talk time? Then I’ll discuss Wynonna Judd’s new job as the Alli spokesperson. Then I’ll sing a song about everything I’ve experienced since I’ve moved here in 1994. It’s gonna be totally insane.
Karen Kilgariff performs at Bruce Daniels Drunk Onstage at Akbar, 4356 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; Tues., March 24, 8 p.m .; $5. (323) 665-6810.
HOW MANY NARCISSISTS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHT BULB? ONE. HE HOLDS THE BULB WHILE THE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND HIM
Do you obsess on your own vanity, exhibitionism, entitlement, exploitativeness, self-sufficiency, authority and superiority? If so, you might be suffering from “clinical narcissism” (or you might be Paris Hilton). CN is a sign of our celebrity-driven times, not to mention the hottest disorder since toxic shock syndrome. Dr. Drew Pinsky, who’s studied more celebutards than Oprah and Dr. Phil combined, has written The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America, a book that aims to “explore how these stars, and the media, are modeling such behavior for public consumption — and how the rest of us, especially young people, are mirroring these dangerous traits in our own behavior.” Dr. Drew gives a talk — bring Lindsay Lohan and get a free copy of the book. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; Tues., March 24, 7:30 p.m.; free, resv. required, (877) SCC-4TIX. —L.M.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25
Ozomatli — it’s the Aztec word meaning “uplifting and moving people spiritually while shaking major booty and causing joyful sweat.” When they’re not busy performing at State Department–sponsored shows in India, Africa and Nepal, the local boys like to give back to the community, i.e., you and me. Band members Will Abers, Ulises Bella, Raul Pacheco, Justin Poree, Asdru Sierra and Jiro Yamaguchi join USC Annenberg School for Communication professor Josh Kun to discuss how music can further political causes. Film clips of recent travels will be shown, and there will be a question-and-answer period. In conjunction with the exhibition, Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom. The Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 200, L.A.; Wed., March 25, 8 p.m.; $10. (213) 480-3232. —L.M.
THURSDAY, MARCH 26
THESE GUYS ARE A COUPLE OF GREAT CATCHES
According to the Talmud (this is the real shit; look it up), Rabbi Shimon ben Gamaliel could, “take eight flaming torches and throw them in the air, and catch one and throw one and they did not touch one another.” Hence, juggling was invented and generations of young men began the tradition of being disappointments to their parents. But Jon Wee and Owen Morse have clearly found a way to make their moms and dads proud. As comedy-juggling duo The Passing Zone — they even met at a juggling convention — they won loads of awards and even entertained Prince Charles and Donny and Marie. Flaming torches? Check. Flying chainsaws? Check. Bowling balls? Oh, yeah. Comedy & Magic Club, 1018 Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa Beach; Tues.-Thurs., March 24-26, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 28, 7 & 9:15 p.m.; $15 & $17.50. (310) 372-1193. —L.M.