Category Archive for: ‘Woody Weingarten’

From movies to madness, local entertainment thrives

The Rafael Film Center is my favorite Marin County movie house.

I’ve said that before, but it bears restating: “The Rafael Film Center is my absolute favorite Marin movie house.”

Maybe even a third time (oh, hell, just imagine it).

Why do I adore the art deco palace?

Three current offerings provide the reason: “Maudie,” a heavy biopic about a disabled Nova Scotia folk artist; “Lost in Paris,” a slapstick film with antics reminiscent of silent film classics; and “The Little Hours,” a bawdy, modernized version of Boccaccio’s “The Decameron.”

Each is unique. None is apt to be booked in less artsy venues. None will ever be considered box office competition for “Wonder Woman” or “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

Still, the best movie playing in Marin may be “The Big Sick,” a marvelously funny and poignant romcom about a struggling Pakistani comedian and his white girlfriend. It’s at the Fairfax 6 Theaters, the CinéArts Sequoia in Mill Valley and the Century Regency in San Rafael.

But maybe staged ethnic comic diversity is your thing.

If so, you’ll enjoy the fourth annual Desi Comedy Fest, an 11-day South Asian comedy extravaganza that’ll be touring clubs and theaters in nine Northern California cities — including a midpoint Aug. 15 stop at 142 Throckmorton in Mill Valley.

That particular show evening features nine standups, Americans whose lineage can be traced to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka Bhutan and the Maldives.

Also funny, but with serious overtones, is the newest talking/singing SF Mime Troupe venture, “Walls,” the company’s 58th.

It runs throughout the Bay Area until Sept. 10, but its only Marin appearance is scheduled Aug. 24 on the back lawn of the Mill Valley Community Center.

The play, free (but with a suggested donated of $20), is being promoted as “political satire and anything but silent.” Its characters are an I.C.E. agent and Mexican, Somali and Irish immigrants (two of them lesbians).

As current as today’s headlines.

Delving into yesterday’s music is a hybrid that’ll blur the lines between concert and theater Aug. 3-23, “Blues Is a Woman,” at the CustomMade Theatre.

It blends storytelling, rare film footage and music to recreate the history of females who wrote and popularized the blues.

From Ma Rainey to Bonnie Raitt.

Edgar Degas’ “The Millinery Shop,” an oil on canvas, is a part of the featured exhibit at the Legion of Honor.

Historic art of another kind is available at both the Legion of Honor and SFMOMA museums.

“Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade,” an exhibit at the Legion of Honor through Sept. 24, focuses on the artist’s fascination with high-fashion hats and the women who created them.

The display also features paintings and pastels — in addition Edgar Degas’ works — by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Mary Cassatt and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Plus bonnets and other head-coverings of the period — including silk top hats and wool felt bowlers.

I was fascinated to learn that milliners were endangered because many bird bodies and wings they attached to headgear were laced with arsenic that taxidermists used to stuff them.

On the way out, I stumbled into an exhibit, “Sarah Lucas: Good Muse,” whose mesmerizing modern, sexual sculptures will create razor-sharp contrast to the classical work of Auguste Rodin in the same rooms through Sept. 17.

I was intrigued.

At SFMOMA until Oct. 9, “Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed,” also fascinated me because his many self-portraits in oil covered such different parts of his life he saw himself almost as different personas.

His work also provides insight to his egotism, honesty and self-criticality.

Not to mention his madness.

My wife, less impressed with his brilliance, was actually repelled by his artistic manifestation of so much darkness and depression.

Would she rather have been home in bed watching a movie? Yup.

And now, because of Kanopy, an on-demand streaming service free to library cardholders at the Mill Valley Library, she can pick from more than 26,000 rare, hard-to-find film and TV titles.

Karen Marines, a Los Angeles publicist, informs me that public libraries pay to let users access the portal from any computer or device with a screen and a Net connection.

Clearly, there’s no limit to what a film buff could watch.

Time, however, is limited for you to hock the family jewels to buy a ticket to “Hamilton,” the blockbuster musical at the SHN Orpheum that ends its run Aug. 5.

Though not the greatest musical I’ve ever seen, the show certainly lives up to its hype and is in my all-time top ten.

It marvelously merges hip-hop, rap, blues and jazz, blends American history with street lingo, and provides a cast that uniquely puts faces of color on the Founding Fathers.

No family heirlooms to pawn? Well, you can still take a shot at the SHN digital lottery for a couple of $10 seats.

Contact Woody Weingarten at or


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