In the Bedroom
(FILM) You may have noticed the bizarre phenomenon in which every year the critical establishment surrounds one or two films and declares them great by unanimous decision. I typically distrust this kind of enforced orthodoxy (because it leads to people like Kevin Smith), but in the case of Todd Field's In the Bedroom, I must concur with all my heart. This film, about the reverberations of a class-and-age-barrier-crossing romance, is harrowing, brilliant, brutal, and all those other adjectives, and yes, it is something you should really make an effort to see. The actors--Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, Marisa Tomei, Nick Stahl, William Mapother--deliver complex performances of such understated depth and weight that the more opaque they become, the better able Field's camera seems to enter their minds. Their insidious minimalism leaves the audience to project the feelings of dread, sorrow, joy, and ultimately, regret that drive the film's moral engine. The best evidence of Bedroom's power comes about 25 minutes in, when an event you know is coming, comes, and still lands like a blow to the head. Any film that can be both predictable and surprising--at the same moment--should be sought out. SEAN NELSON
See Movie Times.
(MIDNIGHT MOVIE) Wondering what's all this fuss about The Royal Tenenbaums? Then you haven't seen director Wes Anderson's previous film Rushmore, one of the most charming, exquisitely off-kilter movies of the past decade. Rushmore is a private academy where Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a terrible student but an overachieving organizer of activities. He befriends miserable millionaire Herman Blume (Bill Murray, giving a career-redefining performance) and falls in love with grade-school teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams); when Herman also falls in love with Rosemary, a war breaks out between them--but that's only one thread of this delightful movie, in which every character lives in his or her own little universe (particularly Mason Gamble as Max's sidekick, Dirk, who transforms from fresh-faced cherub to avenging angel). Loaded with memorable lines, jarring-yet-perfect images, and a brilliant British Invasion soundtrack, Rushmore is simply great. BRET FETZER
Egyptian Theatre, 801 E Pine, 323-4978, Fri-Sat Dec 28-29, midnight.
(MUSIC) Spending this Christmas in the awful, corporate, anti-public, anti-HUMAN morass of cars and malls that is Phoenix, Arizona, I am bound to convey what a wonder we possess here at home in the person of the Blood Brothers. No established category suffices to describe what they do--"artcore" is my attempt--as it is so rare for anyone to make music this hard and smart. We are also extremely lucky to have an institution like the Downtown Y stepping up to its mission of improving the lives and futures of our youth in this exceptionally creative fashion. For if anything can steer a kid in the right direction, it's an immersion in the brilliant, transformative presence of one of Seattle's greatest bands ever. GRANT COGSWELL
Downtown YMCA, 909 Fourth Ave, 382-5010, 8 pm, $6/$5 with a can of food or warm clothing.
Paul van Dyk
(MUSIC) This is an expensive concert, so make it a long night out with the gaggles of uppity teens who will pack the Stadium Exhibition Center, because the music will be worth your while. Along with a slew of local and national electronica DJs, L.A. rappers Black Eyed Peas will put on one of their tight, high-energy shows. The big-time attraction at this event, conspicuously titled "Blyss," is luminous DJ Paul van Dyk. Van Dyk is a super-famous DJ because he is a supremely competent DJ. His recent double-CD release, The Politics of Dancing, has lovely moments, polished mixes, marvelous crescendos, and of course a primary (and ultimate) adoration of the beat. In the liner notes to this album, he describes the double CD as a true "DJ mix," because he is trying to focus on the cultural importance of gathering hundreds of people to dance. In other words, he doesn't want to practice dirty politics, or two-party politics, but hella fat-ass party politics! BRIAN GOEDDE
Stadium Exhibition Center, 1000 Occidental Ave S, 381-7555, $35/$45. Tickets available at Ticketmaster outlets.
Laurel and Hardy Laughathon
(FILM) Nothing beats that December blah (what certain of my East Coast cronies like to call the "winter bitch") than an evening of genuinely funny, scratchy old movies, such as these gems from the troves of Laurel and Hardy. Chaplin was more sentimental, Keaton was more graceful, the Marx Brothers were zingier, and W. C. Fields was more unabashedly misanthropic, but few classic comedians or comedy teams were as adept as Stan and Ollie at slow burning one-upsmanship. And if you can't spend the week between Christmas and New Year's enjoying the sight of two grown men insulting one another like little kids, then what the hell are we fighting for? SEAN NELSON
Hokum Hall, 7904 35th Ave SW, 937-3613, Fri-Sat Dec 28-29 at 8 pm, Sun Dec 30 at 3 pm, $12 general/$10 student.
(HYPE) A good example of the media shooting itself in the foot with its hype: Last time the Shins played Seattle, Graceland was so oversold there was a line down the street. Many guest-listed members of the press were in a state of near-hysteria, turned away at the door because there wasn't enough space to accommodate the freebies. By contrast, hyped-as-shit Preston School of Industry, which headlined the show, ended up playing for a relatively thin crowd. Perhaps people were unable to handle the sardine tin that the club had become midway through the Shins' set. Oh well. But it's not hype that made the Shins. Brainy pop smarts, a shrewd appreciation for Brian Wilson, and a uniquely lovable stage presence make the Shins. This is a very special band for a very special New Year's Eve. JEFF DeROCHE
Graceland, 109 Eastlake Ave E, 381-3094, 9 pm, $12.
Heaven and Hell Ball
(PARTY) Many people regard New Year's Eve as a kind of Mardi Gras before the Lenten season of resolutions (however brief). Not me--I prefer to sneak up on my bad habits on random days. You can do either at Consolidated Works' masquerade ball, where all manner of the truly avant garde and the merely suburban converge (and who is the blessed? Who is the damned? You tell me). You may be able, if you are a skillful rationalist, make sense of the ticket price by invoking the excellent lineup, which includes Kinski, IQU, the Gun St. Girls, DJ Suspense, SUB_Sonic, Matt Corwine, Plastiq Phantom, Crictor (with Jen from Carissa's Wierd), and DJ J-Justice. They always throw a good party, those ConWorks folks. EMILY HALL
Consolidated Works, 500 Boren Ave N, 9 pm-3 am, $30/$40. Tickets available through TicketWeb at (866) 468-7623, or www.ticketweb.com.
Hokum's New Year's Bash
(THEATER) If the up-to-the-minute hipsterism of the ConWorks party doesn't appeal to you, consider spending the evening at West Seattle's home for the vaudevillian arts, Hokum Hall. Home of the mighty WurliTzer pipe organ, Hokum Hall spotlights keyboardists like Eric Shoemaker and Andy Crow, singers like Connie Corrick and Hugh Hastings, and master of ceremonies Professor Hokum W. Jeebs, all to celebrate music, silent films, and vaudeville antics from the early decades of the 20th century. Upon attending a Hokum Hall event, Tamara Paris said, "I felt somehow like we were fireflies raising out tiny lights into a shimmering chorus, sharing our voices before descending into the inevitable darkness." Go and enjoy special guests the Melody Gals. If there's ever a time for nostalgia, New Year's Eve is it. BRET FETZER
Hokum Hall, 7904 35th Ave SW, 937-3613, 8 pm, $20/$25.
Kathryn Van Dyke
(ART) Van Dyke's installation (called, after the ABBA song, "Knowing Me, Knowing You") is a postmodern hall of mirrors: hundreds of tiny little mirrors, regularly spaced apart on invisible monofilament line to create a four-walled room. From such a simple premise comes such a refraction of meaning and visual experience that one feels truly through the looking glass. As you walk past, you see one of your features (nose, mouth, throat) appear, disappear, reappear. Move closer or farther away, a different feature takes its place. Inside the room, you see the other mirrors. You see the mirrors casting their vitreous reflection on the gallery walls. You see the other people seeing part of themselves. You begin to see past language, past time, past three-dimensional space. EMILY HALL
Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave S, 624-0770. Through Feb 2.
Call Your Mother
(DECENCY) Look, I know that as a response to the rising tide of anomie you've been pretending that Christmas didn't happen this year. Your commitment to this plan extended to not buying gifts for people (which was much easier than you expected), not celebrating the holiday with family or even friends, and generally being nonplused in the face of this nation's mad rush to pretend that its tinny rituals still have meaning. But refusing to call your mother on Christmas Day was a bridge too far. So, she didn't call you; so what? She was probably just numbed by grief and shock that her baby would neglect to fulfill even the least difficult part of the parent-child contract, would refuse her even the tiniest shred of respect. You wanted to prove a point? You proved it: You can get through December without feeling anything.... Now go call your mother, because she misses and loves your sorry, emotionally detached ass, even if you can't accept it. SEAN NELSON
At a telephone near you.
Opera's Dangerous Opposites
(DISCUSSION) Stranger writer Rebecca Brown will prove that queer girls can like opera just as much as queer boys. She and the Seattle Opera's education director, Perry Lorenzo, will discuss Madame Butterfly in all sorts of ways--including gender, imperialism, fashion, chopsticks, and turn-of-the-century sex workers in Asia. Also featured will be a side jaunt into David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, in which Ms. Brown will ask the eternal question: How did the guy this play was based on not know that his lover was a man? Ms. Brown's writing is a vibrant blend of pop culture and highbrow artiness, and she promises to bring her cool intelligence and passionate guts to the table. Expect a lively and broad-ranging debate. BRET FETZER
The Walker-Ames Room in Kane Hall, UW campus, 7 pm, free. Tickets required, and are available at University Bookstore, 634-3400.