September 30, 2022
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5 Bay Area arts and entertainment events to check out this week, May 23-29

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Actress Natalie Portman in a still from “Closer.” Photo: Stephen Goldblatt / REUTERS

The Chronicle’s guide to notable arts and entertainment happenings in the Bay Area.

‘Closer’ is an interesting movie — that Julia Roberts almost tanks

The film “Closer” is worth seeing for three reasons: two of them artistic, one academic.

The artistic reasons are Clive Owen and Natalie Portman who, under the direction of Mike Nichols, achieved breakthrough performances in a film about the intersecting sex lives of two couples, which was adapted from the play by Patrick Marber. The academic reason is that, in the performance of Julia Roberts, we get an example of how a single actor’s bad choices and lack of emotional generosity can nearly tank an entire movie.

“Closer” is a four-cylinder engine in which three cylinders — Owen, Portman and Jude Law — are working at top capacity, and Julia Roberts is closed-off, unguarded and ungiving in a role in which she’s supposed to be the romantic fascination of two highly desirable men. The film is also a good example of how even a huge director like Nichols can sometimes be no match for a huge star, either because the star just does what she wants, or the star is so personally charming that the director lets her murder his film. Fortunately, though Roberts tries to kill “Closer,” she doesn’t quite.

“Closer”: 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 23. $16.75. Alamo Drafthouse. 2550 Mission St, S.F. www.drafthouse.com/sf

— Mick LaSalle

Ingrid Rojas Contreras, author of “Fruit of the Drunken Tree,” onstage at Pop-Up Magazine’s Fall 2021 Issue at the Paramount Theatre. Photo: Erin Brethauer / Pop-Up Magazine 2021

Curl up with your favorite publication — in person at a theater — with Pop-Up Magazine

Picture sitting down with your favorite magazine: the deep dives, the zesty nuggets, the visuals that pop and help tell stories, the imaginary relationships you have with writers, the feeling that the whole publication is a little present for you to open.

Now, imagine that when you open its pages, a stage unfolds. That’s the idea behind Pop-Up Magazine, whose spring 2022 issue hits the newsstand that is the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, May 24.

Call it an intellectual variety show or a public gathering for introverts, nerds and readers.

This season’s contributors include 2020 Pulitzer Prize finalist Chloé Cooper Jones on the phenomenon of staring, author and illustrator Kristen Radtke defending the unsung virtues of gossip, and writer Brooke Jarvis on the many wonders of fireflies. Formats range from performance to film, visual art to game show.

Pop-Up Magazine’s Spring 2022 Issue: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 24. $39-$79. Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. www.popupmagazine.com

— Lily Janiak

Whoopi Goldberg stars as Deloris Van Cartier, a nightclub singer who goes undercover as Sister Mary Clarence to help her old friends, the nuns at St. Catherine’s Convent, in “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.” Photo: STF / FOX

S.F.’s Sundown Cinema kicks off 2022 season with a ‘Sister Act 2’ sing-along

Sundown Cinema is back this summer, and kicks off a five-month series of films screened outdoors on Friday nights in various Bay Area parks.

The screenings begin Friday, May 27, with a sing-along of “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” (1993) at San Francisco’s Dolores Park. From there, programs will take place every three weeks, with stops at the Presidio (“The Rock,” June 17), Union Square (“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” July 8), Marina Green (“Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part II,” July 29), India Basin Shoreline Park (“Encanto” sing-along, Aug. 19), Alamo Square (“Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Sept. 9), Crane Cove Park (“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Sept. 30) and the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater (“Addams Family Values,” Oct. 21).

The programs begin at 6:30 p.m., and the movies start when the sun goes down. Don’t forget to bring a jacket.

Sundown Cinema: “Sister Act 2” Sing-Along: 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 27. Free. Dolores Park, 19th Street and Dolores Street, S.F. https://bit.ly/sundowncinema 

— Mick LaSalle

Playwright Sarah Ruhl listens to a reading during a rehearsal of her new play ÒBecky Nurse of SalemÓ for the Berkeley Repertory Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle

Sarah Ruhl’s ‘Melancholy Play’ promises a different resonance in an era of loss

Melancholy differs from depression, notes the playwright Sarah Ruhl. “Melancholy can be active, yearning, hopeful, nostalgic, sexy even,” she writes in the foreward to “Melancholy Play,” now in a Theatre Lunatico production. It’s open, communicative. “Depression, by contrast, is hermetic, sealed off, inert, hopeless, an emotion hard to communicate to others.”

After more than two years of unfathomable loss — of life, of health, of time, of togetherness, of livelihood, of promised experiences — this 2002 play from Ruhl (“Eurydice,” “Becky Nurse of Salem”) offers audiences a poetic and liberating way to think about their feelings in response to our singular times.

The show follows Tilly, a woman so appealingly melancholic that everyone she meets instantly falls in love with her. Ruhl’s language is characteristically lush: “I look into your eyes and I feel I can deposit my pain right there — like a coin into a hole,” goes one line. Cheerful people, goes another, “make noise when they smile.”

“Melancholy Play”: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 27-28; 3 p.m. Sunday, May 29. Through June 19. $30-$50 suggested donation. La Val’s Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley. https://theatrelunatico.wordpress.com

— Lily Janiak

“Potted Pilea” by artist Klari Reis. On view  “Klari Reis – Life Forms” at Themes + Projects. Photo: Klari Reis

S.F. artist Klari Reis unveils ‘Life Forms,’ first exhibition in the city in a decade

“Life Forms” is San Francisco artist Klari Reis’ first show in the city in a decade, on view at Themes+Projects at the Minnesota Street Project. The exhibition features a series of works inspired by botany that demonstrate her technique of painting with epoxy resin (a form of liquid plastic), creating colorful explosions of shape through her use of dyes and pigments in the material, which is then mounted on a form for display. With their exuberant shapes and splash-like quality, they are reminiscent of not only plants but also life at the cellular level.

“The botanical works are the latest in my ever-changing artistic exploration of the systems of biology and of the beauty and design displayed in nature,” Reis said in an artist statement about the work. “My engagement with these systems has taken me from the microscopic workings of cells, as far afield as the uncanny re-envisioning of city maps as biological blueprints, to these newest, macro paintings of nature triumphant, imposing its own order on the world.”

The idea for the series first came to Reis while taking nature walks with her family during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The show is curated by Maria Di Grande of MDG Art Advisory.

Klari Reis – “Life Forms”: 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Through July 9. Free. Themes+Projects at Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., S.F. 415-732-0300. https://www.themesandprojects.com/

— Tony Bravo

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