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Around Town: Rock operas, rebellion and round-the-clock film

December 15, 2011 |  5:50 am

"Tommy" will screen in downtown L.A.

The Cinefamily's round-the-clock fundraiser, UCLA's rock opera double feature and Jason Reitman's live reading of "The Princess Bride" are among this week's film highlights.

The UCLA Film & Television Archive concludes its three-month series L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema with two screenings at the Billy Wilder Theater. Friday’s program includes Alicia Dhanifu's 1979 short film "Bellydancing: A History & an Art" and Jamaa Fanaka’s 1976 feature "Emma Mae," starring Jerri Hayes. Dhanifu, Fanaka and Hayes will all attend.

On Saturday afternoon, the series offers a free matinee of Julie Dash's "The Rosa Parks Story," a 2002 biopic about the civil rights icon, and Charles Burnett's "Selma, Lord, Selma," a 1999 film based on the violent events of Bloody Sunday in 1965 Alabama. Dash will be on hand.

Later that evening, the L.A. Rebellion closing celebration will be held at the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City. Filmmaker Ben Caldwell will perform his multimedia work "Spaces Looking In Looking Out." Admission is free.

UCLA’s Wednesday screening series at the historic Million Dollar Theater wraps the year with a 1970s rock opera double feature: Ken Russell’s "Tommy" and Norman Jewison’s "Jesus Christ Superstar." www.cinema.ucla.edu

The American Cinematheque’s holiday film series at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood continues with "Auntie Mame" on Thursday. The 1958 Technicolor romp stars Rosalind Russell as a bohemian Park Avenue aunt who encourages her young nephew to be a free spirit. Friday brings a double dose of holiday scoundrels with Bill Murray in "Scrooged" (1998) and Billy Bob Thornton in "Bad Santa" (2003).

On Saturday, it’s an evening of swords and sorcery, with Ridley Scott's "Legend" and Richard Donner's "Ladyhawke," both from 1985. The same night, the Egyptian’s Spielberg Theatre hosts Retroformat’s second-anniversary celebration. The program of 8-millimeter silent shorts harks back to the 1910s with "The Temple of Moloch," "Easy Street" and "The Return of Draw Egan."

Sunday and Wednesday are decidedly more high-tech, with digital projections of "Ben-Hur" (newly restored in Ultra Panavision) and "White Christmas." www.americancinematheque.com

The Cinefamily ventures off campus Friday night for a screening of the 1991 low-budget martial-arts parody "Ninja Bachelor Party" at the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. Kevin Booth, who directed and stars in the film, will participate in a Q&A. Also promised for the 21-and-older event are drink specials, birthday cake (in honor of the late cast member Bill Hicks) and surprise guests.

Back home at the Silent Movie Theatre, starting at noon Saturday, the Cinefamily, which operates as a nonprofit, will hold a 24-hour telethon and fundraiser with round-the-clock screenings, discussions and other events. Guests include filmmaker Spike Jonze, food writer Jonathan Gold, comedian Doug Benson and actor Elliott Gould. Admission is free, and the proceedings will be streamed live on the Internet.

On Tuesday, the Cinefamily kicks off a Kaneto Shindo retrospective with a double bill of "The Naked Island" (1960) and "Kuroneko" (1968). Wednesday pairs "The Naked Island" with Shindo's latest film, "Postcard" (2010). Producer Jiro Shindo, the filmmaker’s son, will be in the house Wednesday. www.cinefamily.org

British writer-director Edgar Wright finishes off his gig as guest programmer at the New Beverly Cinema this week. The Wright Stuff III closes with "To Be or Not to Be" and "The Bad News Bears" on Thursday, "Hickey & Boggs" and "Cutter's Way" on Saturday evening and "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" at midnight Saturday. Wright will host each evening with different guests.

The New Beverly will pay tribute to the late British director Ken Russell, who died last month at age 84. Two of his films, 1969’s "Women in Love" and 1970’s "The Music Lovers," will run back-to-back on Sunday and Monday.

On Tuesday, the New Beverly and the Grindhouse Film Festival place themselves squarely on Santa’s naughty list with a duo of holiday slasher films: "Black Christmas" (1974) and "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (1984). www.newbevcinema.com

The American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre in Santa Monica welcomes the actress Christine Lahti on Thursday for a double bill and discussion of 1987’s "Housekeeping," in which she plays an offbeat aunt, and 1988’s "Running on Empty, " about two ex-radicals on the lam from the FBI.

On Friday the Aero has the 1934 Laurel and Hardy picture "Babes in Toyland," and Saturday highlights the work of the decorated feline actor Orangey the Cat, a two-time Patsy Award winner for "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Rhubarb."

A human actor, Ed Asner, will attend the Sunday matinee of the 2009 Pixar movie "Up." Asner will discuss his role in the film. Sunday evening showcases the collaboration of director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki with "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (2001) and "Children of Men" (2006).

Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael's 2009 film "Mr. Nobody," starring Jared Leto as a 118-year-old man recounting his life story to a journalist, plays Wednesday night. A Belgian beer reception will follow in the lobby. www.americancinematheque.com

If beer and movies are your thing, there’s also the Downtown Independent’s Friday night "Die Hard" and "Christmas Vacation" drink-along, which boasts rooftop beer pong (yippee ki-yay indeed). www.downtownindependent.com

Also on deck for Friday night is the Nuart’s midnight screening of Roger Corman’s "The Trip," written by Jack Nicholson and starring Peter Fonda as a TV commercial director on an LSD-fueled journey. www.landmarktheatres.com

On Thursday at LACMA, Jason Reitman, the director of "Up in the Air" and the new film "Young Adult," will direct a surprise cast in a live reading of William Goldman’s script for the sly adventure-romance "The Princess Bride" (1987).

The museum’s free Tuesday matinee is "Lawrence of Arabia." The 1962 epic starring Peter O’Toole as the eponymous British soldier won seven Academy Awards, including best picture and director. www.lacma.org/film


PST, A to Z: L.A. Rebellion

Ken Russell, one of film's great imaginers of music

'Breakfast Club' reading: Jason Reitman heads to detention

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Ann-Margret, Roger Daltrey and Oliver Reed in Ken Russell's 1975 film "Tommy," screening Wednesday at the Million Dollar Theater. Credit: Columbia Pictures.

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