Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings is the ultimate holiday gift for the movie maniac: 22 films, including virtually all of the Oscar contenders, shown over 14 days. If that’s not enough, it comes in the ultimate user-friendly packaging ” the films are shown in one location (Paepcke Auditorium), with no overlap, so it’s theoretically possible to see every film. And oh, what a stockingful of titles: “Gran Torino,” directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; “Milk,” with Sean Penn as the openly gay 1970s San Francisco politician Harvey Milk; “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; and the Mickey Rourke comeback vehicle, “The Wrestler.” Foreign-film fans should keep their eye on the Italian mafia film “Gomorrah,” winner of the Cannes Grand Prize; and the French film “The Class,” which earned the Golden Palm at Cannes. But what’s this, no “Slumdog Millionaire?” Someone must have been a bad boy this year.
For John Oates, 2008 has been like 1981 again ” only this time he’s everywhere, not just on ultra-heavy rotation on MTV. The Woody Creeker has jammed locally with Blues Traveler, the Meters, L.A. hard rockers Camp Freddy and acoustic legend Jerry Douglas; joined Sam Bush at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival for a bluegrass version of “Maneater”; sang the National Anthem at the World Series ” in his hometown of Philadelphia ” and most recently, appeared with partner Daryl Hall on “The Daily Show,” singing a satirical send-off to Fox News commentator Alan Colmes. And there’s the rumored cartoon “J-Stache,” starring Oates’ famed mustache (R.I.P.) as a crime-fighting mass of hair. Most significantly, Oates released an excellent solo CD, “1000 Miles of Life,” featuring guests Bela Fleck and John Popper. He’ll play songs from the album when he appears Saturday, Dec. 27 at the Wheeler Opera House. Further ahead: the Stories Behind the Songs series, with three events through the winter, at the Wheeler.
On the surface, the Aspen Art Museum exhibit Now You See It is a collection of oddities, or at least artworks made of odd materials: dust, light, felt, various edible items. But in its best pieces, the unusual materials work a transformative sort of magic on the viewer ” forcing them to consider the object with awakened eyes, and making them aware of the viewing experience itself. Among the most captivating works: a Ceal Foyer video of a pen slowly, almost imperceptibly leaking its ink onto a piece of paper. Now You See It, curated by Art Museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, shows through Feb. 1.
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