Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
'SOME LIKE IT HOT'
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.
Billy Wilder was one of the great Hollywood generalists, a brilliant, industrious filmmaker responsible for both ecstatically low-brow screwball comedies and the bleakest of film-noir tragedies. He was an accomplished screenwriter, a noted art collector, a former journalist and an Austrian-born survivor of the rise of the Nazi Party. He directed "Double Indemnity," "The Lost Weekend," Sunset Blvd.," "The Seven Year Itch" and "The Apartment." The most beloved of his films, though, is "Some Like it Hot," the 1959 drag epic starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The American Film Institute has ranked it as the funniest movie ever made. Wilder himself wrote the screenplay. Watching the film today, it's surprisingly vulgar — even subversive. There is jazz, mob violence, cross-dressing and eroticism startling for its era; the Catholic Church rated it "C" for condemned. It's a great entry-point for Wilder's work and to be able see it at a venue like the Ron Robinson Theater is a rare opportunity. As the director Michel Hazanavicius put it in his acceptance speech for the 2012 Best Picture Oscar for "The Artist," "I would like to thank the following three people: I would like to thank Billy Wilder, I would like to thank Billy Wilder, and I would like to thank Billy Wilder." WS
ARGENTA ARTS FESTIVAL AND MINI MAKER FAIRE
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Downtown North Little Rock. Free (festival), $10 (Faire)
North Little Rock celebrates artistry and ingenuity Saturday with its Argenta Arts Festival and Mini Maker Faire downtown. More than 30 artists and musicians will set up shop on Main Street by the Laman Library Argenta Branch (406 Main St.) and who knows how many tinkerers will gather at the south entrance to the Innovation Hub on Third Street for events starting at 10 a.m. Arts Festival artists focus on the crafted, with basketry, ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, print-making, metalwork, woodwork, leather and sculpture. There will be activities for children, artist demonstrations and music behind the library by pop/rock musician Caleb Patton, blues/soul band Brown Soul Shoes and folk rockers The Cons of Formant. The arts festival runs until 4 p.m. The Maker Faire will feature around 60 vendors and exhibitors: techies and robots and builders and educators and even dancers, along with scheduled presentations by Josh Moody, founder and CEO at Innovis Labs; Wallace Patterson of MakerBot; software developer Sam Mauldin, and others. The Maker Faire, which runs through 6 p.m., is $10 to attend; the Arts Festival is free. It's the first Maker Faire to be sponsored by the Innovation Hub, an idea long in the thinking and now made real. LNP
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $15.
"We grew up hard and our children don't know what that means," James McMurtry sings on "Copper Canteen," the opening track to his 2015 record "Complicated Game." Rolling Stone called the album a "New Americana Masterpiece." I'm not sure what that would even look like at this point, but it's certainly a good record — downbeat, rural, working-class country-folk that blurs the personal and the political (as he did on the George W. Bush-era protest anthem "We Can't Make It Here," which music critic Robert Christgau called the best song of the 2000s). James is the son of "Lonesome Dove" novelist Larry McMurtry, and after college he spent formative years living in his father's "little bitty ranch house crammed with 10,000 books." Like his father, he considers himself a "fiction writer" — his songs are narratives of often vivid imagination. A former touring guitarist for Kinky Friedman, McMurtry remains pragmatic about his industry. "I've seen a lot of young bands that think they're artists and they're not there to sell beer," McMurtry told Rolling Stone earlier this year. "We're basically the service industry. We're symbiotically tied to the club business. Beer sales and tips, you know?" WS
7:30 p.m. Walmart AMP, Rogers. $42-$97.
Next time you have seven minutes of free time, I recommend scanning the Wikipedia page for the band Chicago — mainstays of family road trips, high school pep bands and Adult Contemporary radio formats the world over. Here you will learn that the group's name — unevocative and un-Google-able — was originally much worse. On campus at DePaul University in the late '60s, the band went by The Big Thing, and later, strangely, Chicago Transit Authority. You will learn that, according to original member and saxophonist Walter Parazaider, Jimi Hendrix once said to the band in this era, "Jeez, your horn players are like one set of lungs and your guitar player is better than me." This may not sound like something Hendrix would have said — almost certainly isn't, let's just be honest — but it seems revealing that Parazaider would have remembered it this way, cementing forever the notion that Hendrix bowed before the musical sophistication of a group of white college students playing in a cover band called Chicago Transit Authority. You will learn that the band's manager and early producer, James William Guercio, was a former member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention and later self-produced a film about an "Arizona motorcycle policeman," starring Robert Blake. You will learn that the B-Side to "25 or 6 or 4" was inspired by the moon landing, that the album "Chicago 16" was primarily performed by the band Toto and that the band's 21st album was titled "Stone of Sisyphus." You will learn all of this and more, and in roughly seven minutes. I recommend it. WS
HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF
7:30 p.m. South on Main. $20.
Hurray for the Riff Raff is a widely acclaimed New Orleans band fronted by singer Alynda Lee Segarra, a Bronx native, former freight train-hopper and reformed punk who has since turned to folk and Americana. Segarra has been called "the voice of the future," one of the contemporary folk revival's "most compelling stylists," and, oddly (and impressively), "proof that millennials are not lazy or unobservant or wandering." NPR compared her to Pete Seeger, though she seems to prefer Bikini Kill. She is a progressive and compelling voice working in an often constitutionally conservative mode; as she has remarked, "You don't see a Puerto Rican girl play the banjo in a honky-tonk very often." The band has been featured on the HBO show "Treme," and like most New Orleans cultural exports is frequently discussed, probably unfairly, in the context of the city's aura and traditions. WS
TUESDAY 5/5-SATURDAY 5/9
BENTONVILLE FILM FESTIVAL
Various venues. $8-$15.
The first-ever Bentonville Film Festival, an event aiming to champion women and diversity in film production, will feature 75 films ranging from studio offerings to documentaries and independent efforts. The festival was launched by actress Geena Davis ("Thelma and Louise," "The Fly," "Beetlejuice," etc.) as an extension of her work with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which was started after the unexpected success of "Thelma." "I didn't realize it would change my life," she said of her role in that film. "And really, the biggest standout about the film is that it had two good female parts." According to Variety, the festival will be unique for being "the only film competition in the world to offer guaranteed theatrical, TV, digital and retail home entertainment distribution for its winners." Robert De Niro, Rosie O'Donnell, Bruce Dern, Nick Cannon, Joey Lauren Adams and Soledad O'Brien are all due to make appearances (O'Donnell will apparently face off against Davis in a four-inning softball game). WS
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