In my family we call it the "$9 nap": Because I'm a morning person, I fall asleep in any movie that starts after 7 p.m. No matter how gripping the plot, no matter how hard I try to stay awake, 9 at night finds me snoring in my stadium-style chair. It's usually not a problem -- even racy current releases have matinee showings, after all -- but a late-night movie series as cool as "Midnites for Maniacs" makes me wish things were different. Now in its third year and still curated by quirky trash-flick enthusiast Jesse Hawthorne Ficks, the series presents picks that range far beyond typical midnight-movie fare. Even Ficks' most boilerplate selection, the kicky 1979 Ramones vehicle Rock 'n' Roll High School (which also stars teen-flick queen P.J. Soles and Eating Raoul's Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel), is a cult film so obscure that it's only been shown locally a handful of times over the last two decades.
Ficks' other choices run the gamut from the underappreciated (Brian De Palma's creepy 1984 Hitchcock tribute Body Double) to the almost-forgotten (check out the cavalcade of then-state-of-the-art special effects in 1982's Tron) to the just plain weird (noirish 1972 nubile-waif exploitation pic The Candy Snatchers). The icing on the cake is Ficks' final blowout, "Slumber Party III: Miike Madness," an all-night screening of the uncut versions of three of director Takashi Miike's movies (Fudoh, Ichi the Killer, and Visitor Q), all of which feature murders with some very interesting psychosexual overtones.
"Midnites for Maniacs" begins at 11:59 p.m. on Friday with The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (the series runs through Aug. 7) at the Four Star Theatre, 2200 Clement (at 23rd Avenue), S.F. Admission is $6 ($10 for "Slumber Party III"); call 666-3488.
BY JOYCE SLATON
Seduced by Sexsmith
Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, and Elton John are huge fans. Critics at publications from Blender to Billboard are singing his praises. His latest album (Retriever) is barreling up the Canadian charts. So why haven't you heard of Ron Sexsmith? Perhaps because the Toronto-based singer/ songwriter isn't a hotel-room-trashing rock star; he's just a guy playing heartbreakingly honest love songs. Though mainstream fame has eluded Sexsmith, critics and fellow guitar-slingers claim he has the talent to become this generation's Bob Dylan. Aficionados of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith won't want to miss this intimate evening of confessional crooning happening at 8 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $12; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com.
By Maya Kroth
Don't Call It Chamber Pop
Melora Creager's cello playing, spooky-song writing, and corset wearing are the hallmarks of Rasputina, her goth-y rock band. For many years a rotating cast of women in 1800s-style underwear and skinny dreadlocks, the band now sports a man, who probably gets harassed a lot (Creager often brags about her business producing candelabra and lampshades made of ex-boyfriend skin). The tunes tend to be about rats and drugs. You know that Mission District shop Paxton Gate, with the raccoon penis bones and glass eyeballs? If that store were a band it would be Rasputina. Faun Fables opens at 9 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $15; call 885-0750 or visit www.musichallsf.com.
By Hiya Swanhuyser
The Play's Still the Thing
It may sound like a story about an old king driven to despair by his callous daughters, but Stuart Bousel's L.E.A.R. (Love, Egos, Alternative Rock) is a modern-day play about two young lovers -- Simone and Tim -- whose dispirited lives lack inspiration. To spice things up, Simone starts a band, which becomes a surprising success. But though the rock-star life leads to many things, love and integrity are not among them. L.E.A.R. is written in the style of VH1's Behind the Music, in short scenes and interviews; it opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through June 12) at the New Langton Center for the Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Eighth Street), S.F. Tickets are $10; call 752-2084.
By Karen Macklin