French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard directed Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in bout de souffle, known to Americans as Breathless, kicking off New Wave cinema, known to Frenchies as the nouvelle vague. If you ask us, that's a lot of Jeans for one movie. Regardless, the François Truffaut penned 1960 flick remains one of those movies every film buff must see, and with good reason. It's an engaging but completely cheese-free story about beautiful young lovers, there's a criminal element, and the legendary hand-held camerawork (a first) and jump-cuts (ditto) still look incredibly cool. Is it true, as the BBC's George Perry asserts, that Breathless "forever changed perceptions of cinema"? Better see for yourself at 2, 7:15, and 9:15 p.m. at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 668-3994 or visit www.redvicmoviehouse.com.
Thursday, June 23
In the 1920s, France had a hot thing going with Le Théâtre du Grand Guignol, whose shockfest productions were the precursors to today's horror flicks. The terror plays were peppered with gory special effects, enhanced with choice cuts from the local butcher shop (lots of animal eyes), and caused some audience members to faint dead away. Now you can get a taste of the lost art at "Blood Bucket Ballyhoo," which features three Guignol-style plays -- Lips of the Damned, A Slight Tingling, and The Drug -- as well as other bile-raising frights. Couples up for more thrills should try out the "Shock Box" seating, but as the Web site warns: "Ladies should not come alone!" The show starts at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays at the Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is $18-20; call 248-1900 or visit www.hypnodrome.com.
Friday, June 24
Artist-in-residency programs are usually sweet gigs -- you get a place to work, often a paycheck, and the pride of having a regular job title. When that residence happens to be the dump, as in the 44-acre S.F. Recycling & Disposal Inc., that sweet gig might seem a little rank. But for the past 15 years artists have been lining up for the job, thrilled by easy access to mountains of "material" (to use the lingo), and creating art from castoff refuse. "Sociedad de Vida: A 15-Year Retrospective of the Norcal Artist Residency at the Dump" presents some of the best results, including work by recent residents Mike Farruggia, Robin Lasser, and Dio Mendoza. The show runs through July 2 at Steven Wolf Fine Arts, 49 Geary (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is free; call 263-3677 or visit www.stevenwolffinearts.com.
Saturday, June 25
Here's something new: hip hop dance mixed with Joseph Campbell, the mythologist who mapped out the archetypal hero's journey (and gave George Lucas a plot structure). In Quest, dance group Loose Change transforms the elements of the journey -- the call to adventure, battles, and so forth -- into a performance that draws from hip hop, breaking, tap, and even martial arts. The company also brings the ideas up to date: Whereas Campbell talked of cultures bound through rituals and storytelling, Quest explores how that connection has broken down in the modern world, where individuals stumble about for self-knowledge. The show runs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Cowell Theater, Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $18-20; call 345-7575 or visit www.loosechange.ws.
Sunday, June 26
This is the fourth installment of How to Destroy the Universe, an extreme art-music-performance festival of badass punks, and we figure they've finally got it right: You can count on your world getting blown. It'll be interesting to see who's left standing after tonight's lineup of acts, including punk bands the Weegs, Binky, and Punkoustica (featuring Alice Velasquez, aka Alice Bags from the late-'70s punk pioneers the Bags), followed by the body-hook suspension antics of Thee 999 Eyes Ov Endless Dream. The night ends with videos from performance artist Skip Arnold, who likes to lie around all day in odd places, such as under glass or in the forest, naked. The show starts at 7 p.m. at Studio Z, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $9-16; call 252-7666 or visit www.studioz.tv.
Monday, June 27
Andrew Vachss, a tough-guy attorney with a cool black eye patch and very large dogs, has written well over a dozen crime novels. But in Two Trains Running, he transcends the genre by going back to 1950s America and adding elements of social commentary; he also trades his traditional first-person narrative for a third-person voice that's almost entirely dialogue-driven. But Vachss fans will still get what they came for: a brutal portrait of small-town corruption, which is drawing favorable comparisons to Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest. Vachss reads from Trains at 7 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Golden Gate), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit www.bookstore.com.
Tuesday, June 28
Finally, the Arabic-language reclamation of "Rock the Casbah" we've been waiting for all these years! Sounding a little bit like the old French group Les Negresses Vertes, the upbeat, accordion-laced rai-rock of Rachid Taha takes the classic Clash tune and recasts it as a glorious anthem blasting allegorically from inside the ancient city instead of bombarding it, however stylishly, from outside. Taha is famous for this kind of thing; when asked if "melting-pot rock" originated in France (only a French reviewer could ask this, yes?), he hit the nail on the head in a most eloquent way: "If Bo Diddley had been born in Morocco, he'd have ended up playing gnawa music!" Catch the Algerian-born Taha and hear "Rock el Casbah" live after Cheb i Sabbah opens at 9 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $20; call 885-0750 or visit www.musichallsf.com.
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