Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Happy weekend, cats and kittens. Here's what our critics will be doing, and think you should be, too:

Oakland Running Festival

Whether you commute by car, bus, rollerblades, or any other form of wheeled transport, you’re likely to find yourself outnumbered on Sunday, Mar. 25, when more than 9,000 runners are expected to take to the streets for the third annual Oakland Running Festival. The marathon, which for the first year kicks off and concludes at Snow Park (19th and Harrison sts., Oakland), features a 5K race, four-person relay, kids fun run, and half and full marathons (the latter of which takes contestants on a comprehensive trek through neighborhoods ranging from Fruitvale to Temescal and Montclair). First race starts at 7:30 a.m., $15-$250. 510-371-5273 or OaklandMarathon.com. — Cassie Harwood

Mission Creek Oakland Benefit
Last September's Mission Creek Oakland — the East Bay-offshoot of the long-running San Francisco Mission Creek Music & Arts Festival — injected new life into the independent and underground music celebration. As artists and musicians have been gradually priced out of San Francisco, Oakland has reaped the benefit, and thus it follows that Mission Creek Oakland would be bigger and longer than its West Bay originator. The month-long affair was all the more impressive considering the practically nonexistent budget organizer KiyomiTanouye was working with. To gear up for 2012's event (which the Express will co-present), Mission Creek Oakland will hold a fundraiser on Friday, Mar. 23, at Vitus (201 Broadway, Oakland), featuring AJA, Some Ember (electro pop from Man/Miracle frontman Dylan Travis, shoegaze trio VIR, and Field Trips, whose lo-fi, psychedelic, beachy songs sound like something you'd discover on some dusty cassette from the late-Sixties. 9 p.m., $5. VitusOakland.com — Kathleen Richards

Let's get one thing out the way: Five and a half hours is a hell of a long time to sit through a movie. Most filmmakers wouldn't think of subjecting an audience to such a lengthy production — except when the film in question is Abel Gance's 1927 silent epic, Napoleon. Longtime silent film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow has devoted five decades to restoring the visually masterful film tracing the life of the famed French military leader — combing archives for long-forgotten footage of the four-part biopic, appending lost scenes, recreating the tints and tones of the film's original reels, and ultimately ensuring the survival of a classic piece of silent-era cinema. And while Brownlow's half-century-long work-in-progress has been shared over the years in various iterations, public screenings have been rare. So it's something of an epic occasion that the US debut and sole screening of the completely restored Napoleon is being held at the Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway, Oakland), a historic 3,000-seat venue that organizers from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (which is orchestrating the affair) say is the only Bay Area theater that can comfortably accommodate such an ambitious production. That's because each screening of the 35mm film entails much more than the flick of a projector switch. There's also space needed for the 48-piece Oakland East Bay Symphony, which will provide the soundtrack under the direction of composer Carl Davis. Then there are the extra screens being installed for an elaborate triptych technique, invented by Gance for the final scenes of Napoleon, in which three film reels are projected simultaneously for a widescreen effect. The special screenings (each with three gracious intermissions) take place on Saturdays and Sundays, March 24 through April 1 at 1:30 p.m., $40-$120. 510-465-6400 or SilentFilm.org — Cassie Harwood

The Reading Room
They’re giving away books in Berkeley! And there’s art! Talk about having your cake and eating it, too. The Reading Room’s current, temporary project offers the chance to take home an overstock book from an exceptional East Bay small press. All they ask in return is that you replace it with a book from your own library. And yes, anything goes. The idea is to see how the “character of the works on the shelves evolves” over the course of the project, running through June at the Berkeley Art Museum (2636 Bancroft Way, Berkeley). Selected Friday night L@TE programs host literary readings in which a young writer is challenged to present his work in the context of another writer or artist who has excited or inspired him. This Friday, Mar. 24, features Monica Peck. What are you waiting for? 5:30 p.m., free-$10. 510-642-0808 or BAMPFA.Berkeley.edu — Alison Peters

The Magnetic Fields
Stephin Merritt has gone on record saying he loathes touring — which, weirdly, helps to illustrate exactly why you should definitely go see him and the rest of the Magnetic Fields on Saturday, March 24 at the Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). Because that's the thing about bracing honesty: Merritt is a remarkably candid songwriter and a notoriously clumsy stage banter-er, but he's also one of the great songwriters of his generation, prolific and clever and, most importantly, unrelentingly genuine. His new album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, is one of the Magnetic Fields' best, stripped of Merritt's occasionally-gimmicky impulse toward theme records, and instead offering unvarnished, electro-indie pop of the kind you'll have stuck in your head for days. You're guaranteed to have fun — even if the band doesn't. 8 p.m., $35. TheFoxOakland.com — Ellen Cushing

Get your cheapskate on: This is how much we love you guys: Here are our searchable listings of every single free event happening in the East Bay this weekend.

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