Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2001

The quiet weekend ahead is a good time to catch up on movies, concerts and art you may have missed in the recent flurry of activity.

The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Gallery opens a new show today with a reception from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The pieces on display, by Chinese artist Feng Jialiang, are alternately cloudy and stark reflections on the different natures and representations of Buddha. Feng showed me both the paintings from the "Buddha Series" and examples of his earlier work which will not be exhibited. Both were extremely impressive and show the strong versatility inherent in Feng's work; he portrays extraordinary realistic portraits and dreamily abstract images with equal power.

The colors of the "Buddha Series" paintings emphasize the grays, which allows the few that use brighter color to stand out from the group. Feng's work with dimensions is intriguing as well. In several paintings, the Buddha figure appears to stand out from the canvas. Juneauites also should note the dark expanse in the background of three of the paintings, which were inspired by photos Feng took during a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier last year.

Overall, the show is an intriguing one, featuring art that wouldn't be seen in Juneau generally. It's well worth stopping by to have a look. The JAHC gallery is at 206 N. Franklin Street downtown. Call 586-ARTS for more information.

Also on Friday, the JAHC wraps up its summer Concerts in the Park series by Full Circle with Mary DeSmet and Greg Burger and the Thunder Mountain Jazz sextet. Overall, this has been a good season for the concerts; even when inclement weather forced a move to Assembly chambers last Friday, the room was still packed. The mix of acts everything from a Canadian folk-singer to a clown troupe gave listeners of all ages something they could enjoy, and tonight's show promises to be similarly enjoyable. It's wonderful that Juneau has this option for Friday night entertainment, and it might be worth stopping by to enjoy the great local talent on display and say thanks for a lovely summer.

The summer movie season also is drawing to an end, but a number of the biggest blockbusters are still here in Juneau. Though critics' reviews were mixed, I've heard generally good things about "Planet of the Apes" from coworkers and friends. By all reports, the make-up used to transform actors Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Roth into apes is incredible, and those with fond memories of the original film will relish the inside jokes and a cameo by original star Charlton Heston. However, filmmakers have tweaked the legendary ending of the first film. While the original packed a lasting punch, this one settles for setting up a sequel.

Also aiming to be event films are the latest installments in the "scary computer dinosaurs" and "gross-out teen comedies" genres: "Jurassic Park III" and "American Pie 2." The general critical consensus is that both are pale attempts to recapture the spark at work in the original films. The best reviewed sequel in town currently is "Rush Hour 2" with Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. The original was a fun buddy comedy, and the second round delivers more of the same.

Perhaps the highest quality films showing in Juneau are those playing at the Back Room Cinema. August's theme is "Classic Movies," and the selections are gold. The Marilyn Monroe classic, "Seven Year Itch," plays at 9 p.m. Saturday, and Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" begins on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Network" wrap up the month. Depending on your mood, each of these films is definitely worth seeing.

Though it's rained every time I've recommended outdoor activities, I'm going to give it one more shot and say that this weekend might be a good time to get outside and savor the end of summer. My activity of choice is berry-picking; blueberries are hitting their peak at any number of spots around town, and there's still a few salmonberries left here and there. It's good, relaxing fun but wear plenty of bug repellent.

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