CIVIL DOCUMENTARY: Began on January 28 and continuing through the rest of this month are Birmingham Museum of Art-sponsored screenings at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. They come from the sevenpart documentary series Have You Heard from Johannesburg? The films attempt to chronicle the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa during the Cold War. The BCRI will hold the last two screenings on February 25 and March 11, but this week, the screening will take place in the Museum of Art. The BMoA will be showing From Selma to Soweto, a section of the documentary that highlights the United States’ involvement in the whole affair. The U.S. was an important ally to South Africa during that time, and played a critical role against the apartheid regime. The screening will take place at 6 p.m., and admission is free. For more information, call(205) 254-2565 or visit www.artsbma.org.
WINE TIME: Every month or so, Vintage Wine Shoppe (in the 280 Station Shopping Center in Cahaba Heights) releases their “Vintage Missive,” a newsletter that details their upcoming specials, classes, tastings and other pertinent information. Then, every once in a while, they’ll hold a “Newsletter Tasting,” where participants can taste some of the recent “Vintage Missive” selections. One such tasting will go down this Friday. Looking back on the Shoppe’s newsletter (the most recent is a December & January issue), you can get an idea of what they’ll be sampling this week. Their last “Picks of the Month” were a 2007 Perrin et Fils Vinsobres “Les Cornuds,” which they described as “delicious,” with “lovely, integrated acidity”; a 2009 Union Hill Chardonnay, “layered with hints of buttered pear cake and enlivened with bursts of tangerine”; and a 2007 Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon, with a balance of “soft tannins and sweet oak.” Other recent highlights include selections from Walter Hansel, Lewis Cellars, Rodney Strong, Chateua Montelena and BR Cohn. Even if you’ve never heard of any of these wineries, you can probably still tell that the Vintage Wine Shoppe knows what they’re talking about. The tasting is from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and admission is free. For more information, call (205) 980-9995 or visit www.vintagewineshoppe.net.
EVERYBODY HUMPS: I’d like to think that no matter how old I get, I’ll still think animals having sex with each other is funny. To know that no matter how much information I obtain on the subject—the simple, natural act of some creatures humping something will still make me giggle. (Anyone who claims they don’t find this humorous would do well to look up “Turtle Humps Shoe” on YouTube.) So I admit, a smile came to my face when I saw Ruffner Mountain’s lecture this week, “The Birds and the Bees (and the Snails and the Bonobos): Sexual Antics of Animals.” Birmingham Southern College biology professor Dr. Megan Gibbons will be handling the lecture. What’s even funnier, in my mind, is the idea of someone giving this lecture while keeping a straight face. But whether she will or not, my reasons for choosing this go beyond that I find it funny. Mating habits are also vastly interesting in how they differ from our own, or other species. The event starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for non-members, and they come with complimentary chili and spice mulled wine. Adults only, for obvious reasons. For more information, call (205) 833-8264 or visit www.ruffnermountain.org.
I LOVE YOU, DECENT CINEMA: I don’t usually like to recommend events that are out of town. But seeing as Birmingham’s movie theaters are essentially interchangeable when it comes to the films you can see, I feel the need to bring up the Capri Theatre in Montgomery every once in a while. The film screening this week is something you likely wouldn’t see here (unless it somehow managed to creep into the Carmike 10 Dollar Theater on Lorna Road for a week or so). Not that its low budget, or lacks starpower. I can only assume that whatever film studio it came out of had no idea how to market it. I’m referring to I Love You Phillip Morris, a movie that sat on the shelf waiting to be released for a full two years. One glance at the premise and you can pretty much see why: The film follows the true story of Steven Jay Russell, a longtime conman that bounced in and out of prison, year after year. The movie opens with Russell (Jim Carrey) searching for his mother. Once he finds her, and finds she wants nothing to do with him, he abandons the American Dream lifestyle he’d worked so hard to cultivate and embraces his homosexuality. The rest of the film follows him as he attempts to reunite himself with his lover—Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), whom he met in prison—through a series of cons. The film is nothing if not extravagant (I’m sure studio execs were quite taken aback upon hearing Carrey proclaim he’s “Gay gay gay gay gay”), and has some of the darkest comedy I’ve seen in a while. But as it turns out, the film was able to make back its budget before it was even released. Definitely worth a watch, as it should have gotten more attention all along. Screenings start February 11, and go through February 17. Showtimes are on Fridays at 7 and 9 p.m., and Sunday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m. only. Tickets are $6 for members and $8 for non-members. For more information, call (334) 262-4858 or visit www.capritheatre.org.
CLASSICAL SOUL: Last week I said that the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s “Regions Masterworks” series was a great way to expose yourself to some classical music. Well, this week, let me reiterate that point with their other series, “Red Diamond SuperPOPS!” These not only include classical jams, but are a good way to see how orchestras collaborate with familiar faces. In the last few months, the ASO has teamed up with Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul, as well as some of the best cirque artists and Broadway vocalists in the business. Come April, Michael Cavanaugh will visit to perform a concert of Billy Joel covers. But this week is probably the most exciting collaboration of all. The ASO will be performing a special Valentine’s Day show with Gladys Knight, the Atlanta-born, seven-time Grammy winning “Empress of Soul.” The concert will take place at the BJCC, with Christopher Confessore conducting. It starts at 8 p.m., and general admission tickets range from $55 to $90, depending on the seats. For more information, call (205) 975-2787 or visit www.alabamasymphony.org.
NAKED LOVE: Way back in November, Naked Art Gallery in Forest Park held a little exhibition entitled “Kitschmas.” The show was composed of works from countless artists, all working strictly with recycled materials and selling each of their pieces for under $50. This month, Naked Art is bringing that idea back for Valentine’s Day with another exhibition called “Microlove.” The name says it all, really: The show is composed of the same kind of knick-knacks and handmade trinkets, particularly miniature furniture and jewelry, for sale. It isn’t all under $50 this time, but the selection is still quite incredible. From a quick glance at their website, you’ll find necklaces, bracelets, valentine’s cards, glass mosaic bowls, felt pins, collages, miniframed art, earrings, bobby pins, clocks, matchboxes and more—all with the added bonus of an artist’s touch. You can find any of these at the gallery itself, or you can buy them online. For more information about times and prices, call (205) 595-3553 or visit www.nakedartusa.com.
GREEKS HATE SEX: Theatre UAB will be taking over the Sirote Theatre in the Alys Stephens Center this week for a play, LYSISTRATA, that dates all the way back to classical Athens in 411 BC. Only the production doesn’t quite live up to the typical trappings of that era. For one, the protagonist is female, one with independent thought and undeniable intelligence. The story revolves around her idea, which she spreads throughout Greece, to withhold physical intimacy from the men, in order to put an end to the Peloponnesian War. The play is classified as an “Old Comedy,” but I think today we’d just call that straight satire—and satire that’s still before its time today, mind you. Performances start on Wednesday, and continue through February 20. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. from Wednesday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets for adults are $12-$15, and $6 for students. For more information, call (205) 975-ARTS or visit www.alysstephens.uab.edu.
SHOW OFF YOUR FUNNY: There are a lot of things to consider when running a restaurant—many of them simply having to do with the atmosphere. Some places shoot for a homey, welcoming vibe. This can be quite effective, because it tends to attract regulars who are drawn to familiarity. Other places are more ambitious. I generally think that the more a restaurant has going on, the better. There are things to be said for simplicity—as I said before, it provides a cozy kind of atmosphere when a place limits itself to just serving food. But when it comes down to it, I’m more likely to return to the place that has the most amenities— and there are very few restaurants in this city that use their venue to greater effect than Rojo. Sure, there are other places you can find food, booze, music and art in the same space. But about how many of them can you say achieve the same atmosphere? And how many of them hold open-mic comedy nights? Rojo will be doing just that next Thursday, and regardless of how good the comedians are, you’re bound to have at least a little fun just being in the venue. The show starts at 8 p.m. For more information, call (205) 328-4733 or visit www.rojobirmingham.com.