Swiftpicks: 10 things not to miss from A&E; editor Tim Swift

The Baltimore Sun


Merry Kixmas:

After all these years, the big-hair bands of the '80s can still take themselves way too seriously. (We're talking about you, Axl.) But not so for Baltimore's own Kix. The band gets it just right by putting on potent, rock-heavy shows a couple of times a year and not wearing out its welcome with devoted fans. Show starts 8 p.m. Friday at Rams Head Live.

For more: ramsheadlive.com


Brad Pitt in 'Benjamin Button' :

When A-list actresses want an Oscar, they usually go ugly. But pretty boy Brad Pitt is leaving nothing to chance: He's gone old, young and everything in between. All skepticism aside, Pitt - playing a man who ages in reverse - delivers a natural and endearing performance in what could have been a special-effects stunt gone horribly wrong. In theaters Thursday.


'Franz West: ...':

One the city's most creative and unique art exhibitions in years is about to end. But before it leaves the Baltimore Museum of Art, you may want to fondle and even wear some of this Austrian artist's quirky art pieces. (I promise security will be totally OK with this.) The interactive antics are just one of the many charms of this gleefully unconventional show. Closes Jan. 4.

For more: artbma.org


'The Pantolite's Puss in Boots':

This is a rare show where booing and hissing are encouraged. Throwing things is probably still frowned upon, however. Billed as a show for both kids and adults, Puss in Boots is a lively and jaunty mix of slapstick, musical revue and a little innuendo. It was such a hit last year, the producers are hoping it becomes a holiday tradition. Boots opens at 7 p.m. Friday at the Theatre Project.

For more: theatreproject.org


'American Teen':

The charming high school documentary proves that the more things change (there are breakups by text and smear campaigns via e-mail), the more they stay the same (the halls are still filled with lovelorn losers and cunning queen bees). A hit at Sundance, the movie briefly hit theaters this summer but was overshadowed by all the capes, robots and gunfights. In stores today.


Robin Thicke:

After touring with Mary J. Blige and Beyonce, this blue-eyed soul singer is flying solo. Thicke has become a hot commodity, performing with the likes of Usher and Lil' Wayne. No wonder, he's got the sultry R&B; thing down to a science. Show starts 7 p.m. Saturday at DAR Constitution Hall in D.C.

For more: ticketmaster.com



Frank Langella (below) and Michael Sheen reprise their stage roles as interview rivals Richard M. Nixon and David Frost for the big screen. The translation from stage to screen is surprisingly faithful and watchable. There are no explosions (combustible ones, at least) or car chases. It's just 122 minutes of talk, but the conversation is riveting. In theaters Thursday.


'A Christmas Story':

: This movie has been on TV so much, it's almost like moving holiday wallpaper. Yet somehow the endless repetition is oddly comforting while one is ducking relatives between football games. For you cave dwellers, the film is all about little Ralphie and his Christmas crusade for a BB gun. And, yes, we know, he'll "shoot his eye out." The 24-hour marathon starts 8 p.m. Wednesday on TBS.


'Too Much Light Makes:

the Baby Go Blind':

If there ever were a production for the short-attention-span set, it's this one. The Neo-Futurists return to D.C. this week to put on 30 plays in 60 minutes. The audience gets involved and free (albeit tiny) pizza is a possibility. Shows run through Jan. 4 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre.

For more: woollymammoth.net


'Left 4 Dead':

A zombie apocalypse again? In the video game world, undead flesh-eaters tend be more common than just about anything (except for maybe scantily clad female adventurers). So it's worth noting that Left 4 Dead rises above its rotting-corpse competition quite nicely. It has the tension of a good suspense flick and loads of replay value. On Microsoft Windows and XBox 360.

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