This is your last chance to see "Collection in Context: Selected Contemporary Photographs of Hands" from the Henry Mendelssohn Buhl Collection. That's right, hands. The slightly fetishistic Mr. Buhl has collected nearly every photograph taken in the last 50 years that has anything to do with these particular body parts, and the resulting traveling show is fascinating. At the Houston Center for Photography you can see everything from Andy Warhol's self-portrait and the stitched-up wrist of Mick Jagger as photographed by Annie Leibovitz to Helmut Newton's raw take on Bulgari-jeweled hands chopping roast chicken and Gilles Peress's haunting photo of a Bosnian amputee. Through December 20 at Houston Center for Photography, 1441 W. Alabama. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call 529-4755 for more information. Free.
The Museum of Fine Arts' film department comes full circle this weekend with their Chaplin Reprise (they opened the year with the Little Tramp's films as well). But this time around they're showing two rarely screened films in which Chaplin is more Charles than Charlie. In fact, he called A Woman of Paris "the first serious drama written and directed by myself." The story of a French village girl who runs away from her domineering father to the big city was intended to launch the solo career of Chaplin's frequent leading lady, Edna Purviance. Monsieur Verdoux was Chaplin's first on-screen departure from his well-developed Tramp character. He plays the debonair title role, a man who makes a living by marrying and murdering wealthy women and then defends himself in trial by comparing his actions to those of war-waging governments. Chaplin's antiwar stance in this film, based on an idea by Orson Welles, was widely criticized when Monsieur Verdoux was first released in 1947. A Woman of Paris plays at 7:30 p.m., and Monsieur Verdoux plays at 9 p.m. at the MFA's Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet. On Saturday and Sunday, December 19 and 20, Paris plays at 5 p.m., and Verdoux plays at 6:30 p.m. Call 639-7515 for more information. $5.
Grand nationalist murals by the likes of Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Siqueiros dominate Mexico's public parks and museums to this day. But younger Mexican artists are attempting to declare a sort of artistic independence from these historic conventions by re-examining and, in some cases, completely rejecting traditional Mexican images and even the medium of painting itself. CAM guest curator Robert Stearns -- in association with Maria Guerra, a Mexico City curator, and Agustin Arteaga, national coordinator of plastic arts for the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes -- has collected the sculpture, photography and installations of 13 new Mexican revolutionaries in Mexico Ahora: Punto de Partida/Mexico Now: Point of Departure. The exhibit opens today and runs through February 14 at the Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. All gallery materials will be bilingual. Call 284-8250 or go to www.camh.org for more information. Free.
Garden in the Heights' fourth annual Yuletide festival, A Celtic Christmas, isn't all ancient rituals: Patrick O'Flaherty will be celebrating the release of his new CD featuring New Orleans-based Celtic-fusion band the Poor Clares, Godfrey's Rangers will sing the songs of 19th-century Irish immigrants, and local Celtic act Encarnation will perform for the final time. Also featured are the McTeggart Irish Dancers -- think "Riverdance" -- and the Loch Dhu Dancers -- think Ren Fest. Noon to 10 p.m. at Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan. Call 1-800-966-SHOW or go to any Albertson's store for tickets, $6 in advance and $8 at the door.
Apprehensive about the afterlife? His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj, Governing Body Commissioner of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and author of Yoga for the 21st Century, isn't. He'd be happy to share with you the "shaking truth about a passionate mystery" -- whatever that means, exactly -- today in his lecture, "Life After Death: Are There Reasons for Hope?" 6:30 p.m. The Devanand Yoga Center, 3115 West Loop South, Suite 21. Call 965-9642 for more information. Free.
"I am big," says forgotten silent film star Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. "It's the pictures that got small." It's actually the set that got small in the new American touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's dark musical based on the classic 1950 film by Billy Wilder. The Broadway production -- like all Webber musicals -- was known for its glitz, glamour and massive engineering (no less than a floating mansion). But word from Philadelphia, the tour's first stop, is that the traveling story of the down-and-out screenwriter and the deluded comeback queen is basically told in a movie studio. Perhaps Director Susan Schulman was attempting to get back to Sunset Boulevard's filmic roots, or perhaps it was just too expensive to lug all the extravagant set pieces around. British '60s pop singer Petula Clark takes on the lead role that Glenn Close made so famous in New York. 8 p.m. Through December 27, at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m., and Sunday's evening performance begins at 7 p.m. Call Ticketmaster at 629-3700. $25-$49.50.