Serious Cinema

Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai is arguably the best-known Israeli filmmaker, but his work isn't what you'd call pure entertainment. Serious and political, Gitai's films tackle the complex issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His latest, Kedma, tells the story of a group of Israeli Jews who try to make a home in Palestine. As if to prove how little has changed in the past half-century, the film is set not in current times but in 1948. "Although fiction, the film provides a historical context for the founding of the state of Israel," says Museum of Fine Arts film curator Marian Luntz. In the movie, a tired and hungry boatload of concentration camp survivors lands on the shores of Palestine and is confronted by several groups of people, all with different agendas. The Jews want them to immediately take up arms for the cause, and, for different reasons, both the British soldiers and the Arabs want to keep them away.

Gitai has said that most of his movies deal with themes of exile and displacement, ideas he tries to apply to both sides of the conflict. The filmmaker has made more than 40 films to date, working in documentary, fictional and historical genres. Says Luntz: "He manages to be lyrical and even subtle, a quality lacking in most recent Israeli films." 7 p.m. Thursday, August 21, through Sunday, August 24. Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet Street. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit $5 to $6. -- Bob Ruggiero

SAT 8/23
Latter-Day Laika
A space program veteran since 1984, Jim "Dogface" Voss has ridden the rocket five times, logging 201 days in space. He also spent a total of 22 hours floating weightless outside the shuttle, doing maintenance tasks and generally being a badass -- Voss tested space suit modifications and tools that eventually would be used to build the International Space Station. The "Dogface" nickname originated during a 1992 mission aboard the shuttle Discovery. Commander David M. Walker had been nicknamed "Red Dog" during his military days, so the rest of the space crew took dog-themed monikers as well, with names like "Cujo," "Pluto" and "Underdog." Here's your chance to meet "Dogface" in the flesh. Now retired from NASA, he'll sign free autographs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, August 23. The Space Store (Johnson Space Center), 1400 NASA Road One. For information, call 281-333-4030. Free. -- Troy Schulze


SUN 8/24
Gotta Have That Crunk
The Dirty South Mixtape Tour stops in Texas

Lil Jon & the EastSide Boyz may hail from Atlanta, but they've got love for their fans in Texas. Lil Jon, Big Sam and Lil Bo sent a shout out to the Lone Star State with "Diamonds," a guitar-driven track on their latest album, the modestly titled Kings of Krunk. "We did that song for Texas," Lil Jon has said. "The vibe of the track is on some Texas shit, so we did that song for our Texas fans. They love us for that crunk shit, but we also want to show we can rap if we wanted to." See for yourself at this weekend's Dirty South Mixtape Tour, which also features performances by David Banner, Chingy, Killer Mike, Field Mob and the Ying Yang Twins. 5 p.m. Sunday, August 24. Texas Southern University Health and P.E. Arena, 3000 Wheeler Avenue. For tickets, call 281-652-6847. $20 to $45 ($5 discount for registered voters). -- Cathy Matusow


THU 8/21
Saucy Senior
When she was governor of Texas, Ann Richards spoke her mind, consequences be damned. She's talked candidly about her battle with alcoholism, and in her new book, I'm Not Slowing Down, Richards again opens up -- this time about being diagnosed with osteoporosis in 1994. The half autobiographical, half health/nutrition advice book, which Richards wrote with Dr. Richard Levine, chronicles her struggle with the disease. "It has stabilized," she told USA Today, "and my bone density is now normal for a woman my age. The damage was reversed. I caught it at the right point." Too bad she can't say the same about the Bush administration, part deux. Richards speaks and signs books at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 21. Barnes & Noble, 12850 Memorial Drive. For information, call 713-465-5616. Free. -- Bob Ruggiero

Sat 8/23
Go with the Fold
Maybe a haiku is the best way to describe the delicate craft of Joan Son: Folded tenderly / A piece of paper becomes / A swan in her hand. Bad poetry aside, her origami installations are an elegant testament to the art of patience. In a workshop at the Museum of Printing History, Son will teach students to play God, creating their own paper menageries filled with cranes, butterflies, frogs and flowers. Bonus (equally bad) haiku for her students: Go with the fold and/ Your paper cranes will float on/ A river of air. Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, August 23. Museum of Printing History, 1324 West Clay. To register, call 713-522-4652. $45. -- Keith Plocek

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero