The 3rd Annual Mediterranean Film Festival adds films from Spain this year. Organized by the Houston-area consulates of Croatia, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Spain and Turkey, and in conjunction with Rice University Media Center, the festival screens several films from the region including an adult retelling of Snow White and what may be the first Christmas movie made in Turkey.
On Friday, there's an opening reception followed by the French film, Marius (6 p.m.). As the first film in Daniel Auteuil's remake of Marcel Pagnol's trilogy of plays, "Marius is a high-profile film...[and] a great costume drama," Dr. Charles Dove, cinema director at Rice University, tells us. Set in 1920s Marseille, the story follows Marius, a man with a wanderlust for the sea, and Fanny, the young woman who loves him.
Dove says that several of the movies on this year's schedule are comedies and some are family-friendly. Highlights include A Matter of Size (8 p.m. Saturday), "a fun and appealing Israeli film about a chef who becomes a sumo wrestler" and Jolly Life (4 p.m. Sunday), a "Turkish Christmas film about a Muslim who gets a job at the mall as Santa Claus." Each film is screened with English subtitles.
The 3rd Annual Mediterranean Film Festival 6 to 9 p.m. Friday; 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713‑348‑4853 or visit cinema.rice.edu. Free.
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About the time most candy-seeking hobgoblins are done wandering the streets on Friday night, Stark Naked Theatre is staging its second annual reading of The War of the Worlds, the 1938 radio broadcast that Orson Welles initiated drawn from the 1898 science fiction novel by H.G. Wells. Legend has it that people across America became convinced they were in the middle of an alien invasion, especially those who missed the introduction saying that what they were about to hear was fiction.
Stark Naked's co-founder, Philip Lehl, will once again handle the directing duties as actors on chairs re-enact the night. "We had such fun last year re-creating this Halloween masterpiece that we thought we'd do it again and add a few more bells and whistles," Lehl said. "We are delighted to have Houston Public Media's Andrew Schneider join us again, and hope we will have as large and as enthusiastic an audience as we did last year." The staged reading, sponsored in part by the Houston Press, also includes actors Tom Prior, Jeff McMorrough, Amy Garner Buchanan and Bradley Winkler. This year, for the first time, the reading will be followed by a yet-to-be-named vintage bloody movie.
Be there when aliens invade Earth 7:30 p.m. Friday. Studio 101 at Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring. For information, visit starknakedtheatre.com. $10.
On Saturday, we've got a party sure to raise the dead -- the Houston Press Noche de los Muertos Celebration. Houston-based band La Sien (Houston Press Music Award Best Latin Act winner in 2013), provides its signature blend of Spanish rock, jazz, blues, funk and pop music for the celebration. Just five years old and with two recordings to their credit, the band features Fabricio Ycaza on vocals and rhythm guitar; Dave Garza on bass; Erol Kuscu on lead guitar; and Carlos Bernal on drums. DJ Boris spins tunes for the after-party. There are drink specials all night to help get you in the Day of the Dead mood, and costumes are strongly recommended.
Raise the dead at 8 p.m. on Saturday. House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. For information, call 888‑402‑5837 or visit houseofblues.com/houston. $5.
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For the Ragtime, Blues & All That Jazz concert series, running Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Houston Symphony trades Mozart and Wagner for Jelly Roll Morton and Muddy Waters. Principal POPS Conductor Michael Krajewski leads the orchestra in a swinging show that features trumpet player and singer Byron Stripling as the guest artist. Stripling has a stellar reputation and the résumé to go with it (he was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and the Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton and Woody Herman bands). Krajewski says it's not just Stripling's impeccable technique and styling that make him a favorite with Houston audiences. "He has a really great sense of humor," Krajewski tells us. "He really connects with the audience and when he starts to talk about the music, he has so much passion and enthusiasm for it, it's catching."
Swing with Bryon Stripling and the Houston Symphony at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713‑224‑4240 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $134.
F.W. Murnau's harrowing 1922 adaptation of the Dracula legend, Nosferatu, the Symphony of Horror, has been described as evoking the bizarre. That's an understatement. Just look at actor Max Schreck as Count Orlok: cadaver head, rat's teeth, bat ears, eagle beak nose, claw hands, emaciated as a bone. Bizarre's not the word.
When director Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo; Aguirre, the Wrath of God) remade Murnau's classic as Nosferatu the Vampyre in 1979, who else but his muse, expressionistic actor Klaus Kinski, could possibly play the creepy count? At the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for a three-day run including Sunday, , Kinski is made up to look like the iconic Schreck, an undead gargoyle. Herzog overlays Stoker with a heavy dose of middle European existential angst, as if living forever is damnation enough. Herzog borrows liberally from Murnau, copying images as if by xerox, but at least his night scenes look like night, unlike Murnau's bright-as-day midnights. His pictures are living Caspar David Friedrich landscapes. Also on hand is the lovely Isabelle Adjani, whose ivory neck is ripe for Kinski's kisses, although she's as angst-filled as her nemesis. And then there's that kicker of an ending. Herzog's deft little touch keeps the legend as spooky as ever.
This screening features a restored version of the film. 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.
Kristina Nungaray, Margaret Downing and D.L. Groover contributed to this post.