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Cate Blanchett in Manifesto

1. A SPECTER IS HAUNTING PORTLAND

Kind of a niche piece with no discernible plot, the nonetheless enjoyable 2015 German film MANIFESTO features Cate Blanchett playing 13 different characters, each of them delivering a sort of philosophical sermon. The film tactfully eschews any coherent political ideology, instead aspiring to an abstract examination of the nature and history of manifestos themselves. Blanchett, of course, memorably portrayed Bob Dylan in the 2007 biopic I’m Not There, and her chameleonic capacities are several times more impressive here. Part of the museum’s German Film Series. | December 20 | Thu 5:30 pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq, Portland | $8

2. DUSTY SCRIPTS

We like the vibes at Saco’s Run of the Mill, an enormous and festive tavern right at the center of the Saco and Biddeford communities, and would totally hit their UGLY SWEATER PARTY if we weren’t so allergic to dust as to actually be able to wear a sweater for more than five minutes, thus restricting us from this type of party for the rest of our days. Join other, more evolved humans for cocktails, revelry, and live music here Thursday. | December 20 | Thu 7 pm | Run of the Mill, 100 Main St, Saco

 

3. OPT FOR A WINDOW SEAT

GINA & THE RED EYE FLIGHT CREW has picked up the torch left by Model Airplane as the region’s go-to funk unit (the two share several members, so it was an easy hand-off). Fronted by the charismatic Gina Alibrio, the nine-piece spasm offers a professional romp through the last several decades of funk music. It being nog season, they spice up their set with holiday classics. They call it a “Wintry Fix.” | December 21 | Fri 8 pm | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St, Portland | $10-15 | 21+

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Murcielago

4. WHAT WAS HEAVY

Portland’s heavy rock band MURCIELAGO officially shouted mercy a few years ago, after the release of their thunderous album in 2014, but they’ve kept a practice of reuniting for a show over the last couple winters, a gracious move in a scene that presently lacks for heavy music (outside the Geno’s metal circuit). They play with the alt-rock group PARANOID SOCIAL CLUB, in a similar holding pattern of relative inactivity, and COVERED IN BEES, the death-punk band who will never die. | December 21 | Fri 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St, Portland | $8-10 | 18+

 

5. MAGGOTS IN THE EYE OF LOVE

Glenn Danzig is the author of so many of the best and worst lines in punk history, it’s hard to tell which ones are which. “Your future’s in an oblong box” — I bet! “It’s up to me when it comes down to necking with girls” — pretty honest actually! “An omelet of disease awaits your noontime meal” — also very good! “I wish they’d put Prince Namor on the tube, hold on, I think I have to puke” — feel you, Glenn! And of course, the entirety of “Bullet,” which could be placed on either side of the fence depending on your mood. Today’s youth may be deprived of these gems if they — as Spotify’s stream count suggests — focus on the lyrics to shock jock anthem “Last Caress,” but ain’t that America, I guess. What’s encouraging, however, is that new and rad efforts keep popping up to sublimate the Misfits (a band which we choose to believe broke up in 1983 and never reformed) into contemporary energies. In an encore of a Congress Street Halloween show, this time at the far-more-punk terrain of the Apohadion Theater, an “all-ghoul” production called “MISS FITS” recreates the legacy of brutality of this iconic horror-punk band, hopefully tossing us a few laughs at the expense of the dumb Jersey machismo of the original group as well. All merchandise profits benefit MaineTransNet, which is probably the best deployment of Glenn Danzig’s life labors that we can think of. | December 21 | Fri 8 pm | The Apohadion Theater, 107 Hanover St, Portland | $10 | 21+

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"The Johnny Fountain Grand Adventure"

6. A GIFT

Portland lost the talented songwriter Johnny Fountain to cancer a few years back, and in the time since, a group of his friends and contemporaries have worked to complete the full-length album the artist was working on at his time of death. Produced by Dominic Lavoie (of Dominic & the Lucid and ShaShaSha), that album, titled The Grand Adventure, sees its release Saturday — on Fountain’s birthday. The album and Saturday’s event, styled as THE JOHNNY FOUNTAIN GRAND ADVENTURE LISTENING PARTY, feature love and contributions from two dozen artists. | December 22 | Sat 8 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St, Portland | $8-10 | 18+

7. ANTI-FESTIVITY

A rowdy one in Bayside, the cathartic indie-punk/noise outfit MOUTH WASHINGTON play with thunderers HARU BANGS and Bay Area dirge trio BLACKPLATE, whose anti-anthemic guitar-driven slow-core splits the sonic difference between the locals. A nice party.  | December 22 | Sat 8 pm | Zero Station, 222 Anderson St, Portland | $5

8. YOU CAN KEEP YOUR WITS

Two issues ago, Phoenix theater writer Megan Grumbling slung praise at the Fresnel Theater, a newer Old Port arts organization dedicated to the performance and perpetuation of improv and theater sports (they’ve got a few workshops starting up for those inclined). Saturday, they host the longstanding troupe RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, a Whose Line Is It Anyway?- style company comprised of Tuck Tucker, Rachel Flehinger, Tom Walsh and Dennis Hunt. A strong option for those needing to allay awkward family hangs. | December 22 | Sat 8 pm | Fresnel Theater, 17 Free St, Portland | $10

9. FLAWLESS ARTISTS

Awhile back, a friend posed a question on social media asking which artist that “pretty much everybody who actually likes music has at least has a modicum of respect for” — it seems like a pretty low bar, but because the question folds in personality as well as artistic factors, it’s harder than you think. Elvis Costello, Miles Davis, Stevie Nicks, Prince, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie were all suggested and, for various reasons, rebuked. (I mentioned Kate Bush, whose music is unimpeachable, but her recent support for right-wing political leaders has complicated the answer somewhat.) However short that (admittedly subjective) list actually is, Stevie Wonder is most certainly on it. In one of the hallmark events of the season, Portland singer KENYA HALL returns to lead the 9th annual TRIBUTE TO STEVIE WONDER with a team of talented artists helping her to feel it all over. | December 22 | Sat 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St, Portland | $15-18

10. ROLLING DEEP

The hunt for events without a whiff of holiday fervor is good sporting this weekend. We’ve got a lead for you on the East End, where Oxbow hosts their “DEEP CUTS” vinyl night. DJ Hi-Duke, a true selector with a deep arsenal (who you may have seen at crosstown Bunker Brewing), spins from a trove of chill tracks at this darklit hangout. | December 22 | Sat 9 pm | Oxbow Blending & Bottling, 49 Washington Ave, Portland

11. ESSENTIAL CINEMA

What’s this? A Christmas Eve eve screening of Ingmar Bergman’s FANNY AND ALEXANDER, the sprawling, 312-minute period drama (that’s right, it’s the uncut version) about the intricate relationships of a Swedish family at the turn of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of 10-year-old boy. | December 23 | Sun 11:30 am | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq, Portland | $8

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Saoirse Ronan in Mary, Queen of Scots

12. TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEAD

It’s hard to imagine a bigger gap between the characters Saoirse Ronan played in Lady Bird — for which she won Best Actress in 2017 — and the titular role in MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS, a historical drama in theaters this week. The film is a long time coming — originally scheduled to begin shooting in 2007 with Scarlett Johansson in the title role, production was delayed for years until Ronan officially signed on in 2012, then again for years since. Her typical fine work aside, the film has received mixed reviews, particularly for the liberties it takes with historical accuracy (A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote that “students of Scottish history may be surprised to learn that the fate of the nation was partly decided by an act of cunnilingus.” Opens Friday at Nickelodeon Cinemas and Eveningstar in Brunswick.  

13. MILITARY MAN

STEPHEN KELLOGG once fronted the Americana group Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, and since that one disbanded has carved out a career as, we’d say, a sort of entrepreneurial songwriter, taking the elusive middle road while courting “non-hardcore right wing normal people who publicly support the military,” an act which earned him the title of Armed Forces Artist of the Year in 2010. His earthy folk-rock songs are filled with pithy wisdoms about temperance, tolerance, love, hard work, and other American virtues. | December 26 | Wed 8 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St, Portland | $8

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