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BEST OF THE WEEKEND

Pursuits From Shakespeare to 'Annie'

November 08, 1996

MOVIES: "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet" (general release) is a wild-in-the-streets version of the classic romance that's desperate not to be your father's Bard. Juiced to the max, drenched in visual style by "Strictly Ballroom's" Baz Lehrmann and fortunate to have Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as its stars. . . . In Nick Cassavetes' warm, engaging "Unhook the Stars" (Westside Pavilion), his mother, Gena Rowlands, glows as a beautiful, 60ish widow who strikes up a friendship with a little neighbor boy yet still comes to sense that life is passing her by. With Marisa Tomei, also memorable as the boy's loud, scrappy but loving mother. . . . LACMA's "French Society on Film" series starts tonight at 7:30 in Bing Theater with Jean Renoir's classic "The Rules of the Game" (1939) and Eric Rohmer's "Full Moon in Paris" (1984). . . . The Nuart's "Emily and Faith Hubley" presents two different programs of animation by the celebrated mother-and-daughter animators Saturday and Sunday at noon. . . . Clara Bow had no greater admirer of her talent than Louise Brooks, and now the Silent Movie presents tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., Brooks in "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" (1926) and Bow in "My Lady of Whims" (1925).

* THEATER: Deft direction by Howard Fine and zany performances make Lee Blessing's "Fortinbras" a lively offering at the Howard Fine Theatre in Hollywood. In this frothy version of the aftermath of "Hamlet," the Norwegian prince assumes the Danish throne and puts his own skewed spin on the royal family's demise. . . . There's more speculative fantasy at the Ventura Court Theatre in Studio City, where "Hell: Paradise Found," Seth Panitch's pointed, goofy comedy, revolves around a recently deceased lawyer who wants to convince a sardonic "interviewer" that he belongs in heaven, not hell.

* FAMILY: Serendipity Theatre brings to life Scott O'Dell's children's book "Island of the Blue Dolphins," at the Little Burbank Theatre, with its stage version of the true story about a heroic young Gabrielino Indian girl who survived alone on an island for 18 years. Recommended for ages 8 and older. Plays Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m. . . . A mostly child cast performs "Annie," the comic-strip-based Thomas Meehan/Charles Strouse/Martin Charnin musical, at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica on Saturday at 1 p.m.

* POP MUSIC: Inti-Illimani, Chile's revered nueva cancion ensemble, plays tonight at Caltech's Beckman Auditorium. . . . Britishers Billy Bragg and Robyn Hitchcock team on Saturday at the Coach House and Sunday at the El Rey Theatre.

* JAZZ: New York's Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, directed by trumpeter Jon Faddis, honors the jazz tradition in a concert tonight at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the Cal State L.A. campus. . . . From the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, young trumpeter Marcus Printup is at the Jazz Bakery tonight and Saturday.

* DANCE: In an unusual program of dance tributes, Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco performs "El Amor Brujo" and "La Argentina" tonight and Saturday at the Veterans Wadsworth Theater. . . . Korean-born, locally based contemporary dancer-choreographer Hae Kyung Lee brings her company to Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica tonight through Sunday.

* MUSIC: L.A. Opera unveils a revival of its "Tosca," with the doomed lovers played by Carol Vaness and Richard Leech in a matinee on Saturday at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. . . . George Walker, the first African American composer to win a Pulitzer Prize, will introduce his winning work, "Lilacs," to Los Angeles at University Theatre/Cal State Dominguez Hills Saturday night in a free concert, with Frances Steiner conducting and Faye Robinson, who sang in the world premiere of the work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in February, soloing. . . . Mezzo soprano Jennifer Larmore makes her West Coast recital debut at Veterans Wadsworth Theater Sunday afternoon.

--Compiled by Calendar writers

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