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BEST OF THE WEEKEND

'Scream,' 'Nutcracker' and Billy Mitchell

December 27, 1996

* MOVIES: Amid such prestigious but flawed pictures as "Marvin's Room" and "One Fine Day," there's the clever and gory "Scream" (general release), in which Wes Craven and his writer, Kevin Williamson, spoof horror pictures, especially those aimed at teens, while generating plenty of thrills and chills. It's gleefully subversive as it explores the relationship between gory movies and their audience. With Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Drew Barrymore and Henry Winkler. . . . The lively "Beavis and Butt-head Do America" (general release) unleashes the geeky duo on the big screen with big laughs as they're caught up in cross-country adventures--all because someone stole their TV. . . . La Ceremonie (selected theaters) finds France's Claude Chabrol in top form, with a drama of psychological suspense in which an elegant couple (Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Pierre Cassel) hire a housekeeper (Sandrine Bonnaire) who's just too good to be true, especially once she's met the village troublemaker (Isabelle Huppert). Never has Chabrol revealed so relentlessly the dangerous, ever-widening chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Named best foreign film by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.

* POP MUSIC: Linda's Doll Hut in Anaheim concludes its annual series of holiday benefits this weekend with shows aiding the Orange County Food Bank. Tonight, it's an Acoustic Christmas Party with Chris Gaffney, Lee Rocker, Joe Wood, Jimmy Camp, Rhythm Lords, Keri Rodriguez, Michael Ubaldini, and Coleen Rider and Frank Agnew--a roots-leaning bill with some accomplished singer-songwriters. On Saturday, Burnin' Groove, the Ziggens, Sun Demons and Adventure Girl figure to play things on the fun side of melodic-punk, surf-rock and rockabilly. . . . The Joykiller, the melodic punk band fronted by local legend Jack Grisham, plays tonight at the Lava Room in Costa Mesa, with Pulley and the Crowd opening. . . . Blues brethren Kim Wilson, Snooky Prior, Billy Boy, Arnold Lester and others join forces on Saturday at the House of Blues in Hollywood for the 10th annual Little Walter Tribute.

* JAZZ: Keyboardist Billy Mitchell can play it all, from swing in fine '40s style to contemporary funk. He'll lead a combo Saturday at Restaurant Kikuya in Huntington Beach. . . . The hardest-working Latin jazz band in Southern California, that of conguero Poncho Sanchez, keeps up the salsa for the holidays with appearances tonight at La Ve Lee in Studio City and Saturday and Sunday at the Baked Potato in Old Town Pasadena.

* THEATER: This weekend is the last chance to catch Laguna Playhouse's staging of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" at the Moulton Theater in Laguna Beach. It speaks to us in the language of Dylan Thomas, who recalls "that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea." . . . "The All Night Strut," Fran Charnas' scintillating celebration of classic '30s and '40s tunes from "Lullaby of Broadway" to "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," is a captivating song-and-dance revue at the Tiffany Theatre in West Hollywood. . . . "Rumors," Neil Simon's fast-paced farce about wealthy suburbanites on the verge of scandal, staged by Richard Kline and performed by a cast headed by Bernie Kopell, provides laughter at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.

* DANCE: The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago concludes its "Nutcracker" engagement this weekend at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa. Performances with various casts will take place today and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Thomas H. Jensen will conduct the Pacific Symphony at each performance.

* FAMILY: The popular We Tell Stories performance troupe presents "The Season of Giving," a free theatrical frolic through the holidays, with lots of audience participation, Saturday at 2 p.m. at the L.A. Central Public Library's family friendly Mark Taper Auditorium.

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