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BEST BETS: Friday 7/19

July 18, 2002

7:30pm Movies

An actors' director who won three Oscars as well as the Irving Thalberg Award during his five-decade career, William Wyler delivered such classics as "Mrs. Miniver," "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "Ben-Hur." The Los Angeles County Museum of Art honors the late filmmaker with "William Wyler and the Tradition of Excellence," a 12-film retrospective featuring such favorites as "Roman Holiday" and "Wuthering Heights," as well as the lesser-known gems "Carrie" and "The Good Fairy."

"William Wyler and the Tradition of Excellence," Bing Theater at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. "Roman Holiday" and "The Good Fairy," Friday, 7:30 p.m.; "The Little Foxes" and "Dead End," Saturday, 7:30 p.m. The series continues through Aug. 24, $5 to $7. (323) 857-6010.

7:45pm Pop Music

From 1996 to 1998, the Smokin' Grooves tour gave a major boost to the track record of rap concerts with three well-organized, essentially hassle-free events stoked by some of rap's biggest stars. After a three-year hiatus, Smokin' Grooves is back on the road, this summer offering another strong lineup topped by OutKast, along with the Roots, Jurassic 5, Cee-Lo and Truth Hurts on board for Friday's stop at Universal Amphitheatre.

Smokin' Grooves 2002, Universal Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza, L.A., 7:45 p.m. $25 to $70. (818) 777-3931.

all day Movies

Japanese director Shohei Imamura, who has twice won the Golden Palm at Cannes (for "The Ballad of Narayama" and "The Eel"), returns with the sexual fable "Warm Water Under a Red Bridge." Koji Yakusho stars as a man who goes to a small town near the Sea of Japan looking for buried treasure and encounters surreal gangsters and a woman whose powerful orgasms sustain the local eco-system.

"Warm Water Under a Red Bridge," unrated, opens Friday exclusively at Pacific's ArcLight Hollywood, 6360 Sunset Blvd., (323) 464-4426; UA's Marketplace 6, 64 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (646) 444-3456 (#301); and Edwards' University Cinema, 4245 Campus Drive, Irvine, (949) 854-8811.

7pm Movies

The sixth annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival opens Friday at the Egyptian with a surprise screening followed by a gala. The festival will play out over 10 days with films from the United States, Spain and Latin America, with an emphasis on Brazilian cinema, as well as programs featuring women's visions, modern classics, first-time directors, music and children's films. Filmmaker Nelson Pereira dos Santos will receive the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award on July 27, and a retrospective of his work will screen throughout the festival. There will also be a variety of workshops, panels, seminars and a writers' lab.

Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, Rigler and Spielberg theatres at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; L.A. Film School, 6363 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mann's Chinese 6, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Opening night film and gala, Friday, 7 p.m. Festival continues through July 28. Opening night, $50; screenings, $8; passes $150 to $300. (323) 469-9066.

8pm Dance

The Italian dance troupe Aterballetto makes its only United States appearance this season with the American debut of artistic director Mauro Bigonzetti's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," danced to a commissioned score by Elvis Costello. Costello--some-

times known in rock 'n' roll circles as the Mercurial One--is a veteran singer-songwriter who in recent years has collaborated with classical and jazz musicians, as well as with balladeer Burt Bacharach. The ballet, based on Shakespeare's play, received its world premiere at the Bologna 2000 Cultural Festival.

Aterballetto, Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. $15 to $55. (714) 556-2787.

8pm Theater

Circle X Theatre Co. presents its first-ever musical, "Laura Comstock's Bag-Punching Dog," about the birth of cinema and the men and women who chased that flickering dream through a shadowy world of inspiration, competition, deceit and stolen acclaim. With music and lyrics by Chris Jeffries, the world-premiere show was written by Jillian Armenante and Alice Dodd, the creative team who scored critical praise and multiple awards for their two previous collaborations for Circle X: "Great Men of Science, Nos. 21 & 22" and "In Flagrante Gothicto."

"Laura Comstock's Bag-Punching Dog," 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th St., L.A., 8 p.m. Regular schedule: Thursdays to Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 and 7 p.m. Ends Sept. 29. $20; Sunday matinees, pay what you can. (323) 461-6069.

8pm Jazz

Although she has yet to release a CD of her own, 22-year-old singer Lizz Wright is causing a stir among jazz aficionados. As a featured vocalist on pianist Joe Sample's CD, "The Pecan Tree," Wright's gospel-infused style is drawing favorable comparisons to Sarah Vaughan. The Atlanta-born singer-songwriter makes her Los Angeles solo concert debut this weekend at California Plaza.

Lizz Wright, California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A., Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Free. (213) 687-2159.

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