What would Easter be without the redemptive power of rock opera? If you don't believe us, think Jesus Christ Superstar. After all the hallelujahs are sung, the chocolate bunny ears gnawed off, and the dyed, hard-boiled eggs converted into slightly sulfurous exhaust, couldn't we all use a healthy dose of gender-bending glam spectacle? You betcha.
Get this year's fix with The Phantom of the Paradise, the 1974 glitter-rock opera directed by Brian "Scarface" DePalma. It's showing at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale) at 5 p.m. Phantom tells the sordid tale of a disreputable rock 'n' roll producer who steals an innocent songwriter's Faustian opera (how many archetypes can we mix in here?). He also steals the innocent songwriter's girl. When a tragic mishap with an LP record-pressing machine horribly disfigures the songwriter's face -- proving that you don't mess with vinyl -- he does what we all would under the circumstances. He dons a beaked mask -- like something out of Mad's "Spy vs. Spy" -- and seeks revenge on the evil record producer. Don't scoff. This happens almost monthly at Geffen Records.
Composer Paul Williams -- who wrote the movie's soundtrack and stars as the Mephistophelean producer -- will be on hand to introduce the flick. Williams, author of "An Old Fashioned Love Song" and other '70s pop songs, happens to be in town for a Monday-night concert at the Broward Center with Melissa "Don't Cry Out Loud" Manchester. Be at the cinema on time to find out if he still has that Cousin It hair. If that's not enough to sell you on Phantom, consider the movie's tagline: "He's been maimed and framed, beaten, robbed and mutilated. But they still can't keep him from the woman he loves." Easter is all about making a comeback when you're down. And Cadbury mini-eggs.
Admission to The Phantom of the Paradise is $5, unless you're a member of FLIFF (the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival), in which case it's free. We strongly suggest quaffing wine or beer from the concession stand before the show begins. Visit www.cinemaparadiso.org, or call 954-525-3456. -- David Amber
The Artist Revealed
Pablo, We Hardly Knew Ye
Pablo Picasso was a prolific artist, legendary lover, and monumental egoist. Those around him either loved or hated him passionately. The famous painter is the subject of Boca Raton Museum of Art's Film and Video Series this Sunday. In the movie -- actually a lecture filmed in 1995 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- art honcho Rosamund Bernier presents a spellbinding mix of intimate details and professional observations about Picasso, his works, and his life. The 110-minute film is one of the most popular lectures in a "Live at the Met" series about superstars of the art world, which Madame Bernier presented. The co-founder of L'Oeil, an influential Paris art magazine, Bernier had both a professional and personal interest in the subject of this particular talk. She and Picasso were close amis from shortly after World War II until the painter's death. The Picasso I Knew shows at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Wolgin Auditorium at the Boca Raton Museum of Art (Mizner Park, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton) and is free with paid museum admission ($8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students) Call 561-392-2500. -- Barbara Kasser
That's it -- sneer for the camera...
Some people only dream of hurling their alarm clocks and Ivy League degrees into Boston Harbor and quitting their day jobs to spend two years snapping photos of a cat in a New York City loft. Cuban-born photographer Tony Mendoza actually did this. Mendoza's "Cats and Dogs and Other Stories" is currently on display at the Museum of Art (1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). In this exhibit of contemporary photography meets "this is me, this is my cat, and this is what we did last summer," you can view toned photographs (printed on rag paper) of Ernie, who resembles Eddie Munster with whiskers, and a Boston terrier with an overactive thyroid. But the exhibit's not just cute pet stuff; there are plenty of interesting (and telling) cultural snapshots as well as some not-so-cheery personal accounts. Some of these "other stories" chronicle Mendoza's life and career through photographs of his wife, daughter, and relatives from pre-Castro days in Havana, as well as in journals recounting the artist's dealings with chronic leukemia. Mendoza's David Sedaris-style humor is summed up in a quirky, seven-minute documentary of his dad's drive-through days at Burger King. So is it a dog's life for Mendoza? Sometimes. Other times, it's just life. Call 954-525- 5500, or visit www.moafl.org. -- Michele D. Omenson
Going Once, Going Twice
Bring your checkbooks, but leave the dancing shoes behind. All attention will be on 300 pieces of art for sale Saturday evening at Fort Lauderdale's Embassy Suites (1100 SE 17th St.) during an "Art Auction Benefit for Broward House." Hey, where else can you see Bugs Bunny sharing wall space with Chagall? They've brought in the big boys from Park West Gallery in Southfield, Michigan, to organize the event. Minimum bids will begin at around $100 for Warner Bros., Disney, and Hanna-Barbera animation; sports memorabilia; and copies of works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Toulouse-Lautrec, and more. This is an opportunity to purchase art in "a relaxed and informal manner," says Keith Riddle, director of development and public affairs for Broward House, who hopes to bring in $10,000 to $30,000 to spend on client care and bedroom renovations for HIV patients. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, and time to preview the goods. Bidding starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 per person, $25 per couple. Call 954-522-4749. -- Michele D. Omenson