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Top Tickets: January 23-30

Diablo’s must-see events of the coming week: Rent, Muse, and the famous girl with the pearl earring.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

A few weeks ago, I tried and failed to see Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained at Walnut Creek’s downtown multiplex. A parking space, even in Walnut Creek’s garages, was next to impossible to find during the holidays.

“See it at the Dome,” urged Peter Crooks, Diablo’s resident cineaste. I almost slapped myself for not coming to that conclusion myself. “Of course, the Dome!” So, I went to see Tarantino’s big, wild, controversial, and entertaining film in the Dome. As did a lot of other people that afternoon. The retro theater was the perfect place to see Django Unchained, which celebrates the kitsch and beauty of certain retro and contemporary genres of moviemaking.

If you’re a devoted central Contra Costa moviegoer, you know I’m talking about the CineArts movie complex in the Crossroads shopping center off Interstate 680 in Pleasant Hill. The complex consists of the main giant curved screen, which is housed under the Dome and was built in 1966, and four smaller screens in the back.

“Despite its nondescript shopping mall location, the Dome has been an epic, big-screen playground for East Bay movie fans since 1966,” says the description of the theater on I Saw It At The Dome, a new Facebook page devoted to celebrating the theater’s place in the East Bay’s cultural history. The Dome certainly has its share of devotees, judging by the small but growing number of friends of this Facebook page and the number of comments accompanying Dome stories on the Cinema Treasures website, which explains how the curved screen represented a certain era of grand technological experimentation in the art of filmmaking.

Alas, the Dome has been living under the threat of destruction for years, as Pleasant Hill worked with developers to makeover that shopping center. The latest news is that SyWest, the owner of the theater, wants to tear it down and replace it with a sporting goods store. Pleasant Hill officials say the chance to revitalize that part of the shopping center will be good for the local economy. Who knows how the saga of the Dome will unfold? Whatever happens, share your favorite movie-going memories at I Saw It At the Dome. What was the first movie you saw there? The Godfather? Raiders of the Lost Ark? I think mine was The Sound of Music. Hmm, from The Sound of Music to Django Unchained. The Dome has offered me and others endless possibilities and wonderful memories.

Here are the week’s top event picks…

January 23: Casablanca

In 1989, the Orinda Theatre chose to screen Casablanca to celebrate its grand re-opening after extensive renovation. Now, the theater is throwing a party for the 70th anniversary of what may be the most romantic, quoted, and transformative cinematic experiences of all time. The Orinda was selected as one of the few across the country to show Casablanca in 35mm on the anniversary of its original January 23, 1943, release. A Q&A with Rosario Tronnolone, renowned expert on Ingrid Bergman, follows. Orinda Theatre, 4 Orinda Square, Orinda, 7 p.m., $10, (925) 254-9060, lamorindatheatres.com.

January 23: Jonathan Moscone & Tony Taccone
Jonathan Moscone, artistic director of the California Shakespeare Company, and Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre, are leaders in the Bay Area’s growing renown as a hotspot for innovative theater. The two also collaborated on Ghost Spirit, a play about the tragic assassination of Moscone’s father, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. The Commonwealth Club of California hosts the two in conversation. Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 6:30 p.m., $12–$22, (415) 597-6700 commonwealthclub.org.

January 23–March 17: Hung Liu, Offerings
Mills College’s long tradition of nurturing cutting-edge visual artists is on display with this exhibition of large-scale installations by Hung Liu, a Mills professor and Oakland resident. The exhibition also includes paintings and prints by Liu, who was born and raised in China during the rule of Mao Zedong and incorporates both modern and historical themes in her works. Mills College Art Museum, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, closed Mondays, free, (510) 430-2164, mcam.mills.edu.

January 25: A Woman’s Life

The Oakland East Bay Symphony puts the spotlight on powerful women, presenting selections from Beethoven and Berliozmand world-class soprano Angela Brown performing “A Woman’s Life,” a song cycle by composer Richard Danielpour in collaboration with poet Maya Angelou. Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, 8 p.m., $20–$70, (510) 465-6400, paramounttheatre.com.

Rent / rehearsal photo via OneDublin.orgJanuary 25–February 10: Rent
Loosely based on Puccini’s La Boheme, the hit Broadway musical Rent tells the story of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and make great art in Manhattan’s Lower East Side during the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Pacific Coast Repertory, the Tri-Valley’s newest theater company, brings the show to the Pleasanton. Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton, $19–$35, (925) 931-4850, firehousearts.org.

January 26: Aerial Hunters

Several species of live owls and hawks are special guests at this Pleasanton Library event for kids about the amazing lives of raptors. Jenny Papka of Native Bird Connection and Jay Sheets of Hawk Talk mix humor and fun facts in their talk designed for kids ages five and up. Pleasanton Library, 400 Old Bernal Ave., Pleasanton, 1:30 p.m., free, (925) 931-3400, Ext. 8, ci.pleasanton.ca.us.

January 26–June 2: Girl with a Pearl Earring
You read about her in the novel and saw her in the film starring Scarlett Johansson. Now see her in person: the enigmatic girl in the 17th century masterpiece by Johannes Vermeer. The painting is among 35 works from the Royal Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, representing the golden age of Dutch paintings. The De Young is the first American stop in this traveling exhibition. De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., San Francisco, closed Mondays, $16–26, (415) 750-3600, deyoung.famsf.org.

January 28: Muse

The darlings of alt rock, British band Muse, will touch down at Oakland’s Oracle Arena. With the release of their sixth album, The 2nd Law, the three-man group, led by Matthew Bellamy on vocals, promises another one of their extravagant, high-energy performances of music that fuses styles ranging from heavy metal to classical music to space rock. Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, 7 p.m., $35–$69.50, (510) 569-2121, coliseum.com.

For even more events happening this week, or to submit an event for consideration, visit Diablo’s Community Calendar. Follow Diablo on Twitter or Facebook (links below), and you'll be notified as soon as Top Tickets posts each Wednesday morning.