The Week Ahead is a weekly list of A&E highlights compiled by The Seattle Times staff. The week of Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2011, includes the 4-star film "The Descendants," holiday beer and wine festivals, and Pink Martini.

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‘The Descendants’

Alexander Payne’s wonderful new film, based on Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel, stars George Clooney as a man whose unfaithful wife lies in a coma. How he finds peace makes for a funny, moving journey, peppered with strong supporting performances. Now showing at several theaters. For showtimes, see Page H5. For Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald’s recent 4-star review, go to

‘Eames: The Architect and the Painter’

This exciting, pleasing documentary traces the far-reaching influence of designers Charles and Ray Eames on 20th-century life and beyond. Now showing at Northwest Film Forum. For showtimes, see Page H5. For Tom Keogh’s recent 4-star review, go to


‘The Closer’

Brenda and the gang are back with new episodes of this great detective show. The series will come to a close sometime next year. 9 p.m. Monday on TNT.

‘The Soup’

Local boy Joel McHale and his snarky clip show move from Fridays to Wednesdays this week. Look for him at 10 p.m. on Wednesday on E!


Woodinville Wine Country

Woodinville will be decked out in holiday cheers this weekend when 40 wineries open their doors for a special wine tasting in the St. Nicholas Day Open House, one of the biggest wine events in “Woodinville Wine Country.” A two-day pass costs $55, Sunday only pass $40. More info at

Winter Beer Festival

On tap this holiday season: the 2011 Winter Beer Festival, featuring dark malty stouts, barrel-aged beers and other seasonal brews made by 30 Washington breweries. Tasting held 5-9 p.m. Friday and noon-9 p.m. Saturday at Hale’s Palladium, 4301 Leary Way N.W., Seattle; $23 in advance or $25 at the door. 21 and over event (


Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner caroling Competition

More than 40 teams are warming up their vocal chords for this fun song-and-dance holiday tradition, complete with a sing-off between the top teams. Donations benefit the Pike Market Senior Center and Downtown Food Bank. Teams line Pine Street from Third to Seventh Avenues and at Westlake Park; plus entertainment by Caspar Babypants and The 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of “Cinderella,” 5-8:30 p.m. Friday (206-728-2773 or

Pop music

Jane Birkin

The British actress presents “A Serge Gainsbourg Tribute,” an evening of songs and anecdotes dedicated to the late, great French singer-songwriter, former lover of Birkin and father of their child, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $34-$36 (877-784-4849 or

Pink Martini

The popular Portland lounge/cabaret act presents its holiday show with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, marking the return of lead vocalist China Forbes, on hiatus since April for surgery to repair an injury to her vocal cords. 8 p.m. Saturday, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St. Seattle; $41.25-$121.25 (877-784-4849 or


‘A Year with Frog and Toad’

The beloved pair leap from the pages of Arnold Lobel’s books to the stage in this musical, about cheery Frog and grouchy Toad and their enduring friendship. Through Jan. 15, Seattle Children’s Theatre, 201 Thomas St., Seattle; $20-$36 (206-441-3322 or

‘Ham for the Holidays’

Peggy Platt and Lisa Koch return with their 11th annual satirical show — this year’s theme is “A Lard Day’s Night.” You can only imagine. Through Dec. 24, Theatre Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave. S., Seattle; $15-$33 (800-838-3006 or

Classical music

Seattle Men’s Chorus

A live swing band backs the chorus and guest Megan Hilty, the Bellevue native who has gone on to star on Broadway and on TV, in today’s performance of “Cool Yule.” All performances in the multi-night series include holiday songs from Christmases past and present. 2 p.m. Sunday (Hilty performance); also, 8 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 18 and 19; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22; and 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 23, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $27-$77 (206-388-1400 or

Russian Chamber Music Foundation

A busy weekend for the foundation: more than 100 young pianists will converge on downtown Seattle on Saturday for the RCMF’s fourth annual Russian Piano Festival/Competition. (One of the prizes is a scholarship to the St. Petersburg Summer Music Program.) On Dec. 4, the RCMF presents pianist Eugene Skovorodnikov in recital in Medina. Festival: 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sherman Clay Piano Store, 1624 Fourth Ave., Seattle. Recital: 3 p.m. Dec. 4, St. Thomas Church, 8398 N.E. 12th St., Medina; $5-$15 (425-829-1345 or


Mark Morris Dance Group

It’s two hot tickets in one, when jazz trio The Bad Plus provides the score for MMDG’s “Violet Cavern,” which dance fans may remember from a 2005 Meany Hall performance. Also on the program: the Seattle premiere of Morris’ “Festival Dance.” 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, The Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle; $25-$82 (877-784-4849 or

Literary events

Lawrence Weschler

The author and cultural critic discusses a new collection of his writings, “Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative.” 7.p.m. Monday, Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free (206-624-6600 or

Rigoberto González

The award-winning author (“Butterfly Boy”) and poet reads from his third collection “Black Blossoms.” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Open Books: A Poem Emporium, 2414 N. 45th St., Seattle; free (206-633-0811 or

Visual arts

‘Ice Stories’

Washington artists Cynthia Camlin, Maria Coryell-Martin and Anna McKee share an interest in polar landscapes and the climate change affecting them (McKee and Coryell-Martin both visited far-north research camps), and explore these issues in paintings and sketches. 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 14, Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle (

Fred Holcomb

The Tacoma native’s landscapes detail the “new normal” of development and nature existing as a single state. What’s distinctive about Holcomb’s places is that the viewer seems to be hurtling past them, rather than observing from a stationary position. Opens Thursday, runs through Dec. 31. 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, Linda Hodges Gallery, 316 First Ave. S., Seattle (206-624-3034 or