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Weekend preview: An irreverent star is born at FLIFF

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, as you are no doubt aware, opens Friday night with a splashy Broward Center affair attended by a famous face, Jason Alexander. This being the 29th annual edition of FLIFF, you know the drill.

But among all the earnest filmmaking and appreciative award-giving, FLIFF is always good for a few moments when it goes off-script, exposing a subversive streak of irreverence. (Hit the link for a rundown on FLIFF highlights and recommendations.)

Take, for instance, this year’s recipient of FLIFF’s Star on the Horizon Award, handed out every year to an up-and-coming young talent. Clara Mamet is not the spawn of Nickelodeon.

“I’m a little brash sometimes, a little Mae West-y sometimes,” says Mamet, 20, between puffs on a cigarette. “It’s probably got me into trouble more than it’s helped me, but I’m still alive, so it’s worked out.”

Mamet wrote, directed and stars in her first film, the semiautobiographical “Two Bit Waltz,” which will screen at FLIFF Nov. 22-23, when she’ll be in town to accept her award and do audience Q and As. A darkly humorous look at a suburban 18-year-old’s struggle with writer’s block and looming adulthood amid surreal family dysfunction, “Two Bit Waltz” is the work of an astonishingly assured filmmaker.

The script, too, is a precarious balance of universal teen angst, family psychology and black humor that includes comic references to “The Diary of Anne Frank” and an anti-Semitic slur that rhymes with “bike.”

It may come as no surprise to confirm that she is the daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet, whose powerful prose has fueled “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Speed-the-Plow” and “American Buffalo.”

Mamet may be a young talent on the rise, but she is an old soul: She wrote her script in six months on a manual typewriter given to her by her father.

“I write on a typewriter, like my dad. It’s an Olympia, it’s brown and it types in cursive, which is kind of cool,” says Mamet, letting a puff blow into the phone at her Los Angeles home. “People sometimes tell me, ‘Stop being so self-involved, just write on the f---ing word processor. But it’s very close to my heart. I like that you can’t erase it when you write it down. I like that it’s tangible.”

In “Two Bit Waltz,” the father figure is played by acclaimed actor William H. Macy. “I sent him the script, and said, ‘Please, please, please!,’ ” Mamet says. Mamet’s real mother, Rebecca Pidgeon, plays the distracted mother.

Macy’s character is distant, mostly mute, napping in odd places, his nose always in a book, though he takes little interest in the story his daughter is writing. The first words uttered his way, from his wife, are: “Carl, pay attention.” Mamet calls the role a “loving caricature” of her father.

“He’s a very funny guy, constantly napping, and he reads a lot,” Mamet says. “He’s a good dad. He pays attention. He says things like, ‘You shouldn’t drink so much. Get your life on track.’”

Mamet, a star on ABC’s “The Neighbors,” wrote “Two Bit Waltz” to give herself a starring role. But the experience of directing the film changed her.

Toward the end of “Two Bit Waltz,” Macy's character warms up to his daughters work, and a tender smile momentarily creases his face. It is a small gesture of immense power and catharsis. Director Mamet, watching a replay of the scene, was impressed.

“I remember being by the monitor and being, like, ‘Whoa. OK,’” she says. “I always thought I’d just be an actress, but the more I’m thinking about it, that may not be the case.”

If you go: Clara Mamet will attend a screening of "Two Bit Waltz" at 3 p.m. Nov. 23 at Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale. The event will include live music, champagne and dessert, and a Q&A with Mamet. Info: FLIFF.com.

IMAGE CONSCIOUS
November is a great month for photography in South Florida. On Sunday, the Boca Raton Museum of Art will open “Elliott Erwitt Photographs,” a selection of more than 80 pictures hand-picked by the renowned photographer (he took the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe poised over the New York City subway grate). At 3-6 p.m. Sunday, the museum will have an opening reception for “New York Photographs from the Collection,” which includes the work of Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans, Lewis Hine, Garry Winogrand, Alfred Stieglitz and Berenice Abbott. Info: BocaMuseum.org. Of course, many of those same photographers went on display this week at the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale in the exhibit “American Scene Photography: Martin Z. Margulies Collection.” Info: MOAFL.org. At 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 13), the Palm Beach Photographic Centre (415 Clematis St., West Palm Beach) will have an opening reception for “Seeing Double,” an exhibit of images from the first decade of DOUBLEtruck, the intelligently edited quarterly magazine devoted to news photojournalism. Info: Workshop.org.

DOGS AND DRINKS
The annual outdoor pet-friendly happy hour called Riverwalk Mutts and Martinis returns 6-8:30 p.m. Friday at the Downtowner (10 S New River Drive E., Fort Lauderdale). For a $25 donation, this ninth annual event offers two free drinks, appetizers, live music and a silent auction. Awards will go out in best-dressed and look-alike categories. We think that means the dog, but put on a nice shirt just in case. The event is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale’s beautification efforts, with a dollar from every ticket supporting the Humane Society of Broward County. Info: GoRiverwalk.com.

YOUR WEEKEND BEER
You’ll be running around with your dog on Sunday afternoon anyway, why not do it with other dog people. And with beer. The Funky Buddha Brewery will have some of its finest on hand for Doggy Fun Fest, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at Jaco Pastorius Park (4000 N. Dixie Highway, Oakland Park), an event that includes food trucks, live music, face painting and all manner of dog-oriented activities. A fundraiser hosted by the Rotary Club of Oakland Park and Wilton Manors, admission is a $5 donation. Info: DoggyFunFest.weebly.com.

YOUR WEEKEND BLOCKBUSTER
Christopher Nolan’s reach may exceed his grasp with the epic “Interstellar,” on a South Florida IMAX screen near you this weekend, but that seems to be what makes it so heavenly for Nolanoids and non. Speaking on WLRN Wednesday afternoon, New York magazine critic David Edelstein had a hard time wrapping his hands around it, with adjectives such as “epic” and “mammoth” joining references to John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” and poet Dylan Thomas. In the end, however, he recommends it as a “hugely entertaining” sci-fi adventure “on a scale that even Kubrick would salute.” Info: IMAX.com, Interstellar-Movie.com.

YOUR WEEKEND DRINK
You may remember last year’s History Channel reality show “Hatfields and McCoys: White Lightning,” hosted by Hollywood resident Monsell Darville, a former Bacardi executive who was guiding the feuding families in a business proposition: to create whiskey that would then be marketed. The show stopped, but the whiskey had to go on: The Legendary Hatfield and McCoy Family Brand Whiskey went on shelves last week at ABC Fine Wine and Spirits locations from Key West to Panama City. Info: LegendaryHatfieldAndMcCoy.comABCFWS.com.

DO YOU WANNA DANCE?
The indie-dance duo of Cuci Amador and Tony Smurphio, also known as Afrobeta, have a unique ability to squeeze warmth and romance out of the chill of digital blips and pulsations. Their new remix of “Heat of the Night” (by Miami’s Eons) is a deft intertwining of modern club music and bouncy ‘80s New Wave, just in time for their performance Friday at the Stage (170 NE 38th St., Miami). Admission: $5. Info: 305-576-9577, TheStageMiami.com. World-ranked DJ Paul Van Dyk spins on Saturday, not in his usual South Beach haunts, but at Passion at the Seminole Hard Rock (5701 Seminole Way, Hollywood). Tickets: $20 advance. Info: PassionNightclub.com.

SPEAKING OF THE ‘80s …
The English Beat may be the best ‘80s band you forget about when listing your favorite ‘80s bands. Songs such as “Mirror in the Bathroom," “Save It for Later” and "Too Nice To Talk To" are a must for any best-of-the-decade discussion. The band, including original vocalist and songwriter Dave Wakeling, are working on a new album and may try out new material when they hit the Culture Room (3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale) Friday night. Tickets: $26. Info: CultureRoom.net. On Saturday at Revolution Live (100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale), the Molly Ringwalds, the pride of Sheffield, England, will continue to wring new memories out of the ‘80s with spot-on interpretations of classic songs. Tickets: $18, $20, JoinTheRevolution.net.

BLINDED BY SCIENCE
The next installment of Science on Tap, the science-café gathering sponsored by the South Florida Science Center each month at O’Shea’s Irish Pub in West Palm Beach, will be 7 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 13), with the theme “GMOs Exposed.” Led by licensed dietician Michelle Parenti Lewis (she’s got degrees from FIU and the University of Alabama), the between-sips talk explore the genetically modified organisms in our food and their potentially harmful effects. One of the more interesting revelations will be that one of O’Shea’s Irish Car Bombs (just $3 during Science on Tap) will kill any GMO in a radius of 17 feet from the food on your plate. Science is awesome. Admission is free. Info: SFScienceCenter.org.

OOMPA LOOMPA DOOM-PA-DEE-DO
Who can take a rainbow, wrap it in a sigh, soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie? Les Claypool can. As creepy and twisted as it is, the prevailing emotion that shines through on the album “Primus & the Chocolate Factory, with the Fungi Ensemble,” is the joy and sincerity that compelled original members Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim "Herb" Alexander to reunite for their first album in 20 years to pay homage to the 1971 Gene Wilder film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." In a press blurb about the album and tour based on the music, Claypool said songs such as “Candy Man,” “Golden Ticket,” “Pure Imagination,” “Oompa Augustus” and “I Want it Now” were “very influential” on his evolving young musical mind. The visual potential of these songs also should make for a magical evening at the Fillmore Miami Beach on Tuesday. Tickets: $39.50-$62.50. Info: 305-673-7300, FillmoreMB.com.

FEED YOUR INNER FIRE
When you are driven insane by popular music, or just the sound of everyday life, the perfect antidote is an evening with Seraphic Fire, the young Miami-based chorale ensemble whose lustrous vocals have earned them two Grammy nominations and fans far beyond South Florida. On Saturday at 8 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church (333 Tarpon Drive, Fort Lauderdale), Seraphic Fire will perform Vivaldi's masterpiece, “Gloria,” accompanied by the Sebastians, a New York-based period orchestra praised by the New York Times for its “youthful, vigorous” performances. Go, and be revitalized. Tickets: $55. Info: SeraphicFire.org. If you are younger than 30, as you peruse the season schedule on the website, know that Seraphic Fire will give you a free ticket (subject to availability) if you call them a week prior to the performance at 305-285-9060.

MORE SPIRITUAL MUSIC
Hard to imagine a scene with the potential for more sweaty passion than Matisyahu’s outdoor show at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The onetime Orthodox Jew and reggae toastmaster has been on a new spiritual journey, reflected on the June release “Akeda” (“binding” in Hebrew), since his symbolic shaving of his signature beard in 2011. Fan favorites such as “King Without a Crown” and “One Day” will get the crowd going, but new songs such as “Reservoir,” “Hard Way” and “Champion” are powerful signals for where the singer is going. Tickets: $35. Info: Ticketmaster.com, MatisyahuWorld.com.

TORTUGA REMINDER
Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday for Rock the Ocean’s third annual Tortuga Music Festival, the two-day party dedicated to live music and ocean-life conservation April 11-12 on Fort Lauderdale beach. The early-bird tickets cost $139 for a two-day pass ($579 for two-day VIP and $979 for Super VIP), available at TortugaMusicFestival.com and by calling 877-987-6487. No performers have been named yet, but organizers are confident the headliners will match those of previous years: Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and Eric Church.

A POPE VISIT
The road from West Palm Beach indie-rock pixie to country-music star continues for Cassadee Pope, a sparkly red-carpet presence at the CMA Awards on Wednesday. Pope, who’s made out better than most winners of “The Voice” (the single “Wasting All These Years” went platinum, and the album “Frame by Frame” cracked the Billboard Top 10) will perform Sunday at the Broward Center on a “Stars & Guitars” bill with Hunter Hayes, Chris Young, Kip Moore and "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery. Tickets: $25, $85. Info: BrowardCenter.org.

NO 'PORNO' FOR YOU
The idea that a show titled “Green Porno,” in which art-house doyenne Isabella Rossellini parses and pantomimes the kinky and confusing sex lives of marine life and insects, with the possibility of an examination of dolphin blowhole sex, would not sell enough seats in South Beach is disappointing. The failure is ours. Rossellini has canceled her Nov. 15 show at the Fillmore Miami Beach. Refunds available at point of purchase. Info: FillmoreMB.com.

Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at SouthFlorida.com, on Twitter at @BenCrandell and Instagram /BenCrandell. Email: bcrandell@southflorida.com.

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