USA v. Al-Arian
Screen Society, Duke Campus—The realities of the PATRIOT Act-era in the United States are brought to bear in USA vs. Al-Arian, an intimate documentary by Norwegian director Line Halvorsen. We meet Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian refugee, university professor and civil rights activist who spent 30 years living in the U.S. before being arrested in 2003 and charged with collaborating with a terrorist organization. The film follows his six-month trial, particularly the strain endured by him and his family (including his son, Abdullah, a 2002 Duke University graduate). Despite the fact that the government failed to convict Al-Arian at trial and later agreed to a plea bargain that called for Al-Arian's deportation, Al-Arian remains in U.S. custody, currently housed in the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., due to the professor's latest hunger strike. —Neil Morris
Attending tonight's screening, which takes place in Duke's Bryan Center beginning at 8 p.m., will be Halvorsen and Peter Erlinder, Al-Arian's current attorney; both will participate in a post-screening Q&A session.
Downtown Event Center—From '70s punk on, Los Angeles' rock music has long roiled in change and reinterpretation. Los Angeles' current defining music scene mingles its outside visual artists and hardcore's ghost. Reared under the auspices of the now-storied art-rock camp The Smell, Health share the focus-amid-noise mindset that HQ's best-known export, No Age, embodies.
But while Health wants to sound tribal here or render pure squalls of noise there, it tends to keep some melody buried underneath, in vocal tones that lean more toward pop than aggro. The layout of a song like "Crimewave" finds the band turning corners on a dime. Just when you think you're listening to a Birthday Party outtake, it peels out into another mode altogether. The guitars squeal, then full stop into a quick drum barrage announcing an industrial bent. Health's smearing style is all over the place, but finds a band still tinkering with its abilities. But the band's kinship and split seven-inch with another L.A. band, Crystal Castles, the 8-bit electro duo, shows Health isn't just sitting around The Smell bonfire trying to find its animal spirit; it's savvy to electronics and dance music, and if changing its game constantly is its thing, then the remix only makes sense, especially in L.A. With Mount Weather and Savage Knights at 8 p.m. —Chris Toenes
The Felice Brothers
The Berkeley Cafe—The Americana darlings of the British music press, The Felice Brothers is a teenager named Christmas and the eldest three brothers from a Catskill Mountains gaggle of seven. Its self-titled second record, released earlier this month on Conor Oberst's Team Love imprint, is more great promise than masterful fulfillment, thought that's not to say nothing is delivered: Perhaps most impressive is its understanding of the murk and concomitant mood in the work of The Band, evidenced by creaking acccordions, whimsical layers and elliptical rhythms. The Felices don't have a Levon or Richard, but songs like "Frankie's Gun!" (which could be the "Hey Ya!" of '08, in a weird world) and "Don't Wake the Scarecrow" mean it may have an accumulated Robbie. With Justin Townes Earle and McCarthy Trenching. The 8 p.m. show costs $10-$12. —Grayson Currin