Colony Theater—In the mood for a movie starring Johnny Depp as a top-hatted, Victorian-era gentleman, wandering about in a strange land populated by outlandish characters? Believe it or not, tonight you have two choices: the 3-D Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton's latest big-budget visual-effects blowout, which kicked Avatar out of IMAX theaters two weeks ago and, in two dimensions, but with greater depth, Jim Jarmusch's 1995 film Dead Man. Depp stars as a dandyish accountant from Cleveland who, on the promise of a bookkeeping job, emerges from a cross-country train journey into a surreal version of the American West. Gary Farmer gives a career-defining performance as Nobody, a William Blake-quoting Native American who functions as Virgil to Depp's Dante. Many cleverly absurdist (in a word, Jarmuschian) situations and dialogue ensue, all in sparkling black-and-white.
While his early films made Jarmusch an icon among cinephiles, hipsters and hipster cinephiles, Dead Man finds him not quite at the peak of his formidable powers. Or perhaps it's just that the novelty wore off as audiences grew accustomed to his nervy, and influential, deadpan aesthetic. Still, Dead Man is a gem, and mid-to-late-period Jarmusch trumps Tim Burton's hollow pyrotechnics any day. Plus, tickets are only $5. The show starts at 8 p.m. Visit www.therialto.com. —Marc Maximov
Randy Whitt's Celtic Celebration
The Cave—As the head of Randy Whitt and the Grits, Whitt offered upbeat melodies in songs that ventured into the Appalachians and farther west to honky-tonk Texas. His clear, understated vocals kept things unwinding and intimate. Now leading the group Scatterbones, Whitt keeps the melodies but pushes boundaries with the slight menace of British psych. Drums are louder, hypnotic fiddle replaces gentle harmonica and electricity flows through the instruments. Any event on St. Paddy's Day with live music and beer is a Celtic celebration, but maybe there's something special between the Irish and Scottish roots of Appalachian music of Whitt's past and the British rock of his new bag. Maybe he'll even tackle something by The Clancy Brothers. With Penny Prophets at 10 p.m. Check www.caverntavern.com. —Andrew Ritchey