Cheap Thrills

MOON UNITS. It might be a little chilly, but it'll be worth your time to welcome 2003 with a stroll at Valley of the Moon.

Wander and wonder at your leisure through the pathways, caverns, pools and gardens of the magical, outdoor fantasy museum built of rock and, of course, imagination. The site is listed on both the Arizona and National Historic Registers. It delights kids and adults of all ages. Bring everyone but leave the pets at home.

Valley of the Moon opens from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. (They need a new roof on the costume house so they can start having shows again.) It's located at 2544 E. Allen Road, just north of Prince Road and east of Tucson Boulevard. Call 323-1331 for details or to find out about being a volunteer caretaker.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Already rang it in last month? Not the Chinese New Year. It starts this weekend with a variety of rituals.

Celebrate on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Dao's Tai Pan Restaurant, 446 N. Wilmot Road. The fifth annual event--this year, it's the Year of the Sheep--features Lion Dances and Gung-Fu performances by Sil Lum Wing Chun and Hung Gar Gung Fu with Sifu Robert Lopez and the Team. There's plenty of traditional food for sale. Performances start at 11:45 a.m. and go until 2:30 p.m. Admission is free. On Sunday, Feb. 2, there's a repeat of all events at Dao's Hunan's Restaurant located at 4689 E. Speedway Blvd. at Swan Road. Call 722-0055 for information about either festival.

For the kids, stop by the Tucson Children's Museum at 200 S. Sixth Ave. to celebrate. Tucson Chinese School brings back the Lion Dance plus audience singing and the Korean Association offers traditional and classical dance performances. It all takes place on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 1 to 4 p.m. It's free with museum admission: $3.50 for kids, $4.50 for seniors, $5.50 for adults and free for toddlers under 2. Call 792-9985 for more information.

FREE FLICKS AND EVEN SOME POPCORN. There's something about sitting in the dark in an auditorium or screening room that's just not the same as the chain theater's stadium seating, surround-sound and cushioned rockers. First of all, the price is right: free. And secondly, the films are often obscure, old, silent or just plain off the Hollywood barometer in quality.

Every week during the school year, the International Arts Society offers a Friday night film. This week's is Insomnia. Already seen it? I bet you haven't seen the original version that came out of Norway in 1997. In typical noir fashion, the boundary between good and evil grows murky as a top-notch detective travels north to help solve a brutal murder. The midnight sun offers him plenty of daylight (much to his increasing crankiness) to question the morality of his investigation. Believe me, it's more subtle than Christopher Nolan's 2001 re-make. Screening starts at 7:30 p.m. in the UA's Modern Languages Auditorium, just below Second Street near Mountain Avenue. Call 621-3527 for details.

Film Focus on Justice offers video screenings on the first Monday of the month. This week on Feb. 3, it's A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom. The documentary follows the activities of the founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Among other accomplishments, he successfully organized the1963 March on Washington and became the conscience of the labor movement on racial issues. Screening starts at 7 p.m. at El Centro Digna, 842 S. Sixth Ave. at 19th Street. It's free, but donations for the popcorn are appreciated. The series is sponsored by the Southern Arizona Alliance for Economic Justice. Call SAAEJ for details at 622-3561.

Later this week, on Thursday, Feb. 6, the German Film Series offers a fairly new film as part of its weekly screenings. Directed by Franziska Buch in 2001, Emil and the Detectives follows a summer traveler to Berlin. As we might expect, one of Emil's fellow train passengers steals a stash of money he's supposed to deliver to his grandmother. A bevy of Berlin boys helps him catch the thief. The film is a recreation of Erich Kästner's 1950s novels, illuminating post-war Germany's nascent economic miracle. Screening starts at 7:30 p.m., also in the Modern Languages Auditorium. All films are in German with English subtitles. Call the German Department with questions at 621-7385.

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