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The End Begins Now: Wizards Go to War in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'

Rather than draw out their long goodbyes in a single sitting, as Peter Jackson’s Hobbits did in his too-long Lord of the Rings finale, Team Harry’s swan song will unfold in two parts, a decision dismissed in some quarters as purely a marketing strategy.
 
Yet even at two-and-a-half hours, the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling’s conclusion to the saga of an orphaned wizard destined to battle a Hitler-like menace, sacrifices some particulars of the author’s story but emerges as the most faithful adaptation in the series. Readers expecting everything plus the kitchen sink – or, in this case, seven magical Horcruxes – should not be disappointed.
 

Mammoth Sugar Castle at the Westin St. Francis

The city is officially getting holiday-ified. Here's another example: The Westin St. Francis is rolling out one of the world's largest sugar castles next Wednesday, constructed by their Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Houdré.  At 12 feet, 30 "rooms" and 1,200 lbs, you can probably get diabetes from just looking at it. Go check it out November 24-January 3, but only if you feel really secure in your gingerbread house-making skills.

The official unveiling takes place on Wednesday at 10 am, accompanied by (free) hot chocolate.

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

The San Francisco Film Society's annual celebration of New Italian Cinema, which closes Sunday with Paolo Virzi's touching drama The First Beautiful Thing, takes center stage at the Embarcadero this weekend, while Harry Potter and his magical minions take the fight to the murderous Lord Voldemort in the first installment of David Yates' Deathly Hallows. Elsewhere:

1. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

Encounters: New Moon Silk Road

Inspired by the fabled Silk Road (the western world’s first connection with east, now symbolizing cross-fertilization of everything from music to spice racks), Ballet Afsaneh spent the past year orchestrating a collaboration with acclaimed local artists from the Central and South Asian diaspora. This impressive year-long exercise culminates in a performance blending dance, music, and text from the historic trade routes of Eurasia.

Local Artist Bill Fontana Unveils Latest Sound Sculpture at SFMOMA

Conceptual? Yes. Intelligent? Yes. Over my head? Yes. Local artist Bill Fontana is an international phenomenon and has been a pioneer of sound art for the past 40 years. Turning what we're accustomed to with visual art on its head, it is not what we see but rather what we hear that is Fontana's body of work. He calls it sculpture, but what you're looking at in his work is only an instrument that generates the desired effect. And this time around, the SFMOMA building itself is the medium for Fontana's latest site-specific sound sculpture.

Ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer Accounts for His Stunning Fall from Grace in 'Client 9'

His downfall plays like Greek tragedy, a flawed hero laid low by hubris. It has inspired Saturday Night Live skits, the 18th-season finale of Law & Order and the hit CBS drama The Good Wife. Now, the story of the former New York governor brought down by his ties to a high-priced prostitution ring is revisited in Alex Gibney’s Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer.
 

Required Reading: Rodes Fishburne

After reporting on the publishing experiments turning up around San Francisco, we asked the city’s writers what they’re reading these days, and they were happy to share. Look for Required Reading every week. 

While living in a remote tent camp in Alaska, Rodes Fishburne was left stranded for 21 days after a severe storm. During that time, the San Francisco author of Going to See the Elephant read War and Peace cover to covertwice. These days, Fishburne tastes are entirely modern and tend toward much shorter reads, some just 140 characters long.

Two Sense: Dating for Dollars

I'm working part-time, going to school and, to be completely honest, occasionally date guys I'm not interested in long-term primarily to get a decent meal or an event invite. I even put a profile up on a dating site known for its moneyed bachelors. A few of my friends are giving me grief for it, but I see dating and even marriage as a kind of transaction and I think people who claim otherwise are kidding themselves. Right?

He Said: I don’t see a moral dilemma here since guys looking at your profile and contacting you will have ample opportunity to make their own decisions. Also, I have a feeling that any guy who dated you would figure out pretty quickly what your game was and either play along or move along. And finally I have to agree with you that dates and marriages are calculated transactions. It’s terribly unromantic, but all of us screen our potential mates by asking: Are they good enough, and am I?

Celebrate Textile Legend Jack Lenor Larsen @ the de Young

Jack Lenor Larsen is a legend in the textiles world. He's  worked with heavy hitters like Frank Lloyd Wright and has had his owns designs featured in museums like the de Young. Also an author, collector and accomplished gardener, his famed LongHouse estate's structures and landscapes, which are infused with his unique and worldly design sensibility, are lovingly chronicled in Molly Chappellet's new book,  Jack Lenor Larsen's LongHouse (Chronicle Books).

Photos: Bruno Mars and Donnis @ Slims

Follow our music photographer, Misha Vladimirskiy, for free music downloads and chances to win show tickets http://twitter.com/mvladimirskiy

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