* MOVIES: Now that all the big holiday movies have been released, this is a good time to catch up with some of the smaller films still playing, such as “The Whole Wide World” (Edwards University, Irvine), a fascinating account of the strange love affair between reclusive pulp writer Robert E. Howard (Vincent D’Onofrio), creator of Conan the Barbarian, and teacher Novalyne Price (Renee Zellweger). . . . In animation, there’s life beyond Disney. There’s even life beyond “Space Jam” and “Beavis and Butt-head Do America.” “Spike & Mike’s 1997 Festival of Animation” is in town with 13 short films from seven countries. There’s the usual assortment of new entries and old favorites (including an award-winning Wallace & Gromit film, “A Close Shave”). Spike and Mike’s festival plays at the Edwards Mesa Cinema in Costa Mesa with the “Sick & Twisted Festival” (18 and older only). . . . Then there’s Nick Cassavetes’ warm, engaging “Unhook the Stars” (at the Los Feliz in Los Angeles), starring his mother, Gena Rowlands, as a beautiful widow who strikes up a friendship with a little neighbor boy, only to come to a sense that life is passing her by. . . . The UCLA Film Archive is launching “The Art of Kenji Mizoguchi,” a 20-film retrospective of the Japanese master, Saturday at the Melnitz Theater on campus. . . . In Hollywood, the American Cinematheque’s “New Films From Germany” continues tonight at 7 with Gordian Maugg’s unpredictable satire “The Caucasian Night.” . . . Cecil B. DeMille’s sophisticated, delightful “The Affairs of Anatol” (1921) with Wallace Reid, Gloria Swanson and Bebe Daniels, is being shown tonight at 8 in Hollywood, at the Silent Movie.
* MUSIC: The San Francisco-based Sausalito String Quartet will play works by Mozart, Beethoven and Smetana on Sunday at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton. The program will include Mozart’s Quartet in G, K. 387; Beethoven’s Quartet No. 11 in F minor (“Serioso”); and Smetana’s Quartet No. 1 (“From My Life”). The free concert is sponsored by the Fullerton Friends of Music. . . . Fearless Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen is playing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen tonight and Saturday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death. Tickets are $8 to $60. . . . William Kanengiser of the L.A. Guitar Quartet sits in with the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra, directed by Lucinda Carver, for two Vivaldi concertos Saturday night at the Wilshire-Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. The program also includes the L.A. premiere of a Concerto Grosso for Strings by Maria Newman, the Mozart Orchestra’s composer-in-residence. . . . The Wiltern Theatre’s Art Deco lobby in Los Angeles will be part of the show on Sunday when pianist Lincoln Mayorga presents “Gershwin and Friends” there at 1:30 and 3 p.m.
* ART: Opening today (through Feb. 13) in the Irvine Fine Arts Center’s newly refurbished galleries, “The Intangible Landscape” presents paintings by Roberta Eisenberg and Gail Roberts. . . . Private and public dealers from across the country will exhibit and sell original works of art on paper at this weekend’s “Art on Paper Fair L.A. ’97.” It opens tonight at the Butterfield and Butterfield building on Sunset in Hollywood.
* POP: Dick Dale, the Surfaris, the Chantays and others star in a nine-hour surf-rock benefit for Ted Feland, a member of Dale’s road crew who was injured last fall in a swimming accident. They’ll play Sunday at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana. (Story, F1.)
* JAZZ: Piano sophisticates Billy Taylor and Ramsey Lewis team up tonight at the Alex Theatre in Glendale and again Sunday, courtesy of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, at Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton. . . . It’s a big weekend at Steamers Cafe in Fullerton as Italian-born drummer Andrea Marcelli leads a combo with talented saxophonist Doug Webb tonight. On Saturday, internationally recognized alto saxophonist Charles McPherson comes in. . . . Saxophonist Tommy Newsom and drummer Jake Hanna are part of the six-piece band Swing Fever, which appears Sunday afternoon at the Robert B. Moore Theatre on the Orange Coast College campus in Costa Mesa. . . . Another piano virtuoso, Kenny Barron, from New York, continues through Sunday at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood.
* THEATER: Orange County offers a big weekend for theater openings: In Costa Mesa, David Henry Hwang’s new play, “Golden Child,” has its West Coast premiere at South Coast Repertory, which commissioned it. “Golden Child” tells the multi-generational story of a Chinese family and its conversion to Christianity. . . . In Laguna Beach, Marc Camoletti’s “Don’t Dress for Dinner” opens in a revival at the Laguna Playhouse’s Moulton Theater. Camoletti’s play is a French bedroom farce set on a country estate. . . . Theatre Kana of Poland is presenting a riveting one-man show adaptation of Venedict Erofeyev’s Russian novel “Moscow--Petushki,” at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in West Los Angeles. Jacek Zawadzki is memorable as a man articulating his grief through an alcoholic haze. Performances in English tonight and next Friday.
* FAMILIES: Top-notch singer-songwriter Jim Rule presents “Let It Shine,” a concert of comic and telling songs about childhood and parenting, Saturday morning at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. . . . “Fred Garbo Inflatable Theatre Co. With Daielma Santos” offers offbeat comedy, juggling, dance and slapstick plus the company’s trademark inflatable costumes in all shapes and sizes. There’ll be two Saturday matinees at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre in Malibu. . . . L.A.'s Kinnara Taiko group will mix the rhythms of Japanese drums and other percussion sounds with movement, mime and flute for a Saturday matinee at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State Los Angeles.
* DANCE: Batista and Maruja Belmonte, Yolanda Arroyo, Cecilia Romero, Juan Talavera and others combine their talents in a program exploring “The Enchantment of Spain” through dance, music and poetry tonight and Saturday at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.
* CABARET: “The Sophie Tucker Songbook,” featuring Sharon McNight’s tour-de-force performance as “the last of the red-hot mamas,” is a must-see at the Cinegrill at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, through Jan. 26.