FRIDAY, AUGUST 22
BUGSY Warren Beatty plays Bugsy Siegel in Barry Levinson's glossy, overrated parable of Las Vegas's creation. (1991, 134 min) (Also Aug. 26-28) 4:20 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
A DANDY IN ASPIC A Russian double agent is assigned to kill his own alter ego in this stylish Cold War puzzler, filmed in London and West Berlin. Star Laurence Harvey finished directing the film after Anthony Mann died during the shoot. 7 pm, Mary Pickford Theater, Library of Congress Madison Building, Third Floor, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free; call 202-707-5677 for reservations.
THE DOOLINS OF OKLAHOMA Beginning with the 1892 massacre of the Dalton gang, this real-life western stars Randolph Scott as a outlaw who tries to settle down. (1949, 90 min) Shown with Deputy Droopy, a Tex Avery Technicolor cartoon. (1955) 7 pm, Films on the Hill, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh Street, SE. $5.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN Although it's another of Spielberg's parentless-kid-in-crisis flicks, this adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel about life in a World War II Japanese internment camp is the director's first grown-up effort. (1987, 154 min) 7 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
TRIANGLE Three of the sharpest action directors still working in Hong Kong — Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, and Johnnie To — each directed a section of this caper, taking the story wherever they felt like going. Adultery, conspiracy, subterfuge, a treasure map, and a wild ride into the New Territories led to a climactic shootout in high grass. Probably not worth considering in depth, but the wild twists, fabulous colors, and nifty world-music score make this as entertaining as, well, a Johnnie To movie. 7 pm, Freer/Sackler Galleries, 12th & Constitution Ave SW. Free; tickets distributed one hour before screening.
PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE Pee Wee Herman's big-screen bow — and also Tim Burton's feature-directing debut — is the beginning of the contemporary won't-grow-up comedy genre. Star Paul Reubens's persona is a lot more distinctive than Jack Black's, though. 10 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
SATURDAY, AUGUST 23
HENSON OPEN CINEMA These three TV programs celebrate the Muppets, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock. (1966-89) (Also Aug. 30 & Sept. 6) 10 am-2 pm, S. Dillon Ripley Center, Room 3111, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW. Free.
BUDDHA COLLAPSED OUT OF SHAME This is another of the Makhmalbaf clan's riffs on unsupervised children and the difficulties of getting an education in Afghanistan. Hana Makhmalbaf's feature debut is not as striking as sister Samira's Blackboards or stepmother Marziyeh Meshkini's Stray Dogs, but it's worthy nonetheless. The title refers to the film's location, the inhabited caves of Bamyan, site of the massive Buddha sculptures that were dynamited by the Taliban. The story follows Baktay, who struggles to buy a notebook and then find her way to the correct tented classroom. (Neighbor Abbas attends a school, but that one's only for boys.) Along the way, Baktay tumbles into over-obvious allegory when she's detained by young boys playing Taliban, who insist that "girls don't go to school!" (2007, 81 min) (Also Aug. 24, 30, & 31) noon, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
MOVING PERSPECTIVES: YANG FUDONG: SEVEN INTELLECTUALS IN THE BAMBOO FOREST, PART 1: VIDEO This video piece offers a contemporary version of a classic Chinese tale. (2003, 30 min) Shown continuously, 1-8 pm, Freer/Sackler Galleries. Free
COMMERCIALS AND EXPERIMENTS This program of shorts by Muppets creator Jim Henson ranges from early experiments to TV commercials. (90 min) 1 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
CLOUDS OVER CONAKRY In contemporary Guinea, political cartoonist BB and his web-designer girlfriend embrace modernity, but BB's father intends for his son to replace him as the keeper of their village's traditions. (2007, 97 min) Sponsored by National Museum of African Art. 2 pm, S. Dillon Ripley Center Lecture Hall, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW. Free.
BENILDE, OR THE VIRGIN MOTHER Adapted from a 1940s play, this tale of a perhaps-virgin pregnancy offered Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira an occasion to tweak religious hypocrisy. (1975, 110 min) 2:30 pm, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
REPETITION This film restages 1971's Stanford Prison Experiment, but the presence of cameras changes the result. (2005, 75 min) Shown with THE BATTLE OF ORGREAVE, a reenactment of a 1984 clash between striking British miners and police and a consideration of how televised images of the strike affected public opinion. (2001, 63 min) 3 & 4:45 pm, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays through Sept. 6, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 7th St & Independence Ave SW. Free.
RYAN'S DAUGHTER Romance and anti-colonial politics clash in David Lean's, picturesque epic, set in Trouble-d 1916 Ireland. Not generally considered one of Lean's, or anybody's, best. (1970, 195 min) 3 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
SUNDAY, AUGUST 24
BILLY ELLIOT It's 1984, and in Britain's coal-mining regions strikers face riot police in brutal showdowns. Billy's father (Gary Lewis) and brother (Jamie Draven) are on strike, and Dad is in no mood to discover that his 11-year-old son (Jamie Bell) has begun spending his boxing-lessons money on ballet instruction instead. Billy's hard-edged but warm-hearted ballet teacher (Julie Walters) is as tough as any miner; she encourages Billy to audition for the Royal Ballet School, but first he'll have to confront his father. Billy actually doesn't look much a ballet dancer; his big numbers owe more to Gene Kelly — or Footloose — than Mikhail Baryshnikov. And while the soundtrack eventually gets to Tchaikovsky, first it rocks through a survey of T. Rex hits; director Stephen Daldry's film esteems sensitivity, but it doesn't really trust highbrow dance and music. Aside from the riot police, there's not much dramatic conflict, yet the film moves so deftly that you may not even notice the slightness of the story. It's a better dancer than Billy. With a lecture by and discussion with former Washington Post film reviewer Desson Thomson. 10 am, Avalon Theater, 5612 Connecticut Ave NW. $15.
THE ART OF PUPPETRY AND STORYTELLING This Muppets shorts program goes behind the felt to show Jim Henson's technique. (1979-89, 120 min) 1 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
RAGTIME Milos Forman's adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel mixes real and imaginary characters to evoke the breadth of the American experience in 1906, with strong performances compensating for the overly schematic tale. (1981, 155 min) 3:30 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
RED DESERT Michelangelo Antonioni's first color film uses the medium brilliantly, although not simply to make pretty pictures. The setting is industrial Ravenna, and the theme is, of course, alienation. Monica Vitti stars as a woman who, estranged from her husband and the very landscape that surrounds her, begins an affair with a man who is, of course, only a temporary solace. (1964, 120 min) 4:30 pm, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
DOG CITY Muppet pooch Rowlf goes film noir in this canine caper. Shown with THE STORYTELLER: THE SOLDIER AND DEATH, a Muppet fable scripted by Anthony Minghella. (1989, 1987; 90 min) 6:30 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING 'Sitter Elizabeth Shue takes her charges into the big bad city in this kiddie version of After Hours. (1987, 102 min) (Also Aug. 26 & 27) 8:30 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
MONDAY, AUGUST 25
KEBAB CONNECTION Co-scripted by Fatih Akin, Anno Saul's hectic comedy concerns the competition between rival Hamburg kebab joints, cult-sensation TV spots, and a makeshift plan to film the first Turko-German kung fu flick. There's also a Romeo and Juliet subplot, which ultimately shifts the movie's themes to growing up and crossing ethnic boundaries. Sort of a mess, but likable. (2004, 96 min) 6:30pm, Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh St NW. $6.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 26
GLASSMAKERS OF HERATThis short documents a tiny Afghan glass workshop that still uses techniques employed 3,000 years ago. (1979, 26 min) Noon, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
LADYBIRD LADYBIRD One of Ken Loach's harshest — and best — films, this is the tale of a single mother of four who doesn't live up to the highest maternal standards. Maggie is always wrangling with social workers, who consider her unfit. They've got a point, but perhaps Maggie's new love will prevent the disaster the film's nursery rhyme title portends. With a main character who's formidably unsympathetic, this drama got only the most cursory release in the U.S., and has rarely been seen since. (1994, 101 min) 7 pm, Mary Pickford Theater, Library of Congress Madison Building, Third Floor, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free; call 202-707-5677 for reservations.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27
CHERYL DUNYE'S SHORT FILMS This program includes The Potluck and the Passion, which uses a lesbian dinner to analyze racial and sexual attitudes. 1 pm, National Museum of Women in the Arts Reservations recommended; email@example.com or 202-783-7370. $5.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 28
BRAKHAGE & VIOLA: VISIONARY WORKS This program includes Stan Brakhage's Window Water Baby Moving and Mothlight, and Bill Viola's Four Songs: Junkyard Levitation, Songs of Innocence, The Space Between the Teeth, and Truth Through Mass Individuation. (1955-76, 75 min) 6 pm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, McEvoy Auditorium, 8th & G Sts NW. Free.
NOWHERE TO HIDE Korean superstar Ahn Sung Ki plays a near-mute villain, chased by a nutty detective in this action comedy. Ahn Sung Ki will appear to discuss the film and his work. (1999, 112 min) 7 pm, Freer/Sackler Galleries, 12th & Constitution Ave SW. Free; tickets distributed one hour before screening.
SWEET 16 Feisty 15-year-old Liam (Martin Compston) has a dream. When his mother Jean (Michelle Coulter) is released from prison, he wants the family to live together again: Jean, Liam, his sister Chantelle (Annmarie Fulton), and her infant son Calum — but not Stan (Gary McCormack), Jean's thuggish drug-dealer boyfriend. Chantelle, who distrusts their mother, doesn't share Liam's fantasy, and there's no guarantee that Jean will either. Yet Liam and his erratic friend Pinball (William Ruane) set out to earn the money for a new family home by dealing heroin. Despite the familiarity of the defeated-working-class milieu, Ken Loach's latest dispatch from working-class Scotland is fresh, smart, funny — and also horrific. Compston, who had never acted before, is remarkable, and not simply because he carries the movie. He also ideally embodies the Loachian everyman, struggling in a world where the most elementary social structures must be reinvented from scratch. 7 pm, Mary Pickford Theater, Library of Congress Madison Building, Third Floor, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free; call 202-707-5677 for reservations.