The cinema in the 1960s was an arena for Czechoslovakian political dissent, where film directors enjoyed a state-supported film industry and increased creative license. Among these visionaries was Vaclav Havel, a gifted playwright who later became the first president of the democratic Czech Republic. The 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and Havel’s presidency coincides with this year’s Czech film series titled The Play’s the Thing, brought to the Malsi Doyle Theatre by the Embassy of the Czech Republic, the National Gallery of Art, and the AU School of Communication.
A boxy glass case containing a colossal, caricatured paper mache sculpture of the Beatles is a startling and intriguing greeting to the display of original cover art that graced Time Covers the 1960s at the National Portrait Gallery.
After entering the grand, marbled National Gallery of Art to escape the day’s drizzle and wind, cold and accompanied by a dripping umbrella, my eyes satisfyingly took in the seminal works of Giotto and Botticelli. Following a crowd of people, I came across one of the featured exhibits in the Founders Room of the West Building and was surprised at the humble, archival display. The display consists of a long, rectangular glass case containing war documents and memorabilia. Yet, as I took a closer look and observed several elderly gentlemen salute the case, I realized its contents spoke of reverence and artistic history.
In 1920s Japan, people suffered life with the Great Depression, poverty, disease, and the Great Kanto Earthquake. Then, Japan plunged into war. How did Japan’s youth survive such a time? So begins one trailer to the pièce de résistance of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s career about a Japanese man with romantic dreams of building beautiful airplanes during a period rife with struggle and conflict. However, such a seemingly morose question is not answered with an equally dark response. True to Miyazaki’s masterful approach to his craft, his final film counters a historically dark time with dazzling visuals of the Japanese urban and rural landscape as well as narrations of profound relationships among people connected through a shared fight for optimism. The Wind Rises is a testament to the beauty that can be found during the bleakest of times.
“Esteemed city institution” and “DuPont’s replacement ritual for church” are among the words of praise for the long-running bookstore and café, Kramerbooks & Afterwords, a D.C. must-see nestled comfortably on the cosmopolitan Connecticut Avenue. A well-oiled machine, the establishment first opened in 1976 and has since been coined as the first bookstore in the country to feature a full bar and an adjacent restaurant.
photo credit: FilmyrI have learned to believe in magic. Not in the form of frivolous card tricks or Houdini-like hoaxes, but through hand-drawn images coming to life. Many do not understand this magic, this immense joy that is animation. “How can I relate to characters who are two-dimensional in form, how can I grasp any tangible emotion?” With all due respect and the credibility of John Lasseter (chief executive officer of Pixar and Walt Disney) to back me up, I beg to differ. No filmmaker has given human life more consideration and provided more parallels to the 3-D reality of our world, than the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.