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JAN. 22–29

Fine art and elegant architecture can be interesting topics, but it’s hard to compete with tables supported by giant wooden phalluses and chairs topped by carvings of naked women in the most revealing of positions. Catherine the Great may not have ever coupled with a horse—the most persistent myth about the bawdy empress’ life—but she seems to have possessed one of the world’s largest arrays of erotic art and furniture. Though The Lost Secret of Catherine the Great (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23) fails to locate the collection, it does find evidence that it existed. No wonder the movie is the most attention-getting of the previewable entries in this selection from Montreal’s 2004 International Festival of Films on Art. More sedate, but just as interesting, is Kochuu: Japanese Architecture, Influence, and Origin (at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29), which is not quite so sweeping as its title suggests: The documentary principally connects Japanese with modern Scandinavian styles. It’s shown with three other architecture films, including A Constructive Madness: Frank Gehry, which charts the influence of a never-built project on Gehry’s style, and Regular or Super: Views on Mies van der Rohe, which moves from a Mies-designed Canadian gas station to a series of uniformly adulatory perspectives on his work. The opening program includes a study of Marc Chagall that draws heavily on the artist’s own thoughts, Chagall: A la Russie, aux Anes et aux Autres (pictured; at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22). The series opens Saturday, Jan. 22, and runs through Saturday, Jan. 29, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street and Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)