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18

WEDNESDAY

In the documentary that bears his name, Pulitzer Prize-winning Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday states that he was greatly influenced by Franz Kafka. To illustrate the intensity of said inspiration, Momaday quotes Kafka’s line about literary intent: “A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.” Well, I wish the makers of Momaday: Voice of the West had been so impassioned. For if any frigid ocean needed a whacking with a hot buttered tomahawk, it’s this one. The film’s bland puffery is interspersed with Natty Geo shots of canyons and sunsets. Of course it’s all predictably set to toothless Native American flute doodles that are all the more disappointing when you realize that you’re not getting a massage while you listen. In fairness, there are signs of life when Momaday reads from his classic House Made of Dawn, as he describes his protagonists becoming subsumed by urban decay, drowning in firewater. The film screens at 1 p.m. at the Renwick Gallery’s Grand Salon, 17th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (David Dunlap Jr.)