Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

AUGUST 25-31

With her tropical-fruit headgear, Portuguese-born, Brazilian-bred singer and movie star Carmen Miranda was the very symbol of camp before camp was invented. But that’s not half her story, and not the focus of director Helena Solberg’s film. A fellow Brazilian, Solberg also narrates this biography, a personal view that treats Miranda and her effect on her homeland with almost religious seriousness. The choice to use a look-alike to re-enact moments from the singer’s life is more confusing than edifying, but once Miranda is settled in Hollywood and more footage is available—like those amazing Busby Berkeley musicals—the film becomes more traditionally linear. Solberg’s detective work is impressive: In addition to Brazilian newsreel footage of near riots surrounding Miranda’s 1939 emigration and her coffin’s return in 1955, Solberg unearths the singer’s first boyfriend, now 90, who shares a treasure trove of photos—each lovingly inscribed. Most startling is Miranda’s last appearance, on The Jimmy Durante Show, where she collapses during a dance number. She died of a heart attack later that night at age 46. At the Biograph, 2819 M St. NW. $6. (202) 333-2696. (Dave Nuttycombe)