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Artisphere might be going through a financial rough patch, but perhaps its latest group of film screenings can shore things up a bit. The Rosslyn arts center begins a four-week David Lynch retrospective tonight with The Elephant Man, the 1981 biography of a deformed man held captive as the star of a Victorian freak show. The film, one of Lynch’s most linear stories, is ripe with abuse, class warfare, body horror, and strained humanity. Though nominated for eight Academy Awards, best cinematography was not one of the categories, a pity when admiring the eerie gaze of Freddie Francis‘ black-and-white photography. John Hurt may be best remembered for his dying plea before an angry mob—”I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being!”—though Vincent Canby, reviewing the film for The New York Times, credited Hurt most with delivering such a bold performance “under such a heavy mask.” That mask, true to Lynch’s perfectionism, was cast from the remains of the real elephant man, Joseph Merrick.
Screens tonight at 8 p.m. at the Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington. $6. (703) 875-1100.
One of Paul Gauguin‘s detractors made herself known last week. And while City Paper critic Jeffry Cudlin wasn’t entirely convinced by the National Gallery of Art’s “Paul Gauguin: Maker of Myth” exhibit featuring roughly 100 of the artist’s paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, it is still “a welcome opportunity to see Gauguin’s freak flag fly.” More of this side can be seen in the accompanying film Gauguin in Tahiti and the Marquesas, a new 68-minute documentary highlighting Gauguin’s escapes to the South Pacific, the inspiration for many of the works on display including, of course, “Two Tahitian Women.” Expanding on the Willem Dafoe-narrated short playing for the duration of the show, Gauguin in Tahiti and the Marquesas director Richard Dindo burrowed through his subject’s letters and other writings to set that freak flag loose.
A side note, Gauguin in Tahiti and the Marquesas could very well be the last film to screen at the NGA for some time in the event that the federal government shuts down this weekend.
Screens Friday at 2:30 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799.