OutWrite 2022, art by Joe Feddersen for City Lights
From National Academy of Sciences’ Terrain: Speaking of Home by Joe Feddersen; courtesy of NAS

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Friday through Sunday: OutWrite 2022 Online

Gladys Bentley will kick off D.C.’s 12th annual LGBTQ literary festival on Aug. 5. Though the Harlem Renaissance star and gender outlaw died in 1960, OutWrite 2022 will open with a reading of a stage play focusing on Bentley’s life developed at the University of Maryland. Though lesser known than some of her cohorts, Bentley remains a complicated and illustrious queer icon, recognized for her sexually explicit music, her relationships with White women, and her masculine gender presentation. The play is all drama, but like any good queer story, it’s not short on humor. Harlem’s Badge will run 90 minutes, but the festivities resume Saturday and Sunday with a full slate of events including a discussion on creating chapbooks, a film screening of the documentary Nice Chinese Girls Don’t, on the life and work of Asian American Pacific Islander lesbian writer Kitty Tsui, who will read her work and sit down for a conversation with the doc’s director, Jennifer Abod, after the screening. This year’s fest will pay tribute to the late local poet Essex Hemphill, a Black queer visionary of the ’80s and ’90s. And panels will also discuss LGBTQ true crime, as well as a queer crime fiction, kids lit in response to book bans, and much more. More than 70 LGBTQ poets, novelists, playwrights, and activists will take part in this year’s event. Like the last few years, OutWrite 2022 will remain virtual and free for all to join. OutWrite 2022 runs virtually Aug. 5 through 7. thedccenter.org/outwrite-2022-festival-schedule. Free. —Sarah Marloff 

Saturday: Vertigo at National Gallery of Art

Still from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1954) courtesy Paramount Pictures / Photofest

Horror director Alfred Hitchcock may be problematic, but there’s no debating that he’s one of cinema’s best directors. No other filmmaker can keep audiences teetering on the edges of their seats quite like he does, and certainly not with as much panache. No film better illustrates this than Vertigo. Jimmy Stewart plays Scottie, a detective who retired after a harrowing rooftop chase that instilled him with the titular condition. When an acquaintance asks him to follow his odd-acting wife, Madeline (Kim Novak), Scottie becomes besotted with her. Following her tragic death, he meets a woman (also played by Novak) who reminds him of Madeline, and begins to obsessively re-create her in Madeline’s image. The movie is tightly plotted and the mystery at the center unravels in a satisfying manner, but Vertigo relies on every other aspect of the production just as much as the story to make this a masterwork. Each and every thing you see onscreen has been precisely put there for a reason, inspiring respect for some of the less glamorous jobs in filmmaking. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the pioneering dolly zoom shots are still fresh enough to invoke nausea and unease in today’s audiences. The costuming and makeup are the pinnacle of bygone 1950s glamour, but they’re more than just decoration—they’re critical to the transformation that comprises an extremely sinister makeover montage. The score is a typical great work by composer Bernard Herrmann, and even the opening credits designed by Saul Bass are a work of art. Whether you’re familiar with this classic or not, it’s worth seeing Vertigo on the big screen. The film screens as part of NGA’s Dark Mirrors: The Double in Cinema Series at 2 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Cinema, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. nga.gov. Free, registration required. —Stephanie Rudig

Sunday: Lost Highway at AFI Silver

Still from David Lynch’s Lost Highway

There’s nowhere on the internet to legally stream Lost Highway. Believe me, I’ve looked. It’s not on Prime, HBO, or Netflix. (Yes, I tried the VPN thing.) Its conspicuous absence from the mediasphere is borderline surreal, never mind that the film itself is an ultraviolent meltdown that strips its characters of their identities before dropping them into hell. The best way for you to see this movie is to attend the director-endorsed restoration touring theaters this summer, but I didn’t have that option. I volunteered to write about Lost Highway in advance of its screening at AFI Silver, which meant tracking down a DVD. After finally watching, I had to acknowledge the meta-poetry the universe had foisted upon me by making me find a physical copy of a film whose inciting incident comes in the form of a videotape. When an unhappy couple, played by Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette, discover the tape on their front steps, they pop it into the VCR. They find themselves in the POV of a stranger, someone filming their home, lingering by their door. This is only the first in a series of incidents that begin to unravel their realities. Lost Highway came out in 1997, at a low point in director David Lynch’s career. It flopped on its initial release, pulling a paltry $3.7 million, which is a shame, since it’s probably the most straightforward David Lynch movie. That’s not to say it’s linear or logical—god no. It’s complete gobbledygook. But it is the most straightforwardly Lynchian of the Lynch films, complete with a chopped-and-screwed anti-plot and stocked with his directorial signatures (mystery men, duplicitous blonds, hanging threads, red curtains). Lost Highway is Lynch’s homage to Vertigo (also recommended in City Lights this week!) and The Big Sleep, sure, but above all it’s Lynch’s homage to Lynch. Roger Ebert roasted Lost Highway, giving it two stars and claiming it made him feel “jerked around.” That’s a reasonable reaction to a movie that transports us to and from alternate realities without explanation and kills off characters only to replace them with doppelgängers. Still, with Lynch, the gaps in logic are where the terror seeps in. The victims in slashers may be doomed, but at least they can comprehend their fates. The lost souls in a Lynch film stand to lose far more than their lives. Reality itself is coming undone, like magnetic tape spewing from a cassette. Lynch’s endorsed restoration of Lost Highway, with an exclusive recorded introduction from the director, screens Aug. 5 (7 p.m.), Aug. 6 (3:30 p.m.), Aug. 7 (6:30 p.m.), Aug. 9 (6:30 p.m.), Aug. 10 (6:30 p.m.), and Aug. 11 (6:30 p.m.) at AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. silver.afi.com. $11–$13. —Will Lennon 

Monday: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever at Black Cat

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever; credit: Nick McKinlay

Some of the members of Melbourne, Australia, band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever used drum machines and synthesizers on the demos each created for songs on their latest album, Endless Rooms, while quarantining separately during the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean this tuneful, jangly rock band, formed in 2013, has gone dance-rock or experimental. Tom Russo, one of the band’s three guitarists, tells City Paper via email that the song “‘Dive Deep’ started as a funky computer jam in this way, then when we could finally get together we kind of reverse engineered it into a more typically Blackouts sounding song using our instruments, and put verse-chorus structure into it.” Russo says the band members know there’s a risk of “the crazy stuff” ending up boring or confusing. “We’ve known each other for so long now, we just kind of innately know when something is working and if it’s right for the band, sometimes things are cool but just don’t fit.” Russo says that each of the band’s lyricists did, however, get a bit “wild…and conceptual” with their phrasing on this album. Guitarist Joe White told Stereogum that catchy pop-rocker “The Way it Shatters” has multiple meanings. He says it quotes a Violet Crumble chocolate bar slogan and refers to the varied, individual ways glass can break, and how some White Australians have the luck of growing up in a prosperous situation and want to deny those opportunities to others. Russo notes that the band plans to emphasize live some Endless Rooms songs as well as ones from 2020’s Sideways to New Italy, which also came out after the band’s last US tour. Whether or not one can follow all of the intended meaning of their verbiage, the band’s finest compositions still resonate aesthetically thanks to their timeless meld of chiming instrumental rhythms and yearning vocal choruses. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Aug. 8 at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. blackcatdc.com. $20. —Steve Kiviat

Through Sept. 23: Joe Feddersen at the National Academy of Sciences

Joe Feddersen’s “Omak Lake,” 2019

Exhibiting the artwork of Joe Feddersen, a Native American artist who dwells on indigenous landscapes and symbols, is a bit of a departure for the art exhibition program at the National Academy of Sciences, which has historically focused on such topics as nature, medicine, and astronomy. But if you squint, you can see why Feddersen, a Washington state-based artist of Okanagan and Arrow Lakes ancestry, fits the mold, particularly in his interest in repeated, minimalist geometric patterns and his blending of ancient and modern visual archetypes. (A particularly resonant symbol in Feddersen’s work is the high-voltage power line, a common sight out West and one that can also be interpreted as a human form, as in ancient petroglyphs.) Feddersen works in an impressively broad range of media, from linocuts and spray-painted prints to glass works and linen sculptures. He also experiments with a varied array of styles. One work offers pleasingly simple, stylized, brick-red lines against a reflective silvery backdrop, while in one technically impressive monoprint, Feddersen stacks five distinct layers of imagery on top of one another in the same space. One small linen basket is decorated with rows of human forms topped by eccentric “heads,” ranging from trees and antlers to TV monitors and antennas. And in one linocut, “Cul de sac,” Feddersen produces a simple yet elegant distillation of streets as seen from the air, a mellower version of Piet Mondrian’s bustling “Broadway Boogie Woogie.” The exhibit is on view through Sept. 23 at the National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Ave. NW. cpnas.org. Free. Photo ID and proof of vaccination required. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. —Louis Jacobson