Arts Desk

Don’t Be Bored: Critical Tics

Like any critic, longtime Washington Post book reviewer Jonathan Yardley has his tics: He’s impatient with anything that smacks of postmodern frippery, and he’ll rarely pass on an opportunity to ding feminist academics. But unlike many critics, he’s willing to reconsider past judgments, something he did in his Second Reading column from 2003 to 2010. The majority of those essays are collected in Second Reading, in which he finds new reasons to celebrate classics like Lucky Jim and takes a few whacks at The Catcher in the Rye (a “maladroit, mawkish novel”). But he’s mostly interested in reviving forgotten works such as Margaret Leech’s Civil War history, Reveille in Washington: 1860–1865, which is “required reading for anyone who wants to know what kind of place the nation’s capital really is.” To that end, Yardley’s book is both a fine depository of recommendations and a reminder that the best books aren’t always the best known. (Mark Athitakis) Yardley reads from his book at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose. Free.


Local epic-scaled indie rockers Mittenfields debut their new EP, which has five songs and is really, really loud. We wrote all about it in last week's One Track Mind. With Mean Ideas and The Plums at 8 p.m. at Black Cat Backstage.

If you haven't taken our jazz critic Mike West's advice yet, learn what he knows: That the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra is an "essential force in D.C. jazz." Strong words! 8 p.m. at Bohemian Caverns. $7.


Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a film valuable for its Marilyn Monroe ambience and one or two musical numbers but really nothing else, at sunset at Screen on the Green.

Environment-themed films at 6:30 p.m. Goethe-Institut, including the feature The Age of Stupid. $7.

Debating the greatest movies of the New Hollywood era yields no easy consensus, but in one subcategory—car chases—cinéastes basically fall into two camps: 1971’s The French Connection and 1968’s Bullitt. The former took more guts: Stunt driver Bill Hickman raced after an elevated subway car through the streets of Brooklyn, sans shooting permit. Yet for all of The French Connection’s nervous chaos, for raw grit and kinetic jolt Bullitt’s is the better chase. Here, Steve McQueen’s stoic police lieutenant peels through San Francisco’s hills like he’s ice skating through an Escher drawing: His Mustang always feels like it’s an inch above the ground and driving in any direction but straight. If the nine-minute chase lags, it’s worth it for the concluding explosion—which still teaches moviegoers the true meaning of “burning man.” 7 p.m. at AFI Silver. $11.

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