- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Freer Gallery of Art founder Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919) collected paintings of beautiful women as well as amassing his legendary Chinese art holdings. The Gallery’s current Pretty Women: Freer and the Ideal of Feminine Beauty aims to answer an obvious question: Why did Freer, a fastidious bachelor, collect so many female images? The sheer loveliness of these women painted by James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Wilmer Dewing and Abbott Handerson Thayer answers the query. At the Freer Gallery of Art, 12th Street and Independence Avenue SW, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Through Sept. 17. Free. 202/633-1000.

Joanna Shaw-Eagle

A computer-animation farce from a resourceful company called Vanguard, which maintains animation teams in Los Angeles and London, Disney’s Valiant draws on the heroic mythology of World War II in a freshly amusing way, by saluting the contribution of carrier pigeons to the war effort. The title character is an undersized but plucky bird who joins the Royal Homing Pigeon Service and completes basic training just in time to fly a crucial mission to Occupied France on the eve of D-Day. The animators excel at bird characterization and fondly humorous evocations of World War II patriotic sentiment of the “stiff upper beak” sort. A wonderful cast of voices includes Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, Jim Broadbent, Tim Curry, John Hurt, Olivia Williams and Pip Torrens.

Gary Arnold

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