- - Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pick of the Pack

Film: ‘Here Without Me’

It’s tough to beat Paul Newman directing John Malkovich through a script by Tennessee Williams. But someone — or rather, something — did: time. In 1945, the story of an abrasive and plotting mother trying to arrange a marriage for her agoraphobic daughter, much to the irritation of her film-obsessed blue-collar son, was provocative. By 1987, the year the film adaptation of “The Glass Menagerie” was released, the plot seemed archaic. Now, in 2012, it’s all but incomprehensible. At least, incomprehensible for Americans. Enter “Here Without Me,” the latest adaptation of Williams’ famous play. Set in contemporary Iran, the film’s post-war America motifs take on new meaning, as Iran continues to infantilize its women and discourage its men from experiencing Western culture. Immediacy and relevance make “Here Without Me” a much bolder and better film than Newman’s storied adaptation.

Feb. 17 at Freer and Sackler, 1200 Jefferson Drive SW

Phone: 202/633-1000

Web: www.asia.si.edu

Author reading: Tony Horwitz

The biographies of Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee are familiar to most Americans (perhaps one more than the other, depending on where one attended primary school). Lesser known is the biography of the man who made Lee and Lincoln famous. John Brown’s attack on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, W. Va., which he waged under cover of night in order to arm his team of abolitionists, was squashed by Lee and set the stage for Lincoln’s election. Historical journalist Tony Horwitz — author of “Confederates in the Attic” and “A Voyage Long and Strange” — digs deeper into Brown’s life, liberating him from his role as the match that set the country on fire and giving him dreams, aspirations and a fully fleshed-out psychological profile.

Feb. 19 at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Phone: 888/639-7386

Web: www.newseum.org

Film: ‘Say Anything’

America has a fever, and the only cure is more Ryan Gosling. The shaggy blond, who most recently appeared in “Drive” and “The Ides of March,” had his first big role as Noah in “The Notebook,” a sappy adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ even sappier novel about a poor boy who falls in love with a rich girl right before she leaves for college. Rumor has it that every person who’s ever watched the movie has cried like a newborn babe. The film’s unabashed sentimentalism would have been anathema to Lloyd Dobler, the protagonist of 1989’s “Say Anything.” Played by John Cusack, Dobler, like Noah, is also from the wrong side of the tracks (though his biggest problem is a lack of ambition, not money). Like Noah, Dobler also falls in love with a smart woman destined for college. The similarities end there, however. For while Noah is a knight in shining armor who’s mature beyond his years, Dobler is a cynical, and much more relatable, teenage boy.

Feb. 18 at E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW

Phone: 202/452-7672

Web: www.landmarktheatres.com

Theater: ‘Astro Boy and the God of Comics’

America’s comic heroes in the ‘50s and ‘60s were muscle-bound, masked crime fighters. In Japan, it was a small robotic boy with big eyes and a wild pompadour named Astro Boy. Osamu Tezuka’s happy-go-lucky problem solver foreshadowed not just the country’s impending technological boom, but also set the course for decades of Japanese comic book — or “manga” — artists. At Studio Theater, Georgetown professor Natsu Onoda Power’s work will explore Astro Boy’s legacy — “an embodiment of a peaceful use of nuclear energy,” according Ms. Power — as well as that of his creator, Tezuka, the “Walt Disney of Japan.”

Through March 11 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW

Phone: 202/332-3300

Web: www.studiotheatre.org

Festival: Pearl Dive Oyster Palace Crawfish Boil

If you’ve never done it before, the trick to eating crawfish is to not think about it. The fresh-water crustacean is not served the way shrimp and lobster often are, already separated from their husks and legs before they reach the table. No, crawfish arrive on your plate looking very close to alive (mostly because they likely were alive not too long ago), complete with eyes, antennae, limbs and all the rest. Don’t let their appearance scare you off. Crawfish are a Southern staple for good reason. They are delicious and fun to eat. At Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, you can eat as many as you like — along with suckling pig and corn bread — for $60.

Feb. 20 at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, 1612 14th St. NW

Phone: 202/319-1612

Web: www.pearldivedc.com