- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Dirty Pretty Things seems to reacquaint director Stephen Frears with neglected but fascinating sectors of ethnic London. The playwright Hanif Kareshi was his guide to Pakistani immigrants in “My Beautiful Laundrette” in the middle 1980s. Now it’s a fellow Englishman, screenwriter Steven Knight, incongruously better known as one of the “creators” of the “How To Be a Millionaire” quiz show, who has uncovered compelling human-interest material in the struggles of illegal immigrants, a fugitive Nigerian doctor called Okwe and a desperate Turkish maid name Senya. Very sympathetically played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tatou, they share a place of employment, a hotel, for a brief part of each workday. Okwe has also arranged to sleep at Senya’s flat during her shift. The attachment intensifies when they uncover a grisly racket that involves their loathsome boss, Sneaky, a new sinister showcase for Sergi Lopez. The resolution leaves something to be desired, but the filmmakers achieve an effective bond with Okwe and Senya.

The Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art are collaborating on an August retrospective devoted to Warner Bros. movies of the early 1930s. Most of the 18 titles in the series were released in 1932-33, when the studio was rediscovering the potential in topical crime thrillers and musical comedies. The prints reflect recent preservation work under Library of Congress auspices. The free screenings will be held during the next five weekends in the auditorium of the National Gallery’s East Building. The Edward G. Robinson double-bill of Five Star Final and Two Seconds begins the series on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The classic backstage musical 42nd Street plays Sunday at 4 p.m., augmented by a pair of Vitaphone short subjects. An early arrival for Gallery film programs is usually advisable. Constitution Avenue and 4th Street NW. 202/737-4215.

Gary Arnold

Dan Steinhildber’s “Untitled” Ziploc bag filled with colored dish soap kicks off the Numark Gallery’s Transparent group show, an exhibit of five artists combining found objects for works that can be looked through. Among others in “Transparent” are Carter Potter, who uses 70-mm and 35-mm film pulled over stretcher bars; Tony Feher, who creates wall sculptures with glass jars; and Terri Friedman, who pours brilliantly colored acrylics over and through Plexiglas. At Numark, 406 7th St. NW. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The show runs through Aug. 15. Free. 202/628-3810.

Joanna Shaw-Eagle

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