- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2004

The National Gallery of Art’s American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection showcases the big names of American 19th-and 20th century art: Fitz Hugh Lane, George Caleb Bingham, Frederick Edwin Church, Thomas Eakins, Eastman Johnson, Andrew Wyeth and John Marin, among many others. The show celebrates Mr. Wilmerding’s gift of his collection to the National Gallery. Currently a professor of art at Princeton University and once deputy director of the gallery, he began collecting art by purchasing a Fitz Hugh Lane marine painting while he was still a Harvard College student. He continued to collect Lane works throughout his life. Also included in the exhibit is George Caleb Bingham’s “Mississippi Boatman,” the first Bingham painting to become part of the gallery’s collection. National Gallery, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 10. Free. 202/737-4215.

—Joanna Shaw-Eagle

The Twilight Samurai, a gem opening tomorrow at the Landmark E Street Cinema, took the 2003 edition of the Japanese movie industry’s Academy Awards by storm, winning in 12 categories, including best picture, director, actor and actress. It was shortchanged by Hollywood: nominated as best foreign language film but outpolled by the Canadian entry, “The Barbarian Invasions.” Now it’s clear that the Oscar membership missed a bet, since “Twilight Samurai” turns out to be a rejuvenating classic. A wonderfully eccentric variation on samurai lore, it celebrates an impoverished specimen of the warrior class, Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada), a widower with two young daughters, a senile mother and crushing debts. The setting is a Northeastern province in the middle 1860s, shortly before the Meiji Restoration. Events conspire to bring Iguchi out of hiding as both a superior swordsman and an eligible suitor. The director, Yoji Yamada, thrives on the humor and the enormous underdog appeal in Iguchi’s deliverance from inertia. 555 11th St. NW. Call for times and prices. 202/452-7672.

— Gary Arnold

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