- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

The Phillips Collection’s Modigliani: Beyond the Myth is appropriately titled: The turn-of-the-20th century rebel artist is sometimes better known for his profligate lifestyle than his great art. The exhibit sets the record straight by showing his innovative sculpted heads, caryatid studies, sensuous nudes and expressive portraits. 1600 21 St. NW. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, Thursday to 8:30 p.m., noon to 7 p.m. Sundays. Through May 29. Adults $14, seniors and students $12; free to members and those 18 and younger. 202/387-2151 or www.phillipscollection.org.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

A banner weekend looms for art-house patrons who can find the time to discover an exceptional trio of movies.

Campbell Scott’s Off the Map plays exclusively at the Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle. This subtle and astute fable of family solidarity and the power of inspiration casts Joan Allen, Sam Elliott and 12-year-old newcomer Valentina de Angelis as the admirably close-knit and resourceful Grodens of northern New Mexico. Their high desert homestead in 1974 becomes a curious source of enchantment while they try to weather the state of depression that afflicts Mr. Elliott as the man of the house.

Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall, a German import at the Landmark E Street Cinema and Loews Georgetown, returns to a baleful chapter of political history: the collapse of the Hitler inner circle, reduced to dire prospects — flight, demoralization, suicide or surrender — as the Soviet Army surrounds Berlin in the final weeks of April 1945. Bruno Ganz is cast as Hitler, whose most bitter recriminations are reserved for the German populace, considered unworthy of his vision.

After an immersion in the Nazi twilight, it may seem especially gratifying to visit contemporary San Francisco in Judy Irving’s The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a winsome documentary feature at the Avalon and E Street. “Wild Parrots” celebrates the emergence of bohemian drifter Mark Bittner as an esteemed amateur birdman, protector and observer of a parrot flock that congregates near his Telegraph Hill cottage during the 1990s. Miss Irving springs a fadeout surprise that really is worth keeping under wraps.

— Gary Arnold

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