Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The mass audience movie attraction of the weekend is obviously Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, the sixth and probably final chapter of George Lucas’ roundabout science-fiction epic. Almost 30 years later, Mr. Lucas has completed a chronicle that doubles back to the starting point depicted in the original “Star Wars,” released without a clunky subtitle or lofty commercial prospects in 1977. “Revenge” proves a more impressive enough-already stopping point than “Return of the Jedi” in 1983.

The human interest angle hasn’t really been reinforced in the “Star Wars” movies since Yoda made his appearance in Chapter Two, “The Empire Strikes Back.” This deficit needs another kind of cinema, exemplified this weekend by the engaging documentary feature Mad Hot Ballroom, an overheated title that alludes to ballroom dance instruction among fifth-grade pupils in New York City public schools. Director Marilyn Agrelo observes participants at three schools in 2004. A competitive subplot emerges as a belated spectacle: eliminations in a citywide contest between teams of dancers from various schools. This “Rocky” angle seems insignificant compared to the charm and individuality of the children.

— Gary Arnold

Bethesda’s Fraser Gallery brings a new twist to glass art with its current Compelled By Content … The Odyssey That Begins When Technique Has Been Realized. Instead of showing glass inspired by traditional vessel forms, the gallery selected glass art by artists who choose to tell stories. One is Marc Petrovic, who made a pair of birds as metaphors for married couples’ journeys through life. Another is Syl Mathis, who imaged what he calls “daylight dreams” in his spearlike “Beneath the Surface.” At the Fraser Gallery, 7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E, Bethesda. 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays through June 5. Free. 301/718-9651.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

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