- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Ice Harvest may become a classic in three eccentric categories: perverse Christmas movies, hardboiled crime melodramas and all-time guilty pleasures. Helped by a witty screenplay, Harold Ramis gives himself a humorous new identity as a director while realizing this sardonic revenge fable about the Christmas Eve aftermath of a Wichita, Kan., embezzlement scheme. John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton purloin $2 million from the city’s reigning mobster, Randy Quaid (who has a ferocious cameo in the last act) and can’t make a timely getaway. Oliver Platt gets the rollicking role of his career as a drunken crony and Connie Nielsen reverts to femme fatale status with such authority that the tradition seems to have been invented for her. Be warned that there are some brutal episodes, but the movie also excels at a kind of fairy-tale comic detachment from its own predatory and bloodcurdling aspects.

— Gary Arnold

Inspired by traditional Chinese landscape painting, Chinese-American artist Mei-Ling Hom created her “Floating Mountains, Singing Clouds” installation for the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s entrance pavilion. There she floated some 30 cloud-like wire forms that appear as if propelled by American composer Eli Marshall’s soft Chinese flute music. Composed with chicken wire and carefully lit in the semi-dark space, the forms dip up and down as if to carry visitors to the evanescent imaginary space close to the pavilion’s ceiling. The show is Perspectives: Mei-ling Hom at the Sackler Gallery, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily except Dec. 25. Through March 5. Free. 202/633-1000 or see www.asia.si.edu.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

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