- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Divine and Human: Women in Ancient Mexico and Peru is a drop-dead-beautiful exhibition of women in the pre-Columbian years. Through some 400 ceramics, sculptures and textiles, females are shown as powerful mothers, daughters, goddesses, priestesses, artists and poets as well as procreators of life. 1250 New York Ave. NW. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. $8 adults, $6 students and visitors over 60, free for members. 202/783-5000 or nmwa.org.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

Ask the Dust streamlines a novel of the 1930s that has gotten under the skin of numerous aspiring filmmakers over the years. Robert Towne, who became acquainted with the late author, John Fante, while he was researching “Chinatown” in the early 1970s, has finally realized a movie version, although it obliged him to shoot near Capetown, South Africa, while simulating long-lost locations in downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach, circa 1933. A variation on “Camille” set among Depression era ethnics, the movie also restores glamour and vibrancy to Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek, cast as star-crossed lovers named Arturo Bandini and Camilla Lopez. They meet and initially clash in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles while he is struggling to publish short stories and she works as a waitress. His vanity and defensiveness are the principal obstacles to contentment, eventually hostage to premature death. A seductive labor of love, the movie evokes a romantic ardor and tenderness that are irresistibly unfashionable.

— Gary Arnold

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