- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2007

Folk art is associated with the quaint farm scenes created by Grandma Moses. A newly opened exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum gets you to rethink the genre through the vibrant, offbeat landscapes painted by artist Earl Cunningham (1893-1977). This outsider artist, who lived in Maine before moving to St. Augustine, Fla., in 1949, was a masterful colorist who applied a bright, fauvist palette to waterfront scenes based on his own experiences as a harbor pilot and a coastal traveler. His depictions of parceled peninsulas, meandering coves and shadowy swamplands blend elements from Yankee and sub-tropical locales, often on the same canvas. In some of these works, clapboard houses and brick lighthouses share space with flamingos and Seminole Indians. The 50 paintings in the marvelous exhibition, Earl Cunningham’s America, fully reveal the artist’s range in envisioning an exotic-colored world full of bygone charm. Eighth and F streets Northwest. 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Through Nov. 4. Free. 202/633-1000.

Deborah K. Dietsch

France is the most entertaining cinematic destination this weekend, when more than a dozen movies will be competing to attract some attention before the end of the summer season. Moliere, a biographical romantic comedy about the great 17th century playwright, appears to be the belated French response to “Shakespeare in Love.” Mr. Bean’s Holiday, in some respects a homage to Jacques Tati’s famous “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday” of 54 years earlier, finds Rowan Atkinson reviving his freakish, bungling English character while traveling haphazardly toward a vacation on the Riviera. And 2 Days in Paris remains in the city as Julie Delpy, who also wrote and directed, tries to finesse a weekend visit to her parents while accompanied by American consort Adam Goldberg.

Bean’s frenzied character doesn’t really resemble Hulot, but the film carries him from Cannes Festival theater to beach, underscored by Charles Trenet’s “La Mer.” Miss Delpy and Mr. Goldberg evoke Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, and Mr. Goldberg’s sense of being besieged by French speakers emerges as a distinctive comic irritant.

Gary Arnold



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