- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2011

✓ Pick of the pack: “One Life: Ronald Reagan,” National Portrait Gallery

For most modern presidents, running the U.S. is the most interesting item on their resume. But Ronald Reagan led a fascinating life long before he was a deity to conservatives and a demon to liberals. After playing his way through college on a football scholarship, he covered Chicago sports for a radio station in Iowa. He then made his way to Hollywood, where he became a popular B-list actor, a mover and shaker as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and a celebrity pitchman for General Electric. “One Life: Ronald Reagan,” which opened this month, depicts a legacy richer and more interesting than Reagan’s status as political munition.Through May 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F streets Northwest. Phone: 202/633-1000. Web: https://npg.si.edu/exhibit/reagan

Film and discussion: “Project NIM,” Bob Ingersoll

“Project NIM” tells the story of a group of behavioral psychologists at Columbia University who adopted a chimpanzee in its infancy and raised it as if it were a human child. Nim’s caretakers dressed him in human clothes, taught him sign language and gave him many of the freedoms they gave their own children. But as Nim grew into an adolescent, and then an adult chimp, the experiment unraveled. By the time his caretakers abandoned the project, Nim had a signing vocabulary of 120 words, and knew how to smoke a cigarette and eat with utensils, but he was still an animal. He bit people. He broke things that a child would know not to break. After the film shows at E Street on Friday, Bob Ingersoll, who worked with Nim for nine years, will answer questions about the noble but ultimately foolhardy attempt to bridge the biological gulf between us and our closest genetic relative. July 22 at E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. Phone: 202/452-7672. Web: https://landmarktheatres.com

Theater: “Illuminate: A Martial Arts Experience”

Buried in the one-person confessionals and postmodern reinterpretations of classic theater that make the Fringe Festival such a delight (or a drag) for adults are a handful of shows that cater not just to inner children, but actual children. One such show is “Illuminate: A Martial Arts Experience,” and it will delight even the most easily distracted wannabe karate kids. Covered in LEDs and wielding glow-in-the-dark weapons, seven local martial artists perform a show about a wimp who becomes a light-up Daniel-San. The show even has an educational element: The performers demonstrate how to disable a bad guy using only a fluorescent belt. July 24 at the Warehouse Theater, 645 New York Ave. NW. Phone: 866/811-4111. Web: https://capfringe.org

Film: “Apocalypse Now”

One year after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Francis Ford Coppola set up shop in Manila in hopes of distilling the conflict that drove America mad. In the resulting film, Martin Sheen plays an alcoholic special ops officer sent deep into enemy territory to dispatch Col. Kurtz, a renegade special forces officer gone-mad-and-turned-cult-leader played by Marlon Brando. The long, arduous shoot nearly drove Mr. Coppola, his cast and his crew mad as well. July 25 at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Phone: 301/495-6720. Web: https://www.afi.com/silver

Talk/humor: Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg

Europe’s impending debt bomb, America’s lingering unemployment, Borders’ disappearing act: If 2008 was a bad year for the economy, what adjective should we be using to describe 2011? Sometimes it feels like the world is falling around our ears and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. But there is one thing. We can laugh. And who better to help us giggle about our uncertain future than Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg? The reporter-producer pair have made sense of the nonsensical at public radio’s “Planet Money” and “This American Life.” At Sixth and I, they’ll offer a “a practical and humorous field guide to America’s economic future.” July 27 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. Phone: 202/408-3100. Web: https://www.sixthandi.org

Book signing: Jason Zinoman

Are horror movies “great art”? In “Shock Value,” New York Times reporter Jason Zinoman argues that they are, thanks to filmmakers such as Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter and Wes Craven, who expanded the genre — both visually and thematically — beyond schlocky action-adventure roots. How we got from the morally clear “Frankenstein” (1931) to the nihilistic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) — and beyond — is the subject of Mr. Zinoman’s book and his talk. July 28 at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Phone: 202/364-1919. Web: https://www.politics-prose.com

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