Best Of This Week

January 27, 2008

DVD DAMAGES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON -- Sony Pictures. Available Tuesday. DVD: $49.95. Blu-Ray: $79.95.

When FX launched Damages last summer as part of the cable network's push for more prestige dramas, the critics adored the tense law mystery but viewers were lukewarm. Now that FX has granted the show two more seasons, the uninitiated have even more reason catch up with the show's suspenseful first season. In her first starring role in a TV series, Glenn Close commands the screen with her portrayal of the icy litigator Patty Hewes. Cold, calculating and a little bit vulnerable, Hewes is now one of TV's most intriguing characters. Special features include deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes features and audio commentaries on select episodes. [TIM SWIFT]

FILM HAMILTON -- 7 p.m. today. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $5. 301-495-6720 or afi.com/silver.

Local-boy-destined-to-make-good Matthew Porterfield's sublime Hamilton is a work of unchallenged grace, evidence of a sure-handedness in both cinematic style and storytelling technique that far-more-experienced directors wish they could rival.

It's a simple tale, of a young unwed mother in Northeast Baltimore who simply wants to see her son's father before she heads to the Shore for a vacation, reflects both the working-class sensibilities of the community in which it is set and the measured aspirations of the people living there. Its haunting final shot, as the young mother (local actress Stephanie Vizzi) gazes into a future where nothing is certain, lingers long after the movie has ended.

[CHRIS KALTENBACH]

CLASSICAL NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA -- 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest. $25-$80. 800-444-1324, kennedy-center.org.

In one of the must-hear programs of the season, Leonard Slatkin will lead the National Symphony Orchestra in two darkly shaded works by Gustav Mahler that contain some of the composer's most profound thoughts on love and mortality.

Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children), with texts by Friedrich Ruckert, hauntingly expresses the inexpressible. Stellar baritone Thomas Hampson, a sublime Mahler interpreter, will be the soloist. Symphony No. 6, nicknamed the "Tragic," alternates between passionate lyricism (Mahler described one soaring theme as a portrait of his wife) and the troubling breath of lurking death. It all adds up to a gripping experience.

[TIM SMITH]

POP ERIC HUTCHINSON -- 7 p.m. Thursday. Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. $16-$18. 410-244-1131 or ramsheadlive.com.

Two weeks into recording an album for Maverick Records, Eric Hutchinson got news that his label had folded. The album was subsequently canned and the singer-songwriter was bought out of his contract. Undeterred, Hutchinson independently recorded Sounds Like This, a charming romantic pop album that in September made its debut at No.1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. The artist is on tour with OneRepublic, promoting the album.[RASHOD D. OLLISON]

TELEVISION

IN TREATMENT -- 9:30 p.m. tomorrow. HBO.

Gabriel Byrne stars as a psychiatrist in this five-night-a-week drama on HBO. The scheduling and storytelling are unique with Byrne's character meeting a different patient each night - just as a real psychiatrist might meet a patient at the same time on the same day each week.

The ensemble cast includes Dianne Wiest, Melissa George, Blair Underwood and Josh Charles.

The question is whether HBO subscribers will be more interested in this shrink drama than they were in Tell Me You Love Me, which didn't exactly set the world of cable TV on fire when it made its debut on the premium channel last year. [DAVID ZURAWIK]

ART BRONZE AND BOXWOOD -- 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Free. National Gallery of Art, Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest, Washington. 202-737-4215 or nga.gov.

The gracefully elongated curves of Giovanni Bologna's sensual bronze Venuses made him one of 16th-century Italy's most famous sculptors, and they're still a knockout today. The show presents more than 50 diminutive masterpieces by Bologna and his contemporaries from the Robert H. Smith Collection of Renaissance bronzes as well as exquisite boxwood and ivory carvings that reflect an ideal of timeless beauty from the age of Michelangelo.

[GLENN MCNATT]

THEATER

ARGONAUTIKA -- 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays,Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays; 2 p.m., 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through March 15. Shakespeare Theatre, 450 Seventh St. N.W., Washington. $23.50-$79.75. 202-547-1122 or shakespearetheatre.org.

MacArthur Award winner Mary Zimmerman is back in town, doing what she does best. Now, Zimmerman brings her painterly eye and deep love of classical texts to the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts, and their search for the Golden Fleece.

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