BEST OF THIS WEEK

THE BALTIMORE SUN

DVD

THE GOLDEN AGE / / Universal Pictures. Available Tuesday. DVD: $19.98. HD-DVD: $39.98.

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Ten years after first donning that imposing red wig, Cate Blanchett reprises her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age. While the sequel lacks much of the crackling tension and intrigue that made 1997's Elizabeth so successful, Blanchett is no less impressive. Nominated for an Oscar for the role, she exudes intelligence and authority as she commands her court while still conveying a deep sense of regret and isolation in her private life. Narratively underwhelming and visually overpowering, the film, which packs in years of pivotal European history, comes off as a bit of a pageant. Luckily, the queen of this spectacle is pulling her weight and then some.

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[TIM SWIFT]

THEATER

JAPANESE CULTURE / / Shintoku-Maru, 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 1:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Saturday; Kennedy Center Opera House, 2700 F St. N.W., Washington. $15-$35. Up in the Air, 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10; Kennedy Center Family Theater. $18. 202-467-4600 or kennedy-center.org.

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Four-hundred, sixty-seven artists. Seventeen different music, dance and theater performing companies. Five robots. It's all part of JAPAN! culture + hyperculture, a two-week festival opening this week at the Kennedy Center.

The offerings include Shintoku-Maru, a fable of love, incest and revenge that is based on an ancient Japanese Noh play. It will be performed in Japanese without subtitles, but with a detailed plot synopsis read before the performance by actor Alan Rickman.

Running simultaneously in the Family Theater is Up in the Air, about an adventurous frog who gets trapped at the top of a tall tree, where he witnesses the musings of some of his fellow creatures that are also caught in the nook where he seeks refuge.

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[MARY CAROLE MCCAULEY]

CLASSICAL

ALBAN GERHARDT / / 5:30 p.m. today at Shriver Hall, the Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St. $17, $33. 410-516-7164, shriver concerts.org.

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A week after making his Carnegie Hall debut, cellist Alban Gerhardt will perform a meaty program today for the Shriver Hall Concert Series. Gerhardt's career took off after playing a concerto with his hometown orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, at the age of 21. Today, at 38, he continues to earn widespread praise for his rich tone and incisive phrasing.

For his Baltimore recital, Gerhardt and pianist Cecile Licad will perform sonatas by Beethoven and Chopin, as well as Janacek's Pohadka (Fairy Tale).

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[TIM SMITH]

POP MUSIC

ERIC LINDELL / / 7 pm. Tuesday. 8 X 10, 10 E. Cross St. $13. 410-547-7328. Ticketmaster.com

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California blues guitarist Eric Lindell is on tour promoting his latest album, Low on Cash, Rich in Love, his second release for Chicago's Alligator Records. The album is rooted in organic '60s-style R&B;, with shades of funk and blues.

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[RASHOD D. OLLISON]

FILM

AFRICAN CINEMA / / 1-6 p.m. today. Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. Free. 443-573-1700 or artbma.org

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A traveling showcase of African films has set up shop at the BMA this weekend, and today's offerings range from a documentary about rape in wartime to an adaptation of an Ethiopian folk tale.

At 1 p.m., the Cameroon documentary A Love During the War (2005) looks at what happens when rape is used as a weapon, told from the women victims' perspective. At 2:30 p.m., Ethiopia's Menged (2006), adapted from a local folk tale, watches as a father and son head to market and try to heed everyone's advice. At 3:15 p.m., Zimbabwe's Growing Stronger (2005), chronicles two women learning to live with AIDS. The festival wraps with a 4 p.m. showing of Guinea's Clouds Over Conakry (2007), a drama centering on a lovestruck cartoonist chosen as imam of the nation's capital.

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[CHRIS KALTENBACH]

ART

CUBAN DREAMS / / 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; Sunday through Friday by appointment. Sub-Basement Artist Studios, 118 N. Howard St. 410-659-6950 or subbasementartiststudios.com.

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Tony McKissic took a suitcase, a camera and a diary to Cuba and let the island's languid rhythms entrance him. His emotive photographs, taken over the span of several weeks, read like an epic travel poem and capture the vibrancy of the Cuban people.

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[GLENN MCNATT]

TELEVISION

HOUSE / / 10:15 p.m. or after the SuperBowl tonight. WBFF, Channel 45

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Fox's strongest scripted series has been languishing in reruns for weeks now, but it will return tonight in a big way with its cushy post-SuperBowl time slot. Mira Sorvino guest stars as Dr. House's latest patient / riddle, but the twist is that she's in the South Pole and House (Hugh Laurie) and his team are in New Jersey. So the curmudgeonly doctor has to dispense his wisecracks and expertise via a video link. It's up to an unnerved South Pole worker to actually do the brain surgery with a nearby drill.

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[TIM SWIFT]

WASHINGTON

FILM FESTIVAL / / 7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday . National Geographic Live!, Gilbert H. Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M St. N.W., Washington. $16-$20. 202-857-7700

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The Banff Mountain Festival World Tour brings some of the best mountain-themed films in the world to hundreds of cities throughout the world. In one of the tour selections, Ice Mines, Will Gadd undergoes a dangerous adventure while exploring abandoned Swedish mines.

Film subjects include mountaineering, ice and rock climbing, mountain sports and environmental issues. National Geographic and New Balance present this internationally acclaimed event, which is now in its 32nd year.

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[JENNIFER CHOI]

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