BEST OF THIS WEEK

THE BALTIMORE SUN

POP

JAY-Z AND MARY J. BLIGE / / 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. $47.75-$123.75. 410-547-7328 or ticketmaster.com.

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Two Grammy-winning titans of hip-hop -- one a smooth rapper, the other a fiery vocalist -- join forces for the Heart of the City tour. One complements the other: Where Jay-Z's stage demeanor is chilled and aloof, Blige is often explosive and engaging, even when her pitch is terribly off. Both artists released well-received albums last year. This is the biggest urban tour on the road right now.

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[RASHOD D. OLLISON]

WASHINGTON

42ND ANNUAL SMITHSONIAN KITE FESTIVAL / / 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Registration 10 a.m.-noon. Washington Monument, Madison Drive and 15th Street Northwest, Washington. Free. 202-633-3030 or kitefesti val.org.

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The event, titled "Brushstrokes in the Sky," has a Chinese theme this year and features adult and youth competitions, demonstrations by Chinese kitemasters, displays of Chinese kites and kite-making booths.

During the Smithsonian Hot Tricks Showdown, master kite flyers demonstrate trick moves. Teams battle each other in the Rokkaku kite battle, a Japanese activity in which opponents try to bring each other's kites down. Attendees may fly non-competitive kites as well. Children can receive one of 800 free kites -- given on a first-come, first-served basis.

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[JENNIFER CHOI]

TELEVISION

BUSH'S WAR / / 9 p.m. tomorrow and Tuesday. MPT (Channels 22 and 67).

No one in television has done as comprehensive a job of covering the war in Iraq as Frontline on PBS. This week, producer and director Michael Kirk caps Frontline's five years of exemplary coverage with a 4 1 / 2 -hour documentary that dazzles.

The depth and breadth of information is staggering. The narrative of an administration bent on war no matter what the cost is compelling. The Washington-behind-closed-doors imagery is as rich as director Alan J. Pakula's in the feature film All the President's Men.

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[DAVID ZURAWIK]

FILM

THE MARYLAND FILM FESTIVAL'S SPRING FILM SERIES / / 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. $10. Falvey Hall, in the Maryland Institute College of Art's Brown Center, 1301 Mount Royal Ave. 410-752-8083 or mdfilmfest.com

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With just over one month to go before the 10th Maryland Film Festival (set for May 1-4), here's a chance to sample the sorts of films to be offered in that annual celebration of all things cinematic.

On Monday, fans of the classics will want to check out Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, a 1950 film about the vagaries of truth that is justly celebrated as a masterpiece of world cinema.

Tuesday, movie lovers looking for something new and different will want to see Jud Jones and Risto Topaloski's 2007 Film Noir, an animated tale of private eyes and duplicitous clients.

Admission is free to MICA students, faculty and staff, as well as Friends of the Festival.

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[CHRIS KALTENBACH]

DVD

BONNIE AND CLYDE / / (Ultimate Collector's Edition) / / Available Tuesday. Warner Home Video. DVD: $39.98. Blu-Ray: $34.99.

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Bonnie and Clyde, now in a splendid new two-disc edition, gave criminal folklore a makeover that hasn't faded in 41 years. It re-mints the legend of Depression-era bank robbers Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) as a testament to individualistic outlaw style. Like many an American couple, they embrace the romance of the road -- only they do it with guns in their hands, jaunty duds and a bravado that (for a while) can withstand gunfire. Director Arthur Penn sees their humanity and inhumanity whole; no film has alternated tenderness, brutality and humor to more ravaging effect.

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[MICHAEL SRAGOW]

THEATER

KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN / / Through April 20. Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va. $40-$69. 410-547-7328 or signature-theatre.org.

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Signature Theatre kicks off its four-month Kander & Ebb celebration with one of that celebrated songwriting duo's most famous musicals, Kiss of the Spider Woman, based on the novel of the same title by Manuel Puig.

The theater has assembled a troupe of Broadway veterans (Will Chase, Natascia Diaz and Hunter Foster) to tell the story of two persecuted men -- Molina, a homosexual window washer and Valentin, a political prisoner -- who have been thrown into the same cell in Argentina. Valentin initially has little use for Molina, but gradually becomes enmeshed in the elaborate movie narratives that his cellmate weaves to blur the line between fantasy and reality.

Molina fears only one character -- the Spider Woman, whose kiss kills. To further the illusion, designer Adam Koch has created a set that simultaneously resembles both a jail cell and a spider web. The result should be spellbinding.

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[MARY CAROLE MCCAULEY]

CLASSICAL

ROMEO ET JULIETTE / / 8:15 p.m. Saturday (and three more performances through April 6). Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. $46 to $132. 410-727-6000 or baltimoreopera.com.

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The doomed lovers in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet find their singing voices in Charles Gounod's faithful, richly melodic operatic version of the play. Although the composer's Faust may have achieved greater popularity, Romeo et Juliette has never lacked for admirers. The work returns to the Baltimore Opera Company's repertoire this week after an absence of 11 years, with a cast headed by soprano Youngok Shin and tenor Stephen Costello. The production is directed by Bernard Uzan, conducted by Steven White.

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[TIM SMITH]

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