Arts and Culture

Russian, American and French ballet dancers are gathering Thursday night for a bit of cultural diplomacy at New York City's Lincoln Center. They're celebrating the 50th anniversary of George Balanchine's masterpiece Jewels, considered the first full-length, nonnarrative ballet.

Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan's enveloping and prismatic World War II movie, is the prequel — historically speaking — to Battle of Britain. That film, a jolly, G-rated celebration of British pluck from 1969, features an all-star cast, some of whom still show up in Nolan movies to this day. It made the deadliest conflict in human history seem about as scary as a V-E Day Parade.

Although Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is visually overstuffed and sometimes cloaked in darkness, one thing is easy to see: how its principal setting, the sprawling space-station Alpha, parallels writer-director Luc Besson's utopian filmmaking vision.

It's pink and fleshy, it's a giant mass of tentacles and it's just crash-landed in Mexico from outer space. What should humankind do with such a marvel?

How about The Nasty?

Among the four stars of Girls Trip — the third and funniest summer comedy about hard-partying women in trouble, following Snatched and Rough Night — Tiffany Haddish is the least well-known, having bounced around in minor roles on film and television before landing a spot as a series regular on The Carmichael Show. All that stands to change overnight. As Dina, a pleasure-seeker of unapologetic, bull-in-a-china-shop relentlessness, Haddish is so incandescently filthy that a new ratings system should be developed to accommodate her.

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A year-long getaway to a Greek island; a week by the sea at an arts colony. Fantasies of escape are the common premise of two new comic novels, both smart and sprightly in style, and both informed by a sad wisdom that echoes John Milton's lines in Paradise Lost: that we carry "troubl'd thoughts" and "hell within [us]`" wherever we go.

Do you deserve your pets? Do you deserve your people? Nicole Georges suggests in her new graphic novel that the two questions are intimately related, and she leaves little doubt it's the first one that really matters. If you're a true pet person, you've known the agony of encountering someone who – whether ignorant, emotionally unavailable or just plain flaky – should not be in charge of animals: The dog walker who leaves his companion to wait in the cold while he plays scratchoffs in a liquor store; the kitten adopter who talks blithely of declawing.

When Bao Phi's family fled Vietnam in 1975 and settled in Minneapolis with other refugees, he was just a few months old. He was too young to understand the scene at the airport that day: Communist soldiers were firing rockets at planes filled with people trying to escape, incinerating them in the sky. Phi's parent's told him about their family history bit by bit, and he began to form a stronger sense of his own identity.

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