HOW COOL WAS James Dean? Well, he was really cool, but opinions do vary. Some think he was the coolest. Some think that he was only kind of cool but that his '50s mannerisms -- the thick, wet hair, the dangly cig, the squint -- have eroded into kitsch, whereas his rough contemporary Marlon Brando ("Johnny, what're ya rebellin' against?" "Whattaya got?") has stayed cool. Getting himself killed in a Porsche Spyder at 23 was definitely a cool thing for Dean to do from a myth-making and marketing perspective, but kids, don't try it at home. Anyway, you can decide for yourself on the coolness issue as the American Film Institute shows the three key works from Thursday through June 30. The trio are "Rebel Without a Cause," in which the boy essentially invented that phenomenon known as "the teenager," "Giant" and "East of Eden." It sounds cool to us.
-- Stephen Hunter
At AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. For schedule and ticket information, call 301-495-6700 or visit www.afi.com/silver.
AFTER HEARING A TUNE as feverish as "Wish I Didn't Miss You," one could bet that Angie Stone knows a thing or two about sweltering summers. The South Carolina-born singer released the single almost four years ago on her sophomore outing, "Mahogany Soul" -- a collection of neo-soul gems that included "Brotha," her biggest hit to date. But "Wish I Didn't Miss You" burned the hottest of the bunch, sampling the sweaty rim shots and hazy guitar licks of the O'Jays classic "Back Stabbers" to marvelous effect. Stone's exquisite voice hits the track like cool rain on hot pavement as she dives into the lovelorn chorus: "I can't eat, I can't sleep anymore / Waiting for love to walk through the door / I wish I didn't miss you anymore." Even if such sentiments fail to bring a tear to your eye, Stone's outdoor performance at Carter Barron next weekend is sure to put a little sweat on your brow, regardless of the heat index.
-- Chris Richards
At Carter Barron Amphitheatre, 16th Street and Colorado Avenue NW. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. $20. Call 202-397-SEAT or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
THEY CALL IT BOOT CAMP for classical musicians. Every summer for three weeks, gifted young players from across the country descend on the University of Maryland for the National Orchestral Institute, where they are subjected to a rigorous schedule of rehearsals, performances, master classes, seminars and even mock auditions. Best of all, perhaps, they get to make music with world-renowned conductors; already this year, they have worked with Gerard Schwarz, music director of the Seattle Symphony, and Roberto Minczuk, an associate conductor with the New York Philharmonic. This Saturday, in the final NOI performance of the year, David Robertson, who takes the helm of the St. Louis Symphony in September, will lead two early-20th-century masterpieces -- Sibelius's "En Saga" and Stravinsky's "Petrouchka" -- as well as Pierre Boulez's "Notations."
-- Tim Page
At the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park. Saturday night at 8. Tickets are $20; $7 for students. Call 301-405-ARTS or visit www.claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.
SILVER IS A MESMERIZING material, especially in the hands of a modernist designer like Wouter van Baalen. The Dutch contemporary designer is known for precision craftsmanship and a style that is recognizable, at least in the circles of high-end silver design. Vases and candlesticks fit together like pieces of a seamless three-dimensional puzzle. Some zig and zag. Others swirl. The designer is said to enjoy quoting John Ruskin, who said, "Fine art is that in which the hand, the head and the heart of man go together." Van Baalen may not need to quote Ruskin when he lectures at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on Thursday evening. His silver, which was recently on display at the Dutch ambassadorial residence, speaks for itself. Sleek and ultra-reflective, it is worthy of being considered fine art for the table.
-- Linda Hales
At the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. NW. Thursday at 7 p.m. $15 ($12 for members). Call 202-639-1700 or visit www.corcoran.org.
"BUGONIA" IS THE NAME of a work that Wolf Trap has commissioned from Pilobolus and that -- no surprise -- is about a bug. Or rather, a creature that is part plant and part animal and flies on strands of silk suspended above the stage. The work, subtitled "A Biomorphic Fantasy," will have its world premiere Tuesday at the Filene Center. "Monkey and the White Bone Demon," based on a children's story, will open the program, which will include other works that deal with dangling above the stage instead of simply dancing on it. ClancyWorks, run by local choreographer Adrienne Clancy, will perform a free sampling of works on the Old Farmhouse Lawn an hour before the Pilobolus program.
-- Sarah Kaufman
At Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna. Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. $10-$34. Call 703-218-6500 or visit www.wolf-trap.org.