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  • March 18, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    The Belmont World Film series continues its must-see programming with a screening of Vittorio and Paolo Taviani's compelling and brilliant Caesar Must Die (2012), a quasi documentary about hardened inmates in a Roman prison who are putting together a production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The film works on several levels: as a version of the play, as an account of how the play was staged, and as a reflection of the lives of the inmates in the cast.

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  • March 17, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    This Is Spinal Tap (1984) is tomorrow tonight's Science on Screen featured film, and following the screening, the painful medical procedure of the title will be demonstrated on some lucky member of the audience. ...Well, maybe some other time. Instead, Christopher Shera, a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, will discuss the film and its relationship to studies about how the ear amplifies, analyzes, and transmits sound.

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  • March 16, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    The last awards ceremony of the year may well be the best, and not just because Phoenix film editor Peter Keough is one of the presenters. For the 19th year, the Chlotrudis Society will present awards to the best of the year's offbeat, obscure, and independent films in a program notable for its puckish humor and musical ingenuity - just try writing a song with the name of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul in the lyrics.

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  • March 15, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Her Zero Dark Thirty got robbed at the Oscars, but you can console yourself by watching some of Kathryn Bigelow's earlier films in this triple feature at ArtsEmerson. It includes Blue Steel (1989; 1 pm), in which Jamie Lee Curtis crushed Hollywood female stereotypes playing a cop out to get a serial killer; Point Break (1991; 6 pm), a genre-scrambling thriller in which Keanu Reeves is cast against type as an FBI agent who infiltrates a gang of surfing bank robbers; and The Weight of Water (2000; 9 pm), an adaptation of the Anita Shreve novel, in which the lives of those investigating a century-old murder intermingle with those of the people being researched.

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  • March 14, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Compare any of today's so-called romantic comedies with the elegant confections of Ernst Lubitsch from eight decades ago and you'll probably get depressed. So just forget about them and enjoy the offerings in the Brattle Theatre retrospective series The Lubitsch Touch. It starts tomorrow tonight with Ninotchka (1939), in which Greta Garbo plays a Soviet commissar whose party-line propriety is shattered when she visits Paris on assignment and falls for the couture and the charms of a class enemy, a Count played by Melvyn Douglas.

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  • March 13, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    You might recall Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas from when his terrific Battle in Heaven (2005) was cited recently by the Phoenix for featuring one of the 55 Worst Sex Scenes of the 21st Century ("Saddest blowjob in the world"). His latest film, Post Tenebras Lux (2012), may not be as transgressive, but it nonetheless bears the stamp of a unique and visionary artist in its depiction of a privileged family whose façade of respectability melts into hallucinatory chaos.

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  • March 12, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Still from "Landfill 16" by Jennifer Reeves

    One of the most innovative and intriguing film series around, Balagan doesn't disappoint with tonight's program, DIY Dystopia. It includes experimental shorts, made the old fashioned way - on celluloid, that draw parallels between the doom of traditional filmmaking and the downfall of the environment.

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  • March 11, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    A festival nestled in a sleepy suburb has grown into one of the area's best-programmed and most rewarding film events. Now in its 12th year, the Belmont World Film Festival, which runs through April 29, opens tonight with Argentinean director Sebastián Borensztein's Chinese Take-Away (2011). In it, a reclusive Buenos Aires oddball whose hobby is collecting bizarre news stories uncharacteristically helps out a stranded Chinese stranger.

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  • March 10, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Korean director Seung-Jun Yi's documentary Planet of Snail (2011) traces the outer and inner lives of an extraordinary couple: Young-Chan, a deaf and blind poet, and his wife Soon-Ho, whose body is shrunken to the size of a child's from a spinal disorder. Together they overcome life's obstacles, such as changing a light bulb, while sharing a life of poetic imagination.

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  • March 08, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Made while he was dying, Raoul Ruiz’s final film, Night Across the Street (2012), epitomizes the themes he had been exploring in the hundred-plus films of his career and serves as a surreal affirmation of the power of cinema and the imagination. An ailing office worker reminisces about his hallucinatory past — involving unlikely encounters with Beethoven, Long John Silver, and assorted phantasms — and opens a labyrinth of cryptic, interconnected narratives.

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  • March 07, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Maybe Brian De Palma's best film and, next to The Shining, the best adaptation of a Stephen King novel, Carrie (1976) remains the scariest depiction of a difficult adolescence on film. Sissy Spacek plays the tormented teen of the title who will not suffer long the bullies in school or her Bible-thumping mother (Piper Laurie).

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  • March 05, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Many of you will get your first taste of the visionary, disturbing, and seductive cinema of Park Chan-wook with his first Hollywood film, Stoker, which opens Friday. For the full course, you should sample his Vengeance Trilogy, which will be screening as a triple bill at the Brattle Theatre on Wednesday, March 6.

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  • March 04, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    The title The Bitter Buddha, a documentary about alt-comic Eddie Pepitone, sums up a certain style of standup comedy: a core of Zen calm surrounded by snide hilarity. This wacked-out, veteran comic's comic has not attained the marquee status of some of those he has inspired, many of whom, including Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, and Patton Oswalt, are interviewed in the film to explain his impact and appeal.

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  • March 03, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    It's hard to believe, after Life Is Beautiful and all the other the unwatchable films he has made since that inexplicable Oscar winner, but Roberto Benigni used to be a funny guy. At least, he is in Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law (1986), where he, Tom Waits, and John Lurie play a trio of prison mates who escape and torment themselves as they slog through the Louisiana bayous in a hilarious search for some kind of redemption.

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  • February 28, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Booze, drugs, sex, and genius - the life of the late great auteur Nicholas Ray, director of Rebel Without a Cause, In a Lonely Place, and many other iconic masterpieces, had the stuff of several Hollywood legends, and his wife Susan shared a lot of it. She'll be a guest of Phoenix critic Gerald Peary at BU Cinémathèque's An Evening with Susan Ray

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