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  • June 07, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Whether or not they are the biggest game out there in the cultural jungle, the three disparate artists in Ben Lewis's documentary triptych Art Safari: Maurizio Cattelan, Matthew Barney, And Takashi Murakami (2009), are a lot of fun. He takes Cattelan's whimsical sculptures, Barney's surreal Cremaster films, and Murakami's creepily childlike collections of oddities as seriously as they deserve to be.

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  • June 07, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Remember back in the '80s, when kids in the movies actually had fun? Alas, many of those actors have since grown up and been in and out of rehab. Like those from Richard Donner's The Goonies (1985), in which Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, and Corey Feldman play a bunch of goofballs who have a cool adventure searching for pirate treasure.

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  • June 05, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    To Be Heard (2010)

    One the liveliest and most important film series in these parts, the Doc Yard Presents returns with Amy Sultan, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, and Deborah Shaffer's To Be Heard (2010; 7 pm), a real-life Precious in which three South Bronx teenage girls expand their lives and minds through poetry.

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  • June 02, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Following his reading of Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers Du Cinemart Collection at the Brookline Booksmith Friday evening, Mike White returns to discuss an obscure gem of '70s exploitation filmmaking, Greydon Clark's Black Shampoo (1976), the story of a sexy African-American hair-salon owner who goes ballistic with a chainsaw when his receptionist is menaced by the mob.

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  • June 02, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Deep End (1971)

    An under-appreciated auteur of the Polish New Wave, Jerzy Skolimowski's career peaked in the '80s with films like his masterpiece Moonlighting (1982). The Harvard Film Archive offers a long overdue retrospective of his career, The Radical Vision Of Jerzy Skolimowski, starting tonight with Deep End (1971 | 7 pm), a coming of age story set in the shabbier fringes of Swinging London, and Barrier (1966 | 9 pm), a portrait of disaffected youth in '60s Poland.

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  • May 31, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Before he had them kill off a billion people in War of the Worlds (2005), Steven Spielberg was more optimistic about aliens. In fact, they signified redemption. For example, in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977), Richard Dreyfus plays a family man seized by visions that take him to a terrifying and ecstatic rendezvous with the mother ship.

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  • May 27, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    The heroes of each of the following three films at the Brattle, separated by five decades, are outsiders who are wiser than they appear. Gary Cooper plays the title free spirit in Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936); he inherits a fortune and is besieged by scalawags until he meets an honest woman (Jean Arthur) - or is she? In Gregory La Cava's My Man Godfrey (1936) William Powell plays a Depression-era bum - or is he? - picked up in a scavenger hunt by a wealthy woman played by Carole Lombard.

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  • May 26, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Reputedly even more disgusting than Centipede, Srdjan Spasojevic's notorious A Serbian Film has tested the stomachs of even the most hardcore splatter-porn fans around the world. In other words, don't miss it. (For more insight into ASF and its extreme-horror bretheren, see Simon Paul Augustine's essay in this week's Phoenix

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  • May 26, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Born in 1912, he's probably the oldest Japanese director you've never heard of, making the Masterworks of Kaneto Shindo at the HFA essential viewing. The films include Shindo's harrowing and controversial Children of Hiroshima (1952; 7 pm), an uncompromising look at the A-bombing of Japan; his masterpiece, Onibaba (1964; 9 pm) a Marxist parable about social breakdown set in medieval Japan; and his most recent film, Postcard (2010; May 30 @ 7 pm ), an autobiographical drama about a Japanese soldier who sends his wife the title missive as he's shipped out to the Pacific in World War II.

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  • May 26, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Is the prevalence of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in the recently released Indie film Hesher a reference to David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986)? Dennis Hopper's endorsement of that product, not to mention his use of a gas mask, are only a couple of reasons to see one of the greatest surrealist movies since Un chien Andalou It all starts with an ear that Kyle MacLachlan's callow hero finds in a field, and ends with the blue bird of happiness, with Laura Dern and Isabella Rossellini making erotically confusing appearances along the way.

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  • May 19, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Badlands (1973)

    Since Stanley Kubrick died, Terrence Malick has had no rival when it comes to obsessive, visionary directors who take forever to make a movie. You can catch most of his œuvre in "Three Films By Terrence Malick" at ArtsEmerson: his first and perhaps best, Badlands (1973; May 20 @ 7 pm + May 21 @ 9 pm), the only crime-spree film to rival Bonnie and Clyde; Days of Heaven (1978; May 20 @ 9 pm + May 21 @ 7 pm), perhaps the most visually beautiful American film ever; and The New World (2005; May 21 @ 2 pm + May 22 @ 7 pm), which, well, has lots of foliage.

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  • May 15, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Two prototypical New York artists collaborate in Public Speaking (2010), Martin Scorsese's documentary portrait of acerbic writer and irrepressible conversationalist Fran Lebowitz. She discusses culture, politics, and decades of New York memories while presiding over her booth in Manhattan's Waverly Inn.

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  • May 12, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    The master of philosophical carnage, Park Chan-wook reaffirmed the ongoing world-class status of Korean cinema with Oldboy (2003). In a precursor to Saw, a man finds himself inexplicably imprisoned in a whimsical kind of solitary confinement. Fifteen years later, he's plenty pissed off, so when he's released and given five days to find his tormentor, he's ready for revenge.

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  • May 12, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    The City Below (2010)

    Every four decades or so, some German filmmakers stir themselves into a frenzy of creative energy and revitalize world cinema. Could this be happening with Christoph Hochhäusler and Isabelle Stever, who are showcased in the Harvard Film Archive weekend program "The Berlin School Now"? Stever's Gisela (2005; May 13 @ 7 pm) looks at how the stolid existence of a suburban mom is disrupted, or maybe not, when a knucklehead from her school days shows up.

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  • May 12, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    In the tradition of Dogtoothand Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau's We Are What We Are (2010) explores what happens when family values are taken to an extreme. A father drops dead in the street, leaving the role of breadwinner to the eldestson, a fractious teenager. It's a lot to be responsible for, especially since the family's bread of choice is human flesh.

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