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  • September 05, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    In the world of 3D, special effects, and billion-dollar box offices, the genius of American avant-garde filmmakers such as Jonas Mekas and Stan Brakhage is in danger of fading into obscurity. Directed by Pip Chodorov, an avant-garde filmmaker himself, Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film (2010) pays tribute to them with a personal portrait of the movement and its practitioners.

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  • September 03, 2012
    By Peter Keough
  • September 01, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    In Harm's Way

    There are a couple of deviations from the standard noir in Lewis Allen's Desert Fury (1947; 5 pm). First of all, the protagonist is a woman (Lizabeth Scott), a teenager whose mother (Mary Astor) runs the local casino. Paula has the hots for a racketeer trying to horn in on her mom's business, a "hunk fatale" played by a sometimes-shirtless John Hodiak.

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  • August 31, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    For one brief moment between the dawn of sound and the crackdown of the studio's moral watchdogs in 1934, Hollywood turned out some its sexiest, most mature, and effervescent movies. Half a dozen of the best can be seen at the Harvard Film Archive's "Hot Saturday: Paramount pre-Code Marathon," including classics like Mae West's She Done Him Wrong (1933) with her infamous come-on to Cary Grant, "Why don't you come up sometime and see me;" and Cecil B.

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  • August 30, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    David Cronenberg's depiction in Cosmopolis of a passive, limo-encased master of the universe makes one nostalgic for the days when such ruthless tycoons wielded chainsaws. In Mary Harron's lacerating, hilarious adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's unfairly maligned American Psycho (2000), future Bruce Wayne Christian Bale electrifies as the title psychopath, Patrick Bateman, who may or may not be turning his specialties of mergers and acquisitions into "murders and executions."

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  • August 30, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Princess Mononoke

    Along with Pixar, Japan's Studio Ghibli has revitalized the art of animation, and even more than their American counterparts they tap into a genuinely weird, surreal inventiveness. The Brattle gathers together some of their best work in the series "Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Studio Ghibli" beginning with Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke (1997).

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  • August 28, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    If Martin Scorsese's Hugo accomplished nothing else, it deserves kudos for introducing a new generation to the great silent movie pioneer Georges Méliès and his silent short, A Trip to the Moon (1902). Using effects he employed as a stage magician, Méliès created a baroque sci-fi fantasy that still delights in this age of CGI.

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  • August 27, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    It's been over a decade since David Lynch unleashed Mulholland Drive (2001) on the world, and still nobody knows what the heck it means. You think you've got it figured out and then the tiny people come through the door and you're scratching your head again. But it doesn't matter - it remains one of the most brazen, engulfing, terrifying, and delightful films of the young new millennium.

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  • August 26, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    For better or worse, Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) shaped American independent filmmaking for years. The esoteric film references, the narrative acrobatics, the outrageously brilliant dialogue, and the perversely inventive violence - it's a style and sensibility that many have tried but few have succeeded in duplicating.

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  • August 23, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    In response to the plaintive title of Maurice Pialat's autobiographical film We Won't Grow Old Together (1972), you might ask "and why on earth would you want to?" A miserable, underachieving, fortyish filmmaker is estranged from his wife and abuses his much younger mistress. Not released for 40 years in the US, this harrowing portrait of the artist as a miserable prick might be one of the best pathological studies of relationships gone bad since Roberto Rossellini's Voyage to Italy, but it's not recommended as a first date movie.

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  • August 21, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    The world of film lovers might be divided into two groups: those who adore the marvelous confections of Whit Stillman, and those who deplore them as twee and pretentious. If you are fortunate enough to fall into the first group, don't miss this screening of his latest, Damsels in Distress (2011). In it, a quartet of co-eds attempt to liberate the somewhat backward Seven Oaks University of male chauvinism and existential despair by introducing a new dance craze.

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  • August 19, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    There are a handful of movies from the '60s that filmmakers keep trying to copy yet never quite capture the electric thrill of the original. Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969) is one of them, and if within five minutes of the opening shootout you don't recognize a turning point in the history of film, there's no hope for you.

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  • August 16, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    In the Mouth of Madness

    No film has yet done justice to the grotesque, nightmarish, and squishy genius of H.P. Lovecraft. But some have come close. Maybe too close. If you do not fear for your sanity, you might sample a few of them screened for the writer's Birthday Tribute at the Brattle Theatre. On Friday, August 17 you can see Sean Branney's The Whisperer In Darkness (2011; 9 pm), in which a professor looks too deeply into legends of strange creatures in Vermont.

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  • August 13, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    These days it's easy to get discouraged when trying to make a dent in the miseries of the world. But those battling Apartheid decades ago in South Africa faced far more daunting challenges and prevailed, and following their example today are young activists in South Africa, battling to protect shantytown dwellers threatened with eviction.

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  • August 12, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Has anyone not yet seen The Big Lebowski (1998)? How about twice? A hundred times? For those in the know there is no limit to how often one should experience this quasi-religious comic epic by the Coen Brothers in which Jeff Bridges plays the sui generis, White Russian-sipping, bathrobe-clad geek demi-god, the Dude.

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