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  • May 12, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    It seems obvious now, but it took the programming geniuses at the Brattle to pair these two movies for Mother's Day. Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock's scariest film, Psycho (1960; 7:15 pm) demonstrates the terrible things that can happen when Oedipal obsession, voyeurism, taxidermy, and motel management come together under one spooky roof.

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  • May 07, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Still from Andrews' short film "The Haunted Camera"

    Sometimes an artist can transform painful, debilitating experiences into something visionary. In 2005 Nancy Andrews suffered a near-fatal illness, and it inspired her to make films that probe the far reaches of consciousness. One such is Behind the Eyes are the Ears, a surreal exploration of reality, fantasy, and identity that combines eerie animation and live action footage.

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  • April 23, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Massimo D'Anolfi and Martina Parenti fittingly evoke Franz Kafka, the paranoid master of modernism, with the title of their documentary, The Castle (2011). This scary exposé examines the draconic anti-terrorism measures taken at Italy's Malpensa airport, where the latest Big Brother technology and tactics are developed.

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  • April 15, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    It's your typical, feel-good, inspirational story about a poor kid whose dream comes true through his own hard work and the help of an inspiring mentor. Except it doesn't quite happen that way in real life. In Gemma Atwal's Marathon Boy (2010), a four-year-old kid escapes from his squalid origins Slumdog Millionaire-style when he's trained to become India's greatest runner.

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  • April 12, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    As the distinctions between good and bad movies blurs, the Brattle Theatre's Schlock Around the Clock series might be the last arbiter of quality. But are they serious about including Team America: World Police (2004; midnight) as schlock? Trey Parker and Matt Stone's obscene, brutal, and hilarious parody of action films and the world at large looms like auteur genius over the so-called respectable crap on the screen these days.

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  • April 05, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    One of the most influential and beloved of independent films, Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep (1979) tells the stark and wrenching story of a stockyard worker in Watts whose ennui and frustration threatens to destroy his family and his life. Few filmmakers have so successfully recreated the enervating reality of everyday existence and its fleeting glimpses of transcendence and beauty.

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  • April 01, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    We've seen police interrogations simulated on TV shows and have heard stories about how they coerce and manipulate innocent people into incriminating themselves. Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock's Scenes of a Crime distills into 87 minutes one such 10-hour grilling, which resulted in a disputed conviction for a child murder in New York.

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  • March 27, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    John Dies at the End

    Never a disappointment for those seeking transgressive, provocative, ground-breaking, or just plain entertaining movies, the Boston Underground Film Festival opens on Thursday, March 29 with the spoiler-defying John Dies at the End (2012; 8 pm) , a horror film of sorts about a newfangled drug called Soy Sauce that sends users on a trip from which they don't return - though something does.

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  • March 23, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    A Moment in Her Story: Stories from the Boston Women's Movement

    As hard-hitting as its acronym, the WAM! (Women, Action & the Media) Film Festival (this Saturday, March 24) presents films by and about women tackling tough issues and injustices. The films include The Fruit of Our Labor (1 pm), a trio of self-produced short docs about Afghan women; Catherine Russo's A Moment in Her Story: Stories from the Boston Women's Movement (2012; 7 pm), an account of local participants in the second wave of feminism starting in 1968; and Melissa Johnson's No Look Pass (2011; 9:30 pm), an inspiring portrait of a lesbian Burmese immigrant who wants to play professional basketball.

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  • March 03, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Forever exploring new cinematic frontiers, the DocYard series presents Bombay Beach (2011), the debut non-fiction feature by video artist Alma Har'el. It's a visually stunning and aurally hypnotic portrait of the derelict California resort town of the title and the bereft, fascinating, and determined people who survive there.

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  • December 27, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    42nd Street (1933)

    Back in the Depression days Hollywood knew how to turn economic and social injustice into entertainment. Mervyn LeRoy's Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933; 5:30 + 9:30 pm) starts with Ginger Rogers wearing only gold coins as she sings and dances in Busby Berkeley's saucy and satiric "We're in the Money" number.

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  • December 19, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Spoiled boys and girls demanding extravagant gifts for the holidays might better appreciate their good fortune by watching Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's City of Lost Children (1995), though they may want to take their parents along, as it's R-rated. A mad scientist kidnaps kids and takes them to the island asylum of the title where he extracts their dreams to rejuvenate himself via a kind of psychic vampirism.

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  • November 26, 2011
    By Peter Keough
  • November 23, 2011
    By Peter Keough


    Before the tryptophan from your roast turkey does you in, you might want to top off your Thanksgiving Day by treating yourself to Labyrinth (1986), Muppeteer Jim Henson's unheralded gem in which a young Jennifer Connelly stars as a girl who must enter the surreal, Escher-like maze of the title, inhabited by some really big, ugly Muppets, to rescue her brother from the Goblin King, played by David Bowie having a bad hair day.



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  • November 22, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Sometimes it's hard to explain why something becomes a pop-cultural phenomenon. Like the chimerical heroes of Steve Barron's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), which - even before this movie and its three sequels - dominated the '80s as a comic book, Nintendo game, TV series, Pez dispenser, and so on.

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