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  • August 02, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Recent documentaries like Sweetgrass almost mystically put the viewer in touch with the purity and rhythms of nature. Equally transcendent is Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro Volte (2010). Contemplating an old man, a goat, a tree, and some charcoal in the idyllic setting of Calabria, Italy, the film pretty much sums up all there is to know about life and death.

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  • August 01, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest (1959) has no shortage of iconic moments: Cary Grant's Roger O. Thornhill chased through a cornfield by a crop-dusting plane; the harrowing struggle on Mt. Rushmore; Thornhill's drunken downhill drive with no brakes. So when you watch it this time around you might focus on the less heralded moments, like Eva Maria Saint's femme fatale, in a train's dining car, describing her trout as "trouty, but still good."

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  • July 27, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Two years ago Lee Daniels's Precious (2009), an adaptation of the novel Push by Sapphire, confronted viewers with its hardscrabble, intense story about an unwed teenage mother beset by inner-city and family turmoil. It defied the odds and became an Oscar-winning commercial hit (Best Supporting Actress for Mo'Nique; Best Adapted Screenplay for Daniels).

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  • July 24, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler (2008) introduced many moviegoers to the sweaty, bloody, brutal world of professional wrestling on the fringes of the WWE. Robert Greene shows us more of this subculture in his documentary Fake It So Real, in which he explores with cinema-vérité intensity the dedicated gladiators of the Millennium Wrestling Federation of Lincolnton, North Carolina.

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  • July 19, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Nino Rota's famous theme for Fellini's 8-1/2

    Imagine Hitchcock's Psycho or Scorsese's Taxi Driver without the lacerating, haunting music - or The Godfather films and Fellini's 8-1/2 without the lush scores of Nino Rota. Still masterpieces, just . . . not the same. The music without the movies, however, is well worth a listen as is demonstrated in the program Music For Movies: A Celebration Of Bernard Herrmann And Nino Rota at the Brattle, which is also currently running a series of each composers' films in honor of their centennials.

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  • July 13, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Superman II (1980)

    Remember Terence Stamp as General Zod in Superman II (1980)? He might prefer to forget it himself, and you might not want to see the whole film in order to catch his performance, but it's all there in the trailer featured in this year's Trailer Treats, just one of many in this annual collection of trashy coming attractions at the Brattle.

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  • July 10, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Does a penthouse apartment in a skyscraper give you a better perspective on the ills of the society down below? In his documentary High Rise, director Gabriel Mascaro interviews the inhabitants of posh spots in the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Recife and asks them tough questions about injustice, insecurity, the future, and the availability of parking.

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  • June 30, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    "You talkin' to me?" has to be the most repeated movie quote of all time, although "Make my day" and "We're not in Kansas anymore" might be close seconds. Actually, those last two might also fit comfortably in Martin Scorsese's masterpiece Taxi Driver (1976), screening all week in a newly restored version at the Brattle.

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  • June 19, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Doug Block cast an uncompromising but compassionate eye on his parents a few years back with the highly praised documentary 51 Birch Street. Now he flips to the opposite generation, profiling his only daughter, Lucy, in The Kids Grow Up, a look back at her life as she is about to go to college. It regards this universal experience with a poignant personal insight, and Block himself will be on hand to discuss it when the film screens as part of The DocYard series at the Brattle Theatre at 40 Brattle St, Cambridge | Monday, June 20 @ 8 pm | $7.

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  • June 17, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    If you're tired of the spiffed-up, romanticized tough guy in Casablanca you might want to balance your image of Humphrey Bogart with his bandy-legged, deluded scalawag in John Huston's The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948), the best Hollywood depiction of greed since, well, Greed (1924). It's the old story of gold coming between friends, with John's dad Walter winning an Oscar as a wise old coot and the great Alfonso Bedoya as Gold Hat, the bandito who utters the immortal words: "Badges? We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" It's at the Brattle Theater 40 Brattle St, Cambridge| Sat, June 18-Sun, June 19 @ 12:30 pm | $7.

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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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  • 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

    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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