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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 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 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 23, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    When you think of the land that gave us Heidi, cuckoo clocks, and cheese, the topic of child abuse is not likely to come to mind. Nonetheless, from 1800 to the 1950s Switzerland farmed out hundreds of thousands of orphans and wayward youths to workhouses where they served as virtual slaves. In a presentation by the Goethe Institut, Swiss filmmaker Markus Imboden dramatizes this Dickensian injustice with this tale of Max, a 12-year-old boy sold to a farm family, where he is forced to work and treated brutally.

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  • February 21, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    The Coolidge Corner Theatre continues its Django Unchained-inspired blaxploitation @fter Midnite movie series with Jonathan Kaplan's Truck Turner (1974). Like Django, Truck (Isaac Hayes) is a bounty hunter, but he's not as much of an idealist. He doesn't seek justice, or even the rescue of his beloved, but rather $1000 for bringing in a pimp named Gator.

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  • February 13, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    The Master of Suspense got a raw deal in the lousy, recent biopic bearing his name, but the Coolidge Big Screen Classics series showcases his greatness with its screening of Rebecca (1940). In it, Joan Fontaine plays a fresh-faced ingénue whose fairy-tale marriage to a morose, elegant widower, played by Laurence Olivier, is disrupted by two women, one of whom is dead.

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  • January 27, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Why is it that of all contemporary filmmakers ,none has as keen and capricious an insight into the adolescent spirit as Wes Anderson, director of the Oscar-nominated Moonrise Kingdom? Maybe Steven Schlozman, MD, Associate Director of Training for the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Program at the MGH among other distinguished credentials, has the answer.

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  • January 18, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    The Coolidge's @fter Midnite series is screening The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), the first feature by maestro of suspense and shaman of shocking violence, Dario Argento. Here an American visiting Rome with his girlfriend gets caught up in a police manhunt for a killer. That's pretty scary, but what's even more disturbing is the guy who eats cats.

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  • January 10, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Nearly all of David Lynch's films are inscrutable masterpieces, but this mammoth adaptation of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic is considered by some to be an inscrutable mess. As such it is also very entertaining, with Kyle MacLachlan hamming it up as an intergalactic desert warrior leading a jihad against an Evil Empire.

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  • January 04, 2013
    By Peter Keough

    Those ambivalent about having children might consider watching David Cronenberg's meditation on the subject, The Brood (1979). A woman with anger issues consults a therapist whose experimental treatment results in her sprouting demons of wrath from her body. They kill people, and they never call and never send flowers on Mother's Day.

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  • December 20, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    As we arrive at the Mayan deadline for the end of the world, one of our last regrets is that the Coolidge chose Michael Bay's Armageddon (1998) as its @fterMidnite send off. Or maybe not; the gleeful absurdity of the premise (bunch of space jockeys try to detonate deadly asteroid), the explosive special effects, and Ben Affleck's Animal Crackers scene, make this a dumb but entertaining way to spend the end.

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  • December 09, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Before his magic act of turning The Dark Knight Rises into cinema gold, Christopher Nolan made The Prestige (2006), the story of two rival magicians in Victorian London and their relationship with wizard Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), the eccentric genius who invented pretty much everything electrical.

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  • December 08, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    It's 1980 in pre-fall-of-the-Wall East Germany, and the eponymous character in Christian Petzold's Barbara (2012), a pediatric surgeon in a backwater hospital, makes plans with her West German beau to escape to freedom. But then there's Horst, the appealing head of her department - is he wooing her or spying on her, or both? Top-notch suspense and melodrama from one of Germany's best directors.

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  • December 07, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    Before his magic act of turning The Dark Knight Rises into cinema gold, Christopher Nolan made The Prestige (2006), the story of two rival magicians in Victorian London and their relationship with wizard Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), the eccentric genius who invented pretty much everything electrical.

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  • December 07, 2012
    By Peter Keough

    It's not as good as George Romero's 1978 original, but it does have Sarah Polley blowing away zombies with a shotgun and one of the last uses of found-footage horror that actually is scary. Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004) uses the same premise as Romero - a random group of strangers holed up in a shopping mall fending off hordes of zombies - except here the zombies are superfast and the cultural commentary minimal.

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