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  • September 24, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Hip-hop culture was already well established back in 1983 when Charles Ahearn's documentary-style drama Wild Style came out, and even then it was confronting the issues of authenticity and commercialism that it faces today. Here Zoro (Lee Quinones), a Bronx graffiti artist, practices his art on the margins of criminality until lured from the 'hood by tony Manhattan gallery people.

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  • September 10, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Another stirring exploration of the power, for good or ill, of the religious sensibility is Michael Powell's Black Narcissus (1947). In it, a troubled nun played by Deborah Kerr (stunning in a wimple), joins three other sisters, some of whom even shakier than she is, in reviving a mission situated high in the Himalayas.

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  • September 02, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    For 29 years Montreal has held an International Festival Of Films On Art and the MFA has taken advantage of this by screening the prize winners. This year the series runs through September 15 and starts today with two seemingly disparate documentaries. Marc Daniels's Comic Books Go to War (2009; 11 am) explores how comic book artists use their imagination and skills to make the horror of warfare comprehensible.

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  • August 31, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Surely our media will soon be overflowing with commemorations of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. If you're looking for a low-key, sober way to acknowledge this grim milestone, there's James Whitaker's documentary Rebirth. Seven Up!-style, it follows the lives of five people affected by the event - a fireman, a survivor, and three who lost family members - interviewing them every year on that awful date.

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  • August 10, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Video slightly NSFW

    Nine years after nearly ending his extraordinary film career with his brilliant, disturbing, and reviled Peeping Tom (1960), Michael Powell returned to the screen with a bit of voyeurism that was easier on the eyes. Age Of Consent (1969), which would prove to be his last feature, stars James Mason as an aging artist who retires to an Australian island to seek inspiration and finds it the form of a nubile, often-nude beauty played by a 20-something Helen Mirren.

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  • July 27, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    One of Boston's most vital and exciting film events, the Roxbury International Film Festival, now in its 13th year, begins tonight with Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew's The Athlete (2009), a biopic mixing dramatization and documentary about Abebe Bikila, the first black African to win an Olympic gold medal in the men's marathon - which he ran barefoot, no less.

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  • July 06, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    The Sleeping Beauty

    Always a must-see cinema event, The Boston French Film Festival at the MFA opens with laughs this year as it screens Philippe Le Guay's The Women on the Sixth Floor (2010; July 7 @ 7:30 pm; July 9 @ 5:40 pm), a comedy about a bevy of Spanish housekeepers who turn a staid bourgeois family upside down.

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  • June 14, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    As politicians take aim once again at all the advances made in women's rights over the past four decades, it might be worth a look back at some of those women who pioneered the cause. Lynn Hershman Leeson's Women Art Revolution chronicles how feminist artists took issue with the male domination of culture and politics in the '70s and set in motion what some consider the most significant art movement of the period.

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  • June 08, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Even more than the Mona Lisa, Gilbert Stuart's 1796 rendering of the dour visage of George Washington might well be the most reproduced portrait ever. It is, of course, the face on the dollar bill. Jim Wolpaw and Steve Gentile's First Face: The Buck Starts Here (2011) takes a look at the story behind the painting and how it made Washington the Father of our Currency.

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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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  • April 13, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Of late, animation has gone beyond kid stuff to historical tragedy. Witness Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir (2008), a nightmarish, autobiographical memoir of the 1980s invasion of Lebanon from the point of view of a green Israeli soldier. The first film in the MFA's "Hollywood Scriptures" series, it's followed by a panel discussion with Steven Nisenbaum of the Harvard Medical School and Rina Folman, a psychologist at UMass Memorial Health Alliance.

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  • March 16, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    A Screaming Man (2010)

    Just as English means more than England, French means more than France, as can be seen in the Museum of Fine Arts' Francophone Film Festival. One such Francophone country is the African nation of Chad, the setting for A Screaming Man (2010), Saleh Haroun's tale of a hotel pool attendant struggling for survival during a civil war.

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  • March 04, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Any preconceptions about what constitutes Jewish film, or film in general, might be shattered by this year's Jewishfilm.2011, one of local cinema's most noteworthy events. Take the opening-night feature, Avi Mosher's shaggy-dog drama The Matchmaker (Once I Was) (2010). Set in 1968 Haifa, it depicts the initiation into adulthood of a teenager who learns about life from the title relationship broker.

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  • March 02, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    One of the world's most vital regions for film is showcased in the Museum of Fine Arts series New Latin American Cinema. It opens today with Brazilian directors Felipe Braganca and Marina Meliande's The Joy ( 2010 | 5:45 pm) in which the ghost of a murdered youth seeks refuge with his teenaged cousin. It screens along with Colombian director Oscar Ruiz Navia's Crab Trap (2009 | 8 pm), a naturalistically shot story about a man who encounters a young girl in an environmentally ravaged coastal town and is smitten by her innocence.

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  • February 04, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Spike Lee burst into prominence in 1989 with one of his best and certainly one of his most provocative films, Do the Right Thing (1989). Lee also stars, as a deliveryman for a white-owned pizzeria in a black Brooklyn neighborhood who gets caught up in the middle of racial conflict. It screens tomorrow at the Museum of Fine Arts at 1:30 pm.

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