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  • September 16, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Me and My Gal (1932)

    These days the title of the ArtsEmerson series Movies Matter seems a bit naive. Aren't movies just mindless entertainment whose sole purpose is making money at the box office? Dave Kehr, one of America's best film critics, doesn't think so, and in a recently published collection of his film criticism written between 1974 and 1986, When Movies Mattered, he makes a strong case.

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  • July 20, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Andrea Dunbar's short life - she died at age 29 in 1990 as a result of her multiple addictions - was as tormented and astonishing as her three plays. They are uncompromising accounts of the desperate, defiled lives of the poor in the housing project in Bradford, England, where she grew up, including The Arbor, which is also the title of Clio Barnard's 2010 biographical film about her.

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  • June 10, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    This week's most satisfying cinematic experience might be watching a classic film noir in the vintage, rococo splendor of the Paramount Center. ArtsEmerson will screen little-known B-movie auteur Phil Karlson's Tight Spot (1955; 7 pm), with Ginger Rogers as a mob moll who doesn't dance but does sing for the prosecution at her boss's trial.

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  • May 19, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Badlands (1973)

    Since Stanley Kubrick died, Terrence Malick has had no rival when it comes to obsessive, visionary directors who take forever to make a movie. You can catch most of his œuvre in "Three Films By Terrence Malick" at ArtsEmerson: his first and perhaps best, Badlands (1973; May 20 @ 7 pm + May 21 @ 9 pm), the only crime-spree film to rival Bonnie and Clyde; Days of Heaven (1978; May 20 @ 9 pm + May 21 @ 7 pm), perhaps the most visually beautiful American film ever; and The New World (2005; May 21 @ 2 pm + May 22 @ 7 pm), which, well, has lots of foliage.

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  • May 12, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    In the tradition of Dogtoothand Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau's We Are What We Are (2010) explores what happens when family values are taken to an extreme. A father drops dead in the street, leaving the role of breadwinner to the eldestson, a fractious teenager. It's a lot to be responsible for, especially since the family's bread of choice is human flesh.

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  • April 15, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol (1965)

    Unlike the recent Know-Nothing right-wingers who have embraced the name, the Boston Tea Party, the great local rock venue of the '60s, was truly revolutionary. So were the Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol, and the latter took his camera to shoot the former when they performed at the Tea Party in 1967.

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  • April 07, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    The real world lags behind the movies when it comes to attempts to reconcile the Western and Islamic worlds. One of the more disturbing and eloquent such film efforts is Bruno Dumont's Hadewijch (2009), in which the young title heroine (a haunting Julie Sokolowski) proves too zealous for the convent in which she studies to be a nun.

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  • March 18, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    The Killers

    Despite his terse, cinematic style, Ernest Hemingway never had much luck when his work was adapted for the screen. But there are a couple of exceptions. Frank Borzage made a stark, atmospheric A Farewell to Arms (1932), with Gary Cooper as the callow WWI ambulance driver and Helen Hayes as the nurse who loves him.

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  • March 04, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    A lot of filmmakers these days are being compared to John Cassavetes, so this look at the real thing from the folks at ArtsEmerson might be illuminating. Faces (1968) is typical of his visceral, cinéma-vérité examinations of all too convincingly tormented relationships, as an older married couple (John Marley and Gena Rowlands) break up and pursue younger lovers.

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  • February 18, 2011
    By Peter Keough

    Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were about as successful at rejiggering Alice in Wonderland as they were at remaking Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. They failed to duplicate Gene Wilder's sadistic charm as the candy impresario, a necessary trait for someone transforming a naughty girl into a giant blueberry or shrinking another brat to six inches tall and then stretching him back to size with a taffy-pulling machine.

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