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The Animation of Jan Svankmajer, Avalon, Arthur Christmas, Dune, Hugo, Liberty Heights, The Muppets, Taxi Driver

THE ANIMATION OF JAN SVANKMAJER

A program of a dozen of the Czech master animator’s surreal shorts.

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AVALON

Barry Levinson’s Baltimore-centric immigrant epic returns to the big screen as part of the run-up to the Maryland Film Festival’s upcoming celebration of his seminal

Diner

.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

An animated kid flick about Santa’s son (voiced by the ever-charming James McAvoy).

Opens Nov. 23.

DUNE

David Lynch’s fabulously awful (or awfully fabulous) adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel graces the Gunky’s Basement screening series.

HUGO

Martin Scorsese makes his first film for children (based on Brian Selznick’s book

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

) and his first film in 3D. As you might expect, it sports quite a cast, including Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Moretz, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Jude Law, and Ray Winstone.

Opens Nov. 23.

LIBERTY HEIGHTS

Like

Avalon

, its predecessor in the current series of Maryland Film Festival screenings celebrating Barry Levinson, 1999’s

Liberty Heights

centers around a Jewish family, and Jewishness is the very center of the story—specifically, the struggles two Forest Park brothers face as they navigate a mid-1950s world in which the Supreme Court is ending segregation in their schools but virulent anti-Semitism still prevents their safe passage through the WASPy enclaves just beyond Falls Road. Ben Kurtzman (Ben Foster) and older brother Van (Adrien Brody) live with their grandmother, Rose (Frania Rubinek), and parents, Ada and Nate (Bebe Neuwirth and Joe Mantegna). Ben finds himself entranced with Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson), one of a handful of black students who have just joined his class. Their father has more than girls on his mind—strippers, specifically, and why the women who sashay across the stage of his burlesque house on the Block aren’t drawing crowds the way they used to.

Liberty Heights

takes us back to a time when country clubs posted signs reading no jews, dogs, or coloreds allowed and puts a magnifying glass to the racial and class prejudices of the folks the signs kept at bay. But while the movie gives a sense of what it was like to be Jewish in 1954, it doesn’t tell us much about how these characters feel about being Jewish. (Heather Joslyn)

THE MUPPETS

Jason Segal co-wrote and stars in this reboot with Amy Adams (born to be in a Muppet movie) with the usual felt co-stars and celeb cameos.

Opens Nov. 23.

TAXI DRIVER

Sure, sure, you’ve done the mirror scene at parties. But Martin Scorsese’s

Taxi Driver

is more than an annoying catch phrase. Though released in 1976, it’s still perhaps the best distillation of the loneliness of American cities in the age of high crime, fluid sexual mores, and television (courtesy of Paul Schrader’s brave script). And it’s a testament to Scorsese’s touch with actors—he gets solid work out of everyone from Peter Boyle to Albert Brooks to Cybill Shepherd to Harvey Keitel and master-class turns from 12-year-old Jodie Foster as a world-weary preteen hooker and Robert DeNiro as a socially retarded cabbie. Yes, he’s talkin’ to you. (HJ)

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