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Diner, Dragonslayer, The Leopard, Liberty Heights, Midnight in Paris, The Wild Child

DINER

Barry Levinson’s hallowed portrait of Baltimore and its “diner guys” on the cusp of the 1960s remains just about perfect. It screens for two nights this week (with more screenings upcoming) as part of the Maryland Film Festival’s 30th-anniversary celebration of the film.

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DRAGONSLAYER

A new doc focusing on California skateboarder Josh “Skreech” Sandoval.

THE LEOPARD

Set in Sicily in the 1860s, Luchino Visconti’s

The Leopard

tells the story of Prince Don Fabrizio Salina (Burt Lancaster) and his slow decline in power. Rather than adjusting to Sicily’s new political landscape, he holds on to his aristocratic way of life. Nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon), on the other hand, adapts quickly, his political leanings shifting so passionately and frequently that even he loses track of his allegiances.

The Leopard

culminates in a 45-minute party sequence in which the opulence of the Prince’s class is put on display. It’s a swan song for Don Fabrizio, in a way. He watches it all from a distance, knowing that it’s only a matter of time before it’s gone for good. Lancaster, previously known as an action hero, perfectly plays the role of a strong and capable nobleman. The work of cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno reflects the grand nobility of the film’s protagonist as well, using elegantly crafted wide shots and long takes to allow the action within the frame to speak for itself. You have no choice but to let it all unfold, and, like our hero, sit back and enjoy the beauty while it lasts. (Erin Gleeson)

LIBERTY HEIGHTS

Like

Avalon

, Barry Levinson’s 1999

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 in a time when country clubs posted signs reading

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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)

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Woody Allen’s well-received fantasy about a screenwriter (Owen Wilson) who time-travels back Paris in the bohemian 1920s time-travels back to local screens before its looming home-video release.

THE WILD CHILD

Francois Truffaut’s short and sweet take on a true story goes back to 1798. In the French countryside, some hunters bring an abandoned 10-year-old boy back from the woods. He is silent and fierce and has had no contact with humanity since the age of 3. Truffaut himself plays Dr. Itard, the sole person who steps forward to take the child under his wing. The boy, named Victor (Jean-Pierre Cargol), is promptly cleaned up and emerges from his haircut looking like a tiny Adam Green. Throughout the film, Itard slowly teaches his young charge how to speak and interact with other human beings. Ultimately, the film lacks any real conflict, but if you’ve ever wanted to see Truffaut in a series of heartwarming montages, you’ll be sure to get your fill. (Erin Gleeson)

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