Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

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The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is showing several great movies this weekend. Here are our reviews of just a couple of them.

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Red Riding 1974 (Britain, 2009) Based on a series of British crime novels by David Peace, Red Riding's ambitious triptych is remarkably consistent in overall quality. Stylistically, however, the films are all over the map. Red Riding 1974 (shot in Super 16 by Julian Jarrold), which shows this week, is the flashiest and pulpiest of the three films; the arty, noirish RR 1980 (directed by James Marsh) and Anand Tucker’s gritty, digitally lensed RR 1983 screen later this month. As gripping, densely textured and addictive as James Ellroy’s novels or HBO’s The Wire — the cops are fatally flawed, journalists are beaten-down cynic-idealists, and politicos and business tycoons are the scum of the earth — the three movies stand alone nicely. While the thick-as-mud Yorkshire accents take some getting used to — subtitles would have been helpful — it’s a safe bet that you’ll be hooked from the opening scene of RR ’74. At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8 and at 8:45 p.m. Sunday, May 9. **** (Milan Paurich)

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The White Ribbon (Austria/Germany/France/Italy, 2009) Winner of the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the latest — and most accessible — work to date by Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke (Caché, The Piano Teacher) is a mesmerizing fable about the (possible) roots of Nazism. Set in pre-WWI Germany, it’s narrated by a schoolteacher (Christian Friedel) who looks back on the curious events that occurred in the seemingly bucolic village of Eichwald many years earlier. While it includes some of the same irrational cruelty and otherworldly weirdness that have marked Haneke movies like Funny Games, this is more classical in style — with echoes of both Carl Theodor Dreyer and Ingmar Bergman — and story structure, and it exerts the same inexorable pull as a great yarn. Haneke reveals his secrets gradually, but Christian Berger’s stunningly beautiful, Oscar-nominated B&W cinematography insures that you’re hooked every step of the way. That The White Ribbon features what may be the first genuinely innocent characters in Haneke’s oeuvre — the kindhearted teacher and the 17-year-old nanny he chastely courts and eventually marries — might explain why even non-fans have embraced this film. At 8:25 p.m. Thursday, May 6, and 7 p.m. Monday, May 10. *** (Milan Paurich)

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