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In search of the city's coolest summer film series

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Considering that Charlotte has never been known as a bastion of cinema culture, it's encouraging to note that those seeking alternative movie fare will have plenty of options in the upcoming summer months. Sure, we won't be able to head down to the local repertory theater to catch an all-day film festival dedicated to Nicholas Ray or Satyajit Ray or even Aldo Ray. For one thing, Charlotte doesn't have a repertory theater (in all fairness, very few cities do); for another, a lineup like those above would net a profit of 24 bucks, tops. But filmgoers tired of watching Attack of the Clones and Spider-Man over and over and over may want to seek solace at one of the following film programs, many of which feature classic, foreign and independent titles that won't be found splayed across the myriad multiplex screens around town.

Some of the summer series can be viewed as "second chance" programs, opportunities to catch popular films that played local moviehouses not so long ago. "Monday Night Movies" at Spirit Square, for example, is showcasing eight pictures that were all nominated for Oscars earlier this year, from mainstream hits like A Beautiful Mind and Black Hawk Down to smaller fare such as In the Bedroom and Monster's Ball (unfortunately, the venue picked a night that places its films in direct conflict with the long-established Main Library Summer Series, right down the street). Wachovia's Off the Wall Moviefest, meanwhile, already kicked off its presentations a couple of weeks ago with last year's Shallow Hal and will continue into the fall with popular titles like Shrek and The Patriot.

Those with an affinity for subtitles can once again rely on the Charlotte Film Society to bring the best in foreign-language features to town. This summer's slate includes the Italian drama The Son's Room, the winner of the Palme D'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival, as well as the controversial French flick Fat Girl. Yet their roster will also feature several English-language films as well, including Lindsay Anderson's British classic If. . . (which, by the way, played at the Visulite Theater in the late 60s); Storytelling, the latest from writer-director Todd Solondz (Happiness); and the surreal conversation-starter Donnie Darko.

Viewers into oldies but goodies can head over to the Main Library and catch an irresistible mix of treasured British comedies, including Peter O'Toole's The Ruling Class, Monty Python's Life of Brian, and a personal favorite, The Ladykillers, a terrific black comedy starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.

And cinema fans interested in something other than film series have their choice of the enduring Western Film Fair or a prestigious event honoring the 75th anniversary of the esteemed Carolina Theatre.

As for the rest of Charlotte's cineasts. . . well, there's always Ron Jeremy over at the Visulite, in a documentary that answers the burning question: How did he get the nickname "The Hedgehog"?

Carolina Theatre 75th Anniversary This Anniversary gala will take place from 6:30-10:30pm on Saturday, June 8, at Spirit Square. The event will be orchestrated by Dan Truhitte, who played Rolf in The Sound of Music (a movie that reportedly played longer at the Carolina Theatre than anywhere else in the world), and will feature a large collection of memorabilia from The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and other classic films. Tickets are $75. Details: 372-1000.

Charlotte Film Society

Second Week SeriesJune 14-20: Donnie Darko; Fat Girl; The Son's Room; Time of Favor

July 12-18: if. . .; Oscar Shorts; Pauline & Paulette; Son of the Bride

August 9-15: Baran; Enlightenment Guarantee; Storytelling; Town Is Quiet

All films will be shown on a rotating schedule at the Manor Theatre. The movies will then be shown the following week at Movies at Birkdale. Details: 414-2355.

Classic British Comedies

at the Main LibraryJuly 8: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

July 15: The Ruling Class (1972)

July 22: Gregory's Girl (1981)

July 29: Genevieve (1953)

August 5: The Ladykillers (1955)

August 12: Billy Liar (1963)

August 19: Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

All films will be shown at 7pm (except The Ruling Class at 6:15pm) on Mondays at the Main Library, 310 North Tryon Street. Admission is free. Details: 336-2020.

Factory FilmsJune 13 at Spirit Square: Best of DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival: Two Towns of Jasper

June 14 at Spirit Square: Best of DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival: The First Year

June 27 at The Light Factory: Lo-Fi Landscape Tour

July 11 at the Visulite: Lullaby (director Dorne Pentes in attendance)

July 25 at The Light Factory: Tax Day

August 8 at the Visulite: Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight

Films will be shown at 7:30pm; tickets cost $7, on sale at the door. Details: The Light Factory at 333-9755.

Jazzy Ladies at The Mint This popular film-music combo presents films, preceded by a musical performance (usually jazz), while the audience brings blankets or lawn chairs, food baskets and beverages. This year it will be presented on Tuesdays from July 9 through August 6 on the Mint Museum lawn. The theme is "Tying the Knot" (movies dealing with weddings), although the film line-up has yet to be determined. Jazz artists whose performances will precede the films include Beth Chorneau, Toni Tupponce and Celine Berman. Details: 337-2000.

Monday Night Movies

at Spirit SquareJuly 8: Moulin Rouge

July 15: A Beautiful Mind

July 22: Gosford Park

July 29: The Royal Tenenbaums

August 5: Monster's Ball

August 12: In the Bedroom

August 19: Kate & Leopold

August 26: Black Hawk Down

Films will be shown at 6:30pm at Spirit Square. Admission to Moulin Rouge is free; tickets for the rest of the features are $5 apiece ($4 seniors), on sale at the door (cash only). Details: 379-1380.

Off The Wall Moviefest UptownJune 7: Shrek (2001)

July 5: The Patriot (2000)

August 2: The Princess Bride (1987)

Films are shown outside at Wachovia Plaza, 2nd Street and South Tryon, with the movies commencing at dusk. Admission and parking (at 2 Wachovia Parking Deck) are free. The series will continue into the fall with Finding Forrester on September 6 and Field of Dreams on October 4. Details: 332-2227.

The Reel ExchangeMay 21: TBA

June 18: Mommie Dearest (1981)

July 16: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

Movies, including the ever-popular TBA, will be screened at 8pm at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, 220 North Tryon Street. Admission is free. Details: OutCharlotte at 563-2699.

Visulite Screening The documentary Porn Star: The Ron Jeremy Story will be screened later this summer at a time to be determined; Mr. Jeremy will be in attendance. Details: 358-9200.

Western Film Fair The 25th annual event will be held June 26-30 at University Hilton Hotel, Harris Boulevard at I-85. Presented by the Western Film Preservation Society, the festival features appearances by Western movie and TV stars, autograph and photo sessions, a daily panel, and a memorabilia room packed with posters, comics, videos and more. A three-day pass costs $60; other options also available. Details: 365-2368. *

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