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Movie Missives

What's happening on the local cinema scene

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SUMMER SERIES

This upcoming week is when three local film series will all kick off their new seasons.

The new kid on the block is "Monday Night Movies at Spirit Square," which will feature eight of this year's Oscar-nominated films at 6:30pm every Monday from July 8 through August 26. Titles include In the Bedroom and The Royal Tenenbaums as well as winnings pictures like A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park and Monster's Ball. Tickets cost $5, although admission to the first film (Moulin Rouge) is free. Call 379-1380 for more info.

The venerable "Jazzy Ladies" series returns with the theme "Tying the Knot" and will feature such wedding-bell titles as My Best Friend's Wedding, Meet the Parents and Four Weddings and a Funeral. The series kicks off on the Mint Museum lawn Tuesday, July 9, and runs weekly through August 6. A jazz performance will commence each evening at 7:15pm (Daryle Ryce and Beth Chorneau are among those slated to appear), followed by the feature at 9pm. Admission is $5 for Mint members and $7 for nonmembers. For further information, call 337-2093.

The films in the aforementioned two series are all from modern times, meaning that folks interested in a wider spectrum of cinema should set their sights on the Main Library's "Summer Film Series," which has been around since 1975. This year's theme is "Classic British Comedies," with features being presented on Mondays from July 8 through August 19 in the Library's lower level auditorium. The series kicks off with 1949's Kind Hearts and Coronets, with Alec Guinness essaying eight different roles (July 8), and continues with 1972's The Ruling Class, an overlong Peter O'Toole vehicle salvaged by some delicious black humor and a superb turn by Arthur Lowe as a poison-tongued butler (July 15); 1981's Gregory's Girl, a disarming romantic comedy and a key title in the evolution of the modern independent film (July 22); 1953's Genevieve, about a cross-country car race (July 29); 1955's The Ladykillers, a gaspingly funny black comedy starring Alec Guinness and future Pink Panther adversaries Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom (August 5); 1963's Billy Liar, with Tom Courtenay as the title character, caught between the worlds of fantasy and reality (August 12); and 1979's Monty Python's Life of Brian, the notorious comedy (banned upon its release in select countries) about a poor guy whose life mirrors that of Christ (August 19).

All films start at 7pm (except The Ruling Class, which begins at 6:15pm), and admission is free. Call 336-2020 for details.

PENTES PREMIERE

Lullaby, Charlotte filmmaker Dorne Pentes' first film since 1996's award-winning The Closest Thing to Heaven, will premiere Thursday, August 15, at the Visulite Theater, 1615 Elizabeth Avenue. The screening is being postponed from its original July 11 playdate due to a venue conflict.

Presented as part of the Light Factory's Factory Films series, Lullaby stars Liza Weil (who was terrific in a little indie film called Whatever a few years ago) as a party girl whose pregnancy forces her to take some steps to improve her lot in life. Pentes will be in attendance at the screening, which begins at 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm for a social gathering). Tickets cost $7 at the door. For more information, call 333-9755.

TERROR ON TAPE

Another Charlotte filmmaker, writer-director-producer Mark Baranowski, has just made his first feature-length flick, Runaway Terror, available on home video (a DVD is forthcoming). Starring Baranowski and his wife, actress Ryli Morgan, Runaway Terror centers on a detective investigating the brutal murders of a pair of starlets. The film is available for $12; for more info, go to http://markbaranowski.faithweb.com.

THE ART OF CINEMA

First, it was local artist Rex Eagle's handiwork that was featured in the hit comedy Shallow Hal. Now another Charlotte artist, Marilynn Fairchild, finds her work prominently displayed in the current release Juwanna Mann, which, like Shallow Hal, was filmed here in the Queen City. Fairchild, an active member (and former president) of the Guild of Charlotte Artists, sculpted a life-size bust of star Miguel Nunez Jr. that figures in the movie, while some of her paintings can be seen in various interior scenes during the course of the film. To contact Ms. Fairchild or view her works online, go to www.fairchildart.com.


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