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Around Town: Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Taylor, Rudolph Valentino and more

May 5, 2011 |  5:00 am


With his latest directorial effort, "Thor," arriving in theaters Friday, Kenneth Branagh is being feted at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

"Resurrecting the Bard: An In Person Tribute to Kenneth Branagh" kicks off Friday with his acclaimed 1993 adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," starring Branagh, his ex-wife Emma Thompson, Michael Keaton, Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves, along with his rarely seen 1995 comedy "A Midwinter's Tale," about an actor who decides to stage "Hamlet" with amateurs. Saturday's program features his acclaimed 1989 film "Henry V," for which he earned Oscar nominations for lead actor and director, and the 1991 thriller "Dead Again," in which he stars in as a private detective in L.A. 

Branagh appears in person Sunday at the screening of his all-star 1996 version of "Hamlet," in which he plays the famous Dane.

The Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre presents a tribute to Elizabeth Taylor with a retrospective that opens Thursday evening with two films Taylor made with Montgomery Clift: 1951's "A Place in the Sun," which won numerous Oscars, including best director for George Stevens, and 1959's melodrama "Suddenly, Last Summer," for which Taylor and Katharine Hepburn earned lead actress Oscar nominations. 

Friday's offering is Richard Brooks' 1958 adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," for which Taylor and Paul Newman earned Oscar nominations, and Franco Zeffirelli's high-spirited 1967 "The Taming of the Shrew," which also stars Taylor's then-husband, Richard Burton. Taylor and Burton met while making 1963 epic "Cleopatra," which screens Saturday. And on Wednesday, cinematographer Haskell Wexler and costar George Segal will talk about Taylor after a screening of the 1966 drama "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" for which Taylor earned her second lead actress Academy Award.

Another noted cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond, visits the Egyptian on Tuesday with a screening of the previously considered lost film, 1965's "Summer Children," for which he supplied the black-and-white photography. Also on hand will be restorationist and "film detective" Edie Robinette-Petrachi and original producer and executive producer Jack Robinette. www.americancinematheque.com

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art celebrates the last day of its Magna Carta exhibition Thursday with a screening of the new film "Ironclad," on Thursday evening at the Bing. Paul Giamatti plays England's despised King John. On Friday and Saturday, the museum presents the 2009 French drama,  "Hadewijch," directed by Bruno Dumont, about a novice who is expelled from a convent because of her extreme acts of piety.  www.lacma.org

The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, running Thursday through May 12, celebrates the Jewish experience with more than 25 new films, including the opening-night selection, documentary "An Article of Hope," about Jewish astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, screening at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills. The rest of the films screen at various venues in L.A. Among the other films included in the festival are "La Rafle," "Precious Life," "Shalom Sesame" and "Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story." www.lajfilmfest.org

The second annual Awareness Film Festival kicks off Thursday evening at the Regent Showcase in Los Angeles with "Schooling the World," which traces the impact of modern education on the world's last remaining indigenous cultures, and Sheryl Lee Ralph presents "The Secret," followed by "9000 Needles." The festival continues through Sunday. awarenessfestival.healoneworld.com

Catalina throws its hat into the film festival ring with the inaugural Santa Catalina Film Festival, which benefits Catalina Island Conservancy, running Friday through Sunday. The festival begins with "A Beginner's Guild to Endings," with Harvey Keitel and Scott Caan. Other films include "A Little Help" with Jenna Fischer and "A Bag of Hammers," starring Jason Ritter and Rebecca Hall. www.catalinaff.org

UCLA Film & Television Archive's tribute to Chilean director Patricio Guzman continues Friday at the Billy Wilder Theater with 2001's "The Pinochet Case' and 2004's "Salvador Allende." Saturday's offerings are 1991's "The Southern Cross" and 1995's "A Village Fading Away." On Sunday, the Outfest Legacy Collection features 1955's "The Case of Mr. Lin," a record of a psychotherapy session between a psych professor and a client who reveals he is gay, and a 1955 installment of "The Liberace Show," called "A Tribute to Mothers." www.cinema.ucla.edu

Friday's midnight showing at the Nuart Theatre is the 1984 comedy "The Muppets Take Manhattan," which also features cameos from Art Carney, Joan Rivers and Gregory Hines. Frank Oz, the voice of Miss Piggy, directed. www.landmarktheatres.com

The Art Theatre of Long Beach's Friday midnight offering is the 1981 camp classic "Mommie Dearest," starring Faye Dunaway and her eyebrows as Joan Crawford. On tap for Sunday at the theater is a  screening of "These Amazing Shadows" followed by a filmmaker Q&A. www.arttheatrelongbeach.com

The Skirball Cultural Center presents a free screening Saturday afternoon of "Raga: A Film Journey Into the Soul of India," which explores the life and art of Ravi Shankar. And on Tuesday, Skirball screens the 1981 Milos Forman epic, "Ragtime," which includes the final feature film performance of James Cagney. www.skirball.org

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences continues its seminar series, "Evolution or Revolution? Production Design in the 21st Century" on Monday evening at the Linwood Dunn Theater with "Set Decoration and the Design Collaboration." www.oscars.org

The Hollywood Heritage Museum commemorates the 116th anniversary of the birth of silent screen legend Rudolph Valentino Wednesday evening with a slide presentation by Donna Hill, author of "Rudolph Valentino, the Silent Idol: His Life in Photographs" along with screenings of the TV cut of 1922's "Blood and Sand" and a short.  www.hollywoodheritage.org

-- Susan King

Photo: Kate Winslet and Kenneth Branagh in "Hamlet." Credit: Rolf Konow

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