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Around Town: Italian Neorealism, the comedy of Albert Brooks, Terrence Malick and more

May 19, 2011 |  5:00 am

GardenItaly's Vittorio De Sica earned a reputation as one of Neorealism's most accomplished filmmakers, a man who frequently collaborated with screen siren Sophia Loren. His Academy Award-winning 1971 film "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis," screens Thursday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The screening marks the premiere of a newly restored print of the film, which follows the lives of a wealthy Italian Jewish family oblivious to the fact that fascism is engulfing their lives. The film's producer, Arthur Cohn, is the special guest. www.oscars.org

The Bigfoot Crest Theater this weekend adds repertory programming to its schedule with two new monthly series. The first, Singafest Asian Film Nights, begins Thursday with a screening of a 35-millimeter print of the Akira Kurosawa 1961 classic "Yojimbo," with Toshiro Mifune. That will be followed by the first installment of another new monthly series, "Spirits in the Dark: Horror at the Crest," which kicks off with a sneak preview of the horror thriller "The Whisperer in Darkness." www.bigfootcrest.com

The Autry National Center presents the 2009 film "Kissed by Lightning" on Thursday evening as part of the L.A. Skins Fest. Native American filmmaker Shelley Niro and actress Kateri Walker will be on hand to discuss the drama. Saturday afternoon the Autry's "The Imagined West" film series presents Martin Scorsese's 1974 comedy-drama "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," for which Ellen Burstyn won the lead actress Oscar. www.autry.org

The third annual Hola Mexico Film Festival opens Thursday at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood and continues through May 25. The festival will spotlight 12 features that recently opened in Mexico, including the award-winning "El Infierno." Actors and directors will be on hand for Q&As after many of the screenings. www.holamexicoff.com

The American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre is paying tribute to funnyman and acclaimed writer-director Albert Brooks with "Life in the Time of Neurosis: A Tribute to Albert Brooks." The celebration begins Friday with friend James L. Brooks' 1987 classic "Broadcast News" and Albert Brooks' directorial debut, the 1979 comedy "Real Life." Scheduled for Saturday is Albert Brooks' 1991 comedy "Defending Your Life" with Meryl Streep and his sophomore effort as a writer-director, 1981's "Modern Romance," in which he also stars. www.americancinematheque.com

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art continues its retrospective on writer-director Terrence Malick on Friday with a screening of the director's cut of his most recent film, 2005's "The New World," about explorer John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher). Production designer and Malick collaborator Jack Fisk and costume designer Jacqueline West are the special guests. On Tuesday, LACMA offers a sneak of Malick's "The Tree of Life," which opens in theaters May 27. www.lacma.org

The New Beverly Cinema's Grindhouse Film Festival presents a William Grefe double bill Thursday evening: 1968's "The Hooked Generation" with Jeremy Slate and 1974's "Impulse" with William Shatner. Grefe is scheduled to appear. Screening Friday and Saturday are two films from Oscar-winning Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci: 1970's "The Conformist" with Jean-Louis Trintignant and his controversial 1973 U.S. release, "Last Tango in Paris," with Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider.

Two Clint Eastwood westerns, 1973's "High Plains Drifter" and 1985's "Pale Rider," play Sunday through Tuesday, while a pair of war satires round out the week on Wednesday: 1967's "How I Won the War," directed by Richard Lester, and Philippe de Broca's 1966 cult hit, "King of Hearts," with Alan Bates. www.newbevcinema.com

The Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre presents a "North Korea-A-Rama" with screenings of "The Frustrated Fascist Auteurism of Kim Jong-Il" and the award-winning 2010 documentary "The Red Chapel." Following, the "Everything Is Terrible?" screening series presents a double bill of 1987's "Hollywood Cop" and 1989's "Samurai Cop." Sunday's offerings include a discussion about the book "The Modern Utopia," followed by a screening of the 1972 documentary/concert film "Rainbow Bridge." On Wednesday, Cinefamily is offering an early screening of the comedy "The Trip," with Steve Coogan. Admission is free, but RSVPs are required. www.cinefamily.org

The second annual Hope and Freedom Film Festival takes places Saturday at the Art Theatre of Long Beach. Featured films include "Killing Memories," "Bomb Hunters," Finding King" and "Rebirth of the Hip Hop Nation: The Movement." www.hopeandfreedomfilmfestival.org

UCLA Film and Television Archive continues its tribute to writer and director Richard Brooks with a screening of  his 1977 film, "Looking for Mr. Goodbar," with Diane Keaton, Tuesday Weld and Richard Gere, at the Billy Wilder Theater. The Brooks' retrospective concludes Wednesday evening with his 1966 action-adventure "The Professionals," with Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin and Robert Ryan. www.cinema.ucla.edu

Funnyman Harry Shearer has directed a very serious documentary, "The Big Uneasy," about life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Shearer will do a Q&A Sunday at the Art Theatre of Long Beach after a screening. www.arttheatrelongbeach.com

The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica and the Art Directors Guild Film Society present a screening Sunday of the 2005 animated film "Renaissance," with a focus on the work of production designer Christian Volckman. Production designer John Muto will offer a multi-media presentation prior to the screening. www.americancinematheque.com

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Science and Technology Council explores "Cinematography in the Digital Age" on Tuesday at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The evening will feature film clips and discussion with such noted cinematographers as John Bailey, Guillermo Navarro and Dean Semler and will be hosted by academy governor Bill Kroyer. www.oscars.org

When Mae West was good, she was good, but when she was bad, she was even better. West struts her sassy comedic stuff in two comedy classics screening Wednesday at the Aero Theatre: 1940's "My Little Chickadee" with W.C. Fields and 1933's "She Done Him Wrong," which also stars a young Cary Grant. www.americancinematheque.com


Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week: 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams'

— Susan King

Photo: Romolo Valli and Dominique Sanda in "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis." Credit: Sony Picture Classics.

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