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Diane Carson

The Seventh Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival showcases nine films, eight features and one short, over three weekends in March. Each of the historically important works from the 1930s through the early 1990s has been recently restored, meaning these masterpieces will be seen as their creators intended, occasionally for the first time in decades.

The Seventh Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival continues in its second weekend with three more newly restored narrative features: "Two Men in Manhattan," "Queen Margot," and "Boy Meets Girl." Made from 1959 to 1994, they offer very different worlds from film noir to saturated color, from a missing diplomat to a romantic failure to a treacherous queen.

Told to the beat of Fela Anikulapo Kuti's dynamic music, the documentary "Finding Fela" profiles a flawed but unmistakably charismatic political activist and accomplished musician. The multi-award winning director Alex Gibney presents a complex portrait, drawing on multiple sources to document Fela's profound and lasting effect on his native Nigeria.

The Seventh Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival concludes the weekend of March 27 to 29 with three more newly restored narrative features: Jacques Tati's "Mon Oncle," Eric Rohmer's "A Tale of Winter," and Robert Bresson's "A Man Escaped." Quite different in tone and genre, nevertheless each presents a masterful example of these French directors realizing a cinematic triumph.

Director Nickolas Dylan Rossi's documentary "Heaven Adores You" chronicles the short, rich musical life of Elliott Smith, dead in 2003 at 34. According to publicity, the film's exceptional achievement is that perhaps 20 of its 35 songs were never released. Unfortunately, the songs compete with comments by those interviewed or they play over lovely but irrelevant footage.

Director Jody Lee Lipes' documentary "Ballet 422" follows 25-year-old Justin Peck through the creative process choreographing and staging New York City Ballet's 422 ballet: Paz de la Jolla. Lipes' fly-on-the-wall approach watches Peck, a corps dancer himself, test difficult steps, leaps, and spins. He then works with the principal dancers in refining and adjusting his choreography.

Introduced by an on-screen quotation from Abraham Lincoln and an Indiana 1817 notation, "The Better Angels" follows its central character with a flowing camera, intermittent voiceover narration, and a series of instructive lessons. But this dreamlike film never explicitly identifies its illustrious central character--Lincoln as a boy shaped by his loving, indulgent stepmother and his taciturn, strict father.

Among ice hockey's legendary players, Vyacheslav Fetisov proves, in "Red Army," that he's also one of the most fascinating and irascible individuals to interview. In producer/director Gabe Polsky's documentary, the tough as nails Slava, as he's known, catalogs numerous, amazing achievements. But Polsky also captures, unexpectedly, Slava's intense emotions including passionate patriotism, deep friendship, and painful betrayal.

Desperate, protective mother Die channels her anger and defensiveness into hostile verbal and physical behavior in "Mommy." Violent outbursts of her volatile, psychologically unstable teenage son Steve trigger her dysfunctional interactions with just about everyone, including Steve. A widow, Die dotes on Steve, whom she is called to collect from a home because of sociopathic tendencies.

It's not news that monstrous corruption infects Russia, but as dramatized in director Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Leviathan," it overwhelms a small fishing community with devastating consequences. Auto mechanic Nikolai lives and works on a spit of land, two-thirds an acre. Vadim, mayor of this incestuous northwest Russian town, has seized Nikolai's home so he can demolish it and develop the area.

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