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Mephisto

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This week’s streaming movie options include a newly restored version of a 40-year-old Hungarian drama that is as relevant as ever. Set in pre-World War II Germany, Mephisto revolves around the magnetic Klaus Maria Brandauer, who plays stage actor Hendrik Höfgen, a rising star defined by his portrayal of Mephistopheles in a stage production of Doctor Faustus. But Höfgen is at a creative crossroads: The Nazi party is gaining control of Germany, and while he and his black girlfriend (Karin Boyd) are disgusted by the political climate, the actor ends up making a Faustian bargain himself, ingratiating himself with Nazi leaders for the sake of his career. But as he sells out his own convictions in the name of success, what becomes of his soul? Director István Szabó navigates a swooning historical landscape that threatens to consume his central figure, who turns in one of the great screen performances of all time. Brandauer, who went on to play a Bond villain in Never Say Never Again, here embodies the tortured artist through a wildly vivid range that careens from hammy, operatic full-body gestures to the most subtle changes of expression at eyeball-level. Mephisto won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1981, and is now available through Kino Marquee’s virtual cinema, with proceeds to help JxJ, the multidisciplinary arts project that encompasses the Washington Jewish Film Festival and the Washington Jewish Music Festival. The film can be screened at kinonow.com. $12. —Pat Padua

“Introduction to the Post-Modern Sensibility”

One of the landmark art exhibitions of the 1970s was Pictures, held at New York City’s Artists Space in 1977. It featured works by Troy Brauntuch, Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, and Philip Smith, and it presaged themes of appropriation, feminism, and postmodernism that would drive the art world in the 1980s. Photoworks, the photography center in Glen Echo, is currently closed during the coronavirus lockdown, but it is sponsoring an April 22 Zoom lecture titled “Introduction to the Post-Modern Sensibility,” focusing on the legacy of the Pictures exhibition and its curator, Douglas Crimp. The lecture is by Rebecca Schoenthal, the former curator of the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia and the former executive director of Second Street Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia. Schoenthal will address the work of the original group of Pictures artists, along with Cindy Sherman, whose artistic development was closely associated with theirs. The lecture will be held April 22 at 10 a.m. with details at glenechophotoworks.org. $35. —Louis Jacobson

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