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Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS -

Re­views of se­lect fes­ti­val films

Hip­pie Fam­ily Val­ues doc­u­men­tary, 63 min­utes, not rated, 3 chiles

The Ranch isn’t a com­mune or a cult. It’s what might be called an in­ten­tional com­mu­nity, formed in the 1970s by men and women who wanted to live out­side of tra­di­tional cap­i­tal­ism. Pot­ters, gar­den­ers, and com­mu­nity fun-plan­ners talk about their decades at The Ranch, the ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships that blos­somed and with­ered, and the chil­dren they raised as a vil­lage. A gen­er­a­tion grew up on The Ranch, home­schooled and smok­ing pot with their free­wheel­ing par­ents, play­ing out­side in rov­ing kid-gangs, with lit­tle adult su­per­vi­sion, never know­ing the dull blue glow of that ubiq­ui­tous babysit­ter called tele­vi­sion. Thirty years into the ex­per­i­ment, Bev­erly Seckinger’s doc­u­men­tary, Hip­pie Fam­ily Val­ues, takes an af­fec­tion­ate though not un­crit­i­cal look at the com­mu­nity. The Ranch is lo­cated some­where in New Mex­ico, though its pre­cise co­or­di­nates are not dis­closed, in a re­gion of rolling piñon hills, shade trees, and flow­ing streams — all shot in warm, lov­ing light by Seckinger. It is an idyl­lic place that has cre­ated con­tent­ment for some, while oth­ers have come and gone and come back again, for­ever seek­ing a ver­sion of hap­pi­ness. We meet a young woman who grew up at The Ranch and re­turned with her new hus­band and young sons to live close to the land; Seckinger doc­u­ments her con­nec­tion to the com­mu­nity over eight years, as we watch her chil­dren grow up. The older women seem pro­foundly well ad­justed and deeply ma­ter­nal, whereas many of the aging men are still rem­i­nisc­ing about old acid trips and apol­o­giz­ing to their grown chil­dren for not be­ing more at­ten­tive and re­spon­si­ble fa­thers. — Jen­nifer Levin Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 10 a.m. Sun­day, Feb. 11; shows with the short film “Un­cle Max.”

Mata Hari: The Naked Spy doc­u­men­tary, 78 min­utes, not rated, 3.5 chiles

You might re­call Greta Garbo as the se­duc­tive spy in Hol­ly­wood’s 1931 Mata Hari. Or per­haps you caught Jeanne Moreau as the ex­otic dancer turned se­cret agent in the 1964 French thriller

Mata Hari, Agent H21. Both are ex­cit­ing fic­tional movies, but if you want to know the true story of Mata Hari and how she be­came World War I’s most no­to­ri­ous spy, watch the new doc­u­men­tary Mata Hari: The Naked Spy.

One hun­dred years have passed since a French fir­ing squad ex­e­cuted Mata Hari on Oct. 15, 1917, on charges that she spied on France for the en­emy Ger­mans. Was she, in fact, en­gaged in es­pi­onage? Yes and no. It’s known that she took money from the Ger­mans to gather in­tel­li­gence from French sol­diers. Many cov­eted her, not only flock­ing to her naughty dance per­for­mances, but con­sort­ing with her af­ter­ward. At the same time, she re­ceived pay from the French to spill the beans on their Ger­man coun­ter­parts. So Mata Hari could well have been a dou­ble agent. She was prob­a­bly not much of a pro­fes­sional spy, but sim­ply a strip­per with lav­ish spend­ing habits who bilked both the French and the Ger­mans.

She was ac­tu­ally a Dutch woman, born in Leeuwar­den, Hol­land, in 1876, as Mar­garetha Geertru­ida Zelle. In 1895, she mar­ried an older Dutch mil­i­tary of­fi­cer, Capt. Rudolf MacLeod, trav­el­ing with him across the globe to a new home on the is­land of Java in the Dutch East Indies (now In­done­sia). MacLeod was a lousy fa­ther, a drunk­ard who gave his wife syphilis — a dis­ease that also in­fected their in­fant daugh­ter, con­tribut­ing to her death at a young age.

Zelle re­turned to Hol­land and di­vorced MacLeod, em­bark­ing on a new ca­reer. She be­came one of Europe’s most talked­about ex­otic dancers — a con­tem­po­rary of Isadora Dun­can’s — who packed houses across the con­ti­nent. She per­formed as a Ja­vanese princess, nearly nude on stage. Her one dis­play of mod­esty: She wore a metal­lic bra be­cause she re­mained shy about the size of her breasts.

Co-di­rected by Su­san Wolf and Machiel Amori­son, and writ­ten by Wolf, this is a fast-mov­ing, ever-en­gag­ing film. It’s one in which you keep wait­ing for the other shoe to drop — and it usu­ally does! — Jon Bow­man Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 7 p.m. Fri­day, Feb. 9; shows with the short “Naughty Amelia Jane”; Su­san Wolf and Machiel Amori­son ap­pear at the screen­ing.

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