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Keeping score, with ‘Diva’ and ‘Metropolis

New England Conservatory’s CI Department performs at last year’s Film Noir concert, “Brando Noir.”
New England Conservatory
New England Conservatory’s CI Department performs at last year’s Film Noir concert, “Brando Noir.”

Scenes from “Diva” (1981), the French thriller from director Jean-Jacques Beineix, will screen at the 14th annual New England Conservatory contemporary improvisation department’s Film Noir concert on Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., at NEC’s Jordan Hall. At the annual concert — last year it was Brando Noir, featuring “The Wild One” (1953), among other Marlon Brando films — students, faculty, and special guests create new music for the selected film, mixing fresh material in real time with the original score.

An international hit that quickly became a cult classic, Beineix’s debut feature is about a young Parisian postman, Jules (Frédéric Andréi), obsessed with American opera singer Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Fernandez), who refuses to allow her voice to be recorded. When Jules secretly tapes her singing the first-act aria of Alfredo Catalani’s “La Wally,” the contraband cassettes set in motion a complex tale of corruption, mistaken identity, and love. Working with the original 1980s synth-pop and opera score, along with new compositions and improvisations in a wide range of genres, the CI Chamber Ensemble, directed by co-chair Eden MacAdam-Somer; the Storyboard Noir Ensemble, directed by Aaron Hartley; and the NEC Jazz Orchestra, directed by jazz chair Ken Schaphorst will re-create a soundtrack for the film. Admission is free, but a ticket is required.

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The joy of Alloy

There’s more live musical accompaniment in the weeks ahead. The renowned Alloy Orchestra, which has composed scores to more than 30 feature-length films and early on helped to revive interest in classic silents, returns with its first, acclaimed film score, to Fritz Lang’s futuristic masterpiece, “Metropolis” (1927). A new restoration incorporates nearly 30 minutes of footage discovered in Argentina in 2008. The Alloy Orchestra score is an original creation, not based on the original score, written for the film by composer Gottfried Huppertz. Formed in 1990, the Cambridge-based ensemble consists of Terry Donohue, on percussion, accordion, and vocals; Ken Winokur, on percussion; and Roger Miller, guitarist for the post-punk band Mission of Burma, on synthesizer. They will perform live to “Metropolis” on March 3, 4 p.m., at the Somerville Theatre.

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Playing the Fields


Those who have yet to experience a Channel Zero screening at the Somerville have the chance on Feb. 22. “Million Dollar Legs” (1932), W.C. Fields’s first feature for Paramount, screens at 8 p.m. Although made as a vehicle for comedian Jack Oakie, it’s Fields who creates the comic highlights as the president of Klopstokia, a bankrupt Balkan nation whose sole hope for financial survival lies in a scheme to win the weightlifting competition at the 1932 Olympics. Directed by Edward F. Cline and written by Nicholas T. Barrows, Ben Hecht (uncredited), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (story), and Henry Myers, the film costars Andy Clyde, Ben Turpin, and Susan Fleming. Channel Zero also promises “a ‘Fieldsian’ short subject or two.”

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For the young

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The Kid Flicks Tour, featuring award-winning short films from the 2018 New York International Children’s Film Festival, billed as the nation’s largest film festival for kids and teens, heads to the Regent Theatre, in Arlington, Feb. 18-23, with three different shorts programs. Kids Flicks One consists of films for viewers under age 7; Kids Flicks Two is aimed at those age 8 and older; and Viva Kid Flicks is a Spanish-language program of animated, documentary, and live action for kids older than 7.

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Loren King can be reached at