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Picnic cinema

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This weekend, the North Carolina Museum of Art will raise the curtain on another edition of its popular Summer Film Series. The Rookie, a surprise hit from last year, will kick things off this Friday. In this genial family comedy, Dennis Quaid plays a high school baseball coach who gets a shot at his long-deferred dream of playing in the big leagues.

In a rather mischievous bit of programming, Saturday night's offering will showcase Quaid in a very different family movie: Far From Heaven. Here, Quaid plays a quintessential 1950s suburban dad who has a secret life that threatens to break up his family. Although Quaid's performance is gripping, Julianne Moore got most of the props for her portrayal of a disillusioned homemaker torn between loyalty to her husband and her chaste passion for the African-American gardener (Dennis Haysbert).

If rave reviews were worth their weight in gold, Todd Haynes' film would have made Titanic-sized profits. But that's not the case, of course, and Far From Heaven turned out to be, at best, a break-even film. Although Far From Heaven was the consensus critical favorite of last year, not everyone loved this movie--at least one of us here at the Indy found it a stiff and mannered academic exercise.

But the film's lush beauty can't be denied: From the autumn foliage to Elmer Bernstein's swanky score to Julianne Moore's headscarf, this is one smashing picture. Will it play outdoors, in front of families? Bring a date and a blanket and find out.

The Rookie and Far From Heaven will screen at 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, respectively. The museum will open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for museum members and $3 for children under 13. Season passes are available as well. For more information go online to www.ncartmuseum.org.

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