Cinema: Baltimore Aureole

Liberty Heights looks smartly at race, religion and class in the hometown of its director's youth

It's the 1950s--the last time, we nostalgically think, when the American middle-class narrative was coherent, predictable: everyone in his place and a preordained place for everyone.

This was, of course, an illusion, maybe even a dangerous one. It is writer-director Barry Levinson's business in Liberty Heights to shatter that illusion, pick up the shards and rearrange them into a somewhat more realistic, though scarcely revolutionary, pattern. The result is a loose, lively, lovely film that enfolds everything in its embrace from the death of burlesque to the birth of rock 'n' roll, but is mostly concerned with the ways in which...

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