When Costa-Gavras's visceral, muscular political thriller Z opened in the U.S. in December 1969, Americans had been through Nixon's inauguration, rampaging radicals of the Weather Underground, gay Stonewall riots, men landing on the moon, the Charles Manson murders, Woodstock and the TV premiere of The Brady Bunch. Film audiences were ripe for this innovative, edge-of-your-seat movie adaptation of Vassilis Vassilikos's best-seller of government corruption and assassination. Basing it on the infamous murder of Greek peace activist Gregoris Lambrakis that ushered in a seven-year military dictatorship, Vassilikos wrote his highly successful fictional account in exile. Needless to say, the movie Ñ using innovative French New Wave styles in a shocking, you-are-there manner was banned in Greece, but won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film (it had to be released through Algeria) and Best Editing. It remains one of the screen's finest achievements for in-your-gut filmmaking. You won't soon forget it. The camerawork is by Godard's ace, Raoul Coutard, and the marvelous score is by Greek national hero Mikis Theodorakis. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $6 to $7.
Fri., Aug. 14, 7 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 15, 7 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 16, 5 p.m., 2009