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Screenings: A special helping of 'Cake'

Like “Doug Marrone” and “loyalty,” “Jennifer Aniston” and “Oscar buzz” don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. But against all odds, Aniston found herself in the Best Actress conversation for “Cake,” a dark drama about a physically and emotionally scarred woman living a solitary existence. Her failure to receive a nomination was indeed a surprise, but the chatter will still help the film find an audience.

Interestingly, “Cake” screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival to almost universally bad reviews, but during the following months, the hype around Aniston’s performance has swirled. You can experience it for yourself at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 at the North Park Theatre.  This is a special New York Film Critics Film Series screening that will also feature a live streaming interview with the star.

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If a de-glammed Aniston is not your thing, note that the North Park’s next Family Matinee Series flick is the original “Planet of the Apes.” The damn dirty apes and Charlton Heston take over at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 24 and 1:15 p.m. Jan. 25.

For more information on the North Park lineup, visit www.northparktheatre.org.

In other local screening news, no less an authority than William Friedkin — director of “The Exorcist,” the film many consider the scariest ever made — tweeted the following: “I’ve never seen a more terrifying film than ‘The Babadook.’ ”

Writer-director Jennifer Kent’s “Babadook” is easily the scariest film of 2014, and perhaps the most original horror creation in several years. Essie Davis gives a stunning performance as a mother whose young son finds a book about a strange, fearsome monster — the Babadook.

It’s a standard horror premise elevated by Davis’s work as a devoted mother slowly becoming unhinged and Kent’s startling direction. And in wonderful news for cinephiles, this Aussie masterpiece runs at the Screening Room Cinema Cafe (3131 Sheridan Drive, Amherst) at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Jan. 23 and 24, and 7:30 p.m. from Jan. 25 to 30.

For more information and the full Screening Room schedule, visit www.screeningroomboutiquecinemas.com.

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Also this week, Lockport’s Palace Theatre presents the classic musical “West Side Story” for two shows, 1 and 7 p.m. Jan. 20. The Bolshoi Ballet’s “Swan Lake” will run at 11 a.m. Jan. 25 at the Amherst Dipson cinema.

Lastly, an early heads-up: the Buffalo Seminars screening series returns at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 in the Amherst Dipson with the silent film classic Charlie Chaplin in “The Gold Rush.”

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