To escape today’s reality, you can resort to inane Hollywood fantasy (see Iron Man 2) or delve into a very real period, such as the film series now underway at New York’s Cervantes Institute. The brainchild of that still-yummy piece of weathered Serrano ham, Antonio Banderas, “Realism in Spanish Cinema” showcases obscure films made between 1951 and 1963 under the authoritarian, artless rule of General Franco. A few brave directors applied the tenets of Italian Neo-Realism to highlight their own country’s social ills, and while subtitled Fifties’ misery may not sound appealing, the films selected by Banderas and team are suffused with a uniquely Iberian brand of dark humor and beauty. Highlights include Death of a Cyclist, a ruthless portrait of Madrid’s upper class by Juan Antonio Bardem (Javier’s dad) and, on closing night, Marco Ferrerri’s El Cochecito, a favorite of Pedro Almodóvar. Free and open to the public.