IRMA VEP
1996, Janus Films, 97 min, France, Dir: Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas’ live-wire international breakthrough stars a magnetic Maggie Cheung as a version of herself: a Hong Kong action-movie star who arrives in Paris to play the latex-clad lead in a remake of Louis Feuillade’s classic 1915 crime serial LES VAMPIRES. What she finds is a behind-the-scenes tangle of barely controlled chaos as egos clash, romantic attractions simmer and an obsessive director (a cannily cast Jean-Pierre Léaud) drives himself to the brink to realize his vision. Blending blasts of silent cinema, martial arts flicks and the music of Sonic Youth and Ali Farka Touré into a hallucinatory swirl of postmodern cool, Assayas composes a witty reflection on the 1990s French film industry and the eternal tension between art and commercial entertainment.


MADE IN U.S.A.
1966, Rialto Pictures, 85 min, France, Dir: Jean-Luc Godard

Paula Nelson (Anna Karina, in her final Godard film) arrives in Atlantic-Cité from Paris to find out that her former lover and colleague has died. As she investigates, bodies start dropping amid encounters with a gangster and the waters just keep getting muddier. Keep your eyes peeled for a brief but memorable appearance by singer Marianne Faithfull.


JANE B. FOR AGNÈS V.
1988, Cinelicious Pics, 97 min, France, Dir: Agnès Varda

Jane Birkin started as an actress during London’s Swinging ’60s, sang duets with Serge Gainsbourg (whom she married), earned plaudits for humanitarian work … and is the subject of this delightful imaginary biopic. Birkin and director Varda are longtime friends, and this film emerges as a portrait of two talented artists who have challenged limitations placed on women in culture and society. In French with English subtitles.


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