Ticket Stub: For yesterday's impromptu Ladies Movie Afternoon, we wound up at the Kendall Cinema taking in a black-and-white classic of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin Feminin. Set in 1965 Paris, it's a slightly disjointed series of vignettes about Paul, a disenchanted loser, and Madeleine, an aspiring pop singer, their friends and errant romance. Juxtaposing grimy shots of Paris cafes and alleyways alongside the fresh faces, foul mouths, and slightly weary eyes of "Pepsi generation" youth, Godard explores the impact of Vietnam and American pop culture in France, and most importantly the way men and women relate at the dawn of the Sexual Revolution. My favorite scene involved a teenage beauty queen trying to be cool and giggling uncontrollably when pressed to talk about birth control methods. It's very stylized and a little self-indulgent, not to mention draggy in the middle ["It's agony!" cried poor Miss Laura], but far more original and vibrant than its many imitators (paging Mr. Tarantino), and there are plenty of tricks to imitate -- the bold title cards, the use of pop music, comic cameos, utterly arbitrary violence, the repeating sound effects of gunshots and camera shutters, the convincingly faked realism intercut with actual real footage, and so on. If you're in the mood for a sort of brainy, depressive, French version of a John Hughes movie, this is it. (B)

No comments: