The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, January 27-February 2

120-jane-birkin-theredlist Kung Fu Master! (1988)
Directed by Agnès Varda
In 1986, Varda and the British actress and singer Jane Birkin (who has spent much of her life and career in France) began working together on the film Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988), an impressionistic portrait of a woman turning forty years old whose collage-like assemblage of scenes and skits was made from conversations between the two women. At one point during its realization, Birkin revealed a vision that she had had of romancing a young boy, inspiring Varda to make a stand-alone feature-length dramatization of it with her during a break in Jane B. par Agnès V.’s shooting. Birkin requested and was granted Varda’s young son Mathieu Demy to play her paramour; in exchange, Varda cast Birkin’s teenage daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg (who was then already an established screen performer), much younger daughter Lou Doillon, and cheerful English parents as versions of themselves. The natural chemistry that emerges between everyone onscreen helps keep the proceedings light and sweet, as Birkin’s divorced Mary-Jane pursues Demy’s fourteen year-old Julien to fill the absence she feels both of son and of husband, with the hope that he will rescue her from daily life like the action hero rescues the girl in the titular video game he plays. As with all fantasies, hers unfolds simultaneously across two realms. In one, it cannot last for long, and in another, it will last forever. Aaron Cutler (January 31, 9pm; February 5, 4:30pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Jane and Charlotte Forever”; January 31 screening introduced by Jane Birkin)

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