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Cleo from 5 to 7
In one of the only color sequences of an otherwise black-and-white film, a tarot card reader draws the hanged man. It’s an ill omen, the last thing Cléo Victoire needs. The rest of Cléo from 5 to 7 consists of Cléo’s odyssey through Paris as she grapples with a sudden, unwelcome awareness of her own mortality. Days before, she lived a charmed life as a semi-successful musician with a well off boyfriend and an apartment full of frolicking kittens. Now, she’s awaiting the results of a biopsy that will tell her whether or not she has terminal cancer. Her senses are sharpened by anxiety, and through her point of view, we encounter a Paris that is less a character than an ecosystem, teeming with life and activity, a cruel contrast with the specter looming over Cléo. Director Agnes Varda originally trained as a photographer and it shows. Every shot in Cléo from 5 to 7 is exquisite (see especially: the tracking POV shot of Cléo walking through an art class as the students sculpt a nude model). Varda is considered a peer to French New Wave icons Jean-Luc Godard (who cameos in Cléo as a silent film star) and François Truffaut. The film was set to screen at AFI Silver from March 20 to 26, but thanks to the pandemic, the theater’s temporarily closed. However, it’s available on Kanopy, which is a relief, since discussions of auteur theory disproportionately focus on the same dozen white males (your Hitchcocks, Hawks, and, later, Scorseses and Tarantinos), and Varda is a welcome exception, with a rich portfolio that ranges from La Pointe Courte (1954) to Faces Places (2017). The film is available to stream on Kanopy. Free. —Will Lennon
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems
Mo Willems, author of the children’s classics Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus, the Knuffle Bunny series, and the Elephant & Piggie series, is swooping in to save weary parents from their new homeschooling responsibilities. Willems, whose Pigeon was the star of a wildly popular Kennedy Center musical adaptation this winter, is the Center’s education artist-in-residence (from the inside of his pleasingly primary-colored Massachusetts studio). He’s been keeping himself—and the nation’s kids—busy with a daily 1 p.m. “lunch doodle” via the Kennedy Center’s YouTube channel. Last week, Willems announced the series by talking directly to his audience. “I know a lot of you guys are not in school. You’re at home right now, because of all the things that are going on,” he said. “Well, guess what? I’m at home too.” While there, Willems is showing children and adults alike the inside of his notebooks, answering fan mail (unfortunately for one young fan, he does not like cake), and leading fans in drawing colorful creatures with a lot of legs, big bad wolves, and, of course, misbehaving pigeons. Write in to Willems at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions about what else urban birds shouldn’t be allowed to do. The videos are available daily on the Kennedy Center’s website and YouTube channel. Free. —Emma Sarappo
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