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Demy’s Monde: The World of Jacques Demy

As the camera pirouettes through Nantes in Jacques Demy’s brilliant debut, you might think, “This guy wants to make musicals.” Yup, and that’s what he soon did. Lola (at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 7, and Sunday, May 8; at 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, May 10) dates from 1961, the same year as Godard’s A Woman Is a Woman, and the two sort-of-musicals share antic energy, guarded love for MGM spectaculars, and elements of autobiography. (The French village was Demy’s hometown, and the locations include the arcade where he bought his first camera.) Demy’s edgier instincts returned, ironically, for his only U.S. picture, Model Shop (at 5:05 p.m. Saturday, May 7; at 8:50 p.m. Monday, May 9). This intriguing 1969 effort acknowledges the spirit (and Spirit) of late-’60s America and also pays tribute to Lola: That film’s central character (played again by Anouk Aimée) has moved to Los Angeles, where she has a fling with a disaffected young man who’s about to be drafted. In between, Demy directed his signature works, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (at 7 p.m. Friday, April 29; at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30; at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1; at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 2) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (at 4:40 p.m. Friday, April 29; at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 30; at 8:20 p.m. Monday, May 2). These candy-hued musicals are marvels of sustained mood and design, if suffocating to watch. The series also features a weeklong run of the newly restored 1970 Donkey Skin (daily, May 6– 12), another lush but dubious Demy fable. The series opens Friday, April 29 (see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), and runs through Thursday, May 12, at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)