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MARCH 25–31

It’s no secret that Jean-Luc Godard had troubles with women; his contentious marriage to Anna Karina was the partial inspiration for such films as Contempt and A Woman Is a Woman. Despite its title, however, the Karina-less Masculine-Feminine seems to be less about a battle between the sexes than one between generations. This brilliantly dejected 1966 cine-essay does feature some remarks about men and women, including one nasty crack that hangs in the air until the film’s final word, and much frank talk about such then-taboo subjects as birth control, which caused French censors to ban the film to under-18s. Godard’s fundamental concern, however, was with “the children of Marx and Coca-Cola.” As an aging young rebel, the director—and his on-screen surrogate, played by Jean-Pierre Léaud—worries that the kids just don’t care about politics, consumer manipulation, or the ongoing wars in Vietnam and, uh, Iraq. With cameos by Françoise Hardy and Brigitte Bardot, and ye-ye singer Chantal Goya basically playing herself—yes, she really was “Number 6 in Japan”—Masculine-Feminine has all the ingredients of a youth-culture romp, and it may well appeal to today’s indie-pop kids. There are also plenty of inside jokes, near-documentary asides, and outbursts of absurdist violence. Yet the film is deeply pessimistic, foreshadowing Godard’s renunciation of cinema, narrative, and Western culture (pop music, too, but then he never did really like that). Godard’s Maoist lost weekend is just around the corner. The film screens daily (see Showtimes for a full schedule) starting Friday, March 25, through Thursday, March 31, at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)