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AUG. 16-AUG. 21
It seems oddly appropriate that one of Jean-Luc Godard’s most playful fiction features is also one of his most autobiographical. Anna Karina, then newly married to the director, plays Angela, a burlesque singer and dancer who announces her desire to be in an MGM-style musical. Godard’s exhilarating Cinemascope romp was made in 1961, only nine years after Singin’ in the Rain, but of course Angela’s dream is impossiblenot because she isn’t star material, certainly, but because ’50s Hollywood is as distant as the classic novels and paintings the film audaciously invokes. Godard fragments the Hollywood musical, with Michel Legrand’s score cutting in and out between bursts of dialogue and glamorous Tinseltown sets replaced by everyday Paris locations. One scene features real-life footage of men and women on the street, and the plot is also rooted in realism: It’s about Angela’s desire to get pregnant and the refusal of live-in boyfriend Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) to oblige. The scenario, in which Angela turns to Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo, pictured with Karina) to father her child, is not derived from Karina and Godard’s marriage, but the couple’s stylized bickering probably is. (A sequence in which Emile and Angela play at ignoring each other resembles a bit with Godard and longtime companion Anne-Marie Miéville in 1986’s Soft and Hard.) The film’s sexual politics have dated more than its crazy-quilt style, but Angela does frequently get the last word in what is, after all, a valentine to its leading lady. The film screens Saturday, Aug. 16, through Thursday, Aug. 21 (see Showtimes for a full listing of times and dates), at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)