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JAN. 28-FEB. 19
A Claude Chabrol film is usually an appointment with death. Inspired by Hitchcock (about whom he and fellow Cahiers du Cinema critic Eric Rohmer wrote a book) and his disdain for the French bourgeoisie, the director goes about his task with the meticulousness of an executioner. Indeed, one of the films in this survey—1988’s Story of Women (at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, and 6:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13)—is an account of the last woman to be sent to the guillotine in France, while another—1996’s La Crmonie (at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, and 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13)—takes its name from a French term for “execution.” The American Film Institute’s nine-film retrospective also includes a couple of deviations from Chabrol’s customary mode, Madame Bovary (at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, and 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13) and the folkloric The Horse of Pride (at 8:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5), but neither is among the director’s best work. The earliest item on the AFI schedule is the complex 1968 thriller La Femme Infidle (at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, and 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29), but the National Gallery of Art will supplement AFI’s lineup by showing Chabrol’s first four pictures. Included are the semi-autobiographical 1958 film Le Beau Serge (at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12), the French New Wave’s first feature, and Les Bonnes Femmes (at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20), which another Cahiers du Cinema colleague, Jean-Luc Godard, hailed as one of the best films of 1960. At the American Film Institute’s National Film Theater, in the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States, $XX, (202) 785-4600, and the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW, free, (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)