We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Although Francois Truffaut’s first film was a tremendous critical and commercial success, his career may have been defined by the fact that his second movie, though more artistically adventurous, was a flop. The vivid, earnest The 400 Blows (pictured; at 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 1 and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, at the National Gallery of Art) began a series that centered on childhood generally and Truffaut’s life specifically (notably his incorrigible womanizing). The ironic, playful Shoot the Piano Player (at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, 4:15 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, and 9:45 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, at the American Film Institute) gives us a glimpse of the revolutionary director Truffaut could have become (a role played instead by his sometime pal Jean-Luc Godard). This complete retrospective of the director’s films—all in 35 mm prints—demonstrates that Truffaut’s work was often frustrating and disappointing, but intermittently brilliant. Among the highlights are the movies that tell the ongoing story of 400 Blows protagonist Antoine Doinel: Stolen Kisses (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, at the NGA) and Bed and Board and Love on the Run (screened together at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, at the NGA). Other films on the theme of childhood include The Wild Child, a semifictional account of an unsocialized boy discovered in 18th-century France (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15, at the NGA) and Small Change (at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, at the NGA). Also showing are the well-loved Jules and Jim (at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 30, 10 p.m. Saturday, July 31, and 1 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1, at the AFI), The Story of Adele H. (at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, at the AFI), and Day for Night (at 1:30 and 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at the NGA). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Avenue NW, free, (202) 842-6799, and the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute National Film Theater, $6.50, (202) 785-4600. (Mark Jenkins)