Ah, Oui

French film charms because it's filmed in France, specifically Paris, whose cobblestone streets, café chairs, and sweeping arches seem more suited to black-and-white than color. Since Lumière planted his tripod beside a train depot, the best French films -- which is very near to saying the best films, period -- have always featured a documentarian's sense of urban life. The plot and characters may be invented, but the backdrop is real, and what better backdrop than Paris? Books & Books, for the latest version of its Films in the Courtyard series, is screening two classics set in the City of Love.

Cleo from 5 to 7, by the lone female member of the New Wave, Agnes Varda, is almost a companion piece to Godard's Breathless, in that it uses a hand-held camera to follow a beautiful actress through the bustle of Parisian life. That the character is awaiting the results of a biopsy lends gravitas to the story, but does not dampen the levity. Under the Roofs of Paris, an early film by French legend René Clair, explores that other famous French export: the love triangle. The program begins at 8 p.m., and admission is free.
Sat., Jan. 5, 2008
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P. Scott Cunningham