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Agnès Varda's giddy, goofy love letter to the cinema resembles countless movie moments that have been shaken, not stirred, and poured out as a rich, heady cocktail. The phantom of a plot finds vivacious but aging film legend Simon Cinema (Michel Piccoli in a moppy blonde wig) spending his waning days reminiscing over the history of movies with the young Camille (perky, spirited Julie Gayet) and his best friend, an unnamed matinee idol identified in the credits only as "the Italian movie star" and played with great charm by Marcello Mastroianni. Simon "becomes" the film greats under discussion (from Luis Buñuel to Gene Kelly, and in one inspired moment even Michel Piccoli himself) while dozens of real-life cinema legends stop by to pay their respects. The list of cameos is a veritable who's who of American and European cinema: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Gina Lollobrigida, Jeanne Moreau, Hanna Schygulla, and dozens more. As intimate as A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Cinema and as idiosyncratic as a Jean-Luc Godard cinema essay, this is film history as coffeehouse banter, adorned with film clips, inspired tributes, jokey references to classic scenes, and a score swimming in memorable musical motifs. If you're not in on the joke, Varda's tribute may seem arcane and obscure, but die-hard film lovers and cinema buffs will appreciate her affectionate whimsy as she ricochets and riffs through the legacy of film.

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FLV1576 One Hundred & One Nights VHS (1994/Agnes Varda) $9.99