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In a touching speech just before the wheels start coming off his life, Joaquim tells the troupe that they are his family, his only reason for going on. Not a new sentiment, but here it rings true. Show biz posed as a microcosm of life has been around probably since the Greeks, but Amalric in his directorial debut reinvents it with an assured hand, bringing to mind Wim Wenders's TheState of Things, though with tassels instead of space suits.

Early in On Tour Amalric pays a brief homage to Jean Seberg's "New York Herald Tribune!" moment in Jean-Luc Godard's first film, Breathless (1960). More than any other French director, Godard has wrestled with the ideal of womanhood, whether embodied in Anna Karina, Paris, or cinema itself. In FILM SOCIALISME (2010; July 16 @ 1 pm + July 17 @ 3 pm), his 40th or so feature, Godard, 79, seems to have given up the struggle, as well as throwing in the towel on narrative, linguistic (the film is subtitled in "Navajo English"), and even political coherence.

Some of his inscrutable humor returns midway through the film, in an episode or "movement" that takes place at a gas station and, inexplicably, involves a llama and a donkey. No doubt the place represents the power of petro-capitalism. But it might also allude to Hail Mary (1985), Godard's modern retelling of the Virgin Birth, an indication perhaps that his obsession with la femme hasn't abandoned him just yet.

The 16th Annual Boston French Film Festival takes place July 7-24 at The Museum of Fine Arts.

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