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Women on Top

Jane is a high-school senior, a smart, outspoken, sexually curious, Jewish teen who's an outcast in her Midwest, aggressively Christian, suburban high school. To escape this repressive environment, she works part-time in an indie-movie theater where the rest of the staff are mostly alcoholic drop-outs in their early twenties trying to make it in various neo-punk bands. Though they treat Jane sometimes as a mascot, sometimes as a whipping post, she's admirably unflappable. Jane knows what she wants from them— knowledge about sex and about what the bonds between men and women are made of.

Love on the run: Deneuve and Belmondo in Mississippi Mermaid
Film Forum
Love on the run: Deneuve and Belmondo in Mississippi Mermaid

Details

Mississippi Mermaid
Written and directed by François Truffaut
At Film Forum
January 15 to 28

Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore
Written and directed by Sarah Jacobson
At Cinema Village
January 15 to 21

The film is structured largely as a series of conversations between Jane and her various coworkers, shot in single takes and ending with blackouts. (Jacobson has no flair for conventional narrative editing. Whenever she inserts a close-up or a cutaway, the film falls apart.) As these conversations accumulate, they reveal not only Jane, but a half-dozen other characters in surprising complexity. For all its crudity, Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore resembles one of Eric Rohmer's moral tales. Jacobson's militant feminism, combined with her generosity toward both male and female characters, makes the film not only intelligent but refreshingly subversive.

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