Varda is fascinated by geography, organizing her films up and down straight lines: Cléo moves along connecting boulevards in Montparnasse, Mona the vagabond is followed by tracking shots with clear beginnings and end punctuation, and Varda as observer limits herself to 700 meters of one unbending street in Daguerréotypes. Her way of resisting, of keeping Paris small. Old world rhythms butting up with Pompidou's 30-year modernization plan. The connecting subway -- someone makes a reference to a faraway station on the right bank -- on the same clock as the baguette coming out of the oven. The butcher's ancient tools pridefully organized on a table. Clutter and dust in "The Blue Thistle" dating back to 1933, before the Montparnasse tower, before Pompidou. The man and his amnesiac wife, the phantom of Rue Daguerre, always wanting to venture out of this place. In 1958's L'Opéra-Mouffe, another film at least partly in the shape of a street, Varda is in '20s avant-garde city symphony mode; by 1975, she has adopted vérité but she can't resist going back to her origins, breaking things up with staging, match-cutting, modernist framing... And then there's the magician, ingeniously allowing the spectator role to flip over to Varda's shopkeeper subjects.

Politics are bad for business, Varda tells us. On one end of the street, political literature is sold and people argue. On the other end, where she lives, everyone's tight-lipped. This reminds me of São Paulo. I found myself wanting the owners of my favorite small businesses to take a stance in the last presidential election, and I was angry with the ones who didn't. Can I blame them when rents are rising and everyone shops at the chain stores? In certain small neighborhoods in São Paulo, mostly areas with trendy boutique shops run by young people, politics are good for business (as long as the politics are the good ones). In the traditional neighborhoods with the decades-old family-run bakeries and shoe shops, politics are still bad for business. For Varda, these divisions exist along the same 700 meters. At least in my city the young people are reclaiming the old spaces and making them vibrant again, but I worry this reclamation effort is being done on terms that exclude anyone who doesn't fit the program. Varda's film opened up these questions for me.

"The other day Godard dropped by our place on the rue Daguerre to see Rosalie [Varda's daughter] who has been constructing some huge angel’s wings made with real feathers to be used in his film PASSION. When I saw Godard and Rosalie I laughed. Godard and I met in that same house twenty years ago when Rosalie was three and was always underfoot."

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