I also love how he champions women filmmakers, like Barbara Loden's Wanda or his recent piece on Agnès Varda's Vagabond (the French title Sans Toi ni loit, without roof or law), actually the two films have so much in common, as they are about female drifters & wanderers bruised by their existence.
I agree with Jameson that Varda is one of the great auteurs. In a way her career reminds me of Louise Bourgeois'. Both at first associated with a major art movement (Bourgeois with Surrealism, then later with minimalism, Varda with the New Wave) and then later in life, at an older age, making some of the most exciting works of their career (Bourgeois' Cells, Varda's cinematic essays), and works that change their medium (sculpture, film).
And I personally don't think anyone's making cinematic essays like Varda is now (I much prefer hers to Godard's). They are political (especially Gleaners) but that element of play and self-reflexivity I think makes them stand apart. I love Cleo, I love Vagabond, Gleaners, Beaches. Gleaners to me is an extraordinary essay, it is perfect - her meditation on creativity (this act of gleaning), the political message, the ruminations about art, aging, the pulsing feeling of life and joy pouring through her works. I loved Beaches as well, although it felt messier, yet maybe more ludic. I leave watching her later works wanting to live life in a different way, appreciating spaces, the outside, life, in a different way. I last saw Beaches & I wanted to move somewhere, anywhere, and live life as fully as Varda does.
Although I have to say if I have to pick my favorite Varda I have a special spot for her Cleo from 5 to 7 (referring to a recent post of mine, did you know Madonna wanted to remake it in the 80s, making the test Cleo would be awaiting an AIDS test?) My novel Green Girl is directly inspired by Cleo, also about a beautiful blonde walking the streets, the consumer-shopper as well as always aware of being the spectacle, the object of the gaze. I love Corinne Marchand's fragility in the later scenes, when she takes off the wig, her slow coming into a sort of consciousness. Some feminist critics have been down on Cleo for not being feminist enough (because the character doesn't have any real awakening in the film). I think that's ridiculous. On the other hand Vagabond is widely seen as a feminist film. I wonder whether there is that wide of a difference. Although the visual elements are so different (Cleo is so glossy, Vagabond all gritty realism), both are basically existentialist films about women and what everyone projects onto them, and how they must pander to others to survive. And Varda was very inspired by Rilke's Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, this meditation on identity and consciousness pervades her fictional work (and like Cleo, the person in the city, in Paris).
On a more superficial, fashionable level, I love all the touches in Varda's films that can be seen as feminine, how she occupies her interior spaces. The necklaces hanging up in Cleo's studio that were Varda's own necklaces. All of the fetish objects in Gleaners, the postcards. I even love the boots in Vagabond.
I also love the stripe in her hair in Beaches.