All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
Jacques Tati’s gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedies about confusion in the age of technology reached their creative apex with Playtime, a lasting testament to a modern age tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion.
What a mess. What a beautiful fucking mess. Chaos and adventure reign. Nothing like a film that completely seduces you after a string of previous films failings that do naught to jolly your rodgers. I did not expect this magnetism. I did not lace my boots or put my tray table up in time. This is my first Jacques Tati film, poppin' cherries all over the place. With this ambitious paragon of hypnotism he goes straight to the top of the director to-do list. It is very sad to read of the debt and trials that he had to go through to get this made, and had to continue through for a decade after. I for one welcome our new…
Audaciously grand and visually bewildering, Jacques Tati's Playtime made my eyes hurt. In this stunning accomplishment, Tati crafts a visionary and relentlessly detailed landscape and lets his camera loose. At points, the audience follows Monsieur Hulot, a confused and out-of-luck man whose goofy antics highlight the alienating structure around him. And yet, Playtime focuses more on the shifting interactions between people, drifting through modern towers and chaotic restaurants to illuminate the intricate stages of humanity.
However in spite of its majestic insanity, I can't say that I particularly enjoyed Playtime. Its humor, while brilliant and near-constant, wore thin within the first half-hour, and as a result, the entire film lagged at multiple moments. With no story keeping me emotionally invested, all I could think of during Tati's Playtime was how much I admired it.
Welcome to Tativille
Now this is beyond what I expected after Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot - A cinematic marvel to be adored and respected and quite simply, a work of astounding genius. I think I really needed this extra level of Tati to really appreciate his art, and with it's colour presentation aiding me to escape my desire to compare him with the masters of the silent era. Filmed over 3 years, this ambitious vision of a world where modernity and technology obscures mans interaction with each other and everything is transparently artificial, Monsieur Hulot tries to navigate a Paris of steel lines and glass panes to share his heart with someone, anyone. From one ingeniously staged episode to…
I was shaving my legs while watching this film but it was such a fucking good movie that I couldn't take my eyes off the screen and now my legs still aren't shaved. I'm going to have a tough time making friends at the beach.
Heretical confession: Though my first viewing was ideal—70mm on the giant Lumière screen at Cannes in 2002, right after its restoration—I think I enjoyed it more at home (on Blu-ray). Rather than feeling continually anxious about what I might be missing in a far corner of the screen (my own idiocy, admittedly), I was able to relax and allow my attention to be subtly directed, which made the first half much funnier. And even when the office-set stuff isn't hilarious, it's consistently awe-inspiring, particularly in the way that adjacent shots navigate the architecture; each new angle builds on the previous one, usually in a way that requires a brief but invigorating moment of visual recalibration. Until night falls, yes,…
For whatever reason, Playtime was in the same company for me as Sansho the Bailiff, Persona, and The Earrings of Madame De... as highly acclaimed films that carry with them a presence and intimidation. In hindsight, why a Tati film would come off as daunting sounds pretty ridiculous.
I had heard over the years it's use of architecture and setpieces as a main focal point, and that surely was the case. The entire screen is used to full effect and absolutely gorgeous on blu-ray. It's set in modern Paris, constructed from scratch, with plenty of steel, glass, and other symbols of alienation. The film wasn't so much about Tati's Monsieur Hulot as the camera is constantly viewing the landscapes and…
How is Playtime possible? Like, even bankrupting yourself, how do you come up with the resources to do something like this, or even just communicate to so perfectly synchronize everything? It's like watching the most elaborate mechanical motion machine ever constructed.
And then at the conclusion, as the cars at the roundabout move around and around in endless circles, never exiting, they grind to a stop. A man walks past what is evidently a parking meter, and puts in a coin, and the merry go round starts back up again. Just one coin to ride.
An old man wanders, or gets herded, around the city of the future, ending up in all kinds of exciting and funny situations. His story brings together physical comedy (not quite Chaplin level funny) with eye candy in the form of all sorts of deep-focus shenanigans.
That sounds like a pretty good idea, and it is. Apparently multiple viewings are heavily rewarded, although I doubt I'm going to take many because I didn't find the comedy that funny.
One issue I had with Playtime is that the protagonist really is a bit too fogeyish. He brings many of his troubles upon himself, but without sympathy or schadenfreude what's that good for? It constantly seems as though there's more that could be said if there were more to say.
I could have watched Playtime for hours. Tati's visual ecology becomes more amazing with each passing shot, it's a level of maximalism you rarely see outside of big budgeted blockbusters.
This is one of those films where words simply fail me, it really has to be seen to be believed. This is the type of cinema I get most excited about, where the cumulative power of a series of images can't be adequately summed up in words.
Given that there's so little talking in Playtime, it's almost useless for me to even try to talk about it myself, other than to urge you to see it. In fact seeing it on the big screen is my new life goal.
Included In Lists:
Criterion Collection - #112
Mon Oncle was the critical film that opened my heart to Tati’s work, finding myself nearly lost in the themes and visuals he has created, fuelling his trademark Monsieur Hulot to excellent use, and its humour finally nearing closer to its sweet spot as it neither intrudes nor underwhelms Tati’s narrative intentions. As I was going through this Tati marathon, a person (you know who you are), mentioned that I have yet but close to scratching the surface of the director’s opus, stating that his next film, Playtime, would act as the defining piece of art that would shine in his filmography, elevating almost everything that was perfect in Mon Oncle. Though such…
Las palabras no le harán justicia a Playtime. Así como pocos films, esta más una experiencia que una película. No puedes llegar esperando una historia de tres actos, esto es un desafío a la narrativa tradicional, y a las grandes producciones de Hollywood (toma eso Dogme95). Tiene cientos de protagonistas, y para la cámara de Tati, todos son igual de importantes, y lo que dicen no es tan importante como lo que hacen.
Este año empecé con Tati, me he ido en orden cronológico, y todo hace un sentido maravilloso, algo así como la trilogía BEFORE, que no es hasta que llegas al final que se cierra el arco completo. No es así tan estricta la historia con el cine…
Like other Tati films, Tati doesn't show up until like ten minutes into the film and he was really needed for the early parts of this film. The film doesn't get going until he shows up and then the movie dies when he disappears during the earlier scenes. And he leaves for a while and then when he does return for the window/TV section of the film,I just didn't find that part of the movie funny.
Then, we get to the hotel dinner party scene which lasts for nearly an hour of the picture and I was completely fine with that. Very funny sequence where disasters upon disaster strikes the party but the party goes on and people continue dancing…
Underdog candidate for best last shot in any film.
Tati's best. Layers upon layers of gags.
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…