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…
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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.
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.
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…
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,…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
The moment when Barbara discovers the flowers in Houlout's present and magically, in a perfectly orchestrated way, all the streetlights start turning on makes me almost want to weep of utter perfection.
So I guess I didn't get it.
If you took all the best bits and compressed them into a 20-minute short, maybe I would have like it, but at over two hours? I had a few chuckles, but I feel I've seen the same sort of gags better executed elsewhere (Chaplin, Fawlty Towers, etc).
Almost feels like a ballet, highly choreographed, deeply layered visual gags, social satire and an explosively, whimsically human core at the center, it's like Gilliam's Brazil from the point of view of an optimist, very high concept without any sort of pretension, incredibly sophisticated set pieces, everything is framed beautifully and Hulot serves to push the narrative forward, he's our eye into this world, it feels very much like it exists without us, seamless world building and an absolutely gorgeous ending, highly recommended.
It's like the 2001 of experimental clown comedies. Actually a lot like it, if 2001 didn't have any death or outer space in it, and if it ran backwards so it started out with a maze of shiny inhuman rooms and ended up with bouncing apes and mayhem (but in a good way).
Warning: the first half, although beautifully made, is so cold and uncomfortable (I have nightmares about airports and office neighborhoods like that) that you might want to flee; but it's worth sticking around, because once the people are finally allowed to have fun, they really do.
Although Tati spent zillions to build his huge crazy sets, the best sight gag ever is about 2/3 of the way in and requires only a doorknob. The second best gag requires a series of drunks and a neon sign.
A long-winded classic. Essential viewing, for sure, but a taste for silent comedy is a prerequisite, because two-plus hours is a long time to snicker here and there at a comedy.
Staging, choreography, art direction, everything was on point. Comedic set ups and repetitions were perfect!
Reminded me a lot of the style of French animated films (in terms of staging + character animation), particularly the shorts that come out of Gobelins. Which goes to show I guess, how profound an impact Tati had.
On some level I think we can all agree that this movie simply isn't for me, a dude who prefers chaos and sloppy filmmaking to tight construction. But I think the larger problem here is that I like (nay, need) my movies to be about something - whether that's an idea, or a character, or a mood, or even being so impeccably crafted that it fires on all cylinders as a genre exercise. This is just about how complicated its own construction is - how many people there are onscreen, how elaborate the sets are, how delicately choreographed it is. Which is a great base for an actual movie, but Tati doesn't make an actual movie. He's not trying to…
Sometimes, all you need to make life funny is to imitate it through art.
Visual comedy is a difficult art to pull off successfully. It's easy to get someone to laugh at a joke with the right delivery. Physical comedy is a little harder, but not impossible to manage. Visual comedy, trying to look funny without looking like you're trying to look funny, without the use of easy comical gags, isn't an easy feat. It takes a special skillset to pull off visual comedy. One filmmaker who seems like he knows what he's doing when it comes to directing visual comedy is Jacques Tati. I'm not familiar with the guy, but his visual comedy (among other things) impressed me when…
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…