Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jason watches PLAYTIME

I'm missing nearly all of the Castro's 70 mm film series to go to Holehead, but last Tuesday night I had a break to catch Jacques Tati's PLAYTIME.

I'd never seen a Tati film before, and it's my understanding this one is his most ambitious. Well, I now want to see all his work. It's a nearly-silent comedy, where the visuals are paramount. What words are spoken are a mix of French, English, and German (and no subtitles, so I imagine there's a uniquely different experience for the speakers of each language). Tati's Mr. Hulot bumbles his way through a modern Paris (well, 1960's modern) of glass walls. This isn't the Paris of the Eiffel tower (which is only seen briefly in a reflection), but a maze of glass. He tries to meet an official but gets lost in the office maze. He stumbles into a group of American tourists. He goes to the opening night of a trendy new (so new it's still being built) restaurant/nightclub. And whimsical hijinx ensue. But the movie isn't all about the slapstick, it's about the expertly choreographed shots with many layers of overlapping action and clever visual jokes. It's the sort of richly layered comedy that can leave you finding new things every time you watch it. And I can pretty much guarantee I'll be watching it again.

Running Time: 122 minutes
My Total Minutes: 238,463

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