Thursday, July 9, 2009

Weekend At Tati's

Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Mr. Hurlot's Holiday)(1953)Directed By Jacques Tati

Gentle french slapstick, visual gags, and amazing camera perspectives, in this smart, relaxing little comedy for people who like people watching. Not as cohesive and thematically strong as the amazing "Playtime", but very satisfying.No one films crowds and groups of people like Jacques Tati, no one films anything like Tati for that matter. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaten have a tendency to ground themselves front and center as much as possible, Tati let's the camera take in everyone, there's so much going on in the backgrounds, blink and you'll miss a gag. There's almost no dialogue here, and when there is, it's more like overhearing snips of other peoples conversations, than direct addresses. It's a nice, quaint, little movie, where one of the prolonged gags, even involves Tati listening to Jazz music too loud, which inevitably, causes all hell to break loose. As for plot, a tall awkward Frenchman named Mr. Hulot goes to the beach, where life is quiet and full of comedy if you look at it the right way. The time of this style of slap slapstick is at an end, we are unto Bruno and beyond, but it would be missing the point of this movie entirely to simply mourn the innocence of what's lost. Tati made a career of showing the humerus in the mundane, the absurd in the common, the prolonged punch-line mis-perceived as chaos, we call the universe, and all it's myriad environments where humans can be found; office buildings, malls, traffic, the circus, parades, and seaside beach getaways.In Tati films and all great slapstick every accident holds a possibility, every small mistake can snowball into greater ones, and though they may often lead you astray, chaos always comes through in the end; chaos provides.Likewise we should learn to play along with the gags of our modern and preceeding eras, which more often than not, are not as different as they appear. So lets all turn our cynical, alienated, serious frowns upside down; there's so many banana peels to slip on and so little time. Or as the bookish pamphleteer Hurlot constantly tries to avoid, barks at him as he walks away, "Rigorous eclecticism will triumph over capitalism!"

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