PlayTime (1967)
March 3, 2019 2:32 PM - Subscribe

Playtime, 1967 French-Italian comedy film directed by Jacques Tati, is considered his masterpiece, as well as his most daring work. It is featured as #47 on The Sight & Sound Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. Tati again plays Monsieur Hulot, who had appeared in his earlier films 'Mon Oncle' and 'Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot'. It is structured in six sequences, linked by two characters who repeatedly encounter one another in the course of a day.

I recommend re-watching it stoned (where legal), with muted sound, and on a second screen, play Bedroom Mix 2018 or something similar. Thank me later.
posted by growabrain (12 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I saw it in 70 mm at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. Immense screen, beautiful print. I think I cried over the whole movie. It's so incredibly beautiful and painstakingly crafted and detailed. Every sound, every movement, every prop and color has been though out to an insane degree. You really get a sense of one age taking over the other.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:07 PM on March 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here's Mr. Hulot's Holiday in 8 minutes
posted by growabrain at 10:35 PM on March 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I saw it in 70 mm at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles a couple of years ago.

I am seriously jealous. I can't think of another movie I'd rather see in 70 mm. There are some other great ones no doubt, but none that make better use of the full screen experience.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:33 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I found this movie mind-numbingly dull.
posted by kyrademon at 8:20 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yep, I've seen it twice (a long time ago tough), and while it's beautiful to look at and does a good job as a time capsule for the late 1960s "modern" Paris, I've found it extruciatingly boring, particularly the restaurant sequence. I feel the same with Trafic, so I guess late-career Tati doesn't work for me.
posted by elgilito at 8:57 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was incredibly lucky gusottertrout. I saw Playtime, 2001 and Cleopatra (with Martin Landau in attendance!) in 70 mm in a span of about three days. It's really an amazing format. I think Playtime especially gets a lot of mileage out of it because there's so much to see in the frame. I recognize that if you're watching it for the plot alone it would be incredibly boring, but I got a handle on it thinking that it's more like watching an ant colony work or the ecosystem of a national park.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:01 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

my partner can't take how boring it is and i can't believe how lucky we are that it exists. people are funny like that, heh.
posted by rotten at 3:12 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I feel like M. Hulot’s Holiday is Hulot at play in the old world, and Playtime is Hulot at a loss in the new world. I will admit to preferring the former. I admire Playtime but I don’t enjoy it.
posted by argybarg at 7:21 AM on March 5, 2019

Fans are absolutely rabid about Tati, and Playtime is viewed by many as his best - as an erstwhile film studies major I thought I would love it, but the sense of care and deliberation so many champion made the film feel absolutely leaden to me.

I felt like there was no spontaniety and in many ways no subtlety, felt like Tati was always screaming at me, "GET IT???"

That said, I'm strangely glad it exists, it's one of a kind, and I can see how - if you like this kind of thing - you could like it a lot.
posted by smoke at 2:17 AM on March 6, 2019

Playtime is one of my favourite films ever, and I've seen it more times than I can remember. My life has definitely been shaped by most of my favourite things being stuff you wouldn't want to recommend to anybody (or in some cases actively dissuade people from). Saw it at the NFT1 a couple of years ago, which was nice. Wasn't there a recreation of the original edit released a while ago? I'd love to see that (perhaps in a day-long double bill with the three hour Draughtsman's Contract.

Even with the early films there's a divide between people who sit glaring at them and those of us who roll about on the floor laughing. I don't know that I've ever enjoyed watching a comedy in a cinema more than a full house of Tati enthusiasts, though.

I've not seen Trafic for a very long time, though, and then only once.

Strange trivia point: Towards the end of his life, Tati was working on one last film (in which he kills off Hulot during a live TV broadcast, the performers having to carry on as if nothing had happened while carefully stepping over his corpse), and among the collaborators were Sparks. I'd have loved to see that.

I do sympathise with people who sit through Playtime stony-faced. That's how I feel about Bridesmaids.
posted by Grangousier at 2:45 AM on March 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

I found this movie mind-numbingly dull.

Are you sure it wasn’t numb already?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:49 AM on March 7, 2019

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