Mon Oncle (1958)
February 24, 2020 5:41 AM - Subscribe

M. Hulot needs an objective: a job and a wife; or so it is agreed by his sister and brother in law, from their semifunctional modern suburban bunker; but perhaps it's more important that Hulot's nephew learns the value of a timely whistle and some kind of field doughnut. The second film from director/titular character Jacques Tati, noted sport pantomimist.

There's also a supporting cast of dogs, who are seen in the first shot and the last, and hurry on their doggy business in between. They don't have an important role in the plot; they're just there, checking things out, marking their territory. I learn from the elegant Web site that Tati found the dogs in the pound, and didn't train them but simply observed and encouraged them. "At the end of the film, we had to get rid of them," Tati wrote. He refused to send them back to the pound, and had an inspiration: He took out an ad in the paper describing them as movie stars, and they all found good homes. There is a lot of Tati in that serendipitous story.
-- Roger Ebert, four stars way up
I saw this on the Criterion streaming channel, but it also appears to be on dailymotion.
posted by fleacircus (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's also streaming via Kanopy, which you can access in the US via library card or university ID.
posted by Etrigan at 6:12 AM on February 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Caught up with this a few months ago on Criterion and loved it.

Weirdly Parasite remind me of this a lot and I wonder if Bong has seen it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:53 AM on February 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised my high school French teachers never played any Tati movies in class.

The biggest laugh this got from me was when the boss at the factory calls Hulot's number and the "Hulot's neighborhood" theme music blares out from the phone.

There's a lot of little things I love about this movie. Like the street sweeper who always has something else to say, and never sweeps, and the way Hulot has to escape from him one step at a time. The house is so funny: the fact that it's not usable; the tiny porch with prison bar pillars.

I've only seen this and M. Hulot's Holiday so far. I liked this one a little less, because Holiday has a pureness to it that reminded me of Untitled Goose Game.
posted by fleacircus at 8:04 AM on February 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

octothorpe, I thought of both this film and the next one while watching Parasite. It seems unlikely to me that Bong would not have seen all three films.
posted by mwhybark at 9:59 AM on February 24, 2020

Here’s an essay on Medium comparing the two films with side by side stills.
posted by mwhybark at 10:01 AM on February 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh wow, very cool.

BTW, I totally want that shark fountain.
posted by octothorpe at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2020

I came to Tati via M. Hulot's Holiday after Rowan Atkinson cited it as a big influence on the creation of Mr. Bean. Mon Oncle is wonderful, especially the genial befuddlement of Hulot: confronted with the absurdity of modernity, he just navigates around it or through it without anger or malice, with curiosity but also without granting it any respect - because that respect has not really been earned.
posted by Paragon at 1:33 PM on February 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've only seen this and M. Hulot's Holiday so far.

You're in for a treat when you get to Playtime. The brilliantly building democratic chaos of the restaurant scene that takes up the last hour of the movie is such great cinema.
posted by mediareport at 1:48 PM on February 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I love this film, particularly the way the house almost had its own character with its 'eyes', and about M. Hulot's confusion about the modern world. And the scene where the woman in the shawl turns up and is almost turned away as she's thought to be a peddler makes me laugh every time. A wonderful film.
posted by essexjan at 11:56 AM on February 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

non non, nous avons pas de besoin des tapis
posted by mwhybark at 11:22 PM on February 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

er, n’avons pas, c’est-à-dire. pardonnez-moi.
posted by mwhybark at 1:59 AM on February 27, 2020

1) However it's said in the film, 'nous avons pas' is actually fine in contemporary spoken French. Standard French as they teach us in school is in fact archaic.

2) Tati is a genius and Playtime is his masterpiece. (Though watch them all!)
posted by bertran at 7:36 PM on February 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

well, this is helpful to me, since my French is based on 1980s era spoken interactions as a teenager. My goodness, did I find trying to relate the written language to the words I was actually saying challenging. Eventually I gave up on worrying about how I did on paper, since I wasn’t going to be vying for employment or college in a Francophone country.

The “n’ ” is silent.

posted by mwhybark at 9:37 PM on February 28, 2020

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