In which I attempt to watch every film in The Criterion Collection and end up watching a lot that aren't. Click here for the rating system.



"The funniest Frenchman since Jerry Lewis." ▲ ♪

If there's one thing the French don't do well it's comedy. No, no. They're good at making baguettes, philosophizing and smoking, but slapstick is not exactly up their cul de sac. So it was a great delight to watch Jacques Tati's Playtime. You remember Peter Seller's movie The Party where he plays a little Indian guy misinvited to a Hollywood soirée where the head waiter gets increasingly drunk as the evening progresses? Well, this is like that, except (dare I say it) funnier. "What? The French funnier than Peter Sellers?" I hear you say. But yes, it's true. The timing, the impecable flow, the comedic layers all smooth as a crème brûlée. Jacques Tati's third Mr Hulot film reveals a sidestepping on Tati's part away from his main character. In fact, in this film there are numerous pseudo-Hulots, making the screen seem at times like a Where's Waldo page. The film has three parts: a satirical view of modernization in Paris, a night club at its hilarious grand opening, and a coda. If you are looking for linear plot, you should rent The Matrix. This doesn't have it. What this does have is a mind-blowingly expensive set (for that time anyways. the entire inner-city was a constructed set.) and some of the most refreshing comedy I've seen in a long time. Included in the Criterion's version is a short film entitled Evening Classes.

Favorite Moments: Hulot getting in an elevator by mistake, the gentle ribbing of American tourists (notice, I say "gentle," because this is another thing the French are not good at), the doorman opening and closing the doorknob after the glass door breaks, the head waiter's coat tails.


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