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Tiki Central Forums » » Beyond Tiki » » Playtime: a 1967 film by Jacques Tati
Playtime: a 1967 film by Jacques Tati
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3691
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-11-13 2:07 pm   Permalink

I just spent way too much time trying to write up a post that explains why this movie is something people might be interested in, and the words weren't coming -- it's a weird film. So, I'll settle for this: I have been dying to see it again ever since catching a screening of it a couple of years ago, but it's only been available as a trimmed-down out-of-print DVD going for over a hundred dollars. Just a few weeks ago, it was released on a new improved DVD, restored to a length of just over 2 hours (still a half-hour shy of its original running length, but this is the print that I saw in the theater), for about 35 bucks. We watched it again last night, and I still love it.

If you're a fan of midcentury modern and futurism, this movie will particularly appeal to you. It's sort of at the direct opposite end of Polynesian Pop -- a great depiction of what Tiki places were an escape from. And it's got some great, subtly funny gags.



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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2989
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2006-11-13 2:27 pm   Permalink

I concur! It's best seen at a theatre as it was filmed for 70mm screening. If you ever get the chance don't miss it! Mon Oncle (My Uncle) is another good Tati film, where a 1950s high tech home is one of the sets.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3691
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-11-13 2:35 pm   Permalink

Good point! It's wiiiiiiidescreen, and that combined with nearly every scene being shot in a wideshot, and the jokes being small, subtle details, it might be hard to watch on a smaller, 4:3 set. I was worried that some of the detail might get lost on our TV (a largish 16:9 set), but it was fine.


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 12, 2002
Posts: 542
From: Los Angeles
Posted: 2006-11-13 7:40 pm   Permalink

I saw this film for the first time at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood so I was fortunate with the big screen there. I had already seen Mon Oncle a few times before, but I think I like Playtime even better. The party scene was amazing, rivaling even the more famous Breakfast at Tiffany's party scene. Highly, highly recommended.

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Sweet Daddy Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 20, 2003
Posts: 1099
From: Edmonton
Posted: 2006-11-14 07:05 am   Permalink

Mon Oncle is one of my favorite films of all time and Playtime is right up there too. I've seen both many times. I'd love to have the Criterion dvd of Playtime (my birthday's coming and I've made some not-too-subtle hints). Tati's official website is quite wonderful too.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1438
From: Volcanic area of France
Posted: 2006-11-14 09:15 am   Permalink

One of my favorite movie too. Loved it since I saw it young. The french DVD is great, with cool bonus.
But I think I love even more Mon oncle (My uncle).

By the way, do you have the "Mon oncle" DVD with both version (in french and in english), there is small differences, but he really shoot 2 versions.

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Pepe le Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 09, 2005
Posts: 325
From: Vancouver, BC
Posted: 2006-11-19 7:19 pm   Permalink

I love both these movies!! I'm very happy to see Playtime released on DVD. Another movie to watch if you like these is 'Trafic'. It features more mid-century adventures (or should I say misadventures) of Monsieur Hulot.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3691
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2007-05-02 1:44 pm   Permalink

Thanks to thejab for the heads-up -- for those lucky souls in Southern California, there's a Jacques Tati festival happening right now at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. That's the theater where I first saw and fell in love with Playtime. Playtime is playing tonight, and again on Sunday -- don't miss it!


At the Aero Theatre
1328 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Tickets are available on http://www.fandango.com or 2 hours before the screening at the Aero Theatre Box Office.

Wednesday, May 2 - 7:30 PM
In 70mm! PLAYTIME, 1967, Janus Films, 126 min. Dir. Jacques Tati. Another chance to see the fully restored Jacques Tati masterpiece PLAYTIME, which was conceived originally as a 70mm viewing experience, then lost for over 30 years (there were only 35mm prints left of a cut version), and finally rescued by Tati's daughter Sophie Tatischeff and Jerome Deschamps. Monsieur Hulot must contact an American official in Paris, but he gets lost in a stylish maze of modern architecture filled with the latest technical gadgets. Caught in a tourist invasion, Hulot roams around Paris with a group of American tourists, causing chaos in his usual manner. Gilles Deleuze concisely states that in PLAYTIME Tati "spreads Mr. Hulots everywhere, forms and breaks up groups, joins and separates characters, in a kind of modern ballet." A "ballet" Noël Burch would famously proclaim "not only begs for multiple viewings, but demands to be seen from several different seats in the auditorium." The star of the film: the city built by Tati and called Tativille/Taticity. From surprise to surprise, it’s an exquisite and divine experience! François Truffaut, writing to Jacques Tati about PLAYTIME, said simply, "A film from another planet." In French and English. Also playing May 6.

Thursday, May 3 - 7:30 PM
THE BIG DAY (JOUR DE FETE), 1947, Janus Films, 79 min. Jacques Tati’s feature debut as director is a priceless showcase for his comedic talents as he plays a mailman attempting to streamline delivery in his small town. But he soon finds his attempts at modernization and a coincidental Bastille Day celebration don’t mix. Tangible proof that Tati remains -- along with Chaplin, Keaton and the Marx Brothers -- as one of the pantheon comic geniuses of the 20th Century. Originally filmed in Thomson-Color, a tentative French alternative to Technicolor, JOUR DE FÊTE was shot simultaneously in black-and-white as a precaution. Eventually, trouble with the new color process led Tati to release this second, backup version. The film proved a commercial and critical success, yet that didn't stop Tati from returning to the film in the mid-1960’s, re-editing the picture, remixing its soundtrack and even shooting new footage for it. Until a 1995 "restoration" of the film's intended, original color version carried out by Tati's daughter Sophie Tatischeff and cinematographer François Ede, the 1964 JOUR DE FÊTE was the sole version in circulation. Plus, prior to feature film: three rare shorts co-written or directed by Tati, all starring Tati: René Clement’s "Soigne Ta Gauche," 1936, 20 min. Tati’s "School For Postmen" (L’Ecole Des Facteurs), 1947, 18 min. Nicolas Ribowski’s "Evening Classes" (Cour Du Soir), 1967, 30 min.

Friday, May 4 - 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

MON ONCLE, 1958, Janus Films, 110 min. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The New York Times' Vincent Canby once described Jacques Tati's M. Hulot alter-ego as "a kind of fixed point in a view finder with which we are able to put the rest of the world into properly hilarious focus." This is no less true than in Tati's Academy Award-winning MON ONCLE. Following the commercial and critical success of 1953's M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY, Tati set Hulot packing for the suburbs. Rendering Le Corbusier's proclamation that a house is "a machine for living in" literally, Tati's Hulot bumbles through modernity's "gadgeted and pushbuttoned realms," to use New York Times critic Bosley Crowther's apt description of the factory floor and the family home. There Hulot commiserates with his young nephew on the awkward and always comic affects of modernism – such as lawn paths that wind like couture runways or oval windows that resemble cartoon eyes peeping down on visitors. Though Tati would make the claim in a 1968 Cahiers du Cinema interview that he "went a little astray with MON ONCLE" it remains one of his most beloved films.

MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAY (LES VACANCES DE MONSIEUR HULOT), 1953, Janus Films, 85 min. Dir. Jacques Tati. Tati’s first film as Monsieur Hulot, one of cinema's great comic personas, finds the irascible Frenchman going to a resort town for a vacation and chaos predictably ensues. A warm and whimsical hymn to the joys of life and the funny little things continually happening around us we often fail to notice. Both films in French with English subtitles.

Saturday, May 5 - 7:30 PM

Ultra-Rare Double Feature:

TRAFFIC, 1971, Janus Films, 96 min. Jacques Tati reinstates M. Hulot as a protagonist, returning to the bucolic charm of his first feature (1949's JOUR DE FETE) and, in the words of Michel Chion, its subsequent "rediscovery of roads, nature, cows, trees, and meadows." Hulot is assigned with escorting a prototype for a ridiculously gadget-addled, super-deluxe camper from its French factory to the International Automobile Show in Amsterdam. Of course, a comic set of obstacles, detours and mishaps sets the caravan reeling. Another one of Tati's astute appreciations of "the odd beauty that can be revealed in the shapes, patterns and colors created by the technology of planned obsolescence." - Vincent Canby, The New York Times

PARADE, 1974, Janus Films, 84 min. Rarely screened, PARADE is likely the least seen of Jacques Tati's works. Freed from the persona and its ancillary mannerism that he had inhabited onscreen for twenty years, Tati returns to the vibrant pantomiming and giddy clowning of his youth as a music-hall star. Shot on video and originally intended for Swedish television, PARADE is described by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as "deceptively modest and boldly experimental." Called at times a pseudo-documentary, it depicts a circus performing for a small audience on a soundstage. Maintaining TRAFFIC's exploration of close-ups, hidden cameras and the telephoto lens in general, PARADE is likened by Serge Daney to "a luminous trail of colors in an electronic landscape." Tati would never direct another film, much less produce another television program. Yet PARADE remains a fascinating sketch of what Tati on the tube could have been. Plus prior to the feature films: "Forza Bastia 78," 2002, 26 min. Jacques Tati’s lost short rediscovered and edited by his daughter Sophie Tatischeff. Both films in French with English subtitles.

Sunday, May 6 - 7:30 PM
In 70mm! PLAYTIME, 1967, Janus Films, 126 min. Dir. Jacques Tati. [See description May 2 – Aero]


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3691
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2008-07-08 10:45 am   Permalink

Playtime is playing at the Castro Theatre here in SF tonight & tomorrow night -- I'm catching the 8:30 showing tonight!


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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jun 21, 2006
Posts: 7202
From: Tujunga
Posted: 2008-07-08 10:49 am   Permalink


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2006
Posts: 431
From: Vacant lot where T. Vic's, Van. was
Posted: 2008-07-23 4:59 pm   Permalink

This is actually playing for three days in a row at a local art-house theatre (the 126-min. version) starting Aug. 15 as part of a mini-Jacques Tati festival.
I'm a-goin'!

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