I’m not quite sure what I think of this 1967 Jacques Tati movie, which I just saw for the first time. It’s a bit slow, a bit French, and a lot jarring. The set is supposed to look like Paris, more or less — with an emphasis on the “less,” as all instances of Parisian classical or traditional architecture have been replaced by modernistic glass and plastic edifices. I was sufficiently puzzled by the movie that I turned to Roger Ebert’s 2004 review. Here are three excerpts from the review:

 Tati filmed it in “Tativille,” an enormous set outside Paris that reproduced an airline terminal, city streets, high rise buildings, offices and a traffic circle…Tati made “Playtime” without a story, with dialogue (mostly in English) that is inaudible or disposable, and without a hero.

His film is about how humans wander baffled and yet hopeful through impersonal cities and sterile architecture.  “Playtime” doesn’t observe from anyone’s particular point of view, and its center of intelligence resides not on the screen but just behind the camera lens. The most sympathetic person in the movie is a waiter who becomes a source for replacement parts…

“Playtime” is a peculiar, mysterious, magical film. Perhaps you should see it as a preparation for seeing it; the first time won’t quite work.

That gives you some idea, but it’s only a glimpse.  You’d better read Ebert’s entire review. And I guess I need to see the movie again, since indeed the first time didn’t quite work for me.

Categories: Movies & (occasionally) TV