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4.5 2
Director: Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Georges Montant, John Abbey

Cast: Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Georges Montant, John Abbey


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Arriving nearly a decade after Mon Oncle, Playtime continues the adventures of M. Hulot. More than a decade seems to have passed since its predecessor, however. The colorful Paris of Mon Oncle, last seen being slowly chipped away by progress, has now vanished almost entirely. Playtime takes as its setting an ultra-modern Paris where


Arriving nearly a decade after Mon Oncle, Playtime continues the adventures of M. Hulot. More than a decade seems to have passed since its predecessor, however. The colorful Paris of Mon Oncle, last seen being slowly chipped away by progress, has now vanished almost entirely. Playtime takes as its setting an ultra-modern Paris where familiar landmarks appear only as fleeting reflections in the new buildings of glass and steel. Alternating between Hulot and a group of American tourists, Tati exploits the chaos just below the overly ordered surface of this brave new world. Again moving from one nearly wordless episode to another, Tati sends his alter ego off to make an appointment in a whirring, featureless office complex. He subsequently moves on to an exhibition of new inventions, meets an old friend at an aquarium-like apartment, wreaks havoc in a snooty new restaurant, and, again, almost falls in love. The most ambitious and technically complex of the Hulot films, it proved unprofitable and helped usher in the financial difficulties that would plague Tati late in life before later getting the recognition it enjoys today. ~ Keith Phipps

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The second Criterion DVD edition of this classic 1967 French comedy is both an immeasurable visual improvement on the first release and a welcome reminder of director, screenwriter, and actor Jacques Tati’s incomparable gifts as a filmmaker. In this masterful comic feature, Tati plays his inimitable screen character, the sublimely innocent Monsieur Hulot. Set in contemporary Paris, the ironically titled Playtime finds Hulot enmeshed in an urban web of modern buildings, rushing cars, insanely busy people, and annoying tourists. Hulot -- as always, outfitted with trademark trench coat, hat, pipe, and umbrella -- bumbles along on his merry way, oblivious to the havoc and mayhem that ensues in his wake. A quietly absurd film that often borders on the surreal, Playtime resembles what could only be described as the mutant offspring of a Chaplin silent movie and a Warner Bros. cartoon. Still radical -- especially for a comedy -- for its sparse narrative and insistence on not telegraphing laughs, the film offers both a plethora of inventive gags and a message about the alienating qualities of urban life and its effect on the human psyche. Criterion’s previous disc sported a soft transfer than elicited many complaints from consumers; for this new two-disc set, Playtime has been remastered from the best surviving film elements and now looks terrific. The bonus disc includes numerous supplements, including a ’76 BBC interview with Tati, a heretofore uncollected short film he made in ’67, and fascinating behind-the-scenes info on the film’s production.
All Movie Guide
A miraculous achievement by any stretch of the imagination, Playtime was the movie that both sank Jacques Tati's career and cemented his critical reputation. Famously fastidious and exercising complete creative control (only Robert Bresson among contemporary French directors had as much authority over his projects), Tati spent nearly a decade between his previous feature, Mon Oncle, and this folly of a movie. Set in a hysterically hyperbolic modernized Paris, Playtime plops down Tati's iconic Monsieur Hulot in a bewildering sea of glass and steel. Ostensibly a commentary on modern life and the homogenization of urban culture, the movie resists glib conclusions. Initially, Hulot's wanderings seem to hint at a viciously satirical subtext. The movie's commercialized Paris is seen as an alienating, artificial place. As the day wears on, however, the city -- and the movie -- becomes warmer, more ebullient. The good humor spills over at a climactic party at a ritzy restaurant. Packed with movement and chatter, the anarchic sequence is the ultimate expression of Tati's dictum of "democracy" within the frame. The complex and rigorous mise-en-scéne gives the attentive eye several gags to choose from; foregrounds, middle, and backgrounds teem with movement. It's a radical approach that pays tribute to the audience's ability to see and think for itself. For a coda, Tati picked an appropriately ecstatic showstopper: the giddiest traffic jam ever recorded on film. The ideological flipside of the apocalyptic bumper-to-bumper freeway in Godard's Weekend, another landmark movie from 1967, Playtime's carnivalesque gridlock is the perfect culminating metaphor for a movie that sees the modern world as a source of both wonder and bemusement.

Product Details

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jacques Tati Monsieur Hulot
Barbara Dennek Young Tourist
Georges Montant Giffard
John Abbey Lacs
Henri Piccoli An Important Gentleman
René Kolldehoff Actor
Yves Barsacq Actor
Billy Kearns M. Schultz
Valerie Camille Mons. Luce's Secretary
France Delahalle Shopper in Department Store
Erika Dentzler Mme. Gifford
Leon Doyen Doorman
Yvette Ducreux Hat Check Girl
Jack Gauthier The Guide
Jacqueline Lecomte Her Friend
Rita Maiden Mr. Schultz's Companion
Laure Paillette Two Women at the Lamp
Colette Proust Two Women at the Lamp
Nicole Ray Singer
France Romilly Woman Selling Eyeglasses
Francois Viaur Reinhart Kolldehoff
Ketty France Actor
André Fouché Actor
Douglas Read Actor

Technical Credits
Jacques Tati Director,Screenwriter
Jean Badal Cinematographer
Art Buchwald Screenwriter
James B. Campbell Score Composer
Jacques Langrange Screenwriter
Francis Lemarque Score Composer
Gerard Pollicand Editor
Eugene Roman Production Designer
Rene Silvera Producer
David Stein Songwriter
Andréas Winding Cinematographer

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Playtime 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Again-please More than 1 year ago
This is a piece that you MUST watch several times to find all of the surprises. You can't sleep while Tati is performing and this one is no different. He doesn't appear in this feature as often as some of his other works but as you watch there is no doubt who is in charge and who will see you to the door at the end.