I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Jacques Tati’s Playtime (my thoughts here).
So how fortuitous that The Siren would be nursing her own obsession with the film (and I am so bummed I missed the large-screen showing at Walter Reader). I loved what Siren wrote here:
But there’s an essential goodness in this movie–if not flat-out optimism, then an allowance for grace, for kindness, for people to delight you no matter how lost and bewildered we all are. Monsieur Hulot eventually gets his meeting with his heel-clacking bureaucrat. Lovely Barbara does meet up with Hulot during the peerless restaurant scene. As the restaurant falls to pieces around him, the loudmouthed American businessman, far from running the staff ragged and gasbagging about French incompetence, turns calamity into a chance for a Boys’ Own Treehouse; if only making Play Time had worked that way for Tati himself.
I also loved to read Ed Howard’s thoughts (great screengrabs as well).
The more the restaurant falls apart, the more the people there seem to enjoy themselves, and the staid, ordinary dinner transforms into a wild, frenetic party with a packed dance floor and little pockets of merry-making scattered around the room. Tati captures everything with his long shots, packing the frame with people, all of whom have little bits of business and subtle sight gags: there’s too much to focus on at any given moment, since literally every shot is packed with visual humor and miniature narratives playing out on the fringes of the image.
Playtime has great reverb.