1967. France/Italy. Jacques Tati. 126 min.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009, 4:00 p.m.
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1
1967. France/Italy. Directed by Jacques Tati. Screenplay by Tati, with the artistic collaboration of Jacques Lagrange. With Tati, Barbara Dennek, Jacqueline Lecomte. Tati’s towering achievement, a triumph of widescreen space, color, design, and stereophonic sound, has been painstakingly restored by a consortium of French institutions to the director’s original full-length vision. Set in Tativille, a grand project of glass-and-steel modernism that Tati built out of the wasteland of the Parisian periphery (and a glorious and ruinous folly that forced him to divest the rights to all his films), Playtime is a gentle, absurdist satire of modern life as homogenized, mechanized, sterilized, commodified, and voyeuristic, even as it celebrates the pleasures to be discovered in places usually spent wasting time: the airport lounge, the office vestibule, the traffic roundabout, or the grand opening of a swank restaurant where the food never comes. Nöel Burch has astutely observed that Playtime is “the first film in the history of cinema that not only must be seen several times, but [also from] different distances from the screen.” Filmed in a Babel of languages (French, English, German, all manner of gadgetry), with English subtitles. 126 min.