1971. France. Jacques Tati. 100 min.
Sunday, December 27, 2009, 2:00 p.m.
Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2
1971. France. Directed by Jacques Tati. Screenplay by Tati, with the artistic collaboration of Jacques Lagrange, Bert Haanstra. With Tati, Maria Kimberley. People get nowhere fast in Tati’s unjustly neglected but hilarious Traffic—perhaps the real revelation of this retrospective (imagine Jean-Luc Godard’s savage polemic Weekend with a much sunnier disposition…). Monsieur Hulot takes his final bow as a Parisian automotive designer who tricks out his new, Rube Goldberg-like Camping Car with all the latest gadgets and modern conveniences—naturally, with calamitous results; accompanied by a go-go girl of an American publicist, he attempts to transport the car to an international auto show in Amsterdam, only to be thwarted by breakdowns and pileups, wrong-way signs and run-ins with the police. Tati’s lifelong fascination with things that move—the spindly bicycle in Jour de fête, the jalopy in Mr. Hulot’s Holday, the tour bus on the carousel roundabout in Playtime—reaches its apogee in this farcical look at modern life coming to a screeching halt. The film’s soundtrack is a tour-de-force musique concrète of crushed metal, claxon, barbaric yawp, and electronic burble. In French; English subtitles. 100 min.