Play Time

A couple of nights ago Dave and I watched Jacques Tati’s 1967 movie Play Time. I became a fan of the Tati movies in college — they would show now and then at the Balboa Cinema not far from campus. Mon Oncle was my favorite, and I liked Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday a lot, but Play Time was sort of bewildering as a whole, though it had many very funny sequences. What we watched the other night, though, was a DVD of the movie in a restored version, with some of the footage that had been cut for its released restored (some but not all, as some of it is completely missing), and the whole thing makes more sense now and seems more consistently funny all the way through. Play Time is also a movie that gets better on repeated watching, partly because some of the deadpan humor takes a little time to grow on you, and partly because some of the sequences have actions and subtle visual puns and not-so-subtle sight gags happening all over the screen, all at once, and it takes a couple of viewings to absorb it and get the full point of the comedy. It also helped that we were watching it on a high-def television — the sharpness of the picture brought out a lot of the detail.

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