Jacques Tati spared no expense in crafting Playtime, a languid comedy about an American tourist and her encounters with Tati’s Chaplinesque alter-ego, Monsieur Hulot, in a labyrinthine, modern metropolis. (Tati’s sets were so massive that they earned a nickname worthy of a neighborhood: Tativille.) The director’s use of high-resolution 65mm film and rich Stereophonic sound combine with stately wide-angle shots, almost inaudible dialogue, and subtle use of color to paint a sardonic picture of Paris quite literally bursting at the seams with threatening and ineffectual technology. Tati mocks progress, not with the iron-tongued cynicism of Jean-Luc Godard, but with the forlorn nostalgia of a heartbroken lover who finds the object of his desire changed beyond recognition by the end of an era—the city’s once-impressive monuments reduced to fleeting reflections in the windows of indistinguishable glass monoliths. “Playtime is the Europe of 1968 shot by the first Martian filmmaker,” François Truffaut once remarked of the film’s unique, often alienating style. Alien might very well be the ideal description for a film in which anything from the hum of a nightclub’s neon sign to the merry-go-round-like loops of a traffic circle can elicit uproarious laughter. (Note written by Max Rifkind-Barron).
Bing Theater | $10 general admission; $7 for LACMA members, seniors (62+), and students with valid ID | Tickets 323 857-6010 or purchase online.