Criterion Coll: Playtime (Version française) [Import]
Jacques Tati, the choreographer of the charming, comical ballet that is Playtime, casts the endearingly clumsy Monsieur Hulot as the principal character wandering through modernist Paris. Amid the babble of English, French and German tourists, Hulot tries to reconcile the old-fashioned ways with the confusion of the encroaching age of technology.
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Top Customer Reviews
The film is visually dense: There are people wandering in and out of the frame constantly, and on many occasions there is more than one visual gag occurring at the same time. I doubt that there are any sections of the frame that are not used at some point in the film as a crucial element of some joke. Many of the jokes occur singly, and many of them are linked thematically to others throughout the scene, or throughout the film. Because of this, as a visual comedy this film is as close to music as I can imagine--at times it is acted out much like ballet (elements of synchronicity and counterpoint are common in this film). I don't know of any film that has this level of choreographed detail (not even Peter Greenaway).
The film is more than just style, however. All of its jokes exist under certain themes that run throughout the film.Read more ›
Two caveats: I've noticed that people who expect comedies to be consistently manic and/or aren't accustomed to the slower pacing of many French films don't care much for this movie. It does require the focused attention of its audience to work. Also, the film was originally released in some oddball format that doesn't always translate effectively to the home screen. Because of this one major routine doesn't work quite as well as intended. It's not a major problem though.
My issues are with the quality of presentation on the DVD.
The transfer of the mono mix of the 35mm print of the film is as good as can be expected, and the subtitling adds another dimension over the International version, picking out "key" bits of dialogue (although none is essential). The sleeve notes explain that the location of the original elements, and thus the 65mm negative and stereo (or quadrophonic!) soundtrack have been lost, for the time being, but I urge you not to be put off by this.
It has already been discussed that some 4:3 material has been flagged as anamorphic, such that a television will stretch out images that should never have been stretched, causing some problems with subtitles being distorted. This is annoying and sloppy, requiring a manual correction when viewed each time; a moron in a hurry should have spotted this error, and I am very diappointed that Criterion have not been more punctilious.
Further, the very end of the film is supposed to be a fade to black while the music keeps playing to the end; there is about 30s overlap there. However, on this transfer, the music fades out as soon as the film is over. This gives the film an abrupt ending which has a very different effect to the proper version, as released by the British Film Institute on VHS in the UK.
Having said that, I urge you still to buy this disc, as it is good enough to get a high quality of this great film into your home. I am just disappointed at Criterion.
But the pleasure of PLAYTIME is that this modernist Paris may be ugly but it's all a kind of glass-and-cement playground for adults: everything in Tati's Paris is breaking down and is hopelessly confusing, but this is a source of tremendous fun for the viewer--and ultimately, for the film's participants. The story follows Tati's French Everyman, the endearingly clumsy Monsieur Hulot, as his path takes him in and out of a group of American tourists (their dialogue, written by Art Buchwald, becomes most memorable when they visit a technology fair: "Ooh, and it's so pratical!" one of them intones, as she watches a model demonstrate new eyeglasses with lift-up lenses for doing one's eyeshadow.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I haven't seen this movie for several years. I gave it four stars because I remember that I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first two M. Hulot movies.
If you go to [... Read more
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
It is the 3rd film in a series of four. Read more
What a horrendous experiment in comedy...if you like Jerry Lewis, I guess you'll love this travesty of a film. If you are a film snob, you will love it. Read morePublished on June 7 2004
I have not had the opportunity to see this film and ,sadly, it is now OOP (Out Of Print) from Criterion and the gougers of OOP's are licking their chops... Read morePublished on May 7 2004
J'ai vu ce film de Tati pendant la periode des Fetes 2003
a la tele de Radio-Canada. Pour moi,Jacques Tati est un grand
maitre du cinema.Il a un style bien particulier. Read more
one of the first and finest of its genre, in which the decorum becomes a supporting character infusing life in this humorous and visual treat.Published on June 24 2003 by takezo
Nothing is what it really seems, it's much more absurd! And also humorous! This is a lovely film to watch and see and hear. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2001 by hovercraft
In response to the comment ("tragic") below, I want to say that, when played back on the dvd drive on my pc, the movie doesn't seem to be cut off on the margin: the... Read morePublished on July 29 2001
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