Thursday, March 29, 2007

Movie Chat: Mon Oncle

Mon Oncle

I first saw Play Time on the big screen, so as much as I love my Criterion Collection DVD of Mon Oncle, I know I'm missing something. It's harder to pick up on the gags and a lot of the best background bits get lost. On the TV screen, I prefer M. Hulot's Holiday,, because it's scale isn't so imposing. Plus, this movie feel schematic in a way that M. Hulot's Holiday doesn't - there's too much of a thesis behind the contrast between the modern house and "traditional" living - and it never achieves a perfect moment of transcendence as Play Time does at the climax of the restaurant scene.

Paradox 1: Tati controls this movie down to the smallest detail, so that everything is functioning like clockwork, yet his message is "value spontaneity and beware the mechanization of modern life".

Paradox 2 (related to Paradox 1): Tati keeps a tight reign on everything going on onscreen, but the experience of watching the movie is extremely laid back: its approach to gags is as diffuse as Robert Altman's approach to dialogue.

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