m-hulot

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Playtime, 1967, Jacques Tati

‘The camera is backed away, at an amazing (and amazed) distance, from which it can contain what seems to be an entire city. It comes as a shock to discover that Tati actually built this city…We feel we are seeing Paris, or any metropolis. That is a tribute to extraordinary precision in the art direction, but it is also a proof of the tranquil, amiable gaze that Tati maintains. There is nothing like the inclination to see ugliness, or unkindness…Rather, Tati is charmed by the existence of things in space…Yes, this society is accident-prone and deserves to collapse or destroy itself, but its energy, its persistence, is beautiful and inspiring. It’s like watching cells grow and divide. What alarmed 1968, I suspect, was the authentic optimism of the film, its exhilaration, and the gentle growing fondness between, say, the dark girl in green and Tati himself, who wanders in and out of his own world, auteur and bystander. Truly a great film, the secret to the crowded frame.’

from Have You Seen…?, David Thomson

Studs Terkel was a great fan of film, as evidenced by his many discussions with filmmakers, actors, and critics; and during his career he traveled to and recorded interviews in a variety of locations around the world. In 1962 Terkel visited Paris; while there, he stopped at Jacques Tati’s Spectra Films for a conversation. They discuss Tati’s film Les Vacances de M. Hulot (Mr. Hulot’s Holiday), and also the nature of humor, the difference between popular and “art” films (is there one?), conformity, making mistakes, the challenges Tati faces in distributing his films, and humanity in the age of machines. They also reminisce about Tati’s earlier visit to Chicago. Thanks to the great folks at the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.

An Interview with Jacques Tati

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“Like all of the very great comics, before making us laugh, Tati creates a universe. A world arranges itself around his character, crystallizes like a supersaturated solution around a grain of salt. Certainly the character created by Tati is funny, but almost accessorily, and in any case always relative to the universe. He can be personally absent from the most comical gags, for M. Hulot is only the metaphysical incarnation of a disorder that is perpetuated long after his passing.”
(André Bazin translated from: “M. Hulot et le temps,” 1953, in Qu’est-ce que le cinéma?, vol. I)

Stills: Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Tati, 1953)

“The critics and the public wanted the pathos of M. Hulot’s Holiday and Mon oncle. They got Playtime, a comedy entirely devoted to space, in which Tati, as Hulot, hovers at the periphery of his own creation and has the elegance, which very few comedians share, not to put the spotlight on his own mug. The public and the critics turned against Tati. They were of course wrong, and the film is one of those few that get better by the year. It’s a silent film with sound; its color scheme is in a narrow band between gray and blue that aggressively underscores the painterly logic of Tati’s conceit. The film gives itself the luxury to reinvent choreography and as such dazzles with the megalomania of its enterprise and the diabolical precision the filmmaker had to conjure up to pull it off.”

– Jean-Pierre Gorin on Tati’s Playtime 

Still from Playtime (1967, dir. Jacques Tati)

eyeforfilm.co.uk
Eye For Film: Sir Ian McKellen talks Mr Holmes star on sunshine, being funny and a new film on Noel Coward.

September 10, 2015

He is looking forward to a supporting role in a new film about the young Noel Coward, written by Martin Sherman, author of Bent which dealt with gays under the Third Reich and was a play close to his heart.

“I haven’t yet seen the script and as usual it is waiting for finance. if it all comes together I will have a small part.” Glee star Chris Colfer will play the gay writer.

Tati asked Pierre Etaix to suggest some poster projects regarding Mon Oncle. Tati, like we’re used to, did not give any indication. He did not communicate what he wished for.
The first design(s) showed very less of Hulot. He was ‘absent’ in the poster frame. Etaix second idea, which put Hulot into the spotlight and Gérard looking up to him, made Tati enthousiast.

This poster was designed with a whole series of Hulot portrayed as an 'iron wire’. Fifth stage of the Mon Oncle poster design.
('En quelques traits, Etaix avait trouvé la marque de M. Hulot, son enseigne graphique, pour ainsi dire son seing. Tati aimera beaucoup ce traitement, qui dotait son personnage d'une identité reconaissable et originale.’)

Read more about the different stages in the Mon Oncle poster creation in 'Etaix dessine Tati’. (2007, ACR)
The drawing above is mentioned at page 30.

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“Like all of the very great comics, before making us laugh, Tati creates a universe. A world arranges itself around his character, crystallizes like a supersaturated solution around a grain of salt. Certainly the character created by Tati is funny, but almost accessorily, and in any case always relative to the universe. He can be personally absent from the most comical gags, for M. Hulot is only the metaphysical incarnation of a disorder that is perpetuated long after his passing.”
(André Bazin translated from: “M. Hulot et le temps,” 1953, in Qu’est-ce que le cinéma?, vol. I)

Stills/ gifs: Scenes from a restaurant.
Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot
(Tati, 1953)