A boxer is out in the country with his entourage, training for his next fight. Meanwhile, on the farm nearby, Roger is neglecting his chores. As he watches the boxer and his sparring ... See full summary »
On the eve of her 16th birthday, Sylvie's father needs cash to stay in his castle so he sells Sylvie's favorite thing, a painting of Alain, the lover of Sylvie's grandmother, killed in a ... See full summary »
Once a year the fair comes for one day to the little town 'Sainte-Severe-sur-Indre'. All inhabiters are scoffing at Francois, the postman, what he seems not to recognize. The rising of the ... See full summary »
Monsieur Hulot curiously wanders around a high-tech Paris, paralleling a trip with a group of American tourists. Meanwhile, a nightclub/restaurant prepares its opening night, but it's still under construction.
This documentary traces Jacques Tati's rise from the Parisian Music-Hall stage to his Oscar winning films of the 1950s, the documentary then explains how Tati bet all he had on his fourth ... See full summary »
At Altra Motors, Mr. Hulot designs an ingenious camper car with lots of clever features. A lorry hauls the prototype to an important auto show in Amsterdam, with Mr. Hulot alongside in his car and a spoiled, trendy PR exec, the young Maria, in her sports car packed with designer clothes and her fluffy dog. The lorry has every imaginable problem, delaying its arrival. A flat tire, no gas, an accident, a run-in with police, a stop at a garage, and numerous traffic jams showcase vignettes of people and their cars. Through interactions with these down-to-earth folks, Maria gradually loses her imperious conceit, becoming much more relaxed and fetching. Written by
The last we'll see of M. Hulot, and a melancholy farewell it is
What can we make of Trafic, Jacques Tati's last film? It certainly isn't a major success, as M. Hulot's Holiday and Mon Oncle are. It's not a gallant failure, as I believe Playtime is. It seems to me that it is a sad, sometimes amusing combination of those things that made Tati so unique, so funny, so problematic and so drawn to making mundane social commentary. There must be something in the water we drink or the bread we eat that causes some humans with extraordinary artistic gifts to believe that because they are great artists they also must have equally great gifts of social philosophy, gifts which they are determined to share with us.
By the time Tati made Trafic, four years after Playtime, he had lost ownership of his life's work, his films, and most of his money. Playtime was a debacle. He spent a fortune, his own as well as others, to craft a perfectionist's dream of artistic control. He ended up with a movie that was filled with surprises, layer on layer of -- for wont of a better term -- sight and sound gags, with fascinatingly complex amusements for an audience willing to let the situations develop around them, and seemingly endless, obvious and often impersonal visual commentary on the homogenizing of modern society and the perils of technology. Most moviegoers were not all that interested.
Now, with Trafic, Mr. Hulot has come back. He is a designer for a Paris auto company, and he has developed a camping vehicle like no other. Trafic is the story of Mr. Hulot's delivery of his camper from Paris to an international auto show in Amsterdam. It's a long journey filled with misunderstandings, accidents and crashes, a PR executive with an endless number of dress changes, cops, windshield wipers and a lot of cars. The movie is as exquisitely built as an expensive vest pocket timepiece. Unfortunately, time has a way of catching us up, and Mr. Hulot now is a man past middle age, where male innocence seems unlikely and somewhat unattractive. Tati was 64 now, and he looks it. The gentle, innocent mime who meets unexpected personal situations at a small seaside hotel or tries to help his young nephew has been replaced by a well-meaning older gentleman we more often observe than we root for. His encounters with the clichés of faceless technology and bumbling bureaucracy are increasingly with people with few understandable, sympathetic foibles. Mr. Hulot to be at his best needs people we can come to like and interact with, not simply interchangeable stand- ins...even if they're picking their noses in the privacy of their cars (in a sight gag probably only Tati could have pulled off).
Mr. Hulot only appeared in four feature-length movies. It is Tati's genius that in less than 500 minutes he gave us such a memorable and appealing human being. Tati's layering of sight gags is unique and often intensely and unexpectedly funny. With Trafic, however, I found my interest more intellectual than anything else. There were stretches of the film that simply weren't all that engaging. And this, of course, is all just opinion.
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