Jacques Tati at 100


What would he have made of the iPhone, or the cell phone for that matter? He could barely tolerate regular phones—or technology of any kind—in his film career. Jacques Tati (1907–1982) basically resisted, stoically, every modern intrusion into French life and dignity. And yet those intrusive indignities prompted his reactive comedy style. This five-film retrospective (through Aug. 16) proceeds chronologically from this week’s Jour de Fête (1949), in which the post-war culprit is our American mania for speed and efficiency. Tati—not yet portraying his iconic character, Mr. Hulot—is a hapless, overly impressionable village postman who, inspired by Yankee celerity, decides to make his rounds by bike (among other innovations). The resulting crashes and pratfalls make this an excellent choice for older children, while their parents will be left to mull the existential implications of man alienated from labor. Laughing all the while, of course. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday follows next Wednesday and Thursday; see Web site for full schedule and details.

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