Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bigger IS Better! (Third and last of a few)

As previously mentioned, "...volumes of critical essays have been written about most of these, I will only report upon the theatrical presentation, the film and sound quality and my gut reactions to the experience, as opposed to actually commenting upon the films themselves. They are all classics, for one reason or another, and ALL are worth seeing!"

"Playtime" (dir. Jacques Tati, France, 1967, 126 mins.) I have never seen this, though it does have something of a 'cult status' around it. I didn't realize how BIG of a cult status until I arrived only 10 minutes before the screening. The theater was PACKED! And now I know why. It is a beautifully designed and meticulously staged surreal farce. Paris is presented as a conglomeration of steel and glass mazes in which our 'hero' becomes hopelessly disoriented, if not lost. It's as if Terry Gilliam had directed "La Dolce Vita". The costuming is at times breathtaking. The 'cubicle farm' is a brilliant piece of stagecraft. The entire restaurant opening night sequence could have been apocalyptic! I wanted it to go farther! Tati, playing the recurring character 'Mr. Hulot' has an appealing manner and never lets his presence be overbearing to the proceedings. In fact, it is Tati's generosity, or at least his dedication to his vision of the film that is most impressive. Never did I sense his ego get in the way, though the cast of DOZENS is tightly choreographed within the frame.

Oh, and speaking of 'the frame'. This was an odd 'shaped' print. It was in 70mm, but it felt or looked like it was super 35mm. (There was also some problems with the matting in the theater which sort of clued me in on the oddity of the aspect ratio.) The print looked like it was only a week old! The restoration is fabulous. The sound design is another matter, as Tati dubbed the soundtrack. I do not know for a fact, but I assume that he filmed in silent as he was probably shouting cues and direction from behind the camera. The dubbing and foley are annoying at times, but at times hysterical.

Apparently, Criterion will be releasing a super packed DVD on September 5 and I think that I must have it!

To end this series, I planned on seeing "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" tonight. It was a 'cold storage print, in the 1:2.76 (ULTRA Panavision!!!) ratio and included the usually deleted overture and exit music and the heretofore missing intermission dialogue!! However, just as the overture music started, the sound blew. For the night. We waited about an hour as they attempted to fix it, but... to no avail.


1 comment:

Maxxxxx said...

re "Playtime": "Bwahahahaha!"
re "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World": "Cranky bird!"