I just watched Mon Oncle from the “Criterion Festival” and it is so beautiful a film! Maybe it’s not as ambitious and deep as Playtime yet it’s definitly a masterpiece of Tati.
Tati had a style that did not belong to any one else, and he was a pure genius which can hardly be described by words but can be feeled after watching his works. What do you think? Is there any other director that gives you this kind of impression? Let’s point out these “Obviously Genius Directors”!
there are directors who are geniuses. this cat is not one of them
eccentric, yes. But I found this film to be tedious at best
I love Mon Oncle and Playtime!
i’ve seen playtime once… and i’m pretty sure i have to watch it a few more times to get the whole thing
Jason-Have to agree with you. Just find Tati dull and not very funny.
Tati’s style was definitely unique although I somewhat agree with the poster who said he found him dull. Mon Oncle was an amusing movie but no masterpiece, in my opinion. In fact, the only thing I remember about the movie properly was the ultra-modern house and the movie’s score which was elated and joyful. But we digress:
“Tati had a style that did not belong to any one else, and he was a pure genius which can hardly be described by words but can be feeled after watching his works.”
Kim Ki-duk has a style that’s completely his, I feel – not just in his directing but also in his writing.
Tati is a genius. It is however a fact that is lost on most. My father introduced me to Tati when I was very young. It is the purity of those times in your life that allows you to see what he is doing and showing you. His work starts out as circus-like miming, a kin to Buster Keaton, and then it becomes a complex visual comment on human behavior. His work is also a comment on the positive and negative expects of human behavior, but always shown in a loving, understanding, and joyful way. To Tati, life can be a beautiful circus, and that is the theme of all his work. A programmed 21st century audience doesn’t have the patience for what Tati does and shows in his films, so it goes over their head. Instead all they see is “people walking around doing stuff”. In a sense that is true. All Tati shows is people living, but how he shows it presents us with how beautiful life can be. Simple, but that’s the point.
I just finished watching Tati’s TRAFIC, which has Monsieur Hulot and co-workers attempting to deliver a “revolutionary new” camping vehicle to an international auto exhibition in Amsterdam. It’s Tati’s commentary on auto-mania at the time (the late 60’s, early 70’s) and is full of his usual hilarious observances of the human species vs machinery and “progress.” It was quite enjoyable and a real treat because I actually hadn’t heard of it before, and discovered it on Netflix.
I’m of the camp that finds Tati to be an incredibly talented and imaginative comedic director, especially in these days where what passes for comedy in theaters consists of sophomoric toilet humor. I have two of his films on Criterion DVD, MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAY and MON ONCLE, which I treasure.
That’s an interesting take on him, Mick. Of course, I was basing my opinion on that one movie and my comments were restricted to that. Your take on him definitely make sense, but I still feel that he was dull – that it could have been done in a better, less time consuming way. It doesn’t have to do anything with a programmed 21st century – custom is not all powerful that lords over intellect or perception. Patience can be subjective too. I definitely have time to watch movies that say a lot but take their time to do so (apples and oranges for comparison but bear with me and consider Dersu Uzala). I merely felt that Mon Oncle said too little (which again is subjective but I agree with your comments on him portraying a beautiful circus like life) but took too long. Regardless, I look forward to watching more of Tati’s movies and thank you for your insight.
Mick-I’m not a member of the programmed 21st century audeience as you call it. I saw Tati’s films back in the 60’s and 70’s and was not impressed. I don’t feel the films go over my head. I understand them and just feel underwhelmed. I do have patience with films but feel with Tati my patience was not rewarded.
I agree that Tati is a genius. He was one of the biggest directors in France at the time of his debut (along with Bresson). His mise-en-scene is beautiful and his social commentary is so subtle yet the message gets across and stays with you for a very long time after watching one of his films.
And come on.. Anyone who makes a film over two hours with zero dialogue deserves some credit!
It’s very normal that people have different opinions toward a director, yet it seems from this discussion that Tati is more “controversial” than I thought : )
Maybe fewer people will disagree that he is a genius comedy actor for his vivid and elegent acting, but I insist that he is even more genius as a director, just as Mick and Cem said, he expressed deep topics, such as how modernization makes people lost and distant from each other, in a rather tender, beautiful way. Especially, in Playtime, what moved me most was that he did not describe modernization as a monster, instead, he pointed out that modern buildings could be fascinating. Yet it also made people oversee the beauty in life, such as the beautiful Paris sightscenes reflected on the glass door.
His works are full of details that reflect his love of life and people, yet his way of expression was very subtle.
By the way, could you name some other genius directors that are similar to Tati to some extent?
Tati? No thank you, sir!
I completely agree with all those – Mick, Derek, Cem, Zizou and Clovenhoof – who are singing the praises of this unique and highly talented driector/actor. Like ANY director on this forum, he will have detractors – which is fine – too each his own. But I have seen all his films and always find something new to see. He is one of those directors whose comic vision on human aburdity puts him in league with Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and the Marx Brothers. Like the humour with any of these – it either works for you or it doesn’t. Tati wasn’t trying to revolutionize cinema – he was just trying to entertain in his own unique, sardonic way. Mick says it all: ’To Tati, life can be a beautiful circus, and that is the theme of all his work." Amen!
I blind bought Mon Oncle, because its in the Criterion, and I usually trust the Criterion, and even though I am not particularly fond of most french cinema after 1955 or so…but I bought it to give it a try without any pre-concieved notions, and while I don’t think a film must make you bust a gut laughing, if it is a comedy, I couldn’t really muster a smirk out of the film. I just found it incredibly slow, boring, tedius, and I didn’t find the humor to be all that humorous. Also, I don’t remember there being much music in the film, and music can often play a big role in making things seem funnier. I don’t think the lead character ever spoke, and he wasn’t much of a physical comedian either. All of the humor was completely situational or absurd, and again without a strong soundtrack and without a leading character that you can identify with, it just did not do much for me. I didn’t finish it. I got to the part where he spent 3 minutes walking up stairs and then walking back down, as we watch him from across the street, and I got to the part where he goes in for the job interview and gets paint all over the place-a scene that could have been funny, but completely fell flat for me.
I don’t like anyone who doesn’t like Tati. Everyone of you who dislikes him is dead to me. It was not a pleasure.
I agree with Shotzi, thats the kind of commentary i like!
Ho ho, c’mon it’s just a discussion! Tati himself wouldn’t say that…
I can’t get into Tati. I’ve vowed to watch all the available films within the next month so my opinion may change…but thus far, I’ve seen all the ones on CC and nothing really blew me away. Then again, I’m always a little jaded and predisposed to NOT like comedy. Hence the reason I’m going to open-mindedly approach them all again and see what happens. I’ll be back! :-)
If i were to rate this directors over all ability, only basing my opnion on thion this film into consideration. I would have to disagree with your view. Talented of course, but genius? He displays grace and wit with his command of slap stick . But he seems to me to be in the shadow of Chaplin. Recycling the motifs found in Chaplin’s work. Like his commentary on industrialized society, which depth does not exceed that of Chaplin’s in the modern times. what he does well is wrap a french sensibility around these concepts. Creating something with a unique charm. the other aspect of the film that enjoyed was the relationship between the main character and the young boy. When viewing this film i found experience pleasurable.
Mon Oncle? AH! Get outta here with that! It’s like a Pink Panther wannabe.
A lot of his vision came to pass. These days I think of the “vacationer” in “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday” who was always on the portable phone to his broker. Now it’s the norm. Plus, I can’t watch the “tennis” or the “wreath” scenes without sustained laughter even after seeing them a few dozen times.
Things became a little more serious and alienating in the later films. In “Mon Oncle” at least the kids could rely on a more traditional “play”. Tati isn’t clear how long that reprieve from the modern world of “gadgets” will last.
Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Keaton … as a physical comedian he can stand with them and that ain’t a bad posse.
Guy was brilliant.
I saw Mon Oncle and Mr.Hulot’s Holiday when I was still new to film making many years ago when they were first released. they were in French with English subtitles. In Jamaica we did not see many foreign films. I liked Tati because at the time he brought a kind of freshness that was subtle and in the vein of the great Chaplin.
I think he was brilliant, but if you want to see comics swinging from Chandeliers like some movies, certainly Tati could be boring. But you must respect his auteur. I like Tati for his gentleness, subtlety and his double entendre.
After watching Mr. Hulot’s Holiday and Playtime (in 70mm no less) i too was disappointed in Mon Oncle. It’s definately the least compelling and pleasurable of the three I’ve seen. I get the impression people expect to bust a gut when they watch a Tati film for the first time. For me, at least, his movies are not front to back laugh-out-loud funny, but some of the most unique, subtle, smirk-inducing comedies I’ve seen. You just can’t beat the vibe of the seaside resort and the playful, lilting french muzak in Hulot’s Holiday.
“Mon Oncle? AH! Get outta here with that! It’s like a Pink Panther wannabe.”
I’m not a big fan of responding to one line burp posts, but clearly the character of Hulot and M. Hulot’s Holiday and Mon Oncle pre-date The Pink Panther. Certainly Blake Edwards was greatly influenced by Tati and that certainly includes his film, THE PARTY.
Terry Gilliam has mentioned his admiration for Tati and clearly Tati’s fascination with modern (dysfunctional) technology was a strong influence on BRAZIL. And when you see a red pipe being carried in the background in Lynch films such as MULHOLLAND DR. and WILD AT HEART it’s an hommage to Mon Oncle.
I love watching his films including his shorts. Interesting use of sound effects, voice dubs and Tati has an amazing ability to make us laugh at ourselves.
Tati builds structures around his gags that allow them to play off as more than just simple jokes, they are machinery in themselves. Every sound effect, every physical tic, and, most of all, every absence of the viewer’s expectation is brick and mortar towards an understanding of the vocabulary of comedy. If Tati attempted to execute his situations “in a better, less time consuming way” they would lose much of their depth and tension. When you get bored with the gag that’s playing out on the main stage, look to the back and fore ground, watch the other people in the shot, listen for rhythms and melodies. Tati’s films, especially Play Time, are as dense as anything ever produced in their representation of the ballet of life.
“Maison Arpel” has just been recreated in Paris — complete with all the gadgets Tati created for the film.