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Critics reviews
Mon oncle
Jacques Tati France, 1958
A tent pole curio [Venom] and an all-time masterpiece [Mon oncle] both featuring wayward outcasts with bodies that won’t cooperate. Their mere existence threatens the hype and spaces of new technologies. Physical disruption equals inspiration, and in each outburst of movement the echoes of vaudevillian performance can be seen.
December 28, 2018
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There are so many visual gags, layered into each sequence, it’s almost enough to be distracted by the solitude of it all. For while Hulot was the center of Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, here he seems more peripheral, his final expulsion a natural extension of the plot. The final images, rather touching ones, find Charles and his son Gérard ultimately bonding over the lamp post prank. What had been a completely combative relationship has softened in a shared bond over slapstick violence.
September 26, 2017
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In Mon oncle, Tati pays homage to À nous la liberté and Modern Times when M. Hulot, the bumbling embodiment of a more playful and organic bygone France, briefly works in his brother-in-law’s ultra-mechanized plastics factory. But the most inspired sequences take place in that nightmarish contemporary home. The façade has been described as resembling a human face, but it’s actually more like a robot’s, and for the inhabitants it’s like living among moving mismatched parts.
November 25, 2016
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Mon Oncle is not Jacques Tati’s most ambitious film, nor his most democratic. It is quite possibly, however, his most didactic and depressing. And yet it’s undeniably the film of his that, despite my misgivings, has given me the most pleasure.
September 06, 2010
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…In Tati’s films, such arguments tend to be about more than they seem: What has really happened? How can we understand this world we’ve made? That same challenge informs the scene in which Hulot, walking through his older apartment building to his top-floor unit, appears in a succession of windows and other openings. Mon Oncle is often called a parody of modernist architecture, but here we see that almost any building can create perceptual confusion.
February 11, 2010
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The gadgets and the furniture that Tati devised for this house are really quite remarkable. As is obvious from the very beginning of the film, Tati took great pleasure in the contrivance of these objects. In fact, that’s one of the paradoxes of this movie. For all of its critique of the soulless artifice of industrial society, Tati obviously revels in the possibilities it offers him, as a designer, as an inventor, as an artist.
September 11, 2009
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Like Tati’s handful of other movies as writer-director, Mon oncle allies itself with the visual strategies of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and the silent-era Laurel and Hardy. It uses sound the way Chaplin used sound in City Lights and Modern Times—as tapestries of aural gestures (car horns, footsteps, bird calls) that accentuate the director’s economical, cartoonlike style.
January 05, 2004
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Tati hasn’t quite solved the structural problem he posed for himself, but if the film isn’t wholly satisfying, it’s still a very witty and suggestive work from the modern cinema’s only answer to Chaplin and Keaton.
January 01, 1980
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