"Play Time" Is Released

Play Time is French director Jacques Tati's fourth major film, and generally considered to be his most daring film.

It was shot in 1964 through 1967 and released in 1967. In Play Time, Tati again plays Monsieur Hulot, a character who had appeared in some of his earlier films, including Mon Oncle and Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot. However, by 1964 Tati had grown ambivalent towards playing Hulot as a recurring central role. Unable to dispense with the popular character altogether, Hulot appears intermittently in Play Time, alternating between central and supporting roles. Shot in 70 mm, Play Time is notable for its enormous set, which Tati had built specially for the film, as well as Tati's trademark use of subtle, yet complex visual comedy supported by creative sound effects; dialogue is frequently reduced to the level of background noise.

Arriving nearly a decade after Mon Oncle, Playtime continues the adventures of M. Hulot. More than a decade seems to have passed since its predecessor, however. The colorful Paris of Mon Oncle, last seen being slowly chipped away by progress, has now vanished almost entirely. Playtime takes as its setting an ultra-modern Paris where familiar landmarks appear only as fleeting reflections in the new buildings of glass and steel. Alternating between Hulot and a group of American tourists, Tati exploits the chaos just below the overly ordered surface of this brave new world. Again moving from one nearly wordless episode to another, Tati sends his alter ego off to make an appointment in a whirring, featureless office complex. He subsequently moves on to an exhibition of new inventions, meets an old friend at an aquarium-like apartment, wreaks havoc in a snooty new restaurant, and, again, almost falls in love. The most ambitious and technically complex of the Hulot films, it proved unprofitable and helped usher in the financial difficulties that would plague Tati late in life before later getting the recognition it enjoys today. ~ Keith Phipps, All Movie Guide