Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top and Bottom of 2010 - #9

Play Time (1967)
There is no real story to speak of here, merely a series of extended comedic set-pieces enacted almost entirely through the visuals. Jacques Tati as Monsieur Hulot wanders though a sterile, state-of-the-art office building, then through the streets and shops of Paris, and ends up at the grand opening of a restaurant where almost everything goes wrong. There are some wonderful gags sprinkled throughout the film: an elderly doorman confounded by an ultra-modern button panel that is a complete mystery to him, a head waiter and his misadventures with an unglued floor tile, a poor waiter whose uniform gets more and more disheveled as the evening wears on, and a plate glass door that isn’t there anymore. The pace of the film is almost maddeningly slow, leaving the audience to seek out the comedy instead of having it spoon-fed to them.

The Wicker Man (2006)
Nicholas Cage wears a bear suit, punches women, and screams ridiculous lines in this remake that fails in just about every aspect that the original succeeded. Where the original is creepy, this one is boring. Where the original is suspenseful, this one is silly. And while the original has an interesting religious discussion, this one creates an unnecessary back story for Cage’s character that only serves to confuse matters. To fully experience how special this movie is, I direct you to this video.

Coming up next: two unlikely matches.


Josh Kenfield said...

Your review of Wicker Man along with that video sums things up perfectly. I'm so glad RiffTrax provides "protection" in viewing this stunning piece:

Herch said...

Wicker Man is one of those gloriously bad movies.

vespreardens said...

I saw Play Time a few years back and was... less than impressed, I guess. It was obviously a sort of art piece, and I don't think art pieces and I get along well. I'd rather have a good storyline or disjointed comedy, such as Monty Python tends to do.

I'm so glad I never saw The Wicker Man.

Herch said...

I fully understand that Play Time is not for everyone's tastes. Jacques Tati is a very subtle comedian so you have to really pay attention in order to find the comedy. And when you do find the comedy, it's rarely "laugh out loud" comedy; more like "smile knowingly to yourself" comedy. It does help that I've seen lots of silent comedies which really helps me appreciate Tati's films. (Much like your seeing lots of Anime enabled you to appreciate Perfect Blue more than I did.)
It's interesting that you mention Monty Python because Terry Jones states in the special features that Play Time is one of his favorite films. (Though if I want to be completely honest with myself, one of the reasons I put this movie on the best list is so I can feel pretentious and full of myself.)

vespreardens said...

Oh, yeah. I can totally see why it flies in certain circles. I'm just not part of said circles.

As for Perfect Blue... not only is it not a film for everyone, but it's kind of on my list of stuff that, even if I think the person will appreciate it, I won't recommend it without reservations.