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The Complete Jacques Tati [Criterion Collection] [12 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • New digital restoration of all six feature films and all seven short films
  • Two alternate versions of Jour de Fête: a partly colorized 1964 version and the full-color 1995 rerelease version
  • Original 1953 theatrical release version of Monsieur Hulot's Holiday
  • My Uncle, the version of Mon Oncle that director Jacques Tati created for English-language audiences
  • Introductions by actor and comedian Terry Jones to Monsiuer Hulot's Holiday, Mon Oncle, and PlayTime
  • Archival video and audio interviews with Tati
  • In the Footsteps of Monsieur Hulot, a 1989 documentary about Tati's beloved alter ego
  • Five visual essays and a classroom lecture by Tati expert Stéphane Goudet
  • New interview with Michel Chion on Tati's sound design
  • "Jour de Fête": In Search of the Lost Color, a 1988 documentary on the restoration of the film to Tati's original color vision
  • Once Upon a Time... "Mon Oncle," a 2008 documentary on the making of the film
  • Everything is Beautiful, a 2005 piece on the fashion, furniture, and architecture of Mon Oncle
  • Selected-scene commentaries on PlayTime by Goudet, theater director Jérôme Deschamps, and critic Philip Kemp
  • Beyond "PlayTime," a short 2002 documentary featuring on-set footage
  • "An homage to Jacques Tati," a 1982 program featuring Tati friend and set designer Jacques Lagrange
  • Interview from 2006 with PlayTime script supervisor Sylvette Baudrot
  • Tati Story, a short biographical film from 2002
  • Alternate international soundtracks for Monsieur Hulot's Holiday and PlayTime
  • Trailers
  • New English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: a booklet featuring essays by critics James Quandt, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Kristin Ross, and David Cairns

Synopsis

Gai Dimanche
Soigne Ton Gauche
Parade
Though advertised as "a film by Jacques Tati," Parade has more in common with a concert documentary. The multitalented French filmmaker Tati began this project by videotaping a performance of a circus show that he did in Sweden. An enterprising producer transferred the tape to film, and presto! Instant movie! Disregarding the fascinating but monotonous footage of various variety acts, the film is at its best when concentrating on the gangly Tati, miming such characters as a circus horse, a boxer, and a soccer goalie. Whenever the action threatens to flag, Parade cuts to a shot of Tati interacting with his enthusiastic circus audience. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Trafic
The legendary French comedian Jacques Tati returns as his most famous character, the bumbling M. Hulot, in this gentle but pointed satire of 20th Century car culture. In Trafic, Hulot is working as a designer for a major French automotive firm and is struggling to finish his latest project in time for an international auto show in Amsterdam -- a compact recreational vehicle that features everything from an electric razor and a collapsible couch to a built-in barbecue grill. While the car is completed shortly before the show opens, it doesn't run just yet, so Hulot and his mechanic (Tony Knepper) load the car into a truck and with an American public relations officer (Maria Kimberly) in tow, they hit the road for Holland. But what should be a simple trip from Paris to Amsterdam becomes increasingly complicated thanks to flat tires, breakdowns, traffic jams and multi-car pileups, and the well-intentioned M. Hulot does little to make things easier. Trafic began as a collaboration between Tati and Dutch filmmaker Bert Haanstra, but Haanstra dropped out of the project mid-way through production due to disagreements with Tati, and the great comedian finished the project on his own. Trafic proved to be one of Tati's final screen projects; his last theatrically released feature, Parade, was a shot-on-video homage to they heyday of French vaudeville and was primarily devoted to showing off his talents as a mime. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cours Du Soir
On Demande Une Brute
Degustation Maison
Forza Bastia
Playtime
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, Rovi

Mon Oncle
Five years after his first appearance, Jacques Tati's M. Hulot returns with Mon Oncle, a film set along the dividing line between Paris' past and its future. Aligned (as is the film) with the former, Hulot lives in a colorful, overpopulated Parisian neighborhood and, lacking employment, spends his days waiting to pick up his adoring nephew from school, and subsequently escorting him to his parents' ultra-modern house. Filled with gadgets, some turned on only to impress the neighbors, the house seems designed specifically to frustrate Hulot, who unwittingly disrupts its operations at every opportunity. Concerned about his future, Hulot's relatives attempt to find him gainful employment and pair him off with a neighbor, with little success on either front. The nearly dialogue-free film is less concerned with the family's attempts as they relate to an overall plot, and more interested in how they play into its overall scheme of contrasts and allow for Tati's unmistakable sight-and-sound gag set pieces. ~ Keith Phipps, Rovi

Ecole des Facteurs
Jour De Fête
In Jacques Tati's charming -- and essentially plotless -- pre-Hulot first feature, Tati is Francois, a contented and happy postman in a small, unhurried French village. Francois is at ease with his job and leisurely performs his duties, peddling away on his rounds upon his beloved bicycle. Things perk up when a traveling carnival arrives in town. One of the attractions at the carnival is a film depicting the United States Postal Service's fast and efficient postal delivery system. The narrator in the film exhorts, "Rapidite, rapidite." Francois takes up the call, and attempts to Americanize his work style. Intriguingly, Tati originally shot this film in two simultaneous processes - a black-and-white one and an experimental color one called 'Thomson-Color' - but was forced to release the black-and-white when he ran into problems printing the color film; he subsequently tinted select sequences, then in the late 1990s his daughter (a film editor) prepared and released a color version of the entire movie. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Mr. Hulot's Holiday
Already familiar to many, especially following his acclaimed directorial debut Jour De Fete, Jacques Tati came into his own and reached new levels of popularity with 1953's Les Vacances De Monsieur Hulot. The first film to introduce his much-loved alter ego Monsieur Hulot, it sets the pattern for future appearances of the character, throwing the bumbling hero unwittingly into the middle of the action and letting the ensuing mishaps provoke humor ranging from gentle observations to fairly biting satire. The setting this time is a stuffy resort community fond of the peace and quiet that Hulot interrupts without fail. Nearly dialogue-free and driven more by episode than plot (like all of the Hulot films), standout set pieces include a disrupted funeral, an interrupted game of cards, and -- one of Tati's signature bits -- a game of tennis played with rules that can politely be called unconventional. ~ Keith Phipps, Rovi

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