Repertory Picks

Slapstick Tati in Maine

On Film / In Theaters — Dec 14, 2017

On Monday, Waterville, Maine’s Railroad Square Cinema and the Colby College Department of French and Italian will team up to present a 35 mm print of Jacques Tati’s 1958 film Mon oncle at the city’s historic opera house. This brightly colored, ingeniously choreographed comedy was the second feature in which Tati starred as Monsieur Hulot, the screen persona that would come to define his career. An old-fashioned bachelor, Hulot encounters the chaos of a rapidly changing world during a visit to his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew at their relentlessly state-of-the-art residence, whose many amenities begin short-circuiting upon his arrival. With this Oscar-winning hit, Tati orchestrated “some of his best gags,” writes James Quandt in his essay for our collection of the director’s films, using mundanely absurd sights such as “malfunctioning garage doors, a very long car trying to maneuver into a small parking space, [and] a house that looks like a human with moving eyes . . . to comment on the way modern life traps humanity within its contrivances.”