This Sunday afternoon, in Louisville, Kentucky, the Speed Art Museum will treat moviegoers to a free screening of Jacques Tati’s 1967 PlayTime, the third and final movie in the museum’s tip of the cap to the French auteur’s one-of-a-kind slapstick. In the visually stunning and nimbly choreographed film, the writer-director reprises his beloved role as the hapless and old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, who this time out finds himself lost amid a gleaming new development on the outskirts of Paris, pinballing between an antiseptic office complex, a trade show of modern gadgets, and a chic restaurant’s anarchic opening night. To realize his vision of a modern world plagued by the inconvenience of newfangled conveniences, Tati (ever the perfectionist) constructed a microcosmic city from scratch, replete with its own high-rises, roads, and power plant—an exorbitant expense that helped make the years-in-the-making PlayTime the most costly French production of its time. In his liner essay for our Tati box set, critic James Quandt recalls his experience of falling in love with the film: “My four encounters with the film in 70 mm count among the most pleasurable—and overwhelming—experiences I’ve had in more than five decades of moviegoing . . . The film’s dense plurality of sound and image means that if you attend to one thing, you’ll miss something else unfolding in another part of its teeming screen and soundtrack.”
For more on PlayTime, check out David Cairns’s Anatomy of a Gag video.