Jacques Tati’s cinematic legacy rests on his four sublime comedies featuring Monsieur Hulot, his on-screen alter ego, a gawky, good-hearted Frenchman hopelessly befuddled by the modern world that’s sprung up around him. But no less than such masterpieces as Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday and PlayTime, the two films made by Tati in which Hulot does not appear—Jour de fête and Parade, his first and last features—attest to the formal ingenuity and comic dexterity of the famously exacting actor-director. In the new episode of the Criterion Channel’s monthly series Observations on Film Art, scholar Kristin Thompson turns her attention to the made-for-television Parade, often overlooked in the context of Tati’s work since the 1974 film seems to eschew the meticulously constructed fictional worlds that had by then become his signature. But as Thompson establishes in the clip above, a closer look at the movie—which purports to be a documentary record of a live variety-show performance emceed by the star—quickly reveals that it’s anything but an outlier in Tati’s filmography, its delightfully sly mix of audience participation and onstage spectacle recalling the entropic yet highly choreographed social satire of the Hulot series.
John Schlesinger’s Cinema of Failures and Outcasts
A gay man in an age when homosexuality was against the law in his native Britain, the Oscar-winning director eschewed political statements in favor of compassionate portrayals of the human condition.
The Lurid Intensity of Shock Corridor’s Long Takes
In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, now playing on the Criterion Channel, Professor Jeff Smith breaks down the audacious style of one of Samuel Fuller’s most provocative works.