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American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre Presents...
Movies on the Big Screen Since 1940!
1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street in Santa Monica

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Click to print Page 1 or Page 2 or Full Text of a May Calendar!
Series compiled by: Gwen Deglise. Additional program notes by Bernardo Rondeau.

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Special Thanks to:  Marie Losier, Alliance France, NY; Sarah Finklea and Brian Belovarac /JANUS FILMS; Christine Houard/MAE.

 

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The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the newly re-opened and renovated Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica and at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
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<< May 2 - 6, 2007 >>>

Tativille: The Films of Jacques Tati


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This series is an Aero Theatre Exclusive!

 

Presented in association with the French Film and TV office, Consulate General of France in Los Angeles.Born in a Paris suburb in 1908, Jacques Tati died in the city in 1982, thus his life and work encompass most of the twentieth century. Though he made only six full-length films in a thirty-five year span, each one of Tati's works is a carefully calibrated, meticulously designed and, in the end, delectably playful
experiment on perception.

Tati began directing features when he was well into his
thirties. An athlete in his youth, he applied this physicality to becoming a music-hall star, excelling in pantomime and acrobatics. Finding some success as a director with the 1947 short "School of Postmen," Tati adapted it into the 1949 feature THE BIG DAY (JOUR DE FETE), about a sleepy rural hamlet that comes to life the day a carnival descends upon it. Tati reprised his role as a cycling postman, a character Andrei Tarkovsky would later pay homage to in his final film THE SACRIFICE,

With his second film, M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY (1953), Tati introduced one of cinema's great comic personas, an onscreen alter-ego that become synonymous with him for ever more. M. Hulot returns in 1958's Oscar-winning MON ONCLE, in which he is perplexed by the odd mechanics of a modern suburban home.

Emboldened by his commercial and critical success, Tati built an entire mini-metropolis on the outskirts of Paris ("Tativille") supplied it with electricity, paved roads and running water, and produced what film historian David Bordwell calls, "one of the most audacious films of the postwar era." PLAYTIME subverts Tati's Hulot persona by populating the frame with decoys and doppelgangers, hiding the "real" Hulot in corners and nooks of a screen teeming with layers of action, movement and deceptive textures.

Tati's farewell to cinema came in 1973 with PARADE. Shot on video and transferred to film, this commission for Swedish television brought Tati back full circle to his roots in vaudeville. A circus performs in a most Tati-esque soundstage for a small audience. Instead of playing Hulot, Tati returns to the agile pantomime of his youth. Tati worked precisely and slowly, constructing his entire soundtrack in the studio. He watched his pictures over a hundred times for any onscreen detail that could be integrated into his vibrant tableaux of humorous activity. François Truffaut, one of Tati's many fans in a league that includes Federico Fellini, Blake Edwards and David Lynch, writes that a Tati film is "necessarily a work of genius a priori, simply because a single, absolute authority has been imposed from the opening to “The End." That "authority" remains as powerful and fascinating now as it ever did. Almost 100 years after Tati's birth, the gates to Tativille remain open to all visitors.

 

Wednesday, May 2 - 7:30 PM
In 70mm! PLAYTIME, 1967, Janus Films, 126 min. Dir. Jacques Tati. Another chance to see the fully restored Jacques Tati masterpiece PLAYTIME, which was conceived originally as a 70mm viewing experience, then lost for over 30 years (there were only 35mm prints left of a cut version), and finally rescued by Tati's daughter Sophie Tatischeff and Jerome Deschamps. Monsieur Hulot must contact an American official in Paris, but he gets lost in a stylish maze of modern architecture filled with the latest technical gadgets. Caught in a tourist invasion, Hulot roams around Paris with a group of American tourists, causing chaos in his usual manner. Gilles Deleuze concisely states that in PLAYTIME Tati "spreads Mr. Hulots everywhere, forms and breaks up groups, joins and separates characters, in a kind of modern ballet." A "ballet" Noël Burch would famously proclaim "not only begs for multiple viewings, but demands to be seen from several different seats in the auditorium." The star of the film: the city built by Tati and called Tativille/Taticity. From surprise to surprise, it’s an exquisite and divine experience! François Truffaut, writing to Jacques Tati about PLAYTIME, said simply, "A film from another planet." In French and English. Also playing May 6.

 

 

Thursday, May 3 - 7:30 PM
THE BIG DAY (JOUR DE FETE), 1947, Janus Films, 79 min. Jacques Tati’s feature debut as director is a priceless showcase for his comedic talents as he plays a mailman attempting to streamline delivery in his small town. But he soon finds his attempts at modernization and a coincidental Bastille Day celebration don’t mix. Tangible proof that Tati remains -- along with Chaplin, Keaton and the Marx Brothers -- as one of the pantheon comic geniuses of the 20th Century. Originally filmed in Thomson-Color, a tentative French alternative to Technicolor, JOUR DE FÊTE was shot simultaneously in black-and-white as a precaution. Eventually, trouble with the new color process led Tati to release this second, backup version. The film proved a commercial and critical success, yet that didn't stop Tati from returning to the film in the mid-1960’s, re-editing the picture, remixing its soundtrack and even shooting new footage for it. Until a 1995 "restoration" of the film's intended, original color version carried out by Tati's daughter Sophie Tatischeff and cinematographer François Ede, the 1964 JOUR DE FÊTE was the sole version in circulation. Plus, prior to feature film: three rare shorts co-written or directed by Tati, all starring Tati: René Clement’s "Soigne Ta Gauche," 1936, 20 min. Tati’s "School For Postmen" (L’Ecole Des Facteurs), 1947, 18 min. Nicolas Ribowski’s "Evening Classes" (Cour Du Soir), 1967, 30 min.

 

 

Friday, May 4 - 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

MON ONCLE, 1958, Janus Films, 110 min. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The New York Times' Vincent Canby once described Jacques Tati's M. Hulot alter-ego as "a kind of fixed point in a view finder with which we are able to put the rest of the world into properly hilarious focus." This is no less true than in Tati's Academy Award-winning MON ONCLE. Following the commercial and critical success of 1953's M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY, Tati set Hulot packing for the suburbs. Rendering Le Corbusier's proclamation that a house is "a machine for living in" literally, Tati's Hulot bumbles through modernity's "gadgeted and pushbuttoned realms," to use New York Times critic Bosley Crowther's apt description of the factory floor and the family home. There Hulot commiserates with his young nephew on the awkward and always comic affects of modernism – such as lawn paths that wind like couture runways or oval windows that resemble cartoon eyes peeping down on visitors. Though Tati would make the claim in a 1968 Cahiers du Cinema interview that he "went a little astray with MON ONCLE" it remains one of his most beloved films.


MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAY (LES VACANCES DE MONSIEUR HULOT), 1953, Janus Films, 85 min. Dir. Jacques Tati. Tati’s first film as Monsieur Hulot, one of cinema's great comic personas, finds the irascible Frenchman going to a resort town for a vacation and chaos predictably ensues. A warm and whimsical hymn to the joys of life and the funny little things continually happening around us we often fail to notice. Both films in French with English subtitles.

 

 

Saturday, May 5 - 7:30 PM

Ultra-Rare Double Feature:

TRAFFIC, 1971, Janus Films, 96 min. Jacques Tati reinstates M. Hulot as a protagonist, returning to the bucolic charm of his first feature (1949's JOUR DE FETE) and, in the words of Michel Chion, its subsequent "rediscovery of roads, nature, cows, trees, and meadows." Hulot is assigned with escorting a prototype for a ridiculously gadget-addled, super-deluxe camper from its French factory to the International Automobile Show in Amsterdam. Of course, a comic set of obstacles, detours and mishaps sets the caravan reeling. Another one of Tati's astute appreciations of "the odd beauty that can be revealed in the shapes, patterns and colors created by the technology of planned obsolescence." - Vincent Canby, The New York Times


PARADE, 1974, Janus Films, 84 min. Rarely screened, PARADE is likely the least seen of Jacques Tati's works. Freed from the persona and its ancillary mannerism that he had inhabited onscreen for twenty years, Tati returns to the vibrant pantomiming and giddy clowning of his youth as a music-hall star. Shot on video and originally intended for Swedish television, PARADE is described by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as "deceptively modest and boldly experimental." Called at times a pseudo-documentary, it depicts a circus performing for a small audience on a soundstage. Maintaining TRAFFIC's exploration of close-ups, hidden cameras and the telephoto lens in general, PARADE is likened by Serge Daney to "a luminous trail of colors in an electronic landscape." Tati would never direct another film, much less produce another television program. Yet PARADE remains a fascinating sketch of what Tati on the tube could have been. Plus prior to the feature films: "Forza Bastia 78," 2002, 26 min. Jacques Tati’s lost short rediscovered and edited by his daughter Sophie Tatischeff. Both films in French with English subtitles.

 

Sunday, May 6 - 7:30 PM
In 70mm! PLAYTIME, 1967, Janus Films, 126 min. Dir. Jacques Tati. [See description May 2 – Aero]