Tati, et al

As I alluded to last week, I’m going through a difficult emotional season these days. It’s funny how movies can at once transport us through artificial realms of drama and simultaneously reflect our existing realities back to us. A few nights ago, I planned to watch the new movie, Northfork, so I purchased my ticket, grabbed some popcorn and a coke, and found a seat in the theatre. After about five minutes, I realized I was too preoccupied with my own thoughts and too fragile to take on anything else, so I walked out, coke and corn in the wastebasket.

Things have leveled off for now, so I’m hoping to take baby steps back into the land of invigorating cinema. I spent part of the weekend rewatching the splendid films of Jacques Tati available (though currently out-of-print) on North American DVD–M. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Mon Oncle (1958), and Playtime (1967)–nearly plotless films which delight in precise compositions, carefully-wrought sounds, and the graceful slapstick antics of Tati’s Monsieur Hulot. If you haven’t yet watched any of them, do yourself a favor and indulge. I’d recommend watching them chronologically, as Tati’s refined aesthetic sensibility gradually produced a unique, minimalist, and abstract art that could potentially bewilder the uninitiated.

On Friday, the American Cinematheque in Hollywood begins its 4th annual Festival of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) begins its Howard Hawks retrospective, both events from which I hope to glean easy charms and sophisticated genre filmmaking. Incidentally, the spirit of the two events merge with tomorrow’s DVD release of Hawk’s classic The Thing (from Another World) (1951).

Expect commentary on all this and more in the coming days. (And feel free to start your own topics in our Discussion area!)