Sunday, October 22, 2006

Moments of Distinction

The Film – Playtime, dir. Jacques Tati

The Set-Up - Opening night at a swank new restaurant has spun out of control.

The catalyst for the party has been this single loud American.

The band finally gives it up, and stops playing.

The American finds out that the pretty brunette in the green dress (Barbara Denneck) can play the piano, and urges her to sit down and give it a go.

She starts to play.

Playtime is a film crammed full of great moments, but this one has always had a special resonance with me. The sequence in the restaurant builds and builds, and then, at the moment that Denneck starts to play, all the hubbub evaporates. As much as I love this film, I’ve always thought that the restaurant bit goes on a tiny bit too long. Tati may have also thought that the audience needed a refresher at this point, and that’s what the piano sequence feels like to me. It’s like easing yourself into a hot bath.


Steve said...

Just bought the Criterion DVD of this... now you've got me hankerin' to watch it tonight.

Jeff Duncanson said...

AS you likely know Criterion had released it previously. The original version had gone out of print, and was in fact a bit hard to find. Tired of waiting, I went and bought a Portugese version off Amazon for way too much money, and then this re-issue comes out. Ahhh, my sense of timing.