High Museum of Art: Films

Summer Movies/YouTube, Part 2 by Linda Dubler
June 17, 2009, 11:42 am
Filed under: Film Series: Online | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As far as the art film crowd is concerned, the undisputed king of beach comedies is Jacques Tati’s Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, made in 1953. Ephraim Katz, author of the indispensible Film Encyclopedia, describes Tati’s alter-ego, the hapless Mr. Hulot as “a gangling, awkward character whose peculiar gait and odd misadventures set him apart from the gadget-obessessed world around him.” The film tells its barely-there story visually, with very little dialogue; some viewers may find it a tad slow going by contemporary standards.

As Rogert Ebert observes “the movie is constructed with the meticulous attention to detail of a Keaton or Chaplin. Sight gags are set up with such patience that they seem to expose hidden functions in the clockwork of the universe.” Give it a chance and you may find its innocent humor a refreshing antidote to all of the loud, overbearing product out there.

Rowan Atkinson remade the film as Mr. Bean’s Holiday. If Bean sets your teeth on edge I’d skip it; if not, it’s interesting to compare the master and then his less subtle acolyte.

-Linda Dubler

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