At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
At Alliance Française on Friday, January 16: Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot / Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1953) by Jacques Tati – 114 mins – France Comedy. In Black and White. No English subtitles, but you don’t really need them. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 90 out of 100.
With Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Michèle Rolla, Valentine Camax, Louis Perrault.
Mr. Hulot goes on a holiday to a seaside resort, but accidents and misunderstandings follow him wherever he goes. The peace and quiet of the hotel guests don't last very long with Hulot around, because although his intentions are good, they always turn out catastrophically...
– Alliance description
Monsieur Hulot comes to a beachside hotel for a vacation, where he accidentally (but good-naturedly) causes havoc.
Variety: Tati is the semi-articulate, blundering, but well-meaning clown, reminiscent of the early Mack Sennett types. Whether he is being chased by dogs, setting off a cabin full of fireworks, or blundering into a staid funeral, he is a very funny man.
Roger Ebert: The first time I saw Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot's Holiday, I didn't laugh as much as I thought I was supposed to. But I didn't forget the film, and I saw it again in a film class, and then bought the laserdisc and saw it a third and fourth time, and by then it had become part of my treasure. But I still didn't laugh as much as I thought I was supposed to, and now I think I understand why.
It is not a comedy of hilarity but a comedy of memory, nostalgia, fondness, and good cheer. There are some real laughs in it, but Mr. Hulot's Holiday gives us something rarer, an amused affection for human nature--so odd, so valuable, so particular.
The movie was released in 1953, and played for months, even years, in art cinemas. It was a small film that people recommend to each other. There was a time when any art theater could do a week's good business just by booking Hulot. Jacques Tati (1908-1982) made only four more features in the next 20 years, much labored over, much admired, but this is the film for which he'll be remembered.
At Alliance Française on Friday, January 23: Trafic / Traffic (1971) by Jacques Tati – 96 mins – Italy/ France Comedy. No English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81 out of 100.
With Jacques Tati, Maria Kimberly, Marcel Fraval.
French comedian/director Jacques Tati once again assumes his "M. Hulot" characterization. This time, the ever-bemused Hulot is assigned to deliver an all-purpose recreational vehicle to an Amsterdam auto show. As Hulot, his driver and the auto company's PR woman set out for the France-to-Holland motor trip, they encounter just about every sort of car-related misadventure known to man, from a slapsticky traffic jam to a malfunctioning service station. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, they learn that the auto show has ended, and now they've got to take the same perilous trip back!
Though not Jacques Tati's best effort, Traffic contains some wonderful sight gags tied in with the theme of modern man's subservience to Technology.
– Alliance description
Chicago Reader: Traffic is a masterpiece in its own right--not only for the sharp picture of the frenetic and gimmick-crazy civilization that worships cars, but also for many remarkable formal qualities: an extraordinary use of sound (always one of Tati's strong points), a complex interplay of chance and control in the observations of everyday behavior, and, in some spots, a development of the use of multiple focal points to articulate some of the funniest gags.
At Alliance Française on Friday, January 30: La Grande vadrouille / Don't Look Now - We're Being Shot at (1966) by Gérard Oury – 132 mins – France/ UK Comedy. No English subtitles.
With Bourvil, Louis de Funès, Terry Thomas, Claudio Brook, Andréa Parisy, Colette Brosset.
Augustin Bouvet, painter and Stanislas Lefort, conductor at the Paris Opera, were leading a quiet life in wartime Paris. Until the day they take charge of three British airmen shot down over the city.
A British bomber is shot down over Paris by the Germans. Its crew (Terry Thomas as a flight captain) land there by parachute. With the help of some French civilians (Louis de Funès in the role of a conductor and Bourvil as a house painter) they try to escape over the demarcation line into the southern part of France, still not occupied by the Germans.
– Alliance description
Paris 1943. Three Allied parachutists land unexpectedly and turn upside-down the peaceful lives of Stanislas, a conductor, and Augustin, a decorator. The only way to get rid of their unwanted guests is to lead them to the free zone. This was the highest-grossing film in France for more than thirty years!
IMDb viewer: One of the most popular French movies of all time! Starring the famous Bourvil/Louis de Funes tandem it is a highly entertaining caper set in WWII German-occupied France, where these two unlikely heroes reluctantly must help some downed British airmen to escape.
A perennial favorite on French TV during the Christmas or Easter holidays it is one of those rare movies you can watch over and over again without getting tired of it. It runs more than two hours but moves along at an incredible pace. Movie relies big time on the clash of character between de Funes as the self-important musical director of the Opéra de Paris and Bourvil as the simple housepainter. But also the hilarious script, some spectacular set pieces (including a spielbergesque chase by German sidecars) and a surprising finale all add up to making Vadrouille one of the best and most entertaining French movies ever.
Made on a lavish budget by Gerard Oury who would go on to make some other highly successful comedies, mostly starring big French stars as de Funes and Bourvil, but also Jean-Paul Belmondo, Pierre Richard and Christian Clavier. Up to that time movies made in France took war rather seriously, but La grande vadrouille sparked of an endless string of farces set in WWII which almost invariably depicted the French as very clever and cunning, always outwitting the Germans in the end.