Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight, 2015, USA
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell & Jennifer Jason Leigh

"You only need to hang mean bastards, but mean bastards you need to hang."

Something about working with Quentin Tarantino makes Samuel L. Jackson the best actor in the world. You can practically see the sheer joy in eyes when he's able to deliver some Tarantino dialogue.

'The Hateful Eight' is Tarantino's second consecutive foray into the western genre after 2012's 'Django Unchained'. Tarantino clearly has a strong love for the genre and has packed his previous films with odes and nodes to the famous westerns that he has taken inspiration from, so his eventual arrival into making his own is a natural fit, and with his two films he has shown a great understanding of the genre, honoring previous tropes while creating westerns that are unmistakably Tarantino.

While labeling the film a western would be the easiest way to categorize it, 'The Hateful Eight' is another one of Tarantino's Frankenstein monster of a film which is a mishmash of various genres, in addition to being a western, it's also a compelling mystery, a bloody thriller, a captivating crime film, an intense action film, and even elements of horror, due to the inspiration it draws from John Carpenter's 'The Thing'. As per usual, Tarantino does a great job in tying all these styles together and it results in a bold piece of work.

The film clearly draws a heavy inspiration from 'The Thing', right down to the casting of Kurt Russell (and some memorable Kurt Russell facial hair) and a score by Ennio Morricone, as well as a group of snow bound folk. Tarantino attempts to create a similar tone to what John Carpenter crafted in 'The Thing', one of paranoia and suspicion centering around someone not being who they say they are. While it's most certainly not on 'The Thing's level (few films are) fans of that film will most likely get a kick out of this film giving a nod to that kind of storytelling. Another film that 'The Hateful Eight' reminded of were Tarantino's own 'Reservoir Dogs', due to a majority of the film being placed in a single location with characters conversing over a specific issue, while also utilizing flashback sequences (and the casting of Tim Roth & Michael Madsen doesn't hurt either). It also reminds me of 'And Then There Were None' and even 'Clue' due to it's occasionally funny side.

'The Hateful Eight' features another well written original screenplay by Tarantino. Although, on a second viewing, I don't think it's as strong as some of his other works. It lacks the memorable quotes and unforgettable monologues, and can feel a little padded out at times. With that being said, there is still plenty of great lines and moments, in addition to a solidly built mystery that generates plenty of intrigue, despite not leading to any overly mind-blowing revelations.

The direction is very good, with Tarantino creating a constantly immersive atmosphere, one with humor, bloody violence and various surprises along the way. Breaking the film into chapters was effective for such a lengthy film. The film can occasionally drag though, especially in the scenes leading up to the arrival at Minnie's Haberdashery where the extended sequence of the four characters in the carriage conversing about Warren's crimes and war record, while entertaining due to the four actors being amazing, could have been cut to make a smooth transition and not much would have been lost.

For my critiquing of the acting performances, I will go through the "Eight" one by one, giving my thoughts and my favorite moment of theirs from the film:

Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren: As I alluded to above, Jackson is never better than when he is working with Tarantino, as this is no exception. He is spectacular in this film and gives what might be one of the best showings of his entire career.
My favorite moment: Warren's story about General Smithers' son (as if there was any other choice)

Kurt Russell as John Ruth: Kurt Russell is my favorite action star of all time and just one of my favorite movie stars, his presence in anything makes me happy so I was excited when he was announced for this film. He's great as usual, with his gruff, brutal demeanour, superb comedic chops and majestic facial hair. 
My favorite moment: When John asks to see the Lincoln letter on the carriage.

Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix: Goggins is getting a lot of praise for his role in this film and it's all deserved. He's so damn great and the closest thing to a morally respectable character.
My Favorite moment: Mannix ponders a deal.

Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray: Roth adds a level of class to anything he is apart of and this film is not different. His funny and constantly entertaining. I just wish there would have been a little more focus on him.
My Favorite moment: The "frontier justice" speech.

Michael Madsen as Joe Gage: I just don't care much for Madsen as an actor, and outside of his Tarantino collaborations, I never had. He's fine here in one of his more tolerable roles but he was still the least interesting character on screen, in my opinion.
My Favorite moment: "A bastards work is never done."

Demián Bichir as Bob: I'm not overly familiar with Bichir but I enjoy him in this film. He provided some nice comedic moments and visually resembles one of my favorite wrestlers in Luke Harper, so that's cool.
My favorite moment: Bob playing "Silent Night" on the piano.

Bruce Dern as General Sanford "Sandy" Smithers: I love Bruce Dern, the man is a goddamn national treasure and still a mighty fine actor. He's awesome in this, as usual.
<strong> My favorite moment: </strong> "I just met these people, I don't give a damn about them OR YOU!"

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue: The best for last. Leigh deserved her Oscar nomination and then some. She's hilarious, terrifying and downright despicable in this. So great.
My favorite moment: The guitar scene

As for the rest of the cast, James Parks is brilliant, Zoë Bell has an infectious charm to her, and Channing Tatum disappointingly sticks out like a sore thumb and is definitely the weak link of the cast.

And how could I forgot Ennio Morricone's incredible score that should finally see him win a long overdue Academy Award. A wonderful, goosebump-inducing score that complemented that glorious opening credits shot beautifully.

For those who dislike the work of Quentin Tarantino, 'The Hateful Eight' won't do a lot in changing your mind. For those who love the work of Quentin Tarantino, 'The Hateful Eight' is an absolutle blast, a wildly entertaining film featuring a dynamite cast, an exhilarating screenplay, bloody violence and unpredictable twists and turns. Fortunately for me, I belong in the latter.

'The Hateful Eight' is yet another excellent installment in Tarantino's already iconic filmography.


Thursday, 31 December 2015

Anomalisa (2015)

Anomalisa, 2015, USA
Directors: Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson
Stars: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh & Tom Noonan

"They're all one person and they love me. Everyone is one person but you and me. You're the only other person in the world."

The two most humane and moving films that I have seen in 2015 featured no actual human beings on screen. Both don hertzfeldt's  'World of Tomorrow' and Charlie Kaufman's 'Anomalisa' prove that genuine human emotions transcend physical capabilities.

For a little while, it seemed like Charlie Kaufman's directorial career would tragically go the way of Charles Laughton. He made a masterpiece back in 2008 with 'Synecdoche, New York', but the film was a bust at the box office, and the film itself was misunderstood, much like Laughton and his film 'Night of the Hunter'. Fortunately Kaufman, this time with co-director Duke Johnson, returns with this stop-motion animated film that has all the heart, all the absurdity and all the brilliance of Kaufman and his previous works.

Personally, Charlie Kaufman is my favorite screenwriter of all time. Whenever a film is released that features his involvement is an event for me, he never ever lets me down, providing incredibly thoughtful and unique screenplays one after another, and that is the case with 'Anomalisa'. The way in which Kaufman can so delicately craft such genuine characters is such a huge inspiration to me and absolute to witness. 'Anomalisa's script features Kaufman's usual brilliance and nuances, while also being a step in a simpler direction. While it has all the same heavy emotions, it isn't as high concept as his other screenplays. In this case, the film itself is high concept, in other cases, Kaufman's screenplay is.

Stop motion animation has always fascinated and amazed me. I can't even the imagine the patience that would go into such a project. 'Anomalisa' is an elite exercise in stop motion, providing absolutely stunning locations and objects as well as incredible articulation from the character models.

The central character of the film is Michael Stone, and he is one of the most wonderfully realized and fleshed out characters that I have encountered all year. Like Kaufman has done many times before, he proposes an intensive character study, on the level of Caden in 'Synechdoche' or Joel in 'Eternal Sunshine' and even "himself" in 'Adaptation'. What sets Michael apart from those characters is that he is literally a piece of clay, yet amazingly his story conveys all the brevity and weight of the aforementioned characters. Michael is a very flawed man who, while a brilliantly smart and relatively successful family man, is deeply depressed by the mundane and lifeless state of his existence. Everyone he encounters spouts similar small-talk and weightless conversations in the same tone (literally, every character that isn't the two leads is voiced by Tom Noonan), whether it be his son, wife, Ex-girlfriend or any random encounter, nobody sets off that spark for him of which he is in desperate search for, until he meets Lisa.
Lisa, voiced wonderfully by Jennifer Jason Leigh, is an equally enthralling and humane character. She too has her flaws, she is very deprecating and just has a generally low opinion of herself. Leigh is an immensely talented actress and her voice performance in this film brings so much to the character, even more so than Kaufman's screenplay has provided. Tom Noonan is so versatile that he makes his roles all but two characters in the film seem unique and different. It's also essential to have one actor voicing all these characters because it complements Michael's complacency of the sameness of the world.

This is much less a film critique than it is a gushing love letter to 'Anomalisa' and the work of Charlie Kaufman. There are just some filmmakers whose work just relates to you personally and who you can't do much but praise and proclaim your admiration for.

'Anomalisa' is a masterpiece, a big, bold, fresh, unique, messy, lovely, amazing and humane masterpiece. It can make you laugh, it can make you cry and it can make you look at life a little differently. 'Anomalisa' is most definitely an anomaly, it's one of a kind.


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant, 2015, USA
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy & Domhnall Gleeson


"I ain't afraid to die anymore. I'd done it already."

Leonardo DiCaprio gives a raw, animalistic and courageous performance...that will soon be reduced to a "can I has oscar now" meme by internet culture.

The world depicted in 'The Revenant' is not one of heroes or villains, but one of survivors who have to resort extreme measures to guarantee them another day on earth. Alejandro González Iñárritu throws you into an environment of unflinching violence and viscerally assaults all your sentences with early action sequences that are bloody, grotesque, shocking and give the viewer a strong indication of what is to come.

'The Revenant' re-teams Iñárritu with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, after their Academy Award winning success with 'Birdman' and once again it results in astounding prosperity. Lubezki employees the "single take" style that he has just about perfected at this point, although it is not utilized to the extremity like in 'Birdman', and in doing so he puts us into the wilderness with these characters who are clawing for survival, and thus their plight resonates with us more because we are there with them, in the freezing cold, in the dirt and mud, in the harsh landscape that sees every breath as a victory. The battle scenes are extraordinarily filmed, physical confrontations are devoid of fanfare and polish and instead are bloody, gritty brawls. With his work on this film, Lubezki yet again proves himself as a visionary of his field and might just be on his way to picking up a third consecutive Academy Award.

Then there is a bear attack scene. The scene is as awe-inspiring as it has been made out to be, a truly terrifying and intense sequence that genuinely had me pondering whether or not DiCaprio was sharing the screen with a real life bear, that's how good it is. Possibly the best cinematic moment of 2015.

Iñárritu can be a divisive filmmaker. He wears his heart on his sleeve  and approaches his themes in an unapologetic manner, and that's where he can allienate some of his viewers. If you had a hard time getting invested in his previous films, then you will most likely struggle with 'The Revenant' because it's Iñárritu turned up to 11. Despite featuring one of Hollywood's most bankable stars and potentially being a big box office draw, Iñárritu does alter his style to accommodate cinema-goers, which is great because it keeps his integrity as an artist in tact, but I could also see leading to some disappointment and backlash from some viewers. 

One of my biggest gripes in films is when i feel like themes such as faith and spirituality are disingenuously being inserted into films, and unfortunately I felt this way with this film. Preferably, I would have rather 'The Revenant' keep it a little more simple with it's approach and simply be the tale of a man who will push the limits of his body to gain retribution from those who wronged him, but the film adds a layer of faith and religion that fell flat for me, personally. It's kind of a testament to the filmmaking and craftsmanship that I was so tantalised by, which allowed me to like the film as much as I did, regardless of these issues, which would have been more of a detriment for any less of a film.

In his Golden Globes acceptance speech last year, Michael Keaton said to Alejandro González Iñárritu that "there's not an actor in this room that won't show up for your next gig" and that may be so as his next project attracted the talents of Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo is one of the finest actors of his generation, turning in performance after performance of powerhouse and versatile showings that have seen him become one of cinemas most reliable talents. With 'The Revenant', DiCaprio gives a performance unlike any that he has given before, it's raw, animalistic, gutsy, brave, tenacious and courageous, full of desperation, vitriol, heart and aggression, that will most likely see him win first Academy Award and put that woefully unfunny and redundant meme to bed for good.

Equally as impressive as DiCaprio is Tom Hardy. It's always wonderful to me when an actor I genuinely like plays a character that I detest, their likability usually shines through and you don't hate the character as much as you should because of your sentiments toward the actor playing it, that's not the case with Hardy in this film, I hated this character and I love Hardy for making me do so. Hardy continues his rise as one of the most prominent and rising stars today with another compelling showing. That man is completely unhinged and I mean that in the best way.

'The Revenant' is a triumphant experience of unadulterated cinema. It's a bloody and raw piece of work that is expertly shot, finely crafted and excellently performed.


Thursday, 17 December 2015

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, 2015, USA
Director J.J Abrams
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega & Harrison Ford
"Luke Skywalker? I though he was a myth."

There has indeed been an awakening, and it isn’t just the titular force, it’s the ‘Star Wars’ series as a whole.  ‘The Force Awakens’ is an exhilarating blend of well executed nostalgia and a fresh perspective that has reinvigorated the series and established a new set of stories and characters that will endear themselves to a brand new generation of fans.

Not having George Lucas in the writer or director role was the best thing for this film, not only because the prequels were critical bombs, but because it allows someone else to take this vast and storied universe and tailor it to his own vision, and that someone is J.J Abrams. I personally don’t have much of a history with Abrams, I never watched ‘Lost’ or his ‘Star Trek’ films, the only thing I’ve actually seen from him is ‘Super 8’, but his work on this film impressed me immensely. Abrams’ style is grounded in realism, a little more so than we are used to seeing in the ‘Star Wars’ films. The action sequences feel grittier, more tenacious, and as a result are more suited to modern audiences. Teamed with some impressive camera work, gives the film a vice-like grip during the action.

In many ways, ‘The Force Awakens’ resembles ‘A New Hope’ in the same way that ‘Creed’ resembled ‘Rocky’, it’s almost like a loose-remake of its original predecessor. ‘The Force Awakens’ hits many of the same notes as Lucas’ classic and even sees the new cast members take on the role similar to those of the characters from original, like Finn being like Luke Skywalker, Ray being like Leia, and Kylo Ren obviously resembling Darth Vader. And just like with ‘Creed’, this film manages to feel fresh regardless of its similarities.

‘The Force Awakens’ genuinely feels like a true successor to the original trilogy, even more so than Lucas’ prequel trilogy did. Abrams is clearly a lifelong fan of the films and does his best to appease fans like him with plenty of odes and references to the classic trilogy and, if you’re anything like me, will make you smile every time you notice them. The returning characters are handled with grace and respect and very much the same characters we fell in love with the first time around. Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is still the charismatic, brash smuggler that made him one of cinemas most entertaining characters. Carrie Fisher is still the brave, strong-minded Leia, and Chewbacca is still as loveable as ever.

I was very pleased with the new cast members, all of them do an excellent job and provide a cast full of watchable and endearing characters, which was a trait of the original trilogy and absent in the prequels. Daisy Rildey is a wonderful heroine, John Boyega is a really awesome hero (and has great comedic timing), Oscar Isaac continues to become one of the best actors out there, Domnhall Gleeson shows a darkside that we had previously yet to see, Max Von Sydow adds gravitas and class to anything that he is apart of, and Adam Driver is an interesting villain, who is very threatening and intimidating but is equally tortured and flawed, I’m really looking forward to seeing Kylo Ren’s character progression in the following films.

This is a wonderful first chapter to a new story that had me eagerly anticipating the next installment as soon as the credits began to roll.

This is the Star Wars films that the prequels wished they were. Believe the hype, ‘Star Wars’ is back!

"The Force, it's calling to you. Just let it in."


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Crimson Peak (2015)

Crimson Peak, 2015, USA
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston & Jessica Chastain


"Ghosts are real, that much I know. I've seen them all my life..."

Ghosts have fascinated me all of my life, and while I've never completely believed in them nor I have I ever seen one, the idea of them still intrigues me to no end. The idea of a person's spirit lingering around the living after their death can be both frightening or hopeful, yet always interesting. When it comes to films about ghosts, I have always preferred it when, as Edith states in this film, ghosts are used as a "metaphor for the past", rather than just used as a gimmick for a cheap scare. One of the reasons that 'The Shining' is so effective is that the apparitions convey the gruesome history of the Overlook Hotel, 'The Haunting' is so effective because it uses the ghosts to establish the events that made Hill House the way it is. With 'Crimson Peak', Director Guillermo del Toro attempts to utilise this use of poltergeists in this sense to illustrate the past of Allderdale Hill, and this is where 'Crimson Peak' thrives the most, when it becomes apparent to us that it is "not a ghost story, it's a story with ghosts."

Whether you're a fan of Del Toro's work or not, it's hard to deny that he is currently one of cinema's most unique minds. Between his elaborate set pieces, compelling visuals & unorthodox modern day fables, Del Toro has established a cult following for himself that has seen his loyal fans follow him from film to film. If you are one of those Del Toro fans or just loved 'Pan's Labyrinth', I believe 'Crimson Peak' will appeal to you. It has a similar sense of visual flair, intense thrills and bloody violence. For those unfamiliar with Del Toro or 'Pan's Labyrinth', I still believe 'Crimson Peak' is worth a watch if you're looking for a fun horror/thriller.

The main criticisms I have with the film is, ironically, the opposite of the criticisms which Edith's (Mia Wasikowska) manuscripts receives from her publisher, who informs her that her story about ghosts is in need of a (tacked on) romance. I believe the opposite in the case of 'Crimson Peak'. I never really appreciated the romantic aspect to the film and it's not at the fault of the actors, Wasikowska & Tom Hiddleston, they have decent enough chemistry, and I know this is a gothic romance and their partnership was the driving force of the story, but it still felt a little tacked on. It almost felt like Del Toro was in Edith's position and the studio made him write a love story into his horror film.

For the positives though, 'Crimson Peak' builds tensions pretty excellently, from a really gripping opening scene to an equally gripping final scene. While the pacing slows down at points, it never really hinders the overall film. The film is visually stunning and the set design is exceptional. Allderdale Hall is a beautifully haunting set, the walls dripping with the red, blood-like clay, a dilapidated roof which sees leaves fall through the house in the spring and snow in the winter. The visual effects are pretty solid, with the ghostly apparitions appearing bloody and ghastly.

Del Toro is very evidently a student of the game, so to speak, and his inspirations are evident all throughout the film. Del Toro pays homage to the German expressionism films of the 1920's, such as 'Nosferatu' & 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari', with its use of gothic set pieces, shadows and the iris out to transition between scenes. As well as the horror films of Mario Bava, with the use of spellbinding colours, and a few little visual nods to Kubrick's 'The Shining' spread throughout.

Mia Wasikowska is an actress who seems to keep getting better and better with each passing film. It took me a while to get completely sold on her but I think she's excellent now. She's got all the capabilities to carry a major film and this is a fine example. Weather she's evil, good, creepy, cute or crazy, she has really set herself up for a wide range of roles. In this film, she is the intelligent, good-hearted, yet naive rich girl who has to mature in front of our in eyes in order to survive the events of the film. It's another good performance in what is becoming a really solid filmography.

Tom Hiddleston exudes a brooding charm and does very well in his role. The performance which is likely to get the most love though, and rightfully so, is Jessica Chastain, who even out-creepy's the ghosts. She is so easily able to convey a threatening, menacing vibe and when she goes full-crazy, it's a thing of terrifying beauty.

Horror is the film genre closest to my heart, while it is currently a heavily saturated genre that is polluted with hundreds upon thousands of forgettable or poor films on a yearly basis, there is usually very few horror films that see a wide release (at least where I live), usually the best horror films, like 'The Babadook' & 'It Follows' are reserved for small independent cinemas, while the 'Saw's & 'Paranormal Activity hit the major theatres. So when a film like 'Crimson Peak' arrives with a wide realease and hype to boot, it's a very exciting occasion. While I wouldn't put this film on the top-tier of the best horror films in recent years, I do think it's a good enough film to regenerate some buzz in the genre, especially during this time of year. Del Toro is very clearly a huge fan of this genre and his passion pours through in every frame.

'Crimson Peak' is a wildly entertaining cinematic experience. An excellent cast, eerie atmosphere and quality scares highlight is rare in that it's a satisfying big budget horror film.


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Sicario (2015)

Sicario, 2015, USA
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin & Benicio Del Toro
"You ask how the watch is made. Keep your eye on the time."

A quiet street sits idle and in the distance a woman is seen walking a dog. It's a moment of serenity and stillness, which is notable because it's one of the very few that the next two hours will have. Suddenly that serenity is gone, as fully armed FBI swat team members move in from the left of frame and our perspective of what seemed like an innocent street has changed as we now suspect something malevolent is at play. And thus begins a prevalent and reoccurring theme of 'Sicario', that of malevolence lurking under innocence, and things not being always as they seem.

We are then introduced to Kate Macer, played by Emily Blunt, an FBI agent with good intentions but a lack of understanding of how the system works. She is brought into a team that is out to rid of drug cartel on the U.S & Mexican borders by eliminating an anonymous drug lord. What makes Kate a compelling character is that she isn't a badass who is going to single handedly take out all the villains. No, she's  vulnerable and anxious yet brave and determined, she will pull the trigger and take out an enemy when need be but prefers a less a fatal form of justice. The film is telling a gritty and realistic so it's great to have a central character that feels genuine and human and not a action-heroine who can fix the drug problem with a solitary bullet.

From the get-go, 'Sicario' grabs a hold of you and refuses to let go. It's so relentless that even the down points and dialogue heavy scenes have an uneasy aura that keeps you on your guard.

The film is flawlessly shot, which should come as no surprise seeing as it's filmed by the best DOP alive, and probably the best ever, Roger Deakins. I'm one of those people who could just swoon over the man's abilities and body of work, and complain about his lack of Academy Awards, for hours on end, and 'Sicario' is yet another example of why the man is so well respected. Absolutely stunning photography that complements the tension is building in absolutely perfect fashion. Those mesmerising copter shots give the desert a life of it's own. Jóhann Jóhannsson's score is fantastic too, every time it kicked in, the tension rose and you were kept on your toes.

I'm very fond of Emily Blunt, I think she's an excellent actor with very broad range. Her performance in this film may be my favorites of hers thus far. As I alluded too above, her performance is multi layered, which allows her to portray vulnerability, fear and bravery. She's fantastic. I always love to see Josh Brolin and he's in his absolute element in this film, providing some much needed comedic relief at times and always being witty and entertaining.

As good as the cast is all across the board, the film really belongs to one man, and that is Benicio Del Toro. I've been a huge fan of Del Toro's for many years now, I think he's a phenomenally talented performer, but I've noticed that he's taking roles in more commercial or ensemble films in recent years, while he's always good, he never really gets the chance to shine like he did earlier in his career, that isn't the case with 'Sicario'. From the moment Del Toro's character, Alejandro, enters the frame, he completely commands the screen and makes the film his own. Alejandro is a hazy character, in that for most of the film, we are certain where his allegiances truly lie or what his motives are, and that just makes him even more commanding when he's on screen. He has moments where he is a helpful and compassionate and other times he is absolutely ruthless and terrifying. There is no way he doesn't get an Oscar nom for best supporting actor.

Once again Denis Villeneuve has delivered an impeccably crafted, tenaciously paced, gritty thriller that continues his sublime form. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite filmmakers and 'Sicaro' rivals 'Enemy' as my favorite of his filmography. I absolutely loved this film, it was a truly unique and exhilarating cinematic experience that had me on the edge of my seat for practically the entire duration. 'Sicario' will surely go down as one of my favorite films of 2015.


Saturday, 23 May 2015

Playtime (1967)

Playtime, 1967, France
Director: Jacques Tati
Stars: Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek & Rita Maiden

"I love Paris at this time of morning."

Francois Truffaut said of 'Playtime' that it is "a film that comes from another planet, where they make things differently", only after you've experienced Tati's one of a kind vision, can you fully comprehend Truffaut's statement. 'Playtime' was, at the time, the most expensive French film ever made. In a risk that is reserved for the most vivid of dreamers, Tati had an entire glass city constructed on the outskirts of Paris, coined "Tativille", for the production of this film which lasted nine years. Unfortunately, like a number of the great films, 'Playtime' was a misunderstood financial failure that left Tati in debt. But, also as the great films do, its power couldn't be suppressed and the film has finally gotten the recognition it should have received in 1967.

The film opens with a shot of a cloudy sky, as the opening credits go by the clouds begin to make way for the blue Paris sky, when suddenly a shot of a large building appears on the screen, thus setting the tone for Tati's extraordinary exploration of modernism.

'Playtime' is essentially a film of four general parts and little moments in between. The first of which begins with a couple sitting in a modernistic but sterile and grey building. The enviroment suggests that this is indeed a hospital, we see nuns, nurses and what appears to be a wheelchair bound patient, the woman's dialouge also suggests this as she tells her worried partner things such as "It's a long wait", "you'll take care of yourself" and "You've got an appointment". It's not until photographers, guards, school kids and tourists enter the frame, and we see that the "wheelchair bound patient" was actually a couple of suitcases with a blanket over the top, that we are in fact in an airport. This is an example of Tati playing on our assumptions and expectations and showing us what a playful and enigmatic filmmaker he is.

Speaking of Tati playing with our assumptions and expectations, this is also evident in the way he introduces Mr. Hulot into the film. For those who are unfamiliar, Hulot is to Tati what The Tramp was to Charles Chaplin, an iconic character that becomes synonymous with the legendary filmmaker. 'Playtime' was the penultimate appearance of Hulot on film and his third overall. After 'Mr. Hulot's Holiday' & 'Mon Oncle', and the way in which he was driving force for the loose narratives that Tati provided in those films, you would expect him to Hulot a notable entrance with a fair amount of fanfare, but that's not the case in 'Playtime'. The film is so layered and every shot is filled with detail that you blink and easily miss Hulot's entrance, which is mid shot in between groups of people, you can see his trademark coat, short pants, colorful socks, umbrella & brimmed hat folded at the back. You can also easily miss his second appearance, which is also in between groups of people, this time he drops his umbrella which makes a loud crack that draws the viewer's eye to Hulot, but by the time you spot him, he is already walking out of the shot. Eventually, when Tati takes out of the airport, we clearly see the Hulot strolls across the pathway, a woman yells "Mr. Hulot", who turns around and reveals he is, in fact, not Mr. Hulot! "I'm not Hulot. My name is Smith. I think you've made some sort of mistake".

Eventually we see the real Hulot, exiting a bus and, ironically, getting his umbrella caught on Mr. Smith's one. The fact that Smith is donning the famous attire Hulot is famous for and Hulot himself wearing a different jacket, it's Tati's way of telling his audiences early that this really isn't another Hulot film, he's there, sure, but the main star of the film is people themselves.

The first sequence of the film begins when Hulot visits a lavish building for a meeting. Upon his arrival there he meets an elderly security guard, who has to work a large machine in order to inform the higher ups that Hulot is arrived. As we see the man struggle to work the machine, Tati makes us aware that some people can get left behind when it comes to such technology, as the man proclaims "Who understands all this electronic stuff? All these buttons". Comedic hijinks of the highest order ensue as Hulot and the man he is there for a meeting with get there wires crossed, so to speak, which sees Hulot running over the building, which resembles a maze, trying to find the man, in a wonderfully orchestrated sequence.

The misunderstanding leads to Hulot accidentally stumbling into a Trade Exhibition. This allows Tati to continue making commentaries about the ever evolving modern world, like the woman who is selling trash cans in the shape of the ancient Greek pillars, titled "Thro.out Greek Style" (which can also be seen in the restaurant later in the film), this is a striking message that we are pushing aside these iconic feats of humanity for modern architecture. There are also some striking pieces of imagery throughout the film in which the famous Paris landmarks can only be seen in the reflection of revolving doors, i.e The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe & Sacrè-Coeur.

Next, Hulot meets an old Army buddy who invites him into his brand new Ultra modern apartment building. This is another comment of modernism and how he can take away our uniqueness and personality. The scene, which is shots solely from street view, and shows identical apartments, with no real sense of privacy or personality, lined up against one another. Watching the exact same TV program.

Finally, we come to one of the best sequences in the history, The Royal Garden scene. This takes place in a restaurant that is having its grand opening while it is still in construction, cutting corners in order in order to get the place in time, even after the customers have arrived. These leads to plenty of hilarious moments with the environment, quite literally, crumbling around them and the employees trying to do their best to cover it. It's also a fun twist that the customers seems to become more and more comfortable as things start to go haywire, as opposed to when it was a stuck-up pompous environment.

'Playtime' is a film that you should see once in order to prepare yourself for it. I watched it twice this week and while I absolutely loved it on my first viewing, it was a completely different experience the second time around, and I mean that in the best possible way. The film is so layered, you could watch it 10 times while looking at a different part of the screen and get 10 different cinematic experiences. Jacques Tati is one of the greatest and most inventive minds in the history of Cinema and just Art in general, and 'Playtime' is truly his magnum opus, his masterpiece. Tati truly makes things differently.