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Mise en Scène

Been watching a lot of movies lately:

The Best of Youth (2003; DVD) — Not strictly a film but a six-hour Italian miniseries brought to two DVDs. This saga of two brothers’ intertwining lives from the 1960s onward takes a while to get into, but once it gets going one is rewarded with an absorbing story and fabulous performances all around. We’re currently two-thirds of the way through, and I can’t wait to see how it wraps up.

Playtime (1967; DVD) — As a longtime fan of Tati’s Mon Oncle, I eagerly awaited seeing this one. I wasn’t let down, but you have to know that Tati’s droll and visual sense of humor isn’t for everyone. Half an hour into the film, Christopher turned to me and said “Is this whole movie like this?” I’m afraid it was, but the monochromatic color scheme and deliberately dialogue-free soundtrack (Tati’s homage to silent comedy) had me spellbound. And that Midcentury Modern office building was bitchin’. The fact that it was all filmed on a huge, expensive set blows my mind. Pair up this and One from the Heart for an Expensively Gargantuan Set mini film fest. Here’s the iconic image of a baffled Tati looking over an ocean of pale green cubicles:

Jacques Tati in Playtime

The Interns (1962; Turner Classic Movies) — TCM has been getting a lot of mileage out the Columbia film library lately. Having read about this all-star hospital soapster in the Bad Movies We Love book, I set the TiVo when it showed up a couple of weeks ago (I skipped the sequel, The New Interns). Actually it’s not that bad, compulsively watchable even, despite the dated and sexist script filled with unintentionally hilarious “hip” dialogue. Y’see, cast of young orderlies are all men, and all the young nurse trainees are women, and the story mostly concerns itself with the various romantic partnerships that evolve from these situations. Hospital? What hospital? The huge cast came across as generally competent; mostly it’s the boyish cuteness of co-stars Michael Callan and James MacArthur that I recall best (too bad they didn’t share a few love scenes). Callan’s side-splitting “freak out” in the hospital cafeteria is a must-see scene. My next two TCM viewings are the 1948 Dane Clark melodrama Whiplash and the 1941 Hal Roach b-musical Fiesta.

One Thought on “Mise en Scène

  1. M A T T

    Jacques Tati was a big influence on television genius Ernie Kovacs…so I guess that makes Tati a genius, too!

    Subtlety in art (any art) is not often appreciated, as folks seem to always look for the “big bang” or fancy explanations

    Tati and Kovacs were able to leave much space for their viewers to project themselves into the work….lotsa room for the imagination!

    “Playtime” is great…thanks to this post I’ll have to drag it off the shelf and watch it

    thanks

    Kurt

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