1/21/2007

Mon Oncle

Director: Jacques Tati

Winner of a special award at the Cannes Film Festival back in its initial release in 1958, Jacques Tati’s awe-inspiring film has since been given the royal treatment in its DVD transfer and restoration from those wizards at The Criterion Collection. The film features Tati as his recurring, lovable character Monsiuer Hulot and for my money, Mon Oncle is the best entry in the Hulot series (including the memorable Playtime and others). It’s a vibrant slice of life—fresh, fun, and filled a wondrously happy score that plays throughout. Mon Oncle finds Hulot as a man no longer fitting in with the technological advancements of his surroundings including the hilariously ultra-modern home of his brother-in-law and a plastic hose factory. Hulot himself seems to have been inspired by Charlie Chaplin and like Chaplin, he’s an endearing character that charms both children and adults alike. Curiously, the film has little dialogue and it’s practically inconsequential as the action is self-explanatory in meticulous gags that must have taken countless hours of preparation for the viewer to find them perfectly natural-- a masterful achievement for the genius Tati. Mon Oncle is the perfect film to introduce to young children in the hopes of getting them interested in foreign film. Hulot’s legacy lives on—we find his character referenced by Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther series and the films of Wes Anderson in their color, beauty and sheer cinematic joy. It’s also a great work to put on as a background film at a cocktail party as the atmospheric Mon Oncle has no major plot to decipher and is simply strung together by a sentimental feeling and above all, a beautiful collection of moments pieced together for us all to enjoy.