France/Italy | 1967 | 125 min | PG
If you are at all interested in the stylings of Wes Anderson, the comedy of Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), a fan of silent film (Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton), or found yourself enjoying Steven Spielberg’s movie, THE TERMINAL, you need to watch Jacques Tati’s PLAYTIME.
The movie appears divided into two distinct sections: work and play. And for the sake of this series, we are most interested in the section of “play.” The second half of the film takes place in a newly opened restaurant called The Royal Garden, which exists in a state of dysfunctionality, despite drawing a large crowd on opening night. While the patrons dance and drink, the restaurant struggles to maintain itself (doors break, floor tiles chip, lights do not work), as it was clearly designed for form over function. A turbot à la royale (i.e. fish in cream sauce) is wheeled in and out of the restaurant, and never eaten. Clearly Tati has never opened a restaurant, as he intended this scene to be laughable, but as anyone who has undergone a restaurant opening knows, these chaotic moments are quite commonplace.
After the patrons drink the restaurant dry, they stumble into the streets of Paris looking for food. Their primal urge for nourishment takes them to the local bodega–which also happens to be a pharmacy–and they satisfy their hunger with sandwiches, brightly-coloured desserts, coffee, and bottles of Cinzano. Morning breaks, and Mr. Hulot must say good-bye to his love interest; as they wander past counters of cheese, he buys her a scarf.
PLAYTIME took nine years to film, and two of those years were spent building the set, which affectionately became known as Tativille. It cost an enormous amount of money, and Tati was broke at the end of it. He lost his house, his film business, and even the rights to his earlier films. It is considered to be the cause of the death of Tati’s career, but it is a masterpiece. – CORA JAMES
Director: Jacques Tati
Cast: Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Rita Maiden
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“Situated in the heart of Parkdale, The Tempered Room is Toronto’s favourite Parisian patisserie.” Everything inside their brick walls is created locally, seasonally, and with a great deal of passion and inspiration. So whether you desire a dessert, a loaf of sourdough bread, or a classic, French sandwich, The Tempered Room is your ideal spot for quality.
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