Thursday, July 20, 2006

M. Hulot's Holiday / Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953)

M. Hulot's Holiday is the perfect summer movie, the exact embodiment of summer set to celluloid. Like a series of snapshots of family vacations, the film radiates humor and a fond nostalgia for holidays past.

The film's picturesque seaside vignettes are juxtaposed with the laugh-out-loud slapstick of Mr. Hulot and all who fall in his path. Just call it 'Monsieur Haricot à la Plage.' The title character is surely the father of our favorite catastrophe-stricken Brit. Mr. Hulot, played brilliantly by Jacques Tati, is a puzzling character. His animated actions are far louder than his words. Like Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean, he barely speaks. The character proves to be comically polite and, even more comically, oblivious.

Many of the vignettes center on universal holiday experiences: things going horribly wrong and general misunderstandings. Whether or not Mr. Hulot's presence is accountable for all these disasters isn't clear. Regardless, chaos ensues wherever he goes. Whether he's on the road (a flat tire mistaken for a cemetery's memorial wreath) or in the sea (his snapped-in-half boat causing screams of 'shark!'), nothing goes too smoothly when he's around. You'll just have to watch it yourself to see its 'explosive' ending.

If you're a fan of the earlier slapstick movies, M. Hulot's Holiday will be a favorite of yours. It's the perfect antidote to the big-budget blockbusters of this year, or any year.

M. Hulot's Holiday (1953)
Directed by: Jacques Tati

For more Tati talk, turn to Tativille [full-screen]

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Great Ken Jennings

If any of you are loyal Jeopardy! viewers, you may remember the miraculous Ken Jennings. If not, it might be hard to appreciate how exciting the show became with him as its top contestant. I was pretty taken with the quick-witted, dexterous champ. In fact, I even have a signed photo! I was very pleased, then, when I discovered his blog this week. It's quite an interesting and amusing read (especially for trivia buffs). If his blog is any indication, I think Ken's upcoming book, Brainiac, will be a must-read! Ken Jennings is also auctioning off a giant Ken head on eBay for charity. Giant styrofoam heads.. why isn't Jeopardy! this exciting anymore?