After watching Jacques Tati’s so-called “masterpiece” I had to wonder, is this film called “Playtime” or “Waste of my Time”? 


Yeah, it’s a comedy (which everyone knows I prefer to the “Ohhh-we-all-live-in-a-wasteland-of-despair-but-lets-put-the-audience-through-two-mind-numbing (and butt-numbing)-hours-just-to-show-how-pathetic-we-are” type of film.  Did we learn nothing from the lead character of “Sullivan’s Travels”?).  The only trouble is that the humor is so subtle it’s practically non-existent.  The only bits that almost – almost! – made me think of smiling were the drunk following the neon sign, and the doorman opening the absent glass door for patrons (which the film repeated over and over and over and over and . . . just shoot me now, okay?).


The other problem is director-writer-actor Tati’s absence of close-up shots.  I found it impossible to follow what was happening (or care, for that matter).  Where are we supposed to be focusing our attention?  And all the characters’ extreme under-development make them less-interesting than, say, the thread hanging from my sock.


If you’re the kind of person who does like Tati, you should definitely watch Rowan Atkinson’s “Mr. Bean” TV series.  The difference is that it’s actually, you know, funny.


John Kephart