Archive for December 14th, 2012

a playtime jacques tati criterion new PLAYTIME-9

by M. Roca

It’s hard not to feel bittersweet emotions while watching Jacques Tati’s Playtime. Here is a film touched with breathtaking moments of brilliance, but also with the recognition that an astonishing career would never fully recover again. Knowing that the filmmaker did not come out unscathed lends an aura of melancholy to the movie that is palpable to those who know the backstory. Daring and expensive, Playtime was a commercial failure that couldn’t recoup a large portion of its working budget. Tati went all out in the creation of his comedic masterpiece, sparing no expense. In fact, it was the most costly French picture ever made at that time in 1967. The enormous sets took hundreds of people to make and maintain. Such a colossal endeavor also lent itself to production woes that ate away the money and valuable time. Dubbed “Tativille,” Playtime’s set was basically a living, breathing city of glass, cubicles, and a fully functioning power plant filmed on 70mm. The high-resolution film stock caused even more problems for the director: Tati refused to show his work in theaters that were unable to accommodate that level of wide projection and considerable aspect ratio. These factors coupled with the challenging nature of the movie itself, irreversibly affected the rest of Tati’s career financially and artistically (though Trafic is also a masterpiece in my eyes). Debt and bankruptcy hounded him. He had had only the chance to complete six feature-length works. Regardless of what happened in the past, Playtime exists…and for this, we should be forever grateful. (more…)

Read Full Post »

by Allan Fish

(UK 2006 550m) DVD1/2

The greatest cathedral of all

p  Vanessa Berlowitz, Shannon C.Malone, Alastair Fothergill  d  Alastair Fothergill  w  David Attenborough  ph  Michael Kelem, Doug Anderson, Peter Kragh, Andrew Shillabeer  ed  Thom Sulek, Andy Netley  m  George Fenton, Sam Watts

narrated by  David Attenborough

When writing about The Blue Planet, which the same team released to an awe-struck world in 2001, I remember calling it Attenborough’s crowning achievement.  And indeed it probably was up to that point.  In the decade since we have had several further natural history masterclasses from the great Sir David and his collaborator Alastair Fothergill, but of those the one that ranks highest, alongside if not above The Blue Planet, has to be their series entitled simply Planet Earth.

It consists of just eleven episodes, whose first ‘From Pole to Pole’ essentially acts as the prologue, introducing many of the creatures and habitats we will encounter one by one as the series progresses through the remaining ten – ‘Mountains, Fresh Water, Caves, Deserts, Ice Worlds, Great Plains, Jungles, Shallow Seas, Seasonal Forests and Ocean Deep’.  (more…)

Read Full Post »