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And then there was ‘Playtime’

Jonathan Coe: Vive Tati!, 9 December 1999

Jacques Tati 
by David Bellos.
Harvill, 382 pp., £25, October 1999, 1 86046 651 6
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... Hancock’s life zooms in on his alcoholism and depression. David Bellos does not, in the case of Jacques Tati, have a ruthless control freak or incurable melancholic on his hands, although even his book contains one or two tales of debts unpaid, employees exploited and lapses into despair. (A very small price to pay for getting to write and direct six ...

Chez Tati

Penelope Gilliatt, 30 December 1982

... film directors’ instead – Renoir, Gance, Eisenstein, Ray, Truffaut, Keaton, Vigo, Tati. Tati has lately died after a career triumphant beyond compare in comic quality, apart perhaps from Keaton. Both could have made films in broom cupboards. Keaton used his august and stoic profile as a sort of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Playtime’, 20 November 2014

directed by Jacques Tati.
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... in Mon Oncle (1958), Playtime (1967) and Traffic (1971). You can see all of these, and more of Jacques Tati’s work, in a magnificent new Criterion set; and a new print of Playtime is showing at the BFI as part of a Tati retrospective. They wear well, these films. Or rather, they don’t wear, they grow. Everyone ...

Charlot v. Hulot

David Trotter: Tativille, 2 July 2020

Play Time: Jacques Tati and Comedic Modernism 
by Malcolm Turvey.
Columbia, 304 pp., £25, December 2019, 978 0 231 19303 0
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The Definitive Jacques Tati 
edited by Alison Castle.
Taschen, 1136 pp., £185, June, 978 3 8365 7711 3
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... worldwide into the ebb and flow of the Little Man’s campaign against oppression and neglect. Jacques Tati as Monsieur Hulot in ‘Les Vacances de M. Hulot’ (1953). In the decades after the Second World War, another supremely accomplished mime artist with a lively sense of the possibilities of film emerged as a plausible successor to the ...

The Schoolmen ride again

Richard Mayne, 15 May 1980

Cinema: A Critical Dictionary: The Major Film-Makers 
edited by Richard Roud.
Secker, 1120 pp., £25, February 1980, 9780436428302
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The Dream that Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain 
by Michael Chanan.
Routledge, 356 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7100 0319 6
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... the loudest of any director one can think of.’ Anyone for critical terrorism? And admirers of Jacques Tati will treasure another of Roud’s throwaway lines: ‘I wish I could fully share Fieschi’s views on Tati, but the disagreeable and to me totally unfunny Hulot seems to get in the way.’ Asides like these ...

Doing justice to the mess

Jonathan Coe, 19 August 1993

Afternoon Raag 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Heinemann, 133 pp., £3.99, June 1993, 0 434 12349 8
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... More than that, however, it appropriately points up a line of affinity between Chaudhuri and Jacques Tati, two humane and diffident humourists who also happen to be rigorous seekers after perfection in their own work, and whose fundamentally stern moralism has less to do with authorial finger-wagging than with the unanswerable exactness with which ...

Lying doggo

Christopher Reid, 14 June 1990

Becoming a poet 
by David Kalstone, edited by Robert Hemenway.
Hogarth, 299 pp., £20, May 1990, 0 7012 0900 3
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... have a lilt and grace of their own. It’s all a matter of makeshift improvisation: you feel that Jacques Tati could have taken the scene described here and turned it into a small film, charming, but disturbingly poignant. There are grounds for regarding ‘Manners’ as a covert manifesto poem – the paradox seems allowable in Bishop’s case – with ...

Revolution strikes the eye

John Willett, 19 January 1989

Russian and Soviet Theatre: Tradition and the Avant-Garde 
by Constantin Rudnitsky, translated by Roxane Permar.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £40, April 1988, 0 500 01433 7
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The ‘Golden’ Twenties: Art and Literature in the Weimar Republic 
by Bärbel Schrader and Jürgen Schebera, translated by Katherine Vanovitch.
Yale, 271 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 300 04144 6
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... let alone such important directors of Russian descent as Pitoeff, Komisarjevsky, Peter Brook and Jacques Tati, all of which is surely relevant to the modern reader’s view of the subject. He also virtually omits the cabaret and the ‘Blue Blouse’ agitprop movement, though he gives a useful account of the latter’s successor, the TRAM youth theatres ...


David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise, 15 April 1999

Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... new territory by mixing it with a range of cinematic, theatrical and televisual influences from Jacques Tati, through the Cabaret Voltaire, to Tom and Jerry. The jokes are new, the comic situations are different, but there is something in the relationship – the odd pairing of minds adrift in their own skewed universe – that immediately suggests ...

Nae new ideas, nae worries!

Jonathan Coe: Alasdair Gray, 20 November 2008

Old Men in Love: John Tunnock’s Posthumous Papers 
by Alasdair Gray.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 0 7475 9353 9
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Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography 
by Rodge Glass.
Bloomsbury, 341 pp., £25, September 2008, 978 0 7475 9015 6
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... repetition and pale historical reimaginings that make up most of the novel. Someone once said of Jacques Tati’s Playtime that it could be forgiven because Tati had earned himself the right to doodle on a grand scale. The same is true of Gray. In his intelligent and warm-hearted biography, Glass records the moment ...

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