City Films II

News flash: the Gene Siskel Film Center will be showing Jacques Tati’s films this February, including the masterpiece Play Time.

When I was in architecture school at the University of Kentucky in the ’80s, our dean was Jose Oubrerie, who spent significant time working with Le Corbusier. So when I was a fledgling architect, modernity wasn’t something we laughed at; we worshipped at its altar.

That’s precisely why I find this film so hilarious.

Tati manages to create a film whose dialogue is largely a silent one, between the affable, bumbling Mr. Hulot and his equally baffling environment: modern architecture. As The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips eloquently puts it in his review:

“This one will forever divide audiences in the best possible way: despite the title, Tati’s sense of play takes on a graver tone, despairing of modern life and modern spaces yet reminding us that even here, in an impersonal dream city, there are glancing opportunities for poetry.”

I certainly won’t miss the opportunity to see Play Time on the big screen. (3 p.m. Feb. 20 and 6 p.m. Feb. 24, www.siskelfilmcenter.org)

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