11 Nov 2005

classic shorts

"The Book of Illusions", written in 2002 by Paul Auster, is a sad book. If i were asked to characterize it in only one word, then this word would just be "sad". If you get involved when reading it, you finish it with a deadly feeling of helplessness. Why does everything go to waste? No, i mean it: why does everything go to waste? But that's another story.
David Zimmer is a university professor, who falls into a routine of depression and isolation as a result of his family getting killed in a plane crash. Nothing seemed to be able to get him out of his at least psychologically suicidal estate, when all of a sudden, he reencounters his first moment of smiling and laughter: he watches one of the silent comedies of Hector Mann, a comedian missing for years. Which is more than enought to provide him a purpose to survive, a goal to fight for. I won't go on with considerations on this book, nor will i supply any links, cause it's quite a painful subject for me :).
But this was meant as an introduction to the fact that last night i watched four Jacques Tati shorts, within the same French movie fest. Jacques Tati was originally a mime, and i think this meant a lot for his later career as a comic and filmmaker. I cannot comment upon his style until watching his long movies as well, but what i was going to say was that i can understand how the style of that type of shorts could make somebody giggle, no matter in how bad a mood.
They're based on visual silly gags coupled with an elaborate soundtrack rather than on dialogue, but the natural acting of the actors, the simplicity and expressiveness that they show can create such an entertaining and light atmosphere. You laugh, but not because you catch i don't know what sexual gag, which is anyway connected to some frustrations or tabus or samples of perverted thinking. You just laugh cause they make you feel good. They seem to me like they'e respecting the laws of experiential marketing :)).
I watched "Gai dimanche" and i was quite proud in the austerian manner, cause this short is Tati's first movie, for which apparently there only remained a very used 16 mm copy at "Les Films de Mon Oncle". And last night's broadcast was due to a VHS tape obtained through the amability of "Les Films de Mon Oncle".
The second one was "L'ecole des facteurs", followed by "Soigne ton gauche" and by "Forza Bastia".

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