Catch this film tonight: Mon Oncle

mon-oncleJacques Tati is one of cinema's great comic performers. Tonight at 8pm at the Museum of Modern Art, you can catch his officially sanctioned masterpiece Mon Oncle (1958). Winner of a special Jury Prize at Cannes, recognized by the New York Film Critics Circle and awarded the Best Foreign Film Oscar, the movie marks Tati's second go-round as the bumbling, pipe-smoking Monsieur Hulot. This time out the character navigates a changing, increasingly modernized suburban landscape, which is at tremendous odds with his quaintly old-world upbringing. It's not a critique so much as a generous, all-encompassing compare-contrast: Tati never uses comedy to thumb his nose, but to uncover the humanity lurking within his rigorously composed frames. The end of Mon Oncle—in which Hulot's relatives send him off to find a full-time, "respectable" job—segues beautifully into Tati's next effort, the astonishing Play Time (1967), which was sadly not greeted with this film's commercial and critical hosannas.