1974 Tati swan song
Plot: A movie that shows how Jacques Tati sadly didn't know the difference between a parade and a circus.
Despite loving all things Tati, I was really in no hurry to see this and didn't think it was going to be any good. No, this isn't as good as Tati's earlier feature films, but it's absolutely delightful. I especially appreciated how this so lovingly looks at the connection between the performers and the audience. A focus on just the jugglers, acrobats, pantomime performers, and others would have ended up cold. This shows the audience almost as much as the performers doing their thing. Additionally, it shows a lot of backstage stuff where props are assembled and sets are constructed and painted. And there's one almost touching scene where Tati performs a pantomime act during the intermission only for the other performers.
Tati is the master of ceremonies here, and although he's aged, he still moves like only Tati could move. He pantomimes a few sports--boxing, soccer, fishing, and most humorously, tennis (in slow motion)--and it's just a blast watching him move. As with other Tati stuff, there are a lot of simple bits of comedy that don't make any sense but also don't need to be explained. For example, there's no explanation why so many motorcycle helmets are hat checked. But does there need to be? I'd argue that there's no need.
The magic created is simple, just props rolled onto a mostly white stage. They get a lot of use out of a pommel horse. Heck, there's more pommel horse action here than in Gymkata. There are some cute Spike Jonesy musical numbers, a great juggling sequence featuring three people and a bunch of paintbrushes, and some funny dancing. If there's a main issue with this, it's the length. By the time they trot out the ponies, the movie starts to feel a little long. Cut down to an hour, this would have been about perfect.
If you've ever wondered why this blog is so popular or has won so many awards, you're not paying attention to how I can so effortlessly connect Tati to a movie like Gymkata.