Playtime (1967), Jacques Tati’s most ambitious work, brought his career down in ruins. Three years in the making on a vast six-acre set specially constructed on the outskirts of Paris, it was conceived as a satire on the sterility of modern life. The production ran wildly over-budget and it flopped disastrously.

But for all the overweening ambition there’s an intimate charm about it, as Tati’s alter ego M. Hulot, a bunch of American tourists and various bewildered Parisians pick their way through the modernist labyrinth. Dialogue is minimal; visual gags pop up in every corner.

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