Paul Pescador | Notes on Looking

Summer and the movies, by Paul Pescador

1. We’re sitting in traffic. It’s the first day summer. No, thats not true, its the first day that June gloom has burnt off and the heat has set in. We’re sitting in the car stuck in gridlock traffic. It’s Saturday and we’re trying to get to the beach for a birthday in Malibu. We’re dead silent; frustrated and exhausted by the heat and traffic. We sit and listen to Siri read us directions as she sends us on and off freeways. Somewhere between the 101, 105, 405 and the 710 intersection, I remember why I never go to the beach. The traffic is like Godard’s film Weekend (1967): miles and miles of traffic and car accidents. I shout out, “There better be a dead body!” When I think of summer, I think of Jacques Tati’s film, Mr Hulot’s Holiday (1954). Mr Hulot’s Holiday takes plays in a French beach town during a summer holiday. The protagonist, Monsuier Hulot (played by Tati himself), is a fumbling middle-aged man who wanders around with his trilby and pipe. We rarely hear him speak, as his humor is action-based. Hulot is reminiscent of characters developed by silent film stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton: underdogs and outsiders who constantly get themselves into trouble by pestering others. Most of the film’s characters don’t really develop — they are more types than characters: a sneaky kid who pull pranks, a naive shy heroine, and a grumpy waiter who constantly gets frustrated when anything goes wrong at the hotel. Although they are not fully developed as characters, I find pleasure in watching them....