Classic Movie Review: Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953)

Title: Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (originally Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot)
Release Date: February 25, 1953
Director: Jacques Tati
Production Company: Discina Film | Cady Films | Specta Films

This delightful comedy gently satirizes the boom in middle class summer seaside vacations in the post-WWII era.  Many of the archetypical characters one would run into into at resort to this day appear in the film.  The movie begins with crowds of people attempting to catch trains and buses, with the title character M. Hulot arriving in an old, backfiring car.

Hulot is portrayed by the director Jacques Tati as a friendly and well-meaning character who inadvertently cause trouble for people around him.  Dialogue in this movie is incidental but music and sound effects are key for the not-quite-pantomime performances.  There are a lot of gags around men getting distracted by the attractive young woman Martine (Nathalie Pascaud), but it never devolves into the full on leering that was common in this era.  In fact, it’s a positive that Martine gets a name and some agency unlike many of the other characters.

The movie is charming and hilarious and probably worth a rewatch for to catch some of the simultaneous gags onscreen.

Rating: ****

2019 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 24th annual list.

February 18-24: Walt Disney World – We returned to the Most Magical Place on Earth, spending a day at each of the four parks.

March 2: Met up with my long time internet friend Jim for the first time in person.  We drank a lot.

March 15-18: St. Patrick’s Day in New York – I joined my mom for a walking tour of Irish New York, a bit of the parade, and attend a traditional Irish seisiún in the Bronx.

April 3: Slipped out of work to go bowling with some co-workers.

April 5-6: Attended the New England Archivists spring meeting in the lovely town of Burlington, Vermont.  It snowed.

April 15: Patriots Day – watched people playing baseball and running down the street.

April 16-17: Cooperstown – a short pilgrimage with Peter.

April-July: Youth Baseball – Kay played her first season of coach-pitch baseball and her team won their division! Meanwhile, Peter played on his spring league team, the Mayor’s Cup team, and a new summer league team!

May 4: Wake Up the Earth – we marched in the parade until the Earth woke up.

June-July: Women’s World Cup – another entertaining tournament (won by the US!)

June 14: 5th Grade Moving On Ceremony – Peter completed elementary school and moved on to middle school.

July 4-6: Independence Day in New York – we visited my mother for the holiday, saw the fireworks, and counted many butts at the Metropolitan Museum.

August 24-26: Visit to Nana – I took the kids back to see my mother and we attended a Mets game (and saw a Polar Bear homer), visited the American Museum of Natural History, and sailed boats in Central Park.

August 28-31: Camping at Wolfe’s Neck – another outing to our favorite oceanside campground (with goats) in Freeport, Maine

September 29: Cataan with Craig at Turtle Swamp – good game, good beer, good friends.

October 14: Pumpkin Picking – took the kids to get some gourds at Ward’s Berry Farm.

October 27-28: CEDWARC Workshop – I took a day trip to Washington to learn about web archiving.  As an added bonus, I got in a nice walk to Lincoln Memorial and across the Potomac.

November: Kids’ birthday parties – Peter celebrated by racing go-karts with his friends.  Kay hunted horocruxes and fought Voldemort the pinata at a Harry Potter-themed party.

November 24: Learn to Curl – I got to experience the joy of sliding a big stone across the ice and vigorous sweeping.