23

MONDAY

In his early films, writer-director Jacques Tati played a bike-riding rural postman—which explains why he’s the patron saint of that bicycle-driven Gallic whimsy, The Triplets of Belleville. But the vehicle at the center of Tati’s 1967 Playtime is the tour bus, which brings a squadron of American tourists to an un-Parisian Paris. (The city’s landmarks are tantalizingly nearby but never seen by the visitors—a gag Lawrence Kasdan recycled in 1995’s French Kiss.) Playing the bemused M. Hulot, his frequent alter ego, the filmmaker wanders through this modernist cityscape, eluding disaster in a series of long takes so graceful they hardly qualify as slapstick. This masterpiece has been shown many times in Washington, but this is the East Coast premiere of the original 70 mm stereo version, and the added detail can only enhance the extraordinary depth of image and sound in Tati’s impeccably choreographed ballet of alienation. The film screens at 6:30 and 9 p.m. (see Showtimes for other dates) at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)