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****Excellent ***Good **Fair *Poor : VIDEOCASSETTES

November 10, 1987|MICHAEL WILMINGTON | Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"Jour de Fete." Embassy. $29.95. This first of Jacques Tati's fictional features, made in 1949, differs from the rest: It has relatively "normal" dialogue, and it's the only one where he plays a character other than that pipe-smoking, rain-coated ditherer M. Hulot. Here, he's a lanky country letter carrier with a walrus mustache, who becomes obsessed with American postal efficiency after watching a documentary at the annual fair; racing madly through his rounds, he creates typical lyrical Tati havoc. Tati's flair for Swiss-watch slapstick is in high gear, and the film has a wistful quality--enhanced by the colored balloons and flags that keep floating over its monochrome images. Although it's in a "contemporary" setting, the nostalgia is built in; French villages like this barely exist anymore. Neither, sadly, do comic creators like Tati. Information: (213) 553-3600. ****

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