Monthly Archives: January 2014

Felidae (1994)

Felidae DVD

Fontana Filmproduktion
Starring:
 Ulrich Tukur, Mario Adorf, Helge Schneider, Wolfgang Hess
Directed by: Michael Schaack

Synopsis: Based on the acclaimed novel series by Akif Pirinçci, Felidae is the story of a cat named Frances (voiced by Ulrich Tukur) who moves into a new neighborhood and is immediately embroiled in a series of gruesome murders, which he is determined to solve.  This film is only available on a Region 2 DVD (which requires a region-free player to view) and sadly there is only an English dubbed version on the disc.  Well worth seeking out!

Cinema Cats: The cats are the entire focus of this film, even though they occupy a human world.  The characters are complex and interesting, including Frances himself, who solves the crimes in part by studying his dark and disturbing dreams.  Frances first meets Blaubart, a neighborhood cat who tells him about the murders, which they believe to have been committed by a “can opener” (slang for human.)  In his search for the truth, Frances meets the wise Pascal, who shares more information that he’s gathered about the murders, and Felicitas, a blind and beautiful female cat.  Frances also discovers a strange cult focusing on a mythical cat named Claudandus, which may have some connection with the murders.

Felidae

Strong Kitty Carnage Warning! This film makes Watership Down look tame by comparison.  This is an adult story with very adult themes . . . it is a murder mystery involving cats.  There are some very violent and gruesome scenes in this film, including the crime scenes and Frances’ very graphic and disturbing nightmares (which are beautifully rendered for all their gore.)  There is also an interesting sex scene (very realistic although not particularly graphic.)  There are also scenes of cats undergoing vivisection.  If you do not want to see cats involved in violence or cannot stomach even animated gore, give this a pass.  Also I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for little kids.

Final Mewsings: There desperately needs to be an English subtitled version of this film made available (sorry, but the English dubbed version just doesn’t cut it.)


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Sick Kitten (1903)

G.A.S. Films
Directed by: George Albert Smith

Synopsis: A remake of George Albert Smith’s earlier film The Little Doctor from 1901, this short shows a boy and girl playing doctor and nursemaid to a sick kitten, feeding it some medicine from a spoon as the Mama Cat waits by anxiously.

Cinema Cats: One of the earliest cat stars of the silver screen, the kitten featured in this short film is adorable beyond words.  What is most notable about this experimental film was George Albert Smith’s use of close ups and editing, one of the earliest examples of a film being cut and close ups inserted to bring the action closer to the audience.  He deserves to be applauded simply for giving us one of the most priceless kitty close-ups in film history.  Mama Cat also turns in a nice performance as the concerned parent.

sick kitten

Final Mewsings: A close-up of a kitten is a cinematic breakthrough.


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Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)

Shadow of the Thin Man DVD

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Starring:
 William Powell, Myrna Loy, Barry Nelson, Donna Reed
Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke

Synopsis: Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell & Myrna Loy) go to the horse races but they end up being pulled into a new mystery when a jockey is murdered in the locker room.  Consequently Nick reluctantly has to solve yet another crime and his wife and their dog Asta are both right along for the madcap, hair-raising adventure.

Cat Burglar (Scene Stealer): This is the movie which fueled my desire to blog about screen cats in the first place.  The black kitten which shows up unexpectedly in this film is the perfect example of how cats can impact a film.  It’s a throwaway gag . . . when Nick arrives at the jockey’s locker room at night, Asta rushes in before him as Nick explains to a man outside that Asta isn’t afraid of anything.  When Asta enters, a tiny kitten is sitting on a shelf and mews at him causing Asta to whimper and run in fear.  The kitten again scares Asta with a little hiss on the way out.

Shadow of the Thin Man kitten

It’s a classic Cinema Cats moment . . . there is no reason whatsoever for the kitten to be alone in this locker room sitting on a shelf when Asta comes in and when he leaves.  But it is simply the most adorable little kitten ever and the fact that Asta is afraid of it is hilarious.  It’s overlooked gems like this which deserve to be recognized for the classic little film moments they are.

Shadow of the Thin Man kitten animated gif

Final Mewsings: Probably the only time Asta has ever been upstaged on screen!


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