THE CAT RETURNS

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Ladies and gentlemen, all this snow has really done a number on me.  I mean, the subways are running with delays, schools and businesses are closing, and there’s a salt shortage in the city!  Now, I’m not saying my actual schedule of get up, eat, sleep, walk, sleep, sleep, walk, play with things on strings and wires, eat, sleep has changed much, but boy, that guy shoveling the sidewalk outside sure is keeping me up.  Just stop it, already – you’re scaring all the birds on the fire escape away!

Anyway, with all this free time I had not being able to sleep as soundly as I would like, I decided to take in a foreign film.  I chose THE CAT RETURNS, a 2002 Japanese film put out by Studio Ghibli.  Although not directed by Ghibli’s founder, Hayao Miyazaki (best known for SPIRITED AWAY and the like), it still has Studio Ghibli’s stamp all over it.

The story concerns Haru (voiced in English by Anne Hathaway doing an Anne Hathaway impression ala Mia from THE PRINCESS DIARIES), a clumsy high-schooler who just can’t seem to get anything right.  One day she saves a cat from getting hit by a truck with her lacrosse stick, although I’m not sure why she bothered since the guy had eight lives left.   Anyway, we find out that the cat she saved is Prince Lune, heir to the throne of – wait for it – The Cat Kingdom.

(Disclaimer: I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of said Cat Kingdom. To do so would be a felony in Cat Kingdom law.  Whoops.)

cat king

The Cat King – a delicious Tim Curry – offers her repayment (read: RETURNS…!) in excess.  The returns, however, come in the form of extra lacrosse sticks, a field of cattails in her front lawn, live mice in her school locker, and a pack of cats following her all over town.  This does not help her awkwardness at school, and she is appalled at what her life has become.

Not to fret, says an employee of the Cat King.  We’ll take you back to the Cat Kingdom and you’ll marry the Cat Prince.  She says yes.  This will solve all of my problems.  I agree.  Poor girl.

(Kids – do not think that marrying the first cat that comes along with solve all of your problems.  We may be the best creatures on the planet, but that doesn’t mean we’re a fix-all.)

The employee leaves to spread the good news.  He’ll be back later to pick her up, he says, and leaves.

Haru has a change of heart.  She doesn’t want to marry a Cat Prince.  But what can she do?  That guy has already left!  Gah!

Then a disembodied voice tells her to seek out The Cat Bureau.  They’ll help her.  Of course.

Here’s where we meet the sidekicks of the tale.  The Baron (a dashing Cary Elwes), Muta (a curmudgeonly Peter Boyle), and Toto (Elliot Gould as a crow) all join her cause.

baron

But then the Cat Kingdom cats come and take her away.  Rats!  Muta is able to steal a ride on the backs of a herd of stampeding cats (like ya do) and follows her into The Cat Kingdom.

Once there, such strange happenings occur!  In preparing for the wedding (which she has to do – she agreed to it!), she brings up a good point.  She’s not a cat.  Not to worry, the dastardly Cat King says.  You’re well on your way.

And just like that – OMG SHE’S TURNING INTO A CAT!  It’ll take full effect at the end of the day.

turning into a cat!

It’s a good thing the Baron comes in to save her!

With pluck, determination, and comedic happenstance, they save her from marrying Prince Lune (who turns out to be a really nice guy and had no idea what his dad was up to) and deliver her safely home, where she does not end up turning into a cat.

going home

She finds herself, learning to be happy with who she is, and doesn’t even care that her crush broke up with his girlfriend.  She doesn’t need some boy to be happy.  (Get it, girl!)

All in all, it was a lovely film.

Filled with cats.  Did I mention the cats?

So now it’s time for the score.  And this film gets a score of……………………………

cat returns pawprint plot

Holy kittens!!!!!  A perfect 100!!

Caveat: This film is animated, so I can’t say you’re going to see real, live cats acting their faces off.  So, a modified 100, we’ll say. 🙂

With that, I’ll see you next time, folks.  I’m going to enjoy myself another snow day.  Meow!

– Franny

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CLOUD ATLAS

Hello again readers.
As you know, I don’t make it out to the cinema often.  I am, however, a Netflix fiend.  So when my humans went and saw a crazy flick called CLOUD ATLAS and raved about it, I thought I should put it on my Netflix queue.  That way I could take a look at it when it was released on DVD.  This past week, I saw it.  And what a trip it was.

Cloud_Atlas

CLOUD ATLAS, with a budget of over $100,000,000, is one of the most expensive independent films ever.  Based on the novel by David Mitchell, it interweaves six separate story lines that take place between 1849 and 2321.  Using crazy makeup that sometimes turned Hugh Grant into a passable Asian and Halle Berry into a not-quite-as-passable Jew, the film uses the same core cast to portray different characters in each story.  This highlights the film’s underlying themes of universal connective tissue and global cause-and-effect.

hanks_berry_cloudatlas_faces

Since there are six separate stories, I shan’t go into each one here.  Suffice it to say, though, that the cast handles the odd material with finesse, and the cinematography is spell-binding.  Each setting, ranging from a 19th-century slaving ship to a 1970’s San Francisco warehouse to a futuristic South Korean city with flying cars and laser guns, has its own feel, its own palate, and indeed, its own director.  Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski shared the screenwriter, producing, and directing credits in this behemoth, and I think the collaboration paid off in spades.

But really though, Franny, what’s the deal with the cats?  Where can we find them?  Ahh, dear readers, this film is – unfortunately – not cat-heavy.  The one instance of cat takes place in the story of Henry Cavendish.  Played in spectacular fashion by Jim Broadbent, Henry Cavendish is a book publisher living in London, 2012.  Due to some unforeseen events (having somewhat to do with a rough-neck author version of Tom Hanks with a giant prosthetic nose pushing a critic over a balcony), he finds himself examining his life and what he has made of it.  He dreams of yesteryear and muses on his salad days, when he was courting a young woman named Ursula.

cloudatlas_4

There is a flashback scene with a young attractive couple canoodling naked under some bed sheets when Ursula’s parents walk in.  Young Henry Cavendish leaps up and grabs the closest thing he can find to cover his genitalia – a cat.  Oh, that my species should be used in such a manner as this is thoroughly unbecoming of our inherent high status, but these things do happen sometimes for the sake of comedy.  The cat meows and scratches at the boy’s nether regions, distressed by the prospect of being a human’s underwear (the finest bit of acting in the entire film), and Henry Cavendish falls out of the window in a panic.

All in all, although the cat presence in this film leaves something to be desired, the film is quite good.  It’s so good that it makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with my humans and read the original novel.  I’ll make them hold it for me, though.  No opposable thumbs, you know.

So, the final score for CLOUD ATLAS is………………………………………

Cloud Atlas Pawprint Plot

50 points!!!!!!!!

Wow!  That surprised even me!

Well done, CLOUD ATLAS!

Until next time, readers, I remain yours in reviewing.

– Franny

2013-11-07 22.15.20

I WIN

Special Blog Announcement!

As I’m sure you already know, I’m an incredibly special cat. And for the first time in the history of my blog, SOMEONE HAS ACKNOWLEDGED IT! With gratitude to Playful Kitty, I’m excited to announce that I’ve been award the Dragon’s Loyalty Award.

dragonsloyaltyaward1

1. Display the Award Certificate on your website.

I don’t know how to do this because I have paws. My humans ask your help?

2. Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award.

Check.

3. Present 15 or so awards to deserving bloggers:

There are a number of bloggers whose posts I read with feline fervor. Here is a sampling. If you’re feeling magnanimous, like me, give them a peek!

Cats on Film

Alone with Cats

The Cat on my Head

Cats & Co

SarahRemy

Ringo the Cat’s Blog

I Have Cat

DarwinBookCats

Texas, a cat in… Austin

Ceiling Cat’s Blog

Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

What the Cat Read

rtcvers (my human dad’s blog, sigh)

4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post:

Check.

5. Post seven interesting things about yourself:

Only seven?

1CatsGroup. I have had three names.

Before I was Franny, I was Lacey. Before Lacey, I was Tabitha. And before I was Tabitha, I had an “ineffable effable / Effanineffable / Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”

 

 

2. I am a kitten explorer.

As a young kit, I appeared in a gentleman’s garage in Upstate New York. He was friendly and he fed me and called me Tabitha. But he left the screen door open a2012-12-21 17.17.24nd I had adventures to have. My next appearance was in the Bronx. What happened between Upstate and the Bronx I will never tell. I was collected in the Bronx and an adoption agency called me Lacey. Two months later, after escaping from my temporary holding cell in a PetCo not once, but twice (call me Houdini), I was adopted by my current humans. They named me Franny, like Zooey, like Salinger, because of my angst.

 

3. I don’t like catnip.

I think it’s because I’m simply stronger than other cats.

 

IMG_28034. I have a lover.

He lives across the courtyard from me. He occasionally sits in the window and we stare at each other. His name is Pouncival.

 

 

 

 

5. I am a world traveler.

Okay, “world” meaning “USA.” I have not only traveled many miles on my pink paw IMG_1919pads, but I’ve also flown to my mom-human’s homestead in Idaho twice. I like it there for all the places to hide, but there’s a large golden retriever who thinks I want to be friends and I DO NOT. I also frequently drive by car to my dad-human’s homestead in rural Pennsylvania. There’s another dog there, small and irritating, and I enjoy eying him with disdain.

 

6. I am toilet-trained.

And honestly I don’t understand why I’m the only cat I know who is. Heathens.

 

7. I tried to eat a roasted pumpkin seed this morning, and it was disgusting. I don’t know why humans try to eat anything but meat.

My humans carved this for the holiday. They named him Zooey, obviously to try and give me someone to be friends with. Ha.

My humans carved this for the holiday. They named him Zooey, obviously as a veiled attempt to provide me a companion. Ha.