THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY

Meow. It’s been a long time.

1625454_10201731630993298_125276479_nHowever, I feel that when there is snow outside, it is absolutely imperative that I do NOTHING. I have to preserve my precious body heat. I’m a cat, not a snow leopard!

Speaking of snow leopards.

While in the great state of Idaho with my humans, we visited the zoo. It sounds like a great plan until you realize that January in Idaho means SNOW. And COLD. Most animals in zoos don’t like that.

Except the snow leopards.

Two baby snow leopards and their dad snow leopard were out in FULL FORCE. The baby snow leopards were running, playing, punching, chewing, and thoroughly irritating their dad snow leopard. It was glorious. I told my humans that I thought I might be part snow leopard and that they should permit me to join this herd. They told me that I was the size of these snow leopard’s paws. I stood down.

BABY SNOW LEOPARD

BABY SNOW LEOPARD

Speaking of snow leopards, my humans and I just saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Why is this related? Well, to not give too much away, there is a scene that has a snow leopard.

I must admit that the trailers for Walter Mitty got me all aflutter. I love cool music when it plays alongside hyper-realistic and creative running and jumping. Yet a whole movie can’t just be that, and this one isn’t, which is almost too bad.

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The basic plot is this: Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is the photo editor for TIME magazine. As a kid, he dreamed of traveling the world, but instead has worked a bunch of boring jobs and lived a super boring life. At the start of the movie, new management, led by Ted (Adam Scott), takes over TIME and announces that it will publish its final issue before transitioning to an only-online version. The cover of that final issue will be a photograph by famous photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn). Unfortunately, in the roll of negatives O’Connell sent to Walter, that photo’s negative is missing. This begins Walter’s epic journey of self-discovery and world travel, where he learns that life is crazier than daydreams!

Oh, there’s also a love story with Kristen Wiig, but it’s not that important.

The good: the music is great, there are some gorgeous vistas of Iceland, Greenland, and the Himalayas, and there are a lot of sweet moments. Unfortunately, on the whole, Walter Mitty fails to coalesce into the sweet, magical movie it wants to be. It’s neither as funny nor as romantic as it thinks it wants to be. This is disappointing. Ben Stiller is a consummate actor, though, and he’s so easy to watch and love that, on the whole, Walter Mitty is a really enjoyable way to spend two hours.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTYThe snow leopard is the sole cat in the film, but considering my current snow leopard obsession (I WILL JOIN MY PEOPLE), it was a highlight. Below is the PawPrint Plot. I gave it a generous score of 20 points. Not great, but SNOW LEOPARD.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 12.53.08 PMStay warm out there, fellow snow leopards!

xoxo
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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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HOCUS POCUS

Boo!

It’s Halloween, my feline followers, which is one of my least favorite holidays. First of all, it gives us cats—particularly those of us with a slightly darker fur tone—a bad reputation. Second, I live in New York City, and Halloween in New York isn’t fun if you are a normal person. My mom-human hasn’t gone out on Halloween since her freshman year of college, and her stories about the subway down to the Village make me claustrophobic. And I sleep in boxes.

So tonight I snuggled in for a Halloween classic, ‘cause a cat has to celebrate somehow! Hocus Pocus, here I come!

1341831695_hocus_pocus2-ff I assume all of you know the basic plot of Hocus Pocus. The film opens with a young man in Puritan-era Salem, Massachusetts discovering that his sister has been kidnapped by the town’s three witches, who intend to use her for a spell to make them younger. The young man, Thackeray Binx, fails to rescue his sister, and instead is turned into… you guessed it… A CAT! From there, we fast forward to the present (1994), where some erstwhile younguns—teens Max and Allison (Omni Katz and Vinessa Shaw) and Max’s young sister (Thora Birch)—release the witches from their graves for one night only—Halloween, 1994. While the witch sisters attempt to find more small children to devour to retain their youth, the three kids, along with Binx the cat and Billy Butcherson the zombie, fight against time to make sure these witches are destroyed before the sun comes up.Hocus-Pocus_20Things_9As anyone who has seen Hocus Pocus knows, though, the plot is not really what makes this film great. What makes this film great is Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the amazing animatronics of the 90s (i.e. Binx the cat). It is anachronistic nonsense, which, if you read my reviews, you know is my cup of shredded chicken in pumpkin broth (wait… that was just my dinner tonight).

Onto serious matters, though, I need to share something very, very special tonight on Franny’s Feline Film Forum. The last few reviews I’ve done had fairly low ratings on my Pawprint Plot.IMG_2831

Tonight, though, after much notetaking and some very important fact-checking, I was excited to award Hocus Pocus THE FIRST EVER 100 PAW-POINT FILM ON FRANNY’S FELINE FILM FORUM! That’s right, ladies, gents, and felines, Hocus Pocus got a full 100 points. You didn’t think it was possible, but see below for proof.

And in the meantime, please enjoy what’s left of your Halloween. Myself, I’ll be watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch trying to determine whether Binx and Melissa Joan Hart’s cat, Salem, were played by the same cat-actor.

Meow,
Franny

Pawprint Plot Hocus Pocus

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.

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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.

 

UNCLE BUCK

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Sometimes it’s nice to revisit the past.  And by the past, I don’t mean as far back as my last review.  I also don’t mean a past that I can remember.  I do mean a past that my humans can remember, though.  Well, kind of.  Both of my humans were at least alive the era of John Hughes.  And more importantly, the era of John Candy.  And even more importantly, the era of UNCLE BUCK.

UNCLE BUCK (1989) has a simple premise: What happens when you put your schlub of a relative in charge of three high-strung kids?

The answer is, of course, movie magic.

Here’s how we start: Cindy and Bob Russell are average middle-class Americans who are very focused on their work and their busy lives.  They have three kids, one of whom is a “dreamer” of a little girl, one who is a young Macauly Culkin (literally), and one who is really angry teenage girl.  They don’t know their kids, their kids don’t know them, and they eat Chinese food for dinner a lot, apparently.  So not good things here in Chicagoland.

One night, however, Cindy’s dad has a heart attack.  The couple need to go to Indianapolis.  Immediately.  They can’t even wait until the morning (so the film purports).  Who should they get to watch the kids?  They have school, after all – they can’t come.  The neighbor?  Oh no.  Friends from work?  Out of town themselves.

“What about Buck?” asks Bob.

Bob’s brother Buck, played by John Candy, is the black sheep of the familiy – big, loud, living in an apartment, no job, an avid bolwer (the shame of it!), dating a woman who (gasp!) sells tires, smokes cigars, drinks a lot, and is often seen at horse races.  Not necessarily Mary Poppins, here.

Ahh, but they have no choice.  Best call him up.  He comes over in his lemon of a car, and the chaos ensues.

The film from there on is basically a series of vignettes that detail the ridiculous insertion of this character into the formerly orderly lives of the three children.  There’s a lot of angry teenage fighting, especially when Uncle Buck disapproves of Tia’s new boyfriend.  There’s a lot of Macauly Culkin with his eyes wide open looking surprised.  And there’s a lot of John Candy just being a funny fat guy, including a particularly great scene where he makes a giant breakfast for Macauly Culkin’s birthday.

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Eventually, all the humans learn the importance of family, and the kids appreciate their parents a little more for all they do.

It’s sweet.

Now, the cat factor:  In a terribly funny scene, Uncle Buck tries to get the family cat to come inside.  He calls for it, he chases it through the bushes, and he picks it up.  He carries it inside while it caterwauls in dismay and scratches his face and arms.  Once inside, he asks, “Who let the cat out?”  One of the children answers, “We don’t have a cat!”  Out the cat goes back on its merry way.

Now, as much as I don’t appreciate a scene of a human forcing a cat to do something against its will, I even have to applaud the comic timing in this bit.  Well played, John Hughes.  Well played, John Candy.  Well done, Johns.

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UNCLE BUCK is a quintessential end-of-the-eighties film and, even though my parents probably weren’t even alive then, it’s cinema gold.

And the final cat factor is………………………………

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50 points!!!  

It’s a good flick with just a bit of cat, but that bit of cat is a bit of great.

Thanks for stopping by!  Check back soon for more reviews!

– Franny

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First furry review: WE BOUGHT A ZOO

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“We Bought a Zoo” has a deceptively simple plot:  Adventure-Seeker/Widower/Single-Father loses himself in a giant project to escape his pain.  Don’t count it out yet, however.  There are plenty of cats in here to keep us interested for the duration.

Of course, you say to yourself.  There must be cats in this story – after all, it’s about a zoo.  But this, our first installment here at Franny’s Feline Film Forum, has no domesticated beasts in it at all.  Instead, it’s the big cats that reign surpreme.

Matt Damon plays Benjamin Mee, the aforementioned Adventure-Seeker/Widower/Single-Father.  He doesn’t know his troubled fourteen-year-old son (he draws morbid artwork instead of applying himself in school).  He couldn’t get by without help from his seven-year-old daughter (she makes the lunches and reminds her dad about daily chores).  His job has hit a stand-still.  And doggonit, his neighbors are a bit noisy.  (“Their happy is too loud,” his daughter Rosie informs us.)

What’s a guy to do?  Move.  And, boy howdy, they find the perfect house.  It’s big, it’s gorgeous, it’s…. a zoo?  Apparently if they buy the house, the small zoo on the property comes with it.  Oh dear.  Now we’re having second thoughts.  This is crazy, Benjamin says.

Cue first cat:  we have a close-up on Solomon the lion and his oh-so-wise eyes.  It’s almost as if he’s pleading with the Mees to stay.

And stay they do.

What happens throughout the film is your run-of-the-mill fixer-upper story.  The zoo’s in shambles, but Benjamin’s got heart, so he puts his whole self into it.  Along the way we have a pretty girl for him (Scarlett Johansen), a new friend for his son (Elle Fanning), and a rather surly zoo inspector (John Michael Higgins) intent on keeping the zoo from ever opening.  Of course there are the usual trials and tribulations, ups and downs, etc, etc, but wait – the kittens return to keep it interesting.

One of the secondary plots concerns the seventeen-year-old tiger Spar.  He’s old.  Really old.  Too old.  He should be put down.  His medicine is expensive and it takes extra effort to keep him up and about.  Plus it’s almost as though he himself has given up.

The entire zoo staff says it’s time to let him go, but Benjamin won’t budge.  He can’t imagine just losing hope, throwing in the towel, and all other expressions of helplessness.  He’s fought so hard for so long that he can’t even imagine the zoo without him in it.

Wait a minute…  Are we still talking about Spar the tiger here?  Benjamin’s self-reflection and veritable demon-examination culminates in his inevitable purification.  It’s time to move on, Benjamin Mee.  Live your new life.

And live it he does.  But will the zoo ever pass the inspection?  Will anybody ever come?  And what about all those relationships with his son and the love interest and such – how will those turn out?  I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself how all the humans do.  But don’t worry; they don’t detract too much from the cats.

So the verdict is………….

We Bought a Zoo review90 POINTS!!!

Go see it!  There’s plenty of cats to go around!!

Stay tuned for more of my reviews coming soon!!

– Franny

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