The review that first brought The Strange Little Cat to my attention made it sound like something that could either be slightly interesting or very tedious. This film documents a series of mundane tasks performed by one family in advance of a big dinner time get together, and generally I don't care to watch strangers fix their washing machines. However, I do like cinema as a pure art form, and it sounded as if The Strange Little Cat might be stylish. Thus my dilemma: there is nothing worse than a boring movie, but If a humdrum story is executed vividly enough I can forgive it for being narratively unexciting. I was on the fence about whether or not the risks outweighed the potential rewards until I realized "enh, I like looking at cats."
Sadly, there isn't very much footage of the titular cat in this film. In fact, I watched the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One last night, and there's probably more cat action in that blockbuster than there is in this lower budgeted art movie. Since they would never have renamed the Hunger Games "Buttercup" in honor of the Everdeen's tabby, I feel like it's fair to complain about this movie's title. If the filmmakers cared about truth in advertising they would have called it "The Boring German Family Who Happens To Own An Animal That Is Very Good At Hiding Most of the Time". (Or, actually, they would have called it "Das Boring deutschen Familie, der zufällig bereits ein Tier, das sehr gut versteckt Die meiste Zeit ist" but that should translate to the same thing.)
Well, calling the family boring might be a little strong. There are some things happening at the edge of the frame that are compelling - the matriarch seems to be sad for an unexplained reason, and whenever she was brooding on screen I was curious about her inner drama. Also, their teenage daughter is kind of sassy and has had at least three cigarettes by lunch, so there's that. But suburban women smoking silently in their kitchen aren't as reflexively interesting to look at as a cat. I hate to harp on this, but introducing a Youtube worthy pet and then ignoring it is like introducing Chekhov's gun and then refusing to commit any violence.
I wasn't completely frustrated by the movie, but I did find it to be a bit underwhelming. Some of the framing is beautiful, but I just don't see any value in watching a stranger feed bottles into a bottle return machine. Hell, I barely see any value in doing that in real life! (I never return my bottles myself, since there are scores of bottle scavengers that roam Portland looking to collect deposit nickels that will do it for me.) I was hoping that this movie would be a Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead, except instead of looking at Hamlet through the lens of side characters, it would be looking at a typical family from a pet's perspective. But nope, this was just watching people recycle from the perspective of a recycling machine.
So, since I don't have a ton to say about this movie it might be a good time for me to do another installment of "Talking Bout the Cat", where I provide updates about my little goofball. She isn't strange, but she's at least visible, which makes her more noteworthy than the cat from this movie.
Her big news is that earlier this week she went into the doctor to get a series of shots, and while she was getting examined I completely failed at making small talk. The vet was complimenting my cat's looks and I should have just done the sensible thing and accepted the compliment. But no, I couldn't do that, because I'm a complete bonehead. You see, my problem is that I've never been too fond of my cat's coloring. She's black and gray, which is a dull combination, and the pattern of her stripes has always looked slug-like to me. And yes, I know that makes me sound insanely critical, but the thing is that the cat adopted me, not the other way around, and if I had gone into a pound and adopted a cat I would probably have picked a different animal. A fatter one that looked less slug-like.
So, anyway, the vet is manhandling my cat's undercarriage and trying to be complimentary, and there I am, complaining about how she looks like a slithering invertebrate. Then when the vet tries another avenue, complimenting the cat's thinness, I complain that her lack of heft has always been slightly unsatisfactory to me, because I've always liked fat cats. As soon as I hear what I just said I instantly regret saying it, because who in the hell says shit like that to their vet? In my head I'm going: damnit Kirk you know you don't have to tell people everything you think! You are the only one who doesn't think she's pretty! Shut up about the cat's lame colors! And then there's an awkward pause and the vet says "well, she has nice eyes" and I say "Oh, yeah, her eyes are great. Nice and green." Ten minutes later, I was forking over an absurd amount of money to cover a health bill for a cat that has nothing wrong with it and wondering what in the hell is wrong with me.
Some part of me thinks that I should have tried harder to come up with more to say about The Strange Little Cat instead of relating that slightly insane story about me, but screw it. I'm not going to pretend that I have a lot to say about a film whose most tense moment occurs when the senile grandmother falls asleep at the dinner table just so that I don't have to relate a semi-embarrassing story about myself. Besides, there's something fitting about splitting a Cat Vs Kirk review down the middle between a "Strange Little Cat" side and a "Strange Little Kirk" side. Let's just call it a draw and move on.