CAT OF THE DAY 043: THE GETAWAY

CAT OF THE DAY 043: THE GETAWAY (1972 & 1994)

Treacherous bank robber Rudy is shot and left for dead by “Doc” McCoy, but has sneakily put on a bullet-proof vest and survives with a shoulder wound. He makes it to a veterinarian’s surgery, where he proceeds to get friendly with a kitten, and the veterinarian’s wife.

In Samuel Peckinpah’s 1992 film of Jim Thompson‘s hard-boiled pulp novel, Al Lettieri plays Rudy. In Roger Donaldson’s remake, it’s Michael Madsen. Lettieri is scarier, but Madsen has a strange Rita Hayworth hair-do and his kitten shows up better than Lettieri’s, which is black. When oh when will film-makers learn that black cats rarely show up well on screen?

Both kittens look content to be nestling cosily on the chest of a crazy killer, and their presence adds extra tension to the latter part of the story for the average cat-lover, who doesn’t really give a fig about what happens to Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw or Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, but who will be fretting lest Rudy mistreat the cat in a whimsical sociopathic fit of pique.

Fret ye not. Many, many people get beaten or shot or blasted during the final showdown, but as far as one can see, both kittens survive unharmed.

Al Lettieri: My kitten is better than your kitten.

Michael Madsen: No actually, mine is better. Look how it nestles.

Al Lettieri: I still think mine is cuter. Also, you have hair like a girl.

Posted in Catpanion, Catscallion, Kitten, Pussilla | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 042: TROIS COULEURS: BLEU

CAT OF THE DAY 042: TROIS COULEURS: BLEU (aka THREE COLOURS: BLUE) (1993)

Julie (Juliette Binoche) finds a family of mice in her cupboard, so she borrows a ginger tom from a neighbour and shuts it in the cupboard with them, after which we hear a loud miaow.

Binoche doesn’t look at all comfortable with the cat, but that might just be because she’s in character; Julie has lost her husband and child in a car accident and has withdrawn from the world into a very nice pad in Paris’s Rue Mouffetard, where she swans around in understated designer knits.

She also goes swimming in the same pool in Rue Pontoise where I used to swim when I lived in Paris, except oddly enough, whenever she swims there it’s deserted, whereas when I went it was always packed with people, and also divided into lanes. I guess maybe the character was rich enough to pay the staff to remove the lanes and keep everyone else out. Or maybe the pool is a metaphor.

Also, if I may say so, if you want to withdraw from life you do not go and live in the Rue Mouffetard. That’s just silly.

Anyhow, though, she gradually finds she needs other people in her life. And also a cat. Everybody needs a cat.

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CAT OF THE DAY 041: KURONEKO

CAT OF THE DAY 041: KURONEKO (1968)

This Japanese ghost story was written and directed by Shindô Kaneto, a former assistant to Mizoguchi Kenji and probably better known in the west as the writer and director of Onibaba, though he later went over to the Dog Side to write the screenplay of Hachiko Monogatari, later remade by Hollywood as Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

In the Sengoku era of Japan (roughly the 15th and 16th centuries, a period of almost constant upheaval and conflict), a woman and her daughter-in-law are raped and murdered in their home by a marauding gang of soldiers. Their spirits return as cat-ghosts, to haunt the bamboo forest and rip out the throats of male samurai.

A MINI-JAPANESE LESSON

[My Japanese is only very rudimentary, so more proficient linguists are welcome to correct mistakes.]

The Japanese title of this film is 藪の中の黒猫 – Yaba no naka no kuroneko. This literally means “black cat in the middle of a bush”, but is sometimes translated as “black cat in the middle of a bamboo forest” since the forest in the film is so clearly a bamboo one.

The English language title has been shortened to Kuroneko – 黒猫 which means simply “black cat”.

The の used twice in the title 藪の中の黒猫 is the hiragana symbol for no, used here as a possessive/descriptive ie Bamboo Forest’s Middle’s Black Cat.

Yaba 藪 is a kanji character way too advanced for me. Means “bush” or some other sort of undergrowth.

However, 中 is the kanji for naka, or middle, and I know that one because it’s easy to recognise, and very common. You can spot it in place-names like Nakameguro 中目黒 (near where I used to live) or Nakano 中野.

Kuro 黒 is the symbol for “black” and also forms part of the family names of two famous film directors – Kurosawa Akira 黒澤 明 and Kurosawa Kiyoshi 黒沢 清. (In Japanese, of course, the family name comes first.)

Both these Kurosawas sound the same and both mean “black swamp” but the second syllable is spelt differently. Don’t ask me why.

The sharp-eyed among you may also have spotted the kanji for “black” 黒 cropping up again as the last symbol in the aforementioned place-name Nakameguro 中目黒 – where the kuro sound changes to guro for phonetic reasons. The me 目 in the middle is the symbol for “eye” (easy to remember if you mentally turn the symbol on its side, so it kind of looks like an eye). Thus Nakameguro 中目黒 literally means something like “Middle-Black-Eye”.

Neko , the Japanese for “cat”, can also be pronounced byo when combined with certain characters. Kaibyo 怪猫 literally means “mysterious cat”, but is usually translated as “ghost-cat”, and the kaibyo movie was once quite a flourishing subgenre of Japanese horror and fantasy cinema.

You can read more about kaibyo movies on weirdwildrealm.com or – if you understand Russian or know how to use Google Translate – on kaidan.org.

Here’s one of the kaibyo women from Kuroneko reclaiming a paw that was chopped off.

Posted in A Major Cat Movie, Black Cat, Catagonist, Cataphor, Catscallion, Catshock, Catzilla | Tagged , | 6 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 040: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

CAT OF THE DAY 040: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)

Meet Miriam Karlin as Catlady, doing her yoga exercises in a baggy green leotard (this was in the days before Spandex), surrounded by her feline familiars.

She is, of course, doomed. One of the reasons I don’t much care for the films of Stanley Kubrick is his contempt for the female characters, never so obvious as in his film of Anthony Burgess’s novel, where they’re ridiculed, raped and killed. I’m aware that Alex and his droogs have no respect for women, but did their director need to share their misogyny? If you ask me, he enjoyed filming the rape of Mrs Alexander just a little bit too much.

And Catlady gets short shrift. In the book, she’s an old woman. In the film, she’s a fleetingly glimpsed caricature of privileged wealth who lives on her own, surrounded by erotic art, and Alex kills her with a giant phallic sculpture. And who cares? We’re certainly not meant to. She’s just a disposable plot device.

I was going to say that it’s obvious Kubrick is not a cat lover (otherwise we would have had shots of the cats doing cute things, or defending their mistress, the way they do in the book) but then I googled “Stanley Kubrick” and “cats” and immediately found this.

So you never can tell. More pictures here.

Posted in Catpanion, Multicat, White Cat | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 039: CLÉO DE 5 À 7

CAT OF THE DAY 039: CLÉO DE 5 À 7 (1962)

A pop star (Corinne Marchand) wanders around Paris, confronting her own mortality as she waits to hear the results of a medical test in Agnès Varda‘s film, one of the key works of the French New Wave.

Meanwhile, her loft-style apartment is full of cats. I don’t think they’re intended as symbolic or anything; they’re just there, because she’s a cat person. But they’re all over the place. And there’s usually at least one somewhere in the frame…

These pictures were taken from the Criterion Collection DVD.

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CAT OF THE DAY 038: THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS

CAT OF THE DAY 038: THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS (1983)

Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr: “Get that cat out of here!”

The following clip features additional cat-related dialogue, brief nudity and a pre-Re-Animator Jeffrey Combs as the man with the razor. It does not, however, feature the other important example of cat-related dialogue from the film: “My Renoir!”

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CAT OF THE DAY 037: THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE

CAT OF THE DAY 037: THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946)

(Note: Cora Smith and Frank Chambers are plotting to kill her husband Nick and make it look like an accident, but their first attempt is thwarted by a stray cat.)

Cop: “Well, ha ha ha, look at that!”

Frank: “What is it?”

Cop: “Well that doggone cat climbed up that stepladder… I like cats. Always up to something.”

(Note: The cat appears to have been placed upon the ladder by a member of the crew. It is moving neither up nor down.)

(Note: There is a flash and the cat jerks back in surprise, but appears unharmed. Nonetheless, an animal corpse is found the following day.)

Cop: “Cats are poor dumb things.”

Frank: “Yeah, they don’t know anything about electricity.”

Cop: “Killed her deader than a doornail.”

Suspicious lawyer: “Yes, the cat’s dead all right. Well, accidents can happen in the weirdest sort of ways. So long, laddy.”

Cop: “I never saw a prettier cat. Killed her deader than a doornail.”

Posted in Catguffin, Catrifice | Tagged | 6 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 036: THE MATRIX

CAT OF THE DAY 036: THE MATRIX (1999)

“A black cat went past us, and then another one that looked just like it.”

CAT OF THE DAY 036: THE MATRIX (1999)

“A black cat went past us, and then another one that looked just like it.”

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CAT OF THE DAY 035: MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO

CAT OF THE DAY 035: TONARI NO TOTORO (aka MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO) (1988)

The cat bus. I am posting these pictures in the hope that an automobile engineer will see them and use them as blueprints. Please note the tail-lights made from captive rodents – a nice detail which reminds of the hostages lashed to the front of vehicles in Mad Max 2. Also, look! Are those… cat bus testicles?

If so, it wouldn’t be the first time testicles have featured in a Studio Ghibli film. Pompoko is full of testicles being used as umbrellas or parachutes.

Posted in Cartoon Cat, Catscallion, Heropuss | Tagged , | 2 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 034: THE WAY OF THE DRAGON

CAT OF THE DAY 034: THE WAY OF THE DRAGON (1972)

Because, sometimes, a fight to the death between the World’s Greatest Kung-Fu Star and the six-times Professional Middleweight Karate Champion of the World, in one of the most famous ancient monuments in the world, just isn’t enough.

Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, The Colosseum? Pah, who needs em.

Because, sometimes, there just has to be a kitten.

FIGHT!

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