Cinema Dispatch: Cats

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Cats and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Tom Hooper

I know next to nothing about Cats the stage show or the TS Eliot book it’s based on.  I know it ends with a sad song that earns the cat another life and I know the band Mungo Jerry took its name after a character in it, but other than I don’t have the first clue; not to the narrative, what the famous songs are, or why it’s so popular that a studio sunk a bajillion dollars into making good actors look like creatures from The Island of Dr. Moreau to bring it to the big screen.  Yeah, those trailers weren’t doing this film a lot of favors as the odd cat suits were all anyone was talking about and it certainly wasn’t selling a newbie like me on the CATS experience.  Still, even if the effects are strange there could be an engaging and heartfelt story beating underneath that’ll make up for all tht which if nothing else will explain why the stage show is still popular after all this time.  Is this the cinematic dance party of 2019 that The Greatest Showman was for 2018, or will this sit right alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber’s other missteps like Love Never Dies and Gerard Butler?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Victoria (Francesca Hayward) being dumped in an alley by her human owner (a very disturbing sight by the way coupled with these shrunken cat humanoids) and she is greeted by the Jellicle Cats.  What’s a Jellicle Cat?  I have no idea, but I think it involves three years of ballet and two years of tap.  The Jellicle Cats led by Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild) take Victoria through the streets of London to meet other Jellicle Cats like Jennyanydots, Bustopher Jones, and Rum Tum Tugger (Rebel Wilson, James Cordon, and Jason Derulo), and eventually to the Jellicle Ball which is some sort of talent show where even MORE cats show up to strut their stuff in the hopes of winning a new life.  I’m not sure if this is some reincarnation deal or if they get a tenth life tacked to the end of their ninth, but regardless there are a lot of cats trying to impress the leader of the Jellicle Cats, Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), who is the one that will ultimately make the decision.  Some cats like Gus and Skimbleshanks (Ian McKellen and Steven McRae) will simply try to do their best, while others like Macavity (Idris Elba) will use underhanded means to try and while, and others still like Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) are excluded entirely, for… reasons.  Will Victoria find a place among the Jellicle Cats now that she no longer has a home with the humans?  Who will be chosen to receive the ultimate prize this night, and how far will Macavity go to try and secure it?  Does anyone know if this is all one big joke?  Who looked at those faces and thought, YUP!  THAT’S WHAT WE WANT TO SPEND OUR MONEY ON!!

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What an un-fur-tunate turn of events.  I am not kitten you when I say this is an utter cat-astrophe.  Quite A-paw-ling when you get right down to it.  An in-fur-ior interpretation of the stage show and a slap in the face, meta-fur-kitty speaking.

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Cinema Dispatch: Hustlers

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Hustlers and all the images you see in this review are owned by STXfilms

Directed by Lorene Scafaria

Have I mentioned before that BASED ON A TRUE STORY is a tagline that fills me with dread and anxiety?  Yeah, it’s never fun having to be historian of sorts (or even just read a few articles) to make sure that you aren’t being unfair to a movie because you don’t know everything around it, and frankly they tend to have rather unimpressive endings because life rarely ends on a BANG.  Still, the premise looks interesting enough and I don’t need much of a reason to enjoy seeing rich people get screwed over, so maybe this will turn out to be a fun time even with the FACTS OF THE STORY hanging around its neck like an albatross!  Maybe it’s a NICE albatross!  You ever think of that!?  Anyway, is this piece of late stage capitalism bashing yet another cathartic bit of enjoyable escapism, or is the only good thing that’ll come out of this movie the awesome dance moves that Jennifer Lopez learned while making it?  Let’s find out!!

Dorothy, AKA Destiny (Constance Wu), is a stripper who has just started working at a big club in New York City, but despite the promises of big money she finds that she’s not quite fitting in with the clientele and that management is taking out HUGE chunks of her paycheck for various “services” that let her keep working there.  If only there was an extremely talented stripper there who can show her the ropes and make her into a star, but what are the chances of THAT, am I right!?  Oh wait, what about Ramona (Jennifer Lopez)?  Yeah, she makes a bunch of money and makes it look totally effortless in the process!  With her tutelage, Dorothy does manage to find her niche there and makes more money than she ever had before, but the plot twist here is that this is all ACTUALLY taking place in 2007 and the big financial crash that wiped out this entire country is about to hit their industry hard; especially since their big paying clients are Wall Street guys who are now broke.  Well not BROKE broke like everyone else, but they’ve become rather stingy with their dollars and now no one can make money in this business which is particularly bad for Dorothy who has an elderly grandmother to take care of as well as a kid she’s raising by herself.  Once the dust settles from the crash, Dorothy eventually goes in on a scheme that Ramona has set up along with fellow co-workers Mercedes and Annabelle (Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart) to drug these rich penny pinching punks with stuff that’ll make them happy, pliable, and forgetful so they can then run up their credit cards on all sorts of services that they get a kickback on.  Sounds like a great plan if you ask me, especially since none of these jerks went to jail for tanking the housing market, but a good thing can never seem to last and so things start to unravel over time as Dorothy starts to question whether Ramona is truly looking out for all of them or just for herself.  Can Dorothy get enough money to take care of her biological family while ALSO keeping her new family safe and away from inquiring eyes?  Just how much do they plan on getting away with before someone will eventually catch on, or are they hoping to steal back every penny these investment firm jerkwads took from the American public?  Does anyone else think these ladies should be in line for the next Captain America?  Taking money from these guys seems to me about as patriotic as apple pie and The Cheesecake Factory!

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Jennifer Lopez 2020

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