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Case of the Grinning Cat

NR
4.5 out of 5 stars (8) IMDb 7.4/10

In his newest film, French documentarian and cinema-essayist Chris Marker reflects on French and international politics, art and culture at the start of the new millennium. In November 2001, the filmmaker became intrigued, as did many other Parisians, by the sudden appearance of alluring portraits of grinning yellow cats on buildings, Metro walls and other public surfaces. Marker's cinematic efforts to document the mysterious materializations of this charming feline throughout Paris are a recurring theme of THE CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT.

Starring:
Bertrand Cantat, Dieudonné
Runtime:
57 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Chris Marker
Starring Bertrand Cantat, Dieudonné
Supporting actors Léon Schwartzenberg, Marina Vlady, Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, Frédéric Taddeï
Studio Icarus Films
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Chris Marker holds a unique place in cinema, with an approach to his subjects that is intensely personal, philosophical and poetic. This film is a fascinating study of social and political state of Paris and French politics following the events of September 11th and the ensuing war in Iraq. It is not unlike "Le Joli Mai" a 1962 documentary by Marker that focused on the state of mind of Parisians immediately following the end of the Algerian War. Both films, made 40 years apart, capture with humor the ironies of political activism, of political manipulations, and of hopes lost and regained.

The cat, an animal worshiped by Marker, is fiercely independent and "never on the side of power." He serves here as the backdrop for Marker's musings through the streets and the subway. The grinning cat appears over the rooftops of the city, in tunnels, on sidewalks, and finally in political protests. Real cats also punctuate the film, most notably "Bolero," a cat who resides in the metro station of Strasbourg St Denis.

One of the final scenes (mentioned by another reviewer) is a reference to a murder that captivated the French media's attention for months: the brutal murder of actress Marie Trintignant by her boyfriend Bertrand Cantat, a French rock singer. Marker speaks of the ways in which tragedy quickly turns into a form of merchandizing, perhaps one of the most telling signs of our times.

This is a film essay with an English narration. The narration is well translated and captures the appropriate tone. Some of the graphics in French and the shots of advertisements and signs might get lost on the viewers not familiar with the language but the film will still be highly accessible regardless.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film is part mystery and part political memoir. It starts in 2001 shortly after the terrorist attack against the Twin Towers in New York City. Suddenly grinning yellow cat graffiti began appearing all over Paris. Chris Marker engages in a treasure hunt for the grinning yellow cats and engages in a discussion of the politics of France during the period. It's an odd mixture, but it works. Some of the grinning yellow cats are drawn with paws outstretched as if to say "I have a hug for you!" to the viewer. One wonders if the grinning yellow cats, obviously inspired by Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat, are a political protest of some sort. Sure enough, they do eventually show up in street demonstrations. They even show up in French post office stamps. I think the artist of these cats should be declared a French national treasure. The mystery of who the artist is was solved three years after the copyright date of this film. "Mr. Cat" was caught in the act in March of 2007. He was arrested and got a 300 euro fine. Well at least the French were lenient. Graffiti artists have gotten far worse in the United States. He now makes a living from his art. If you want to know more you can google "Mister Cat graffiti: from Paris to Sarajevo."
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I think this is a wonderful DVD. The main film is charming, clever, and has more to say than is obvious straight away. The shorts that are with it are worth the price of the DVD all by themseves. I particularly loved the short CAT LISTENING TO MUSIC. And there is a somewhat longer short doc (17 minutes) about whales which will break your heart. All together i think this is really one of Marker's best.
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Format: DVD
The Case of the Grinning Cat by Chris Marker is shot in Paris on DV camera with narration in english and episodic french. It is a document of the presence of the image of a cat in Paris's inner-city social movement in 2004 from the presidential election through to the gulf war and the tragedy of a celebrity crime. The cat makes the case for a separation between the enforcement of criminal acts and the acts themselves, reported through politicians. At one time Marker suggests taking the opportunity to see the image of a cat over following the news of the war, as he wanders through egyptian statues of cats in the museums. But what if the cats are erased from sight? A message that has taken the place of the channels meant for transmitting the subjects of the state to war. We believe in the cat. If it is not there then we don't and tragedy takes the place of hope.

The 5 other short films of animals take over from the hidden complexes of human drama with a soundtrack to accompany, as pieces of home movie.

The horror of massacre of the whales takes the form of a picture book. A harpoon scene closes the story with the beauty of the whale shown as an extinct presence.

The last film is proof of the absurdity of epistomology. The sense of relief makes the price of this DVD worth it.
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