DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT, THE (Chats perchés) (TV) (director/writer: Chris Marker; cinematographer: Chris Marker; editor: Chris Marker; music: Michel Krasna; cast: Gerard Rinaldi (Voiceover); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Laurence Braunberger; First Run/ Icarus; 2004-France-in English)

 
"A playful 58-minute documentary."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A playful 58-minute documentary shot in video for French TV that took several years to make. It's about grinning yellow cartoon-like Cheshire cats popping up as spray-canned graffiti mysteriously all over Paris' walls, rooftops and Metro stations shortly after 9/11. It's written and directed by the 85-year-old, one of a kind, French filmmaker Chris Marker ("Sans Soleil"/"A.K."/"Jetée, La"), someone unknown to most of the public yet highly revered by cinephiles. Marker meant it as a chance to reflect on France's reaction to America's tragedy in 2001 and the country's own changing political reactions over the next several years. Immediately after 9/11 the sentiment throughout the country is that "we are all Americans," but with Bush's war in Iraq in 2003 a growing anti-American sentiment flourished. Anti-war protesters chant in the streets "Make cats, not war!" 

By using M. Chat, Marker chronicles what captured the public's attention during that time; such as, ongoing political street demonstrations, a mob of merry pranksters on a clear day at the Pompidou Center carrying umbrellas they will open in choreographed unison, election campaigns to elect and defeat the socialist Chirac, World Cup soccer play advertised all over Paris and watched on TV in the street by a large intense nationalistic crowd and, finally, the unknown graffiti-artist spraying on a wall 'If you didn't catch the message, just move on.' 

The film, dedicated to George Sanders, somehow echoes the sentiments of the May '68 slogan, "Poetry is in the street!" It's a sequel to Marker's 1977 essay on the French new left called Grin Without a Cat.

REVIEWED ON 4/15/2008        GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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