Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Cat in Paris

Didn't quite expect to get to this one; the bus out of Burlington was a bit later than usual, and I never seem to have a good handle on how long it takes to walk from the Kendall Square T station to this theater. Apparently, it's about 13 minutes - at least on a warm evening, which is worth keeping in mind for the future.

I knew that A Cat in Paris was a short movie, but it was made even shorter by how there were no previews, presumably because all the trailers they have on-hand are on 35mm and this was shown off a Blu-ray (or at least via a Toshiba BD player; its status screen had someone in the audience wondering if we were supposed to see that or not). That was a bit disappointing; while 1080p is roughly the same as the 2K projection many theaters use, there was a stutter at one point, and certain scenes just looked less cinematic. Maybe that's just seeing what I expect to see from knowing it was BD, but certain things seemed off - whites that were too uniformly and purely white; unnatural sharpness at the borders of stationary objects.

(Also - if you're going to play this off a Blu-ray, which can hold multiple soundtracks, why not make the 9:30pm show French-language/English-subtitled? That's one of the things digital projection is good for!)

Since it was such a short movie, GKids included a short with it, "The Extinction of the Saber-Toothed House Cat". It's quick and cute, with the filmmakers doing a really fine job of combining live-action backgrounds with apparently-hand-drawn characters, and the jokes are a fun combination of funny cat stuff and tongue-in-cheek sci-fi. The denouement got a big laugh.

Une vie de chat (A Cat in Paris)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 29 June 2012 in Landmark Kendall Square #4 (first-run, projected Blu-ray)

One of two "underdog" nominees for Best Animated Feature in last year's Academy Awards, A Cat in Paris is at the very least as deserving than the other cat-themed feature nominated, although that undersells its charm quite a bit. It's an awfully nice little movie, quick and rather lively.

The cat of the title is Dino, who spends his days with mute little girl Zoe and her nanny Claudine (voice of Angelica Huston), and his nights following cat burglar Nico (voice of Steve Blum). Zoe's mother Jeanne (voice of Marcia Gay Harden), a superintendent in the Paris police force, has one of her detectives investigating this series of heists, but her main concern is Victor Costa (voice of JB Blanc), the gangster who is planning a much larger score and who killed Zoe's father.

A Cat in Paris is a compact movie - even with a short playing before it, the audience was in and out in about an hour and a quarter. Even with that small size, things don't often feel particularly rushed outside of a few moments meant to make it very clear how personal Jeanne's pursuit of Costa is. The filmmakers do a good job of keeping things moving forward and throwing in surprises without making things too complicated for the children in the audience. Directors Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli also do an impressive job of making Costa and his gang both comedic and legitimate threats, often within the same scene.

Full review at EFC.

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