“Felidae” A Review.


“Felidae.” Screen Shot, Property of Senator Film Distribution

Film: Felidae.

Directed by: Michael Schaack.

Running time: 82 min.

Released: 1994.

Felidae is a fascinating 1994 German Adult animation based off of a 1989 novel and series of the same name by Akif Pirinçci. It is about a house cat named Francis who recently moves into a new neighborhood and gets caught up in investigating the murders of other felines.

This is not the kind of animated feature that you would stick the kiddies in front of unless they have a great deal of maturity to understand graphic (violent) imagery. This is a story that takes talking animals to a whole different, nitty-gritty level.

The first thing to note is the differences between the original German voice acting and the English dub later developed. You can tell right off when doing a comparison between the two, that the voice acting and the lines is definitely better in the German one, the voice actors matching their characters personalities quite well, with Ulrich Tukar as the voice of Francis and Mario Adorf as Blaubart. The English version cleaned up a lot of the language which actually felt part in setting the tone, particularly of Blaubart, and did have some noticeable differences to wording outside of that which was not to the film’s advantage.

So like with anything else that is done in a language different from your own, if your English, stick to the subtitled version if you want the full effect of the film.

The animation was a rather fascinating mix of the standard, though good, quality of animation during that period, but then you get these moments where it takes a step above itself, particularly in Francis’ dream sequences, and one in particular whose contents won’t be given away, but its style works well with the disturbing and potent imagery you’re not likely to forget.

There is also a sense of environment with this, an idea of the sort of old run down once lofty urban district which is established through the movements of the cats, done particularly well through a really well animated and detailed chase scene between Francis and the cult followers.

The story itself is another highlight, appropriate given the popularity of the books, the narrative flows from one sequence to another well enough, though there are moments that do feel a little rushed, it does weave its mystery in a very engaging way with equally engaging characters, Blaubart being a nice humorously crass counterpoint when it gets a little too heavy at the right times. It actually reads almost like a film noir, with some of the tropes of the genre, but not dominantly so.

One of the things going against it is that there are certain things that do make it dated, and a product of its times, such as a scene or two of less than PC use of homosexuality in a negative connotation, particularly exemplified in the scene between Kong and his crew and Francis and Blaubart in the first half, but that is very brief thankfully, and doesn’t impact with the rest of the film, so it can be skipped.

The other negative perhaps is that while the climatic ending was really well done, the “bad humans and there corruption” message did feel a little forced here, almost shoe horned in with those last words of the antagonist, and then Francis before he passes out. It felt already established and stated by the antagonist’s backstory already, but then again, it is a product of its time, and it didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the film.

This was a great film that has a really compelling narrative and tone that sucks you in, a great set of characters in Francis and Blaubart, great animation, particularly in the dream sequences, and a gripping action-filled ending, if a little preachy here and there. Definitely a recommended watch for those who enjoy a good horror/mystery, are not squeamish, and like good quality adult animation.

Felidae Trailer (sound is not the best quality but its the best of the lot):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXytNduYSj0

Originally Posted: http://screensquintyanimationzone.blogspot.ca/2016/01/screen-squintys-nostalgic-felidae-review.html

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The Seven Days of Christmas: All In The Family.

note“On the 4th day of Christmas (because that’s how he roles),
Your Screen Squinty gave to thee…”note

All In The Family “The Draft Dodger.”

Thinking back, All In The Family (1971-1979) was a show that gave this amazing balance of situation comedy, satire, and these brilliant moments that were practically silent with seriousness or thoughtfulness. As if the “audience” that canned-laughed during the gags were suddenly canned-silenced, as though witnessing something great in a small moment, and  well into its seventh season, the Christmas special, “Draft Dodger” is an example of this smart blend with the added edition of trying to make it jive with the tone of the holiday season and actually succeeding.

The characters interacting off each other is, of course, one of the typical strengths of the show which is emphasized here, particularly between Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) and Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton). Normally Archie’s relationship with Edith is rather condescending a bulk of the time on the show, but during this episode, while that is still there as well, there is  some great moments of surprising warmth and decency from Archie, given his abrasive self-assurance and anti-politically correct attitude that also says a little something. Near the end, which I won’t give away, Edith herself comes across as quietly the best character in the episode in the way she manages Archie.

There is also a good moment between two of the guest characters that was particularly powerful: David Brewster (Renny Temple), the Meathead’s (son-in-law’s) old high school friend who moved to Canada to escape being drafted into the war (Vietnam in this case), and Pinky Peterson (Eugene Roche), Archie’s old friend who lost his son in the war and was invited by Archie to spend the holidays. You expect right from the beginning there is going to be this awkward moment between the two, but in all actuality Pinky’s reaction to David was surprisingly not awkward at all, which was a nice experience. This in turn, through Pinky, someone that Archie is close to as a friend and whose opinion he admires and identifies with, has through both these characters, experienced one of those discombobulating paradigm shifts that challenge a person’s core beliefs, an element this show is very good at addressing seriously where it is needed, and a core part of Archie as a figure of satire.

At the same time while this serious moment is happening in the final act, they still manage to provide moments of a break from the serious tone for the viewers, and bring it back to the humor without sacrificing the drama.

This is a favorite Christmas Special because it addresses one of the core points of the holiday, which is the ideal of peace, setting aside personal politic sand grudges, and establishing a bridge of mutual dialogue, if sadly only temporary, of acceptance no matter the conflicting views. This episode spoke that theme in a realistic, refreshingly non- saccharine and adult way, that few Christmas specials were ever able to really match with with the same maturity and entertainment value that All In The Family did,
and because of this, I highly recommend giving it a watch.

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The Seven Days of Christmas: Pinky and the Brain.

note“On the 5th day of Christmas (because that’s how he roles),
Your Screen Squinty gave to thee…”note

Pinky and the Brain: “A Pinky and the Brain Christmas.”

This was episode 12 from the first season of the spin-off show Pinky and the Brain (1995-98). In this episode everyone’s favorite Orwellian mouse Brain (Maurice LaMarche) and his partner Pinky (Rob Paulsen) set about their nightly hobby of trying to take over the world in one night, this time utilizing the manufacturing power of Santa’s workshop to create and distribute a billion hypnotizing dolls, while the enthusiastic Pinky just wants to deliver his very special letter to Santa.

This is perhaps a personal favorite for anyone who watched the show because it displayed the best of both characters while at the same time providing some great references and a creative premise, but also had some surprisingly sappy, yet workable, dramatic moments as well.
One of the strengths that lie within this episode is their utilization of time given how little they had. Nothing was wasted as each scene evolved into another in a seamless and well paced plot progression without sacrificing any key elements necessary to the story nor anything overstaying its welcome either.

The dynamic of Brain and Pinky during the holiday was well done -though the excellent dialogue between these two is one of the show’s strengths- both represented two strong personalities that many people are likely familiar with around the holidays, such as Brain representing the personality that isn’t overly impressed with the holiday unless it is directly useful or directly affects him, while Pinky meanwhile is that sort of child-like excitable personality that is just so into all the elements of the holiday, its almost a dire necessity. The contrast of their points of view around this is actually rather interesting and funny to watch, and Brain’s reaction to Pinky’s holiday enthusiasm provides some of the best humour in the episode.

The ending of this episode is also rather fascinating, in that as those who have watched the show know, Brain’s plans to take over the world always end in failure and giving the show its Sisyphean-like fervor, but in this episode, something slightly different happens, yet without stepping out of the show’s overarching theme, something that through Brain’s own choices puts to light both Brain as an individual and his relationship with Pinky.

Sure the ending can also be considered sappy in part by today’s standard, but when you keep in mind everything that Brain has striven for suddenly coming to a head with his personal relationship with Pinky, it’s actually a somewhat understandable, though still over the top reaction on his part.

Overall this is an enjoyable, and extremely fun, Christmas special that should be given a watch no matter your age group.

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Modernity with “Modern Times” and “Playtime.”

The pressure of modernity within society, particularly within the urban environment, and it’s encroachment upon the traditional notions of the workplace and leisure time is contemplated in films like Modern Times (Chaplin, 1936) and Playtime (Tati, 1967), particularly as a critique of the impact or possible impact of technological innovation and echoing anxieties of the mechanic vision at the expense of the person.

Modern Times reacts in its critique as a more contentious relationship. The “Man versus the Machine,” in which technological progress is viewed at an antagonist level, and usually at the expense of the person, or in the case of this film, the worker sacrificing the dignity of the person in favor of making him just another function of the great machine of industry.

The film describes the “othering” of the worker from his own humanity, such as in the scene in which Chaplin’s character, The Tramp, is hooked up to a machine that feeds him a meal without sacrificing “valuable man-hours.”

Another example, when The Tramp, repetitively uses his wrenches to turn the nut on an ambiguous something, repeating the same motions over and over again, performing a function of the whole. He is so subsumed by this act that he continues to try to tighten things with his wrench even when he is no longer working, seemingly blinded to anything other than his mechanized small corner.

With Playtime, and the character Hulot, he is swept up in a world and society that has fully embraced technological innovation and gadgetry. Unlike Modern Times more antagonistic relationship between person and machine, Playtime utilizes a more resigned air. Hulot becomes the definitive bumbling leaf caught up in the remorseless wind of “progress.” There is no outright battle, merely Hulot being cluelessly overwhelmed, shunted and shuffled without any clear idea how to get along, “othering” those through him, that can’ keep up with progress and at some point becoming lost to the system.

In both films in settings like the workplace, both show a sense of being subsumed by the machine of industry. In in a scene in Playtime Hulot becomes lost in the cubical/box area of the average paper pusher, everyone so closed off (literally) in performing their assigned tasks that no one even realizes there is someone lost among them because everyone has a set purpose (at the risk of sounding cliché) like cogs in a machine. In Modern Times Tramp is literally lost in the internals, the cogs, of a giant machine when he is sucked into one at work.

There is a further sense of the invasion of modernity, how a society becoming ever more interconnected, fascinated, and mechanical to the point of wearing away of the public and private sectors to the point of reducing society to a frame work of recurring voyeuristic invasion of both the workplace and the home.

For example, when Hulot wanders into a place of business, he is made to wait in a clear walled waiting room open to the gaze of whoever happens by. Further sense of being judged or reminded that one is constantly under the scrutiny of others lie in the pictures of important individuals placed on each wall. Reminding anyone who sits there that they are under the constant regard of those around you and above you. This sense of constant observation is also echoed in Modern Times, though perhaps in a more abrupt “Big Brother is watching you” sense when the boss of the factory constantly watches his employee’s through a screen, ordering them to do this and that, separating the need for personal contact between authority and worker, furthering the sense of class division in the workplace.

Unlike Modern Times however, Playtime presents a more all-inclusive mechanized society. In a scene, Hulot is made welcome in the home of another and his family, we see that it satirizes the rupturing of the “private home” by reducing it to a voyeuristic show that anyone in a passing car can observe, satirizing the preoccupation with television replacing the fireplace in the home by framing various homes in a manner similar to one watching a television as they watch the latest programs.

In conclusion, both Modern Times and Playtime through comparing and contrasting, show a certain critique for the evolving technological urban environment, even if their approaches are somewhat different.