NEW Cat's Meow (DVD)
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NEW Cat's Meow (DVD)
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Top Customer Reviews
The acting is superb - all of it. Herrmann actually becomes W.R. Hearst. Jennifer Tilly, Eddie Izzard, and Joanna Lumley are perfect. Kirsten Dunst is absolutely luminous as Marion Davies. She brings her to life with a vivacity that makes you want to learn more about the real Marion.
As the story unfolds, you will be mesmerized by not only the acting, but the "to die for" costumes, the wonderful music and the great sets. I've seen the movie 3 times and have ordered the DVD. Can't wait to see it again. I also have the sountrack - great music.
Do yourself and a friend a favor and see if it you can still find it anywhere. If not, order the DVD. You won't be sorry. I've read far more estatic reviews than unfavorable. You would have to be a very "jaded" person to dislike this movie.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A bunch of Hollywood glitterati arrive at a boat belonging to William Randolph Hearst, a rather obnoxious Hollywood mogul. Also on the boat is Marion Davies, Hearst's actress mistress, who is being actively pursued by Charlie Chaplin (who recently got his sixteen-year-old costar pregnant), a cool-and-calm eccentric novelist Elinor Glyn, irritating columnist Louella Parsons, fading superproducer Thomas Ince and his frustrated girlfriend, and a slew of others. Rumors fly about Marion and Charlie's suspected affair, and though Hearst doesn't want to believe it, the clues pile up -- with the assistance of Ince, who wants Hearst to be his business partner. A single gunshot threatens all of them...
This is one of the movies that probably won't appeal to the average viewer, simply because a lot of the people in it, with a few exceptions like Chaplin and Davies, are not now remembered clearly. But if viewers can shut off their "hey, I don't know who that was" signals, then they will find a sort of whodunnit without the detective, a juicy soap wrapped up in a mystery wrapped up in a "Hollywood what-if" tale. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the last part is a bit anticlimactic and the buildup is rather insubstantial -- the biggest buildup is Hearst tearing through the boat in search of Chaplin.
Kirsten Dunst shines brightly as Marion Davies, showing both a deeply conflicted young woman and a flirty party girl. She's never been better, even if she does wear a giant butterfly on her head. (Weird headpieces are a constant in this movie -- watch for Tilly's birdcage) Cary Elwes of "Princess Bride" returns as a desperate man who will go the extra mile to revive his career. Edward Herrmann plays a very intriguing Hearst, who is both obnoxious and tender, jealous and angry, controlling and generous. Eddie Izzard plays an insincere predator as Chaplin, who cares more about the conquest than about the woman; Joanna Lumley is rather underused, but she imbues all her scenes with a hilarious dry wit; Jennifer Tilly plays an irritating flibbertigibbet who has an unexpected cunning streak.
The dialogue is fast, dry and enjoyable -- one of my favorite lines was "Hollywood, a land just off the coast of the planet Earth." There's some sexual content (nothing too graphic) and a fair amount of profanity; teens who like Kirsten Dunst particularly will enjoy this, but younger kids will be bored silly.
This is not the movie that will appeal to the bubble-brained. But anyone who likes witty dialogue, sparkling costumes, a well-thought-out plotline and the shivering thrill of wondering if this was how it happened will think "Cat's Meow" is the cat's pajamas.
Peter Bogdanovich tells this particular Hollywood scandal in a convincing manner as the story is focused on the love triangle between Hearst, Davies, and Chaplin. The other characters add a lot of intrigue and color to the film as they all have their own motives for being on the yacht. The cast performances are solid and the mise-en-scene elevates the cinematic experience. However, the film never reaches it full potential as similar stories have done in the past where a murder is committed in a remote location. This hurt the integrity of the overall cinematic experience, but the film still offers the audience a good cinematic experience.
The trip is really a pleasure cruise for Hearst (played very well by Edward Herrmann), Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), and a few of Hollywood's elite. The main focus for the group is trying to keep up with the seemingly imminent love affair between Davies and the devilish Charlie Chaplin (wickedly played by Eddie Izzard) Chaplin has just gotten his 16 year old co star pregnant and now has designs on Davies. She resists for a while, but eventually falls prey to his charms.
The film is an interesting character study. Herrmann shows us a Hearst who despite his riches, realizes that he is much older and less attractive than the wolves who are pursuing his girl. One particularly sad scene is when the band strikes up the Charleston, and Hearst is able to participate only for a few seconds before sitting the rest out. He watches as Marion has a blast with Charlie and the others on the floor.
Ince(played by Cary Elwes) spends the movie hooking up with his mistress and trying to gain information about other people to benefit himself. He was a powerful name in the movies at one time, and now is trying to get back to where he was. He snoops in rooms looking for information, and when he has put the pieces together, disaster strikes in the form of a gun shot.
What is interesting is Hearst's reaction to the shooting of Ince. Immediately this man who has spent the movie looking weak and helpless springs into action with a pack of lies, trying to cover up what has happened, even calling Ince's wife and making up a despicable story. We will never know the truth, but this is not only a credible guess at the events, but also a very good film which shows us a different angle of the characters involved.
We'll never truly know, but the film is a peppy cavalcade of big name stars playing big name stars. It's a character-heavy motion picture so let's discuss the impersonations.
Dunst is the flavour of the month, she makes Davies look like an attractively complex figure. While reflecting the verve of a young privileged woman at an exciting time, she maintains a moral core without really being certain of precisely what she wants, which rings true.
The flamboyant Eddie Izzard was a surprise in the cast but made an atypically understated Chaplin. You see the intelligence and yearning in his eyes, the sly wit dripping from his casual tilts of the head.
Personally, I felt these two were the only admirable actors in the film. The rest of the crew members acted as though they were in a much dopier movie. Herrmann for instance plays Hearst, the big tycoon, as a buffoon channeled through Bill Murray, huffing and puffing when he feels betrayed, grinning goofily and almost cross-eyed when he appears giddy.
The film overall is a very watchable one though, particularly if you can overlook a needlessly sepia tone across the board giving a pseudo-noir look. The idea clearly was less to weave a murder mystery yarn and more to splice together the interactions among people at the scene of a high-society and thus hush-hush crime.
A lot of criticisms have been levied at the casting, which I did not have a problem with. Are reviewers so jaded they only find beautiful, charming characters believable? In real life, there are many pretty young women who fall in love with older, physically unappealing men. In that sense, the attraction between the two is very believable; so believable, most viewers probably will not even give it a second thought (except for those who believe physical attraction is the only basis for why people fall in love).
Bottom line: a decent film worth seeing. It won't change your life like Bogdanovich's other two classics, but is worth seeing.