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Tyler

Cats: The Movie

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Andrew Lloyd Webber says a Cats movie is being developed, at least partly because of the success of Les Miserables.

 

 

“I haven’t seen the [Les Mis] film but it’s fantastic for musicals because everybody wants to make them again,” he said. “Universal has now got Cats out of the drawer in which they locked it years ago when they bought the rights and suddenly they’re talking about a film.”

 

Les Mis certainly gave Universal good reason to have faith in the musical genre. The Tom Hooper-directed adaptation grossed $441 million, won three Oscars, and was nominated for five others including Best Picture.

....

Assuming Universal plans to go the live-action route this time around, one of the particular challenges of a Cats movie will be to get audiences to buy into the idea of a bunch of absurdly made-up humans playing a tribe of cats. Webber acknowledged that that was a potential issue with the stage version, as well.

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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There already was a movie of Cats.  We don't need another one.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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44 minutes ago, NBooth said:

 

Here's the trailer, btw:

 

I think I shared this on Twitter and Facebook, but this trailer played before The Lion King and the two women sitting next to me had the following exchange:

Woman 1: It's Cats!
Woman 2: It's not Cats...
Woman 1: No, the *musical* Cats....
Woman 2: Cats is *not* a musical!

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Woman #2 has obviously been living on some other planet.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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4 hours ago, BethR said:

Woman #2 has obviously been living on some other planet.

And yet...she appeared to know all the lyrics to "Hakuna Matata" by heart.

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On 8/14/2019 at 3:32 PM, kenmorefield said:

And yet...she appeared to know all the lyrics to "Hakuna Matata" by heart.

Perhaps a planet where The Lion King is the only musical in any form?


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Aren't lions cats? That's the connection here, right?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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In which I compare Tom Hooper to J. Montgomery Burns:

Quote

Structurally, thematically, rhythmically, the show is built around “Memory.” If that song brings the house down, nothing else matters. If it doesn’t, we’re left with a series of vignettes that proceed in “Now…This” fashion and run the gamut from modestly entertaining to awkwardly awkward.

 

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To quote what I wrote on Facebook:

1. I love Ian McKellen's commitment to his character, such that one of the first things we see him do is lap water from a dish. Gandalf, lapping water! Love it.

2. Idris Elba wears clothes for the first half of the movie, and then doesn't for the second half, and he looks way more *naked* than the other cats do. I think it's because all the other cats have spots, stripes, or similar patterns that *resemble* clothing, whereas Elba just has brown digital fur all over -- and the nudity, so to speak, is made even weirder by the fact that he has no genitals (as, indeed, none of the other cats do, but again, their fur patterns distract us from this fact).


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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On 12/19/2019 at 11:55 AM, kenmorefield said:

If anyone should be compared to J. Montgomery Burns, it's Andrew Lloyd Webber, because Hooper just maintained the original staging and performance of "Memory" the way ALW wrote it: one of the cats from the chorus invites Grizabella to sing it, and when Grizabella breaks down halfway through it, that cat joins her singing to give her the encouragement to finish the song. It didn't become a power ballad solo until after Cats and the song became super famous. And the song was written with Elaine Paige in mind, so they wanted a lesser singer to join and help their star diva.

 

I'll share more thoughts when I finish my review this weekend.

Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Evan's comments not withstanding (and he would know way better than I), you do not sign Jennifer Hudson to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the 9th. 

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My review: https://catholiccinephile.wordpress.com/2019/12/21/cats/

There are lots of things to criticize Hooper for here, including how he sabotages "Memory," although I disagree with Ken regarding the way he sabotages it.

And Hudson's performance is one of the only things I genuinely liked about the movie.

Quote

Before I brand myself as a hater of Cats the stage show, which is a more or less enjoyable two-plus-hour dance recital if you can accept it for that, let me sincerely say that it has several decent songs and the choreography is fun to watch. The songs I particularly enjoy from the show are “Memory,” “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats,” “Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat,” and “Macavity the Mystery Cat.” The song (yes, singular) that I enjoyed in this presentation was “Memory,” in spite of Hooper’s attempts to sabotage it.

Hudson lands the one big showstopper that’s far more difficult to sing well than most people give it credit for. Hooper then follows it with a reaction shot of two humans imitating cats that elicited deserved howls of laughter in my theater. If following the one earned moment of pathos in the movie with that wasn’t bad enough, Victoria (Francesca Hayward) then sings the desperate Oscar attempt for best original song, cowritten by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Taylor Swift: “Beautiful Ghosts.” It’s the equivalent of a figure skater nailing the triple axel and then twice falling flat on her face while trying to turn around at the end of the rink.

I understand that the truncated act I version of “Memory” is followed with the full version of “Beautiful Ghosts,” so following the full version of “Memory” with a shorter reprise of “Beautiful Ghosts” could make structural sense. This ignores several important points. First, “Beautiful Ghosts” is lyrically a watered-down version of “Memory.” No musical needs to a new song to repeat the emotions of the song immediately preceding it. Second, “Beautiful Ghosts” stands out structurally and musically like a sore thumb from the rest of the score. Finally, it’s an okay song at best, so placing it next to the most famous song in the show is a particularly bad idea.

Speaking of bad ideas, possibly the worst one plaguing this movie is the decision that the paper-thin plot tacked onto the original needed more explanation. As a result, ridiculous and redundant expository dialogue has been introduced to the originally completely sung musical, explaining at the end of the Jellicle Ball, one cat, chosen by Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), gets to go to the Heavyside Layer to be reborn. A seven-year old could have told you that from watching the stage show without it being explained to them, but apparently Hooper and screenwriter Lee Hall think the average movie goer in 2019 is less intelligent than the average seven-year-old. It doesn’t make the plot more sensical—that’s not possible—it just makes the stupidity of it more apparent.

 


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Sigh. I sort of want to see this, because I remember enjoying the stage musical long ago, but I know I will regret it. Thanks to all the professional and amateur critics who have sacrificed your time and talent for the rest of us.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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On 12/30/2019 at 8:15 PM, BethR said:

Sigh. I sort of want to see this, because I remember enjoying the stage musical long ago, but I know I will regret it. Thanks to all the professional and amateur critics who have sacrificed your time and talent for the rest of us.

I gave in and saw the movie. It was as predicted. Only Ian McKellen's performance genuinely impressed me. Jennifer Hudson made me tear up, but--as Ken Morefield has written--could have blown us all away.

Evan C wrote: "Speaking of bad ideas, possibly the worst one plaguing this movie is the decision that the paper-thin plot tacked onto the original needed more explanation." Absolutely right. The same mistake was made in reverse when Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie was made into the stage musical Spamalot.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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