More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.29%
Worth A Look: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 1 rating

Latest Reviews

Fatal Beauty by Jack Sommersby

Sliver by Jack Sommersby

On the Rocks by Peter Sobczynski

Spontaneous by Peter Sobczynski

Kajillionaire by Jack Sommersby

Dressed to Kill by Jack Sommersby

Abracadabra (2019) by Jay Seaver

Sword and the Sorcerer, The by Jack Sommersby

Siege of Firebase Gloria, The by Jack Sommersby

Wild Geese II by Jack Sommersby

subscribe to this feed

Case of the Grinning Cat, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"Elicits a few grins of its own."
3 stars

Chris Marker likes cats, and owls, and subways, and street art. He has interest in politics although he's reached the age where what happens now is is inevitably compared to history. Where younger men might have a blog, he has a video camera, and in "The Case of the Grinning Cat", he trains it on Paris to see what connections he can find between them.

He starts in late 2001, mentioning the attacks on New York City and briefly commenting on how a French newspaper ran a headline stating "we are all Americans", though that didn't last for one reason or another. He soon notices an interesting bit of street art: An orange cat with rounded paws and a Cheshire grin is painted on various rooftops above the city. The artist, he ponders, must be a combination of Charles Schulz and Spider-man, and though his attention over the next few years will be diverted to politics and war, "M. Chat" is never far away: He'll see it on subways, in crowds during demonstrations, and in other likely places.

Marker does not appear to have any particular agenda to push with Grinning Cat, except perhaps to contrast the whimsy of the cat with the growing discontent of the world. Indeed, the American name implies a quest for knowledge that the film does not engage in (in French, it's just Chats Perchés, "Grinning Cats"). The film gives the impression of a man who always has his camera with him in case he finds something interesting, which is all but guaranteed because of his curious nature. I imagine him with a tremendous stack of tapes, pulling from them in roughly chronological order as he finds something interesting to comment on.

He does have interesting and amusing comments - noting that Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to vacate Iraq and then compared him to Hitler, he wonders whether Churchill would have offered Hitler a similar ultimatum. He notes that activism has fashions and fads, far-right leaders appropriating poetry written by communists for their own purposes, and that advertisements featuring France's World Cup team bear a passing resemblance to Stalinist propaganda. At least in the English dub shown at the Brattle, the narration comes off as amused, as well it probably should; a man of 80 years is entitled to chuckle at things that might enrage younger people.

Just because Marker has been around a while doesn't mean he's set in his ways. He's trying new things, although it's not always successful - the "Morpheye" sequences that give a different look to political speeches don't really work. A segment where he "reveals" M. Chat in various artwork all the way back to cave painting got big laughs out of the audience, though, and in another sequence he seems to find more artistic merit in what he sees on the street than what is on display in the Louvre.

"The Case of the Grinning Cat" is kind of a slight work; it's less than an hour long, made for French television, and doesn't really have a point. The film is over before it gets too self-indulgent, but Marker is a man I'm willing to indulge.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/26/07 15:55:11
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2006 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2006 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/25/06 Lucy Delightful film. 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum




Directed by
  Chris Marker

Written by
  Chris Marker

  Gérard Rinaldi

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast