Monday, June 19, 2006

All Aboard My Typical Emotional Rollercoaster

Hungary's most famous cinema.

A few months ago, a rarity occurred: A Hungarain movie was playing right here in New York, at the ultra-hip Film Forum. Here is an example of how I would pitch it to my friends:

Me: Hey wanna go to the movies tonight?
Friend: Sure, what do you want to see?
Me: Welllll, there's this amaaaazing movie playing at the Film Forum, it's getting raves...
Friend: Yeah?
Me: Yes, it's in Hungarian.
Friend: Oh. Hmm. Well what is it about?
Me: The Holocaust?
Friend: Oh. Well... Can you hold on a sec? My beeper's going off. (pause) Oh, it's the hospital, my wife is having the baby!
Me: But you're not even marrie--

The movie's name was "Fateless", based on a novel by Imre Kertesz, whose self-hating and blunt account of the concentration camps make it one of the more shocking accounts of the Holocaust. To save this blog post from becoming creepily similar to every paper I wrote in my eighth grade English class, I rented the movie last night, and of course was sick to my stomach for the remainder of the evening. Watching a movie about the Holocaust in the native tongue of all of my Grandparents, all survivors, made this movie particularly hard for me to watch. The fact that one character's dreams was to be back on a street that was two blocks away from where I lived when I studied abroad was just surreal. I'll kinda end there on the movie, but if The Holocaust is your bag (and I know there are klanspeople reading this blog to keep track of my Jew-moves), then check it out.

To change directions completely.

So I call up Annie for our nightly Sunday week rundown, and tell her about the film. She then tells me that before our January trip to Budapest, she rented some Hungarian movie that was supposed to be "groundbreaking"... "groundbreaking", in this case, to be defined as a handful of gang rapes and murders. When trying to find out the name of the film (so I could add it to my Netflix queue, along with my fave gang-rape musical of all time, West Side Story), I came across another Hungarian film... animated... whose name alone had me hooked... Cat City.

Here's the Wikipedia description, and some triv:
The movie opens with a Star Wars style text scroll, which tells the main situation: In year 80 after Mickey Mouse, the mice of Planet X are threatened by humiliation and total apocalypse. The well-organized, fully equipped gangs of evil cats are aiming to wipe out the mouse civizilation totally, not caring for the old conventions between mice and cats. But in the last moment, when the mouse leaders are beginning to consider leaving the planet, a new hope rises...
* The half-eyed boss cat is named "Mr. Teufel", which is "Mr Devil" in German, but Teufel sounds like tejfel in Hungarian, which is one of the favorite titbits of cats, sour cream.

One piece of trivia deserves a special call out:
* The secret password for the mice's counsel is "Egy aprócska kalapocska, benne csacska macska mocska" (pronounced "Edge ah-proe-tschka kala-poe-tschka, benne tchatchka matchka moh-tchka") (meaning "A tiny little hat with a silly cat's dirt in it").

This literally had me rolling on the floor. Say it out loud yourself.

Livin' the thug life in Cat City.

Ok, so obvies now I'm OB-GYN-SESSED with "Cat City". I must own a copy. So I go to to order... which is when I'm confronted with their radically different take on "Cat City":
Cat City is an outdated James Bond spoof supposedly involving cats and mice, but the characters are just humans with animal heads and tails. Although the animation is a bit more polished, this 95-minute feature recalls the worst kidvid shows of the '70s and '80s. One pointless scene follows another as the characters natter in amateurish voices, mistimed gags fall flat, and the inane plot involving plans for the ultimate anticat weapon stumbles to its conclusion. Hispanic viewers will understandably take offense at the stereotypical depiction of the Mexican vampire bats. The jacket calls Cat City the "animated sensation that rocked critics and censors around the world." But except for a few brief shots of a rat in pasties and a G-string, and the possible double-entendre of the inept musical number "Pussy Talk," sung by a cat in baby-doll pajamas, the film would have a hard time qualifying for a PG rating. If Cat City were genuinely shocking, it'd be more fun. -- Charles Solomon

Cat City has now officially turned into my worst nightmare, for all of the bold-faced reasons above. RAT PASTIES!!! IN A CARTOON!!! Although I guess for a country that starts airing its free porn at roughly 3:30 in the afternoon, it isn't that surprising.

However two Amazon reviewers may have changed my mind. First, we hear from Piszi, who says:
I'm an other hungarian, who loves it since childhood. The editorial rewiew absolutely missunderstands it (or the english translation is bad) takeing it too seriously. It's not in James Bond-style, it's funny and light. In wich James Bond-movie could happen, in example, that (in the middle of a battle in a city) the bullets and rockets at a crossover politely stops in the air and waits for the green light? The vampire bats aren't stereotyphicals: after listening their victim's tromphet solo decides to not kill such a talented young mouse, and at the end theye will become a jazz-band. I don't consider it a stereothype :).

OK, Piszi, I see your point.

But what does "A viewer" have to say about it, I wonder?
CAT CITY is a rip-roarin' good time, full of thrills, chills, spills and lotsa hip action!The animation rivals other mega animation companys, and it's a perfect film for viewing either alone or with that special someone. Yow baby!, this kittens' got claws! Grrr! The characters are thoughtful, well written, and at times satarical.These animals rival spy flicks of the 60's and 70's. Cat city is touching, heart warming and action paced. Keeps you guessing until the shocking and suprising finish.A non-stop roller coaster ride!Heart pounding and breathtaking with a good deal of romance too! So if you like urban living or felines or both, this movie is a reel winner! MEOW!

Sigh. The world is full of idiots. I'm exhausted and blatantly frowning. I think I'll just stick to soul-maiming Concentration Campy flicks from now on.

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