DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cat's Meow
Cat's Meow
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // PG-13 // August 20, 2002
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted August 14, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
Peter Bogdanovich's most recent directorial effort "The Cat's Meow" was passed over by audiences at the box office likely due to its subject matter as opposed to its actual merits. Extrapolated from events on William Randolph Hearst's cruise ship in 1924, it attempts to flesh out events that led to the murder of studio chief Thomas Ince.

Hearst (Edward Herrmann) was famous for the parties that he would host and the one upon his ship the Oneida in 1924 would become infamous. Along for the cruise were Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), widely know as Hearts' mistress; Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), theorized here to have played an important role in a deadly love triangle; Thomas Ince (Cary Elwes), one of the founders of the studio system in Hollywood and a powerful director/actor/producer. Also aboard, but less involved in the plot, are novelist Elinor Glyn (marvelously portrayed by Joanna Lumley) and gossip columnist Louella Parson (Jennifer Tilly).

From the manifest, it's easy to assume what would happen when getting such a group together. The film begins and ends with black and white "newsreel" footage of the characters arriving at what turns out to be Ince's funeral. With a slow dissolve we arrive on the boat just before the guests begin to arrive. Each characters' personality starts to handle the situations onboard in separate ways as relationships begin to form and suspicions mount.

Hearst is visually upset when he views what he believes to be a hint of something between Chaplin and Davies. He views their relationship as something special (and so does Davies according to her explanation to one party guest) and feels threatened. The pressure continues to build as Ince decides to strong-arm Hearst into helping him with his failing career. His promise to keep an eye on the couple only heightens Hearts' paranoia and ultimately causes the final turn of events.

The plot and tension builds slowly in the film as Bogdanovich lets the camera linger on the stars. Confined to the cabin and interior of the ship for most of the film doesn't help matters as each individual is forced to deal with each other rather than retreating to safety.

The film is a throwback to the golden age of cinema and Bogdanovich recreates the feel perfectly. The costumes have been crafted in various shades or black and white to give the film a muted palette and the figures literally standout from the colorful backgrounds. Slow in areas, it's not a perfect composition, but the ending has a real impact lacking in some pictures. Strictly grounded in reality, the outcome has an affect on everyone involved.

The Video: The video is a pristine 1:85.1 anamorphic transfer. The black and white sections are perfectly rendered with contrast and look amazing. In comparison, the color scenes look slightly washed and muted. The backgrounds and sets are full of lush violet, red, and gold that make the starkly dressed characters pop out. There are few moments of grain, but noticeably few distractions.

The Audio: The Dolby 5.1 surround track is capable but never really receives even the subtlest of workouts. However, the lack of sound effects is more than made up for with the excellent score that permeates the film. Always partying, the swing, jazz and dance music is constantly playing and sounds beautifully well done. Crisp reproduction all around.

Extras: It's great to see a director embrace the possibilities of DVD and allow you a look at the process involved in making a film. Bogdanovich's lone commentary is a technical and informative one. His influence from an older style of filmmaking is apparent as he talks of short shoots, extended scenes and working with a small crew of actors. His thoughts and techniques would seem out of place on the mega-budget, effects-laden pictures that studios seem so content to churn out so long as there is a chance of making a profit.

Also included are two behind the scenes features. One is IFC's anatomy of a scene special that focuses on one scene from script to completion. For those unfamiliar, it's an informative short that effectively covers all aspects of putting a film together while focusing on one of the more interesting scenes in the film. The second feature is a collection of footage that was filmed on the set. Informal in nature, it shows the tedious nature of making film and the extent that Bogdanovich is involved with the production. Similarly, a series of interviews are included that also touch on several more aspects of the film.

Overall: A throwback to yesteryear in both setting and style, The Cat's Meow is an accurate recreation of a time that most have forgot. All of the events that have been fictionalized are believably done and never take you out of the story.
Popular Reviews
1. Criminal Minds: Season 9
2. Batman The Complete TV Series Limited Edition Blu-ray
3. It Happened One Night - The Criterion Collection
4. The Expendables 3
5. 22 Jump Street
6. Kiki's Delivery Service
7. The Shooting / Ride in the Whirlwind: Criterion Collection
8. Princess Mononoke
9. A LIfe in Dirty Movies
10. L'avventura: Criterion Collection


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use