Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Are We Not Cats

 7 of 7 viewers "Liked" "Are We Not Cats" (2018, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

Randy the Reverberator - "Xander Robin's Are We Not Cats is the dirty punk rock road movie turned gross-out body horror film, wrapped up in a heartfelt indie relationship movie of the year. The joke in that assessment is that it's so specific that we won't see anything else like it this year, and this is part of its charm. Xander Robin has also established a wonderful cast and crew, filled by our protagonist Eli played by Michael Patrick Nicholson and his love interest Anya, played by Chelsea Lopez. Striking cinematography finds beauty and helps contrast the grosser elements which appear towards the latter half of the film. The other characters in the film have such little screen time (including Eli's parents in a comedic scene that propels him to live in a box truck and to take a trip and eventually a job in upstate New York), but Eli's world-weariness draws our attention...and we really want him to get out of the automobile he calls home. In addition to gaining employment at a lumberyard, Eli meets a multi-color haired girl that has a self-destructive appetite that brings us closer to the film's title. Are We Not Cats is a character driven, questionable relationship movie akin to something like Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love, or even Phantom Thread. Although Xander Robin (his feature film debut) doesn't have quite the prowess of a PTA, there's a lot of promise in this film and he's established a unique voice that I'm looking forward to seeing more of." - 4 Stars

Dabbles - "We watch a lot of weird things, and this is definitely up there. The soundtrack is awesome but also an interesting soundscape. I was on the edge of my seat." - 3 Stars

Wandering Panda - "Genuinely heartfelt and beautifully artsy in a weird way. I like this movie for its main lead, he's very relatable and easy to empathize with. The film is visually striking and thought provoking. It's a movie that is easier to watch than explain." - 3 Stars

Huntress - "Ambiguously titled movies come with a certain level of risk - is the title weird in order to make up for a boring story or does the label fit the content? In the case of Are We Not Cats, it's pretty safe to say that the first option is out. This film starts off with its lead nearing rock bottom, a point that he grazes fairly early on in the scheme of things. That is until he happens to meet someone who fills him with an entirely new motivation. From there, it's a snow and substance covered blur, but somehow remains very personal to the writer/director. And if you think that a film like that is going to end quietly, you're in for one hell of an isolated, neon lit surprise." - 4 Stars

Harvey Spectre - "A vivid body fantasia set in a world of decay." - 3 Stars

Eddie the Gamer Ghoul - "HAIR.... Alls I gots fer it is hair. Heh, da movie starts off kinda slow an' basic an' den jumps about from somtin like a crime movie to a road trip thing. By da time ya figure it out yer not sure if its'a body horror like me or if its'a psychotic break. I say dis cause most da NPC's seem ta have split personalities. When it comes down to it I give dis movie." - 3 Stars

Lord Battle - "If urban fantasy films had their own genre award show Xander Robin's Are We Not Cats would win the Interior Surrealism award and not just because there's a druidic basement nightclub! For his first time feature, Xander has managed to handle an unreliable narrator in a way that makes you simultaneously distrust him and suspect everyone he interacts with is out to get over on him. It makes for a particularly pleasant palate of paranoia." - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Every Thursday before the Overlook's ritualistic screenings, it's commonplace for several fiends to inquire about the films we'll be watching. This used to drive me mad, as I never knew what we would watch ahead of time since I'd normally just "wing it" as the horrors crawled in. or grab a few films laying around and force everyone to vote. Currently, the only preselecting I do is based on who's booked for the next Overlook Hour Podcast. That works out really well since most of the filmmakers we speak to have never heard the perspective of a residential viewing party (albeit unholy), which is kinda what the Overlook Theatre provides when you boil it down... Anyway, I digress. The problem with being asked the simple question of "what is Are We Not Cats about?" is that the subtext is both surface level and very deep. In other words Are We Not Cats is the perfect film to confuse a casual audience (which would explain all the 3's), which in turn can be an awesome post-screening opportunity.

The Overlook Hour was lucky to have Writer/Director Xander Robin on the show, I highly suggest checking that interview out AFTER you've seen the film. We venture into spoiler territory.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a residence for a screening on 2/15/2018
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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