I’m used to cult songs being repeated every time on the radio or in your environment, sometimes even when people rip their lungs out during karaoke. Once the song has reached the point where people, regardless of race, gender or social status, will sing your song as nonchalantly as possible, you know that the song has reached its climax. Imagine the good old Frank My way not being sung by a local drunk or a version of Whitney I’ll always love you Dolly Parton not being sung by divas in singing contests. It is true that we can live without these songs, but the idea that they are not part of our lives is like eating your favorite food every day and never enjoying every bite: The essence disappears into nothingness, and you look at it and wonder indifferently why it had to happen.
In my case I grew up with an old soul (think of Anita Baker’s Sweet Love of You’ll Never Walk Alone Queen of the Gospel, Miss Machalia Jackson) and the melodies of the show (you can never go wrong with Sondheim’s polyphonic style in his musicals or the songs of the Rogers and Hammerstein collaboration). If you take it out of the equation, my life will seem incomplete, like a missing piece of the puzzle that disappeared from the sky and could only be found. I remember my uncle introduced me to an icon called Andrew Lloyd Webber and played me a song called Any Dream Will Do (believe me, it’s not the best first time in the world of melody playing through the gate), and I clearly remember my eyes swelling up after a bucket of tears fell from them as I sat in my uncle’s room and suggested our abandoned duplex. Since then, listening to music has changed life. And now that I have the whole film about the legendary musical Webber Cats in my head (you should know that I saw the home video version of the play a few years ago), the film is a crazy and nightmarish vision of hypertheatrical cats coming to life on the big screen, which in the worst case scenario will definitely leave traces on their witnesses.
The cats follow a triple structure, starting with a young white cat named Victoria (ballet prodigy Francesca Hayward) who was left by her owners in the middle of the street until she was discovered by a troop of cats belonging to a tribe of cats called Jelly. Kelly is a diverse group of cats from different layers of the feline world, such as the thick-skinned bourgeois crook Jones (James Corden), the experienced actor Gus (Ian McKellen), the lethargic parasitic leader Jenyanidots (Rebel Wilson), the noisy, perverted rum-tagger Toom (Jason Derulo) and the great magician Mistofflis (Laurie Davidson), to name but a few. Victoria’s involvement with the tribe increases when she begins to want to reincarnate, which in Iron’s case is the ascent of the Heaviside Layer, the idea of a Moksha tribe or paradise, as the Ironmakers do. To achieve her desired ascent, she must participate in the Iron Hairball with the rest of the tribe that wants to reach the Paradise of Cats. The astrophies of the felines follow this path, because the troublemaker of Makaviti (Idris Elba) demands that the matriarch of Deuteronomy (Judy Dench) be chosen for the throne.
A film like Cats is something that should be taken seriously and not be taken seriously (if that makes sense). After all, the story of Victoria and irony is about identity and acceptance, regardless of origin. She welcomes Victoria to The Clown and finds a new home with Ironsides, a kind of self-realization for the homeless man left behind. This topic is not strange to many people, but there are probably many people who have to deal with it, especially in the age of social media. Not only the direction of history and the names or terms used seem to move to a more evangelical side, which has to do with sin and salvation, almost similar to the biblical events in Christian Scripture (with the Hebrew layer as paradise, the Hellenistic ball as purgatory, the old Deuteronomy as mediator, like Jesus or Moses, and these are just a few examples). And of course the film inspires its viewers with the climax of the story, that one of the protagonists sings the Memoir, memories of a past where beauty and power were within our reach until they were taken away from us. The film inspires viewers that anything is possible as long as society begins to open its eyes and accept the many individual differences that make up our existence.
But cats always meow. Tom Hooper frames the story in such a way that we forget other iconic songs and scenes that emphasize the essence of this music classic. A perfect example of this is the way the sequence was shown by Mr. Mistofflis; instead of showing a very amplifying sequence in the case of a character of the same name in a song when he discovers the magical power that was in him (or in this one?) all the time, the film looks at the song several times, to the point where the effect of the song, perhaps the most cult song around memory, fades into the crazy darkness of all feline actions. And almost as in an episode of The Twilight Zone, the cats descend into the cosmic horror of grotesque creatures trying to reassure each other, an unnatural cat explosion that has completely enveloped their camp, but never made sense because of the structural confusion during viewing. When the characters appear, the audience gets an idea of who and what they are, and it becomes so lasting that the main title of the story dies and gets lost in all the phantasmagoria that KGI fills. It leaves its viewers bewildered or surprised (depending on which shoe fits the shoe), depending on how the disgusting visuals arise and the dynamics of the story between Victoria, Makaviti and the Ironclad tribe.
Cats purify the soul in another realm, a place where paradise, hell, purgatory and scars collide and disintegrate for life. Whether it leads to the best or the worst depends on how the mind perceives this diabolical catastrophe. But make no mistake, this is not a cinematic failure. In fact, it shows how far a director like Tom Hooper can go to create something as mundane as the ruins of a universally recognised classic. Cats, this movie is bad. But keep in mind that this is the kind of bad film that gives hope to the world, as it comes from a place dedicated to the projection and creation of something more than the typical experimental nonsense or the tasteless Nolan Twist festival. It comes from a place where there is a lot of passion (with large doses of madness, of course), and you can never go wrong when something is so crazy and corrupt. Whether we watch Taylor Swift or James Corden embarrass themselves to die while they dance and sing, anyone who tries to deliver something that will get us out of the boxes we live in every day is reason enough for the film Cat to exist and become a small shard of change in the universe, immediately shocked by subversive activity.
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