In a week where Ukraine seems to be melting down by the minute, not to mention a flood of e-mails from Democratic fund-raisers in a seeming panic about fall 2014 and being out-Koched in fund-raising, what else does 3CM do for an SNLC but a kitteh diary? Yet it's a pootie diary with a modest twist, as this one takes its cue from the Coen brothers' latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis. The source commentary for here is this Guardian piece by Steve Rose on the role of cats in the film. More below the flip.....
Rose begins by citing the late screenwriter Blake Snyder, as follows:
"Snyder, for the uninitiated, is best known for Save the Cat!, a screenwriting guide that, depending on your point of view, either lays bare the mechanics of movie storytelling, or reduces them to an idiot-proof template. The book, published in 2005 (Snyder died in 2009), has become almost a cheat sheet for screenwriters, instructing you what to put where on a minute-by-minute basis. You start with a strong opening image, state the story's theme by page five, break into Act 2 on page 25, and so on."Where cats come into it is the next passage, by Snyder, that Rose cites:
"It's the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something – like saving a cat – that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him."Rose elaborates:
"....you'll follow a movie character anywhere, even if they go on to steal, cheat, kill, or commit any atrocity short of harming an animal (if you see a character kicking a cat, chances are they won't make it to the end credits). Call it a trick of the trade – one of the most common reasons for a script rewrite is to 'make the character more sympathetic', and the insertion of a save-the-cat scene is a quick fix."There is a sort of "save the cat" moment, just about halfway through the film. At least it would seem, until the revelation about that cat sometime later. Rose comments about the film:
"They could have called it Save the Cat: the Movie. Early on in the film, we see Oscar Isaac's hapless protagonist inadvertently let a ginger tom out of an apartment, and he spends much of the rest of the story trying to find the cat, finding the cat, taking the cat on the subway, losing the cat again, and so forth."It's even more complicated than that, for stickers for detail (and the Coen brothers are nothing if not that, but there have been multiple issues about that here, not to mention other of their films - but 3CM digresses, as usual). It should also be noted that (semi-meta-spoiler alert) Rose's description of Llewyn Davis as "hapless" may be the movie understatement of the year. Throughout the movie, it seems that Llewyn Davis cannot catch one break, however trivial, or make a single right decision, however minor. He literally is a loser through and through, which those who've seen the movie will have noticed.
Simply with respect to the cat, it starts right after the cat has scampered out of the apartment, just after Llewyn, near the start of the movie. Since it's not his apartment, he doesn't have the key, and the door closes before he can catch it to let the cat back in. But instead of trying to leave the cat with a neighbor, or failing to leave it with the elevator operator, what does Llewyn do? He takes the cat with him.
You can see where this is going, once he's back at whereever he's crashing at in the next scene. Of course, Llewyn leaves the window open, and guess what the cat does, as you would expect a cat to do at an open window. He then has to call the owners of the apartment where he was earlier, covering up about the cat. Later on, Llewyn does find a cat to return to the owners. But notice that I said "a" cat, not "the" cat, as Rose did in his quick summary above.
With respect to cats and Llewyn Davis, Rose posits an idea put about by others (not sure whom, though):
"Some have even suggested Llewyn Davis actually is the cat. It's not a bad theory: they're both charming drifters who survive on the hospitality of others and spread their seed irresponsibly. He's trying to save himself, see?"Given how incredibly unlikable Llewyn often is, one wonders about the "charming" part, but then I suppose you could say the same thing about cats at times, depending on their personality (felinality?). Plus, there is actually one moment in the film where the Coen brothers test the limits of the "Save the cat" theory with respect to Llewyn, maybe 2/3 or so of the way through the movie, and actually make Llewyn fail that test. That much I'll say; you have to watch the movie to get to that point.
BTW, if you note the links bar just to the right of the article, you'll see quite a few Guardian articles that relate to the movie. Seems quite a bit, especially for a non-US publication, to fixate on. Still, for whatever foibles, The Guardian is still my favorite UK newspaper.
Also, for the record, Oscar Isaac does not like cats, if you were wondering. In addition, it's quite possible that a 2nd SNLC with Inside Llewyn Davis as theme may appear in due course. We'll see. With that, time for the usual SNLC protocol, namely your loser stories of the week, whether involving cats, movies, Inside Llewyn Davis, whatever.....