What to watch - Page 5

The Guardian staff's short takes on the San Francisco International Film Fest's must-sees

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Kelly Reichardt's new frontier story Meek's Cutoff tilts decisively toward socially-minded existentialism

A Cat in Paris (Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli, France/Belgium/Netherlands/Switzerland, 2010) Save your pocket poodles, please: Paris, as cities go, is most decidedly feline. From 1917's silent serial Les Vampires to its uber-cool 1990s update Irma Vep, cat burglars and the Parisian skyline have gone together like café and au lait. Add actual cats and jazz to the mix for good measure (even Disney saw fit to set its jazzy 1970 Aristocats in the City of Light). At just over an hour long, the animated A Cat in Paris is an enjoyable little amuse-bouche that employs all the standards of the cats-in-Paris meme: Billie Holiday warbling on the soundtrack, a dashingly heroic antihero who scales the rooftops as if he studied parkour under Spider-Man, and the titular untamable black cat who serves as his partner in crime. Complete with a climatic Hitchcockian set piece on the rooftops of Notre Dame Cathedral, A Cat in Paris has a refreshingly angular and graphic, almost cubist, feel. Directors Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli's work certainly doesn't rank among that of countryman Sylvain Chomet (2010's The Illusionist), but this family film is worth checking out if kitties up to no good in Purr-ree simply make you want to le squee. Sun/24, 12:30 p.m., Kabuki, and May 1, 12:30 p.m., New People. (Michelle Devereaux)

 

MON/25

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, U.S., 2010) The latest documentary from Werner Herzog once again goes where no filmmaker — or many human beings, for that matter — has gone before: the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave, a heavily-guarded cavern in Southern France containing the oldest prehistoric artwork on record. Access is highly restricted, but Herzog's 3D study is surely the next best thing to an in-person visit. The eerie beauty of the works leads to a typically Herzog-ian quest to learn more about the primitive culture that produced the paintings; as usual, Herzog's experts have their own quirks (like a circus performer-turned-scientist), and the director's own wry narration is peppered with random pop culture references and existential ponderings. It's all interwoven with footage of crude yet beautiful renderings of horses and rhinos, calcified cave-bear skulls, and other time-capsule peeks at life tens of thousands of years ago. The end result is awe-inspiring. Mon/25, 7 p.m., and Tues/26, 9:30 p.m., Kabuki. (Eddy)