|Index||3 reviews in total|
The biggest problem with this film was not the subject matter, but
rather that is was boring. The filmmaker failed to ask the really tough
questions on the morality of art, and instead walked the easier
"exploratory" line and in the end said not much.
This had the possibility of being a great film, a real critique of art and the culture of art, and just never made it past the clichés.
It could have also used some more editing, as 20 or 30 minutes could have been easily cut from the film to make it a somewhat more compelling hour long film.
Shame, because I was looking forward to it, too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Controversy seems to have greeted this documentary everywhere it has
screened, and its selection for the Melbourne International Film
Festival was no exception. I had to run the gauntlet of a bunch of
bleating, ill-informed animal activists who were making false claims
that the organisers of the film festival were supporting a 'cat snuff
film'. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is NOT a 'cat
snuff film' - such claims would be laughable if they were not
completely ridiculous and untrue.
I find such premature condemnation irritating in the extreme. It is as clear as there is a nose of your face that the people so strongly opposed to this documentary have not a single clue as to what it actually contains. It does NOT contain the graphic components of the cat killing film in question. It does feature, however, a detailed and confronting written description of the film's content, by way of a written scroll giving a minute-by-minute description of its content. The audience is thankfully spared the real footage of the crime.
Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat is a documentary, pure and simple - and I found it a very well balanced and objective one for that matter. It was very thought provoking. It features interviews with the cat killing criminals, as well as animal activists and an investigating policeman, among many others. It also highlights the killer's defence that it was some sort of 'work of art', especially given that one of them had previously made other films depicting animal cruelty in the name of 'art'.
There is some footage of one of the killer's earlier film 'art' works, including dancing with the corpse of a pig obtained from an abattoir, and a peculiar music video featuring dancing skinned animals from a research laboratory. Perhaps the most confronting was the short depiction of the beheading of a small live chicken. All of this imagery was presented in context, and was neither condoning the acts, nor suggestive of such inclusions as being some form of entertainment. It was featured in this documentary to balance out the killer's argument that the filming of the cat's torture was not a precedent setter, but one that had occurred within the context of his previous 'art works' - a nonsense argument in my opinion.
As a viewer, I was left feeling a sense of scorn and pity upon the perpetrators of this act - one of whom seemed to frequent minimise the severity of it, with lines of argument such as: "well, we were drugged out" and "we kill animals for meat, so what's the problem". They seemed mainly well spoken and articulate individuals, but ones that seemed to lack a sense of morality, consequence, responsibility and a honed capacity for knowing when to draw the line with certain reasonable or acceptable behaviours. I think most reasonable adults would agree that the deliberate infliction of real pain on human or animal, regardless of intent, is a tad bit intolerable.
Speaking of what is intolerable, the session I attended contained a hefty presence of police and security personnel, after the cinema received some veiled threats. If animal activists think that threatening innocent cinema-goers - who are merely exercising their right to see what they wish - somehow increases the validity of their arguments, then they are sorely misguided and utterly deluded.
I was at the Melbourne Film Festival where for the first time in my
experience you had to be searched by the police before entering the
theatre - such was the controversy this film has caused.
The protesters outside had grievances with the content and claimed it was an animal 'snuff' film (naturally none of them had seen it and were going by the poor write up in the festival guide that did serve to sensationalise it). That is certainly wasn't. What it tried to do was portray a completely neutral balanced view of an event where three men decide to brutally kill a cat. What the film did well was not try to cast judgement on the characters and let them speak for themselves. And any one with half a brain could see that the pitiful excuse for this act - that it was name in the name of art and to show up the hypocrisy of people in terms of eating cows and not cats - was a cover for some very disturbed human beings with a terrible dark side.
Where the film failed was as a film - poorly shot, poorly edited and constructed. There was an overriding feeling that the film makers weren't sure of what they were doing and the film left you cold. The people in the film - especially Jesse Powers just seemed like people out to shock for the hell of it - it was not art in any way shape or form and I could not find any empathy with them.
Having said all this - there are millions of people dying needlessly around the world everyday. That a group of people in Melbourne wanted to protest a documentary film about the death of one cat (in admittedly heinous circumstances) just showed up the bourgeois nature of those who live in the comfortable west who can afford to waste time on such things.
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