|Can a schlub video artist get to home plate with a mega-babe?|
Dir. Michael Reich
Starring: Mike Pinkney, Sonja Kinski
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Every so often, I see a film that reminds me of the joy I experienced during those halcyon days when I produced a whack of no-to-low-budget feature films. The accent was always on the love of cinema, innovation and most of all, cool shit that I and my colleagues would be happy to pay money to see ourselves. Given our collective cinematic predilections, our only nod to "marketplace" was knowing there had to be whack-jobs like us "out there".
My personal credo was thus: If you're making a movie for very little money, it better goddamn well be something that puts you and the film itself on a map. Impersonal "calling card" films had only two results: Making something competent enough that you might end up in regular network series television or worse; not being able to overcome the meagre production value and generating a movie that nobody would want.
She's Allergic To Cats made me happier than happy. From the opening frames to the magnificent cut from a hilariously poignant final image to the first of the end title cards, I found the picture endlessly dazzling, deliriously perverse and rapturously romantic. This is exactly the kind of first feature which an original filmmaker should generate. Writer-director Michael Reich boldly announces his presence with a friendly fuck-you attitude, a great sense of humour and a visual style that should make some veteran directors be ashamed of their by the numbers camera jockey moves.
Though there is no official genre called "schlubs who get to successfully seduce babes", She's Allergic To Cats would definitely be leading the charge if such a thing did officially exist - it's kind of like a Woody Allen picture on acid through the lens of wonky, nutty 80s video art.
|Are you a schlub? Don't worry. Babes await you.|
Mike Pinkney, the actor, plays Mike Pinkney, the lead character - a schlub extraordinaire who works a day job as a dog groomer and in his off hours, makes retro-styled video art and/or endlessly watches the horrendous, compulsively watchable 70s TV movie with John Travolta, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. These viewings include Mike eating sweet, unhealthy breakfast cereals. His home is also disgustingly infested with rats who seem to devour everything - from bananas to condoms. The landlord's only solution is to eventually "look up" a solution on Wikipedia.
Mike's dream is to make a feature film homage to Brian De Palma's Carrie - with CATS!!! His producer thinks it's the stupidest idea he's every heard. Mike is dejected and persistent all at the same time. Amidst the slacker/McJob existence he leads, Mike miraculously hits it off with Cora (Sonja Kinski - Nastassja's daughter, Klaus's granddaughter) a mega-babe who happily agrees to a date.
Here, director Reich deserves to win some manner of official accolade for creating the most depraved "meet-cute" in cinema history. All I will say is that it involves the incompetent clipping of a dog's nails on the quick, causing them to bleed.
The entire love story is mediated through Mike's filmmaking/video-art perspective. The result is a chiaroscuro-like melange of garish "video" colours, cheesy (though gorgeous) dissolves and plenty of sexy video tracking errors.
Though the film's final actions can be seen from a mile away, "surprise" is hardly the point. There's a sad and deeply moving inevitability to where things go. Reich achieves the near-impossible. We laugh with his main character, we laugh at him and finally, we're given a chance to weep for him.
Yes, on many levels, She's Allergic to Cats is a head-film extraordinaire, but it has heart and soul. This is something of a miracle. Then again, this should come as no surprise. Getting the film made must have been a miracle and what Reich's efforts have yielded is nothing less than revelatory.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** 4-Stars
She's Allergic To Cats enjoys its World Premiere at FANTASIA 2016