The Foxy Merkins, today we cover another oddball film for which there is not much precedent, so far as I can recall. MURDER OF A CAT, the new movie from first-time-full-length filmmaker Gillian Greene, is very nearly uncategorizable. Maybe think of it as a kind of throwback. But to what? The closest match might be the screwball crime capers of the 1940s, with a man in the role usually reserved for a woman: the clueless and not very bright "investigator" who sets the plot in motion. Really: This movie sort of mimics the sensibility of that family from You Can't Take It With You but sets its behavior down in the midst of our 21st Century.
Sam Raimi (Sam was one of the producers on the film) but what she has come up with would never be mistaken for a Raimi endeavor. Her movie begins with what looks like a nail-biting escape. By whom? From what? We don't know, but the escapee sure looks scared. Then we get the title card that reads Five Days Earlier and we're whisked back in time to a pleasant surburban street and a yard sale involving a bratty kid, our beleaguered hero and the cat that will soon be headed for kitty heaven. Also on tap: out hero's semi-nattering-but-really-pretty-decent mother; a local law-enforcement officer who's infinitely nicer and more patient than any you'll have seen on film in this century; a heroine who's up to something besides being heroic; and the owner of the town's superstore which has put a number of other local small businesses out of business. Including that belonging to our hero.
Fran Kranz (above) in that role. Mr. Kranz has impressed in some of the work of Joss Whedon and his crew, but here he gets the kind of bizarre role that actors either embrace or go running from as fast as they can. Kranz embraces it and then some.
Nikki Reed (above) makes a pleasantly abrasive other half of the investigative team,
J. K. Simmons (above), always great fun to watch, plays the local Sheriff in such a pleasant and patient manner than he almost makes you forgot his Snidely role in the current Whiplash. Blythe Danner as the sweet, thoughtful mom; Greg Kinnear, offering up all kinds of charac-terizations as the owner of that megastore; and the wonderful Leonardo Nam as the store's most bizarre employee round out the main cast.
Gravitas Ventures and running 101 minutes -- opens today, Friday, December 5, in New York City at the Village East Cinema. Simultaneously, it will also be available via VOD platforms, Amazon, Apple and iTunes.