Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A doomful prophesy and CAT DANCERS

We thought we'd cured it Joe, but gosh darn it's back again.

I have a theory, a rant, hell, a doom-laden bit of prediction that's been clinking about my tin brainpan for a bit. And, well, I thought who better to infuse with my fears and hypochondric insecurities, then you the gentle-minded readers of Criterion Quest.

Thus, a rant:

I'm sick. I've been sick for weeks. Everyone I talk to is either getting sick or is "on the mend." I hear people talking about their varied "cold-like" symptoms disappearing and then jumping right back. Alex has been on-and-off sick with a variety of lung-laden diseases for months now. My house feels a bit like the cheeriest tuberculosis ward you've ever stepped in to.

And everybody's just blaming it on the "flu season." Well, I'm calling foul: I think this flu season is dead. I think humanity is on a sickness-based spiral in to the afterlife.

Oh I know, Old Man Sanders is up on his soap box again, twiddling his beard and predicting the end times, but seriously, take a look around. Doesn't it seem like we've all been sick, that we are all still sick, and that we (you, me, the entire world) have been this way for as long as we can remember? When's the last time there wasn't some super-flu cutting down children and old folk? I can barely remember. Doesn't it seem like the time between when Dr. So-and-So is telling you to get a flu vaccination is getting shorter and shorter? Yup, indeed, that's because flu season is dead and gone my feeble friends - this is just how it's going to be.

That nagging cough, that stuffed up nose and a bit of tiredness in the middle of the day, that's called sickness. But you know how usually that sickness, those symptoms, they disappear after a while as your body gets better, well that's not an option anymore. We've weakened ourselves people with shitty diets and chemically based food products and pharmaceuticals and pollution and on and on, and in true Darwinian fashion, the natural world has taken advantage of this. You thought our societies doom was going to be melting ice caps and 300-foot tidal waves? Guess again, folk, we're just slowly, but surely going to keep being sick, and then sicker. And as we keep telling ourselves that this is just a "season" and we keep pumping ourselves full of medicine to keep the illness "at bay" we're going to get weaker and weaker over such a slow period of time that it won't even see noticeable. Until one day we all look up and we're just a nation/world/civilization of feeble folk, barely able to take care of ourselves, waiting for whatever's next to just swoop on in and pick us off. Evolution's a stone-cold killer folks and I think our collective jugulars are sprawled on the chopping block.

Or maybe I've just been slightly sickly for the last month and need an overblown description to give me hope that this wheezy cough has greater meaning.

Or maybe I just like to ramble.

And now, Cat Dancers.

The Film: Cat Dancers
The Director: Harris Fishman

What Is It?: The story of the world's greatest dancing cat performance act, Cat Dancers, and their, surprisingly tragic end.

The Experience: Alex and I wanted to get some cheery films for our T-Day Weekend, instead we ended up with the depressingly subpar Bruno and this not-so-zany film about erotic trysts, imprisoned cats, very sad people, and grisly grisly deaths. At least our cornish game hen was tasty.

Something Interesting: Ligers, though fascinating, are actually the inbreeds of the wild cat world. Because of their cross-breeding they can't breed and share the oft times conflicting traits of a tiger and lion (should I swim? should I hang out solo? should I have a pride?). Thought you might want to know.

Quick Notes:

1. This is not your average tale of cat dancing.

Cat dancing, for you the horrifyingly unknowing, is the practice of training wild cats to, ahem, "dance" with you, i.e., perform with you in a mock circus. This applies to jaguars, tigers, panthers, etc. Ron and Joy Holiday were world-famous dancers (and nude photo celebrities) who in their second stage of life turned towards the dangerous world of cat dancing. Cat Dancers follows the ups, downs, and really awful demise of this supposedly world famous trio of cat-waltzing folk. And where you'd think this film would just be your sort of Home Movie look at a quirky subset of people, it is not. It is story of love, lust, immense heartbreak and grisly death. A snapshot of sadness unlike any you've seen previously. I can almost assure of this. Alex and I, expecting sequined outfits and immense zaniness, sat in dumb-shocked horror trying to get a hold on this horrific tale unfolding before us. And it just keeps getting more and more shocking. Cat Dancers is not smile-laden pick-me-up we thought it to be, and I warn you, don't ingest it as such.

2. Florida?

I think a three-way-love-affair between a family of cat dancers who almost entirely meet their untimely demises at the claws of a near-retarded white tiger named Jupiter can only happen in Florida. I sometimes just want to buy a camera and go to the first town in Florida, talk to the first family I meet, film there lives for one week, edit it, send it to the Academy and win seven Oscars. Florida, you are the haven for strange.

3. Ron Holiday.

Ron Holiday, the narrator and only survivor of Cat Dancers, is as interesting a character as any you'll see in movies right now. On one side he's exactly what you'd think, a slightly gay Floridian who loves wild cats, lives by himself with three dogs (yes, the cat dancer himself now owns dogs) and glues his hair on in the morning. A man who prides himself on sequined gladiator outfits and can catch a jaguar in mid-leap. On the other this is a man who's clearly lost everything that meant anything to him - his wife, his lover, his beautiful cats - and his ability to keep on moving on is both inspirational and terrifying. When asked at one point in the film, "Have you been to move past this tragedy?" He breaks in to angry tears, barely able to choke out the fact that he'll never move past this, only figure out a way to keep living, any way possible. Sure, this is a story about wacky people, Florida's local celebrities, that danced with cats, but more so this is about life and what it dishes out regardless of who we are or what we do.

4. Just how famous were these Cat Dancers?

Sentimentality aside, there's a lot of talk about how famous the Cat Dancers (Ron, Joy and Chuck) were but Alex and I were both completely unaware of this cat dancing trio before viewing this film. They talk about their huge performances, but every piece of video footage seems to have been filmed in either a high school gym or a backyard. They claim to be number twos to Siegfried and Roy's number one, but on what Las Vegas stage did these leather clad cat-tangoers perform upon? Seems skeptical to me, but Jesus, I didn't even know cat dancing was a tangible profession until two weeks ago.

Final Thoughts: After a few weeks thought I've come to think that this is a pretty amazing documentary. A sneaky bit of sadness that creeps up when you're waiting for sequin-inspired giggles. Humanity on display folk, in all its amazing weirdness.

Thursday: Audition

1 comment:

wescoat said...

I haven't consumed meat in eight months and... I haven't been sick in eight months. Coincidence? You tell me, Old Man Sicky-Cough.