Video on Demand — August 2014

Video pick of the month

The Strange Little Cat

For this correspondent’s money, the film to beat so far in 2014 is Swiss filmmaker Ramon Zürcher’s The Strange Little Cat (Das merkwürdige Kätzchen), a dazzlingly low-key schematic diagram of a single day’s ebb and flow in a German apartment. Zürcher cracks the space open like a dollhouse, but his exacting frames don’t create drama; rather, each individual component — a kettle, a ball, a clock, the nominal tabby, a regularly screaming child or any of the extended family members shuffling in and out of Zürcher’s rooms — invites the viewer’s attention as they often repeatedly intersect. Between narrative scenes, Zürcher stops for montages of these momentarily highlighted objects strung together, giving props as much narrative presence as the people they share space with.

The film’s strength is in its rigor, its ability to distill moments in what appears to be real time and harness their underlying tensions without pausing, slowing down or speeding up: for Zürcher, it seems, space and time create their own dramas. (Steve Macfarlane)

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