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A Grin Without a Cat

Movie Information

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present A Grin Without a Cat at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
Genre: Documentary
Director: Chris Marker
Rated: NR

At 173 minutes, Chris Marker’s unorthodox film is the classic example of a documentary that simply does not know when to quit. When you boil it down, his 1977 film A Grin Without a Cat (the retitling of the French Le Fond de l’air Est Rouge or The Base of the Air is Red) is an often fascinating assemblage of footage that doesn’t tell you a whole lot more than that the left dropped the ball in the movements of the 1960s and early 1970s. This updated version does make the interesting connection that the word “terrorist” has become the modern equivalent of the communist bogey man of that earlier era. I won’t deny that a lot of the footage is interesting (check out Fidel Castro trying to move unmovable microphones in order to have something to do with his hands) and the film is not without its point. But three hours’ worth of point? Not for me, though there are those who find it so. You may be one of them.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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