And we’re back!
In my last Goal Post, I eluded to my next update being lighter, but I’m not entirely sure that’ll be the case. There’s 2 animated series, and a rom-com on the docket. Surely we won’t be delving into politically charged territory, right? Right?!
Cats Don’t Dance
Starting off, we have a cute animated musical: Cats Don’t Dance. This was a film that Mir is particularly nostalgic for, so we decided to watch it together one evening.
The basic premise of the film is as follows: a small town cat named Danny goes to Hollywood to live out his dream of being a movie star on the big screen. He loves to dance, and wants to share his love of the arts with the world. However, upon arriving in Hollywood, Danny finds that animals are only ever given background roles in films. It doesn’t matter how talented the different animals are at singing, dancing, or acting – only humans ever get cast for lead roles.
What follows is a series of events that sees Danny coming into conflict with the status quo. He eventually rallies the other animals, and they’re able to challenge the perception of the Hollywood execs that only humans should have leading roles. The film then ends with a montage of notable films from the 50s through to the 90s where different animal characters play the lead role. It’s a cute send-off to tie up the film.
Now, upon my first viewing of Cats Don’t Dance, I didn’t think much of it. The animation was well done, and the musical numbers were great. It was maybe a little on the short side, but it still hit all the right notes, and resolved in a satisfactory way. It’s just a nice little animated feature.
However, when I did my second reading of the film, I think it finally dawned on me what Cats Don’t Dance was actually about. Hollywood has a tendency to reserve the leading roles of a film to people of a very specific demographic. People like me: white, and straight. Obviously, we’ve seen some improvement toward that problem recently, but there’s always more work to be done. The film industry has a deep seeded history of prejudice, and that can’t be fixed overnight.
I don’t feel like I’m in position to speak at length about this subject, but I was definitely taken off-guard when I realized that Cats Don’t Dance was about Hollywood’s history of prejudice toward non-white actors. Not in a bad way mind you. That’s just not what I expected from an colourful, and often, playful animated feature. The presentation of the film was such that I didn’t even realize what it was about until I started thinking about it after the fact. That’s just…nice. It’s nice when story-tellers trust their audience to absorb things without needing to be so overt.
One final thought before we move onto the next title: Big and Loud, the film’s big original number, is just…holy shit it’s so good. Everything about it is so good.
Aggretsuko (Season 5)
Season 5 marked the final season of Aggretsuko, and I gotta say I walked away from it kind of indifferent. That’s nothing new – I don’t know that I enjoyed any seasons as much as the first. That makes perfect sense though: I’m a millennial that views every corporate job they’ve had over the past 10 years as a complete waste. That listless feeling of unfulfillment is what the entire first season of Aggretsuko was all about, so it very specifically pandered to me in particular. Unfortunately, that’s not an unlimited well to pull ideas from, so later seasons moved onto other area’s of leading character Retsuko’s life.
Editor’s Note: minor spoiler for Aggretsuko in the next paragraph, albeit, the show telegraphs the spoiler throughout the first 3 seasons.
I think the thing that made me kind of dissatisfied with Season 5, was that it was primarily focused on the culmination of Retsuko’s relationship with Haida. This has been an ongoing “will they, won’t they” deal, but it feels flat in Aggretsuko because Haida never does much of anything to facilitate the creation of said relationship. The writers had him surf through 4 seasons as a background character, so he’s not developed enough to where we (the audience) actually want to see Retsuko end up with him.
Regardless of my misgivings about Season 5’s main plot, I enjoyed the final send off to Aggretsuko. All of the characters coming together at the end of the story to say good-bye to the audience was a nice touch after this some-odd 5 year long journey.
Your Place or Mine
Lesser known fact about me: I love terrible, cheesy rom-com movies. Mir, and I saw Your Place or Mine on Netflix and decided to make a movie night out of it. Unfortunately, I think this is the worst film I’ve watched so far while doing this whole experiment.
Typically, rom-com’s rely on a fairly straight-forward setup: you put 2 characters into a couple of ridiculous situations, and you see them develop together. There is a visible chemistry born from this equation, so we (the audience) can root for things to work out. It’s simple, but works – that’s why it’s been repeated so many times across the genre.
What bugs me about Your Place or Mine is how its setup is fundamentally at odds with how these films typically work. The 2 lead characters swap their place of dwelling for a week, which allows them to walk in one another’s shoes. This sees them getting up to the kind of hijinks that rom-coms are known for, but they’re doing so completely independent of one another. There’s no room for them to play off one another because we almost never see them interacting with each other. As a result, the core of the story, the love story, feels absent from the whole affair.
I appreciate that Netflix tried something different with Your Place or Mine, but I don’t feel like it really worked. It’s a shame too because everyone involved does a fantastic job. The film is fine, but really left a sour taste in my mouth because of how poorly it blends all of its different great ingredients.
That’s a wrap for now. I don’t know when the next post in this on-going series will be as I didn’t make a lot of progress on anything through the entirety of March. I only watched a single film, and I have nothing to say about it. Regardless, I hope you’ll join me next time where I’ll maybe have some books to talk about instead of just focusing on films, and television.
Not sure I’ll continue with Aggretsuko, but I figured they’d end up together since even season one seemed to be setting up that slow burn romance. Never heard of Cats Don’t Dance though, looks interesting.
As for the Hollywood romcom, zero percent chance I’ll watch that one. Though I have watched a few anime romcoms, so maybe I’m being too narrow there.
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It definitely does – hell I thought the same thing after S1 myself. But after 3 seasons of watching Haida just sorta bumble around without making any progress it’s kind of a “shit or get off the pot” situation. Seeing him commit to anything, or fill the time with something outside of pining for Retsuko would have done wonders in the long term, I think.
Defo give Cats Don’t Dance a looksie. We watched it via an online archive. I don’t know if anywhere is actually hosting it for streaming legally so uh…yeaaaah.
I don’t think that you are. Movies have a much shorter run time, so any kind of romance plot has far less room to breath. While I enjoy romcom films, it’s hard to deny that most of them aren’t insipidly shallow. By comparison, a standard single season of anime provides the writers with far more breathing room to show the characters organically develop their relationship in a way that doesn’t feel as forced. It’s kind of like the difference between a book, and a stage play of the same book – you only have a limited time window to work with for the stage play so you gotta focus on key moments, instead of all those little intricacies that add depth.
Edit: had to fix a few spelling & grammar mistakes
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