Happy Birthday, Cat vs Kirk

Today is the one year anniversary of this website. Over the last 365 days I have written a lot of movie reviews. Some of them have been about all time classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark and some have been about obscure anti-classics like Oversexed Rugsuckers From Mars. (Yes, that is a real movie.) Some of them have been funny and some have been serious. Some of them have been focused and some have been a bit scattered. Basically, I have tried to be as versatile in my viewing habits and writing styles as I could, whether that meant talking about an older film in an academic tone or using a newer film as an excuse to open up about my own life, or just being straight-up silly about some nonsense. 

Now, I've spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about how to celebrate this milestone, and while it might have been fun to review my all time favorite movie, or to do something stunt-y like live-blog a movie at a drive-in theater, I ultimately decided to just do a straight forward retrospective of my best reviews. Of course, trying to decide what is "best" is tricky in any circumstance, but it was particularly hard here because a) comparing a philosophical review to a comedy haiku review is comparing apples and oranges, and b) I have absolutely no objectivity in this arena. Still, I think I have managed to pick a well balanced cross section that will give you a sense of what this site is all about.

So without further ado, I present: the best of Cat Vs Kirk Year One.

Every time we got a close up of Grey sulking by himself in an expensive but empty house I kept thinking “oh my god, is he about to hide those chiseled abs behind a rubber superhero suit? Is he about to take his anger out... on crime?” Alas, the only ass-whipping Christian Grey ever does is the literal kind that actually involves asses and whips, which is the kind I mostly don’t care about.
Miller’s movies are consistently ambivalent about the nature of power, because they suggest that the mechanisms of power remain the same regardless of whether they are being used by good people or monsters. Although that guard dog does become a nicer character after he starts taking orders from Babe he is still very much the same ruthless creature he always was - it is just that he’s now channeling his aggression in a more positive direction because he’s taking orders from a nicer leader.
Sci-fi films that pre-date Barbarella tend to be so straight forward that it is hard to see them as anything but camp now. Meanwhile the films that followed tend to be so self-aware that any utopian visions they offer up often seem sarcastic. Barbarella, however, is firmly in the pop-art camp - it knows that the tropes it is utilizing are goofy, but it is still trying to celebrate them instead of putting them in scare quotes. Its unlikely mixture of earnestness and camp is not going to be for everyone, but I have always found it to be a refreshing break from the overly ironic world I grew up in.

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America:

"Man’s Natural State

Corrupted nobility

Laughing at boners"

The Big Lebowski

This gets at a core truth of life (which, again, you almost never see in fiction): namely that people continue on with their day to day existence regardless of whether they are currently blessed with good fortune or bad fortune. We all have our ups and downs in life, but either way we still have to eat, sleep, and make time for our friends and family. There is something really comforting about the way that The Big Lebowski keeps taking time away from its crazy twists and turns to show The Dude and Walter and Donnie knocking a few pins down at their local lanes.
Watching a cute rom-com about two sweet people falling in love is kind of dissimilar to watching a dissonant art film about an alienated loner who is forced to take care of a mutant baby that won’t stop screaming.
Last night I did a double feature of Far From the Madding Crowd, a picturesque romance based on Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, and Frankenhooker, a movie about a mad scientist who tries to rebuild his recently departed girlfriend using spare parts he collected from the bodies of dead hookers. Guess which I enjoyed more?
Both Allin’s onstage and offstage lives are united by the same focused rage, with the only difference being that he focused that rage outward when he was performing and he focused that rage inwards when he was by himself. I know that this might sound odd given Hated’s subject matter but the experience of watching this documentary is not unlike reading a Dostoevsky novel - there is a basic level on which GG Allin’s purposeful insistence on living like an animal challenges our basic assumptions of what it means to be a human being.
I’ve never been much of a partier and I have no interest in returning to high school, but I could still sympathize with Megan’s struggle. I think both of us have a sense that we signed up for one war and then found ourselves in another. We expected adult life to be the sort of affair where two opposing forces lined up in a field and marched towards each other, but instead we found ourselves in jungle warfare where the enemy is invisible and omnipresent.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop’s biggest problem is that it’s script doesn’t have any punchlines that are as funny as Paul Blart’s life is tragic, and as such, it ends up summoning despairs that it can’t dispel. Watching this film you’ll realize that we might be observing the death of the middle class; that we might be at the End of Men; that the idea that an everyday overweight schlub might find true love is bullshit. What you won’t realize is that you’re supposed to laugh at all of those traumas.

Bonus: Best Liveblog!

Howard the Duck

00:31:10 – HOWARD ROUNDS THE CORNER AND FINDS ANOTHER COUPLE MID-COITUS. He remarks: “It must be mating season.” I remark: NO IT IS DEFINITELY INSANITY SEASON.

Winner: To Be Determined

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