Category: Movies

OwlKitty Becomes Tom Cruise’s Wingman In ‘Top Gun With A Cat’

The infamous OwlKitty has returned to the big screen, this time flying wing alongside Tom Cruise’s Maverick in a meowified version of Top Gun.

OwlKitty’s patient humans are known for meticulously filming their beloved black cat in front of green screens and inserting the cute moggie into various movies and TV shows, from Jurassic Park to Titanic, Home Alone and even Netflix’s The Witcher.

OwlKitty’s female, so technically she’s Cruise’s wingwoman, and we see her in the cockpit of an F-18 Super Hornet, with Cruise getting a dressing down by the admiralty, and in the iconic beach volleyball scene.

Stanly Kubrick Had A 15-Page Guide To Caring For His Cats

Stanley Kubrick was so particular about his cats, he created a 15-page guide to caring for the beloved felines while he was away making films.

Kubrick, who is considered one of the greatest film directors of all time, was a homebody and recluse — when he wasn’t working behind the camera — whose eccentricities have been documented in books and interviews over the decades.

Of course having cats isn’t an eccentricity, but Kubrick was very particular about how his pride of house lions should be treated, how they should eat and drink, and how their behavior should be monitored.

His lengthy instruction booklet detailing the particulars of their care had at least 37 sections!

His daughter, Katharina Kubrick-Hobbs, said the guide was titled Care Instructions: How To Look After The Animals, and the director left a version of it behind when he went to Ireland to shoot 1975’s Barry Lyndon. The 37th item dealt with breaking up potential fights among the kitties, Kubrick-Hobbs recalled:

“When we went to Ireland on Barry Lyndon, he left this 15-page document, Care Instructions: How To Look After The Animals. And the 37th instruction is: ‘If a fight should develop between Freddie and Leo–‘ and that was the father and son tomcats that we had– ‘the only way you can do anything about it is to dump water on them. Try to grab Freddie and run out of the room with him. Do NOT try and pick up Leo. Alternatively, if you open a door and just let Freddie get out, he can outrun Leo. But if he’s trapped in a place where you can’t separate them, just keep dumping water, shouting, screaming, jumping up and down, and distracting them, waving shirts, towels… just try and get them apart and grab Freddie.‘”

Kubrick died at age 70 in 1999 after a film career that spanned five decades, from 1953’s Fear and Desire, and 1960’s Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas as the eponymous warrior, to Full Metal Jacked (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut in 1999. One of his best-known works was 2001: A Space Odyssey, a 1968 collaboration between Kubrick and celebrated science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke. The film was groundbreaking for its realistic portrayal of space travel and exploration, and created a visual shorthand that still defines the genre today.

Stephen King adaptation The Shining (1980), Cold War black comedy Dr. Strangelove (1964) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) are among his most popular films.

Dear Buddy: HELP! I’m Scared Of Ghosts And Monsters!

Dear Buddy,

My human likes to watch horror movies and they’re freaking me out! I can’t even look at mirrors since we watched Oculus, I jump at shadows ever since watching 30 Days of Night, and I wet my favorite napping spot the night we saw The Ring.

But it gets worse! My human spent almost two weeks watching a TV series called The Haunting of Hill House, which was so scary, scarier than vacuum cleaners and filled with terrifying scenes! It had all kinds of monsters and people dying and countless sinister-looking ghosts hidden in the background of every scene.

Buddy, I can’t sleep at night, even with my human. I’m scared of monsters in the closet or under the bed, and ghosts outside the bedroom door. I’m scared they’re gonna get me in my sleep!

Help me, Buddy!

Terrified in Tallahassee


Dear Tallahassee,

You’ve come to the right cat, amigo! Among our kind the name Buddy is synonymous with bravery as well as good looks and charm, and I’m known for keeping my cool in circumstances that would reduce lesser cats to frazzled, freaked-out messes.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, one they don’t teach to just any cat or kitten: Get under the blankets!

Blankets: The secret weapon.
Blankets: The secret weapon.

You see, blankets are about more than keeping those furless humans warm when they sleep. Blankets have magical properties that repel monsters and ghosts. They’re like shields or magic force fields!

Humans know that if you’re scared and you think there might be monsters in your home, the best solution is to get completely under the blankets, wrap yourself up nice and cozy and rest easy knowing the safety they will afford you until sunrise, when ghosts and monsters have to retreat or die in the sunlight. (Or was that vampires? I get things mixed up sometimes.)

Anyway, being the brave cat I am, I’m totally not scared of anything and I don’t have to hide under blankets. In fact, my human sleeps easy knowing that I’m guarding him. But if I were scared, Tallahassee, I’d dive under some magical blankets and feel my worries melt away.

Your fearless friend,

Buddy

Ghosts and Monsters!
Buddy is widely regarded as one of the bravest cats in the world.

Sunday Cats: ‘Cat Daddies’ Documentary, Misconceptions About Cloning

A trailer for ‘Cat Daddies‘ comes right out with it: Men who love cats are often stereotyped as oddballs.

“People see a cat dad and they think ‘Oh he must be weird and creepy,” says one guy, who is shown hilariously working out his biceps by lifting his cats in place of weights. “I feel like we’re getting to a point where it’s okay [to say] ‘Yeah, I have cats.'”

Another man recalled a conversation with his college buddies in which one of them floated the idea of adopting a few cats.

“The reaction was ‘No man, you can’t do that,'” he says with an amused look on his face.

Of course, PITB readers know it’s perfectly natural for men to love cats, especially cats as muscular, intimidating and tiger-like as Buddy.

But if you’ve ever wondered what the experience is like for guys who want to adopt kitties, ‘Cat Daddies’ takes a look at several men from different backgrounds and their beloved felines, from a homeless man in New York who won’t part with his tabby even it means he won’t get housing, to an Instagram star whose rise to fame has been propelled by his feline masters.

Californians can catch the documentary in person, and help fund a good cause, at an April 16 screening in Long Beach, CA, on behalf of the Little Lion Foundation. The California-based nonprofit specializes in caring for neonatal and young, abandoned kittens, as most shelters aren’t equipped to care for them and such kittens are often euthanized if they land in an animal control or kill shelter.

For the rest of us, check out the Cat Daddies site for a list of virtual screenings and festival events.

Man with kitten
Credit: Tim Douglas/Pexels

A grieving woman explains why she’s cloning her late cat

Kris Stewart adopted Bear, a five-year-old ragdoll “with a big, bold, sassy look,” in March of 2021.

Stewart, the CEO of a senior care company in Canada, described Bear as “the smartest animal I’ve ever owned,” and said the resourceful cat could work out how to open locked doors and windows.

“What I didn’t realize was his need for adventure and exploring,” she wrote in a column for Newsweek.

After “cat-proofing” her backyard and taking Bear on walks via a harness, Stewart decided the ragdoll needed to be outside to be happy. Bear “was off-leash by May 2021,” she wrote.

“Then, one day in January 2022, I let him out about 4.30pm and within about 20 minutes I heard something, saw cars backing up down the street and ran outside. Bear had been hit. Obviously it was my fault. I’m his guardian and I made the wrong decision, and I have to live with that.”

Stewart acknowledges that cloning is a process that involves mistakes, although it’s not clear if she’s aware just how gruesome the process can be. Likening it to “human parents who want to go through IVF rather than adopt,” she said she’s hoping the clone will have the same temperament as her beloved Bear.

“I would much rather replicate Bear’s genetic material into another cat than adopt again because I would love to see the personality of Bear live on,” she wrote. “He was the most brilliant animal I’ve ever owned. Research tells us that a significant portion of personality is carried in genes so I’m willing to take the chance. I’ve said before that Mother Earth is not finished with Bear and Bear is not finished with Mother Earth. So, if I can bring back his genetic material in the form of another cat, I would like to do that. If their personalities are a little different, that’s OK, I’ll be happy regardless.”

Bear the cat
Stewart with Bear.

It’s clear Stewart is devastated by losing Bear, and we don’t want to sound callous by criticizing her decision. Grief leads people to do all sorts of things, and there’s no “correct” way to cope. We all handle it differently.

At the same time, it’s wishful thinking to believe a clone is somehow a continuation of the original, or that cloning can bridge the considerable gap between nature and nurture. That’s just not how it works. Sadly, Mother Earth is done with Bear — there’s no continuity of consciousness.

Even in science fiction stories where cloning technology is flawless and human cloning somehow exists despite considerable moral and religious objections, it’s clear that cloning is, well, cloning: Even if the clone is perfect in every way, even if the process manages to faithfully reproduce personality and memories can somehow be transferred, there is no “bridge” between the original and the copy. For the person who is cloned, life ends when their consciousness blinks out, and nothing can resurrect it.

We hope Stewart finds peace and loves her new cat, but we don’t believe cloning is right answer when grieving the loss of a pet.

PITB Reviews: The Platform

Movie: The Platform (2020)
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Genre: Horror, social commentary
Medium: Netflix

The premise of The Platform is simple: A man wakes up in a concrete prison cell. The center of the cell is dominated by rectangular gaps in the floor and ceiling, and when our protagonist warily steps closer he can see levels of identical cells above and below him. The cells extend as far as the eye can see in both directions, each populated by two prisoners.

Every day, a platform is lowered level-by-level, laden with a massive feast: Meats, wine, cheese, bread, cake, soup, pie, fish, escargot, paella, salads, grapes, apples and other fresh fruit, vegetables, juice. Every kind of food you can imagine, cooked and prepared to perfection by professional chefs.

Goreng, our protagonist, is greeted by his cell mate, a kindly old man named Trimagasi who sits down next to the edge of the hole in the floor in anticipation of the platform’s arrival. When it descends to their level he pigs out, shoveling as much food as he can into his mouth before a buzzer sounds and the platform descends another level.

Goreng looks on, digusted: The food is scattered all over the platform, much of it half-eaten. Clearly, these are someone’s disgusting leftovers.

The Platform
Trimagasi, top, pigs out while Goreng picks at food scraps.

Trimagasi urges Goreng to eat, and explains that they are very fortunate indeed: At level 48 there’s still enough food leftover from the prisoners on the 47 levels above that they won’t starve this month. At the end of every month, he says, each pair of cellmates are put to sleep with gas and wake up on a new level that is chosen at random by the people operating the cruel social experiment.

Trimagasi tells Goreng he once spent a month on level 132, where not a scrap of food is left by the time the platform descends. Goreng asks the old man how he survived, and Trimagasi demures.

We also learn that Goreng voluntarily entered in exchange for a real-world opportunity promised to him after he spends six months inside. Trimagasi was sent there as punishment: Infuriated by a TV commercial for a self-sharpening knife called the Samurai Plus after he’d just purchased a knife sharpening kit, Trimagasi threw his TV out of his window and unintentionally killed an illegal immigrant who was riding a bicycle below. He’s approaching the end of his two-year sentence in what the authorities call the VSC, short for Vertical Self-management Center.

Each prisoner is allowed to take one item with them inside: Goreng takes a copy of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, harboring romantic notions of finally reading the book with his time in the prison. Trimagasi, who loves to use the word “obviously,” told Goreng his choice of item was obvious: His prized Samurai Plus, which he cradles lovingly as he boasts about how it can cut concrete without dulling.

Goreng puts two and two together, realizing how Trimagasi survived on level 132.

The Platform
Going down: Just a portion of the feast as it exists on the platform before it’s consumed, defiled and excreted, level by level.

The Platform is a blunt allegory for human civilization, specifically the enormous wealth disparities of modern societies. The occupants of level 1 are the Jeff Bezoses and Walton families of the world, people with unimaginable, multigenerational wealth pigging out on life’s resources without thinking of the starving street children of India, the homeless of cities like New York and San Francisco, the families in North Korea eating tree bark.

Some reviewers think it’s a critique of capitalism, but I think it’s more universal than that: The kleptocrats of countries like Mexico, Russia and Brazil, the monarchies and emirates of the Middle East, and the party bigwigs of communist countries like China pig out on their own respective first levels while the people 130 “levels” down starve just the same.

The rest of us? We’re in the 30s, 40s and 50s, happily scarfing down the scraps from above, the ad revenue the Zuckerbergs and Pichais allow us by their forbearance, the slightly comfortable salaries allowed by corporate shareholders, the house and garage we might enjoy if we’re fortunate enough to run a successful small business in an industry that hasn’t been pillaged by the multinationals yet.

Some people might find the movie heavy-handed, but I don’t see it that way. As uncomfortable as it is to watch at times, reality is much, much worse. The fact that some of the movie’s scenes are difficult to watch is testament to how lucky we are to be born in circumstances where that kind of suffering isn’t part of our experience, let alone our daily lives. Show The Platform to one of the handful of people to ever escape a North Korean hard labor camp, for instance, and they probably won’t even blink.

It also shows how our betters divide and conquer to keep the rest of us distracted and themselves secure. The idea that most people who receive social services are lazy bums is a popular one in some quarters, encouraging people not to have empathy for the less well off, but to loathe them. Likewise, the people occupying the higher floors of The Platform’s prison don’t feel sorry for those beneath them. In one scene, two cellmates tell a man they’ll help him ascend to their floor, then literally shit on him as he’s just within reach, cackling with delight as he falls.

I didn’t take it as a call for socialism either. The movie makes it pretty clear that neither asking people to moderate their consumption, nor trying to enforce sharing works out for the people who try those methods. Indeed when socialism has worked in real world circumstances, it’s been part of a hybrid model that still uses capitalism as its economic engine.

Mostly, The Platform exists to make people think. While Jeff Bezos goes to sleep tonight in his $50 million compound estate, dreaming of his next vanity flight to low Earth orbit or the next hypercar he’s going to buy, there’s someone shivering on a park bench with 15 cents in their pocket, stomach grumbling, knowing the people who pass them by every day don’t even see them as human.