The Cat's Meow (PG-13)
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Um... so this is set in 1924, mostly aboard the yacht of William Randolph Hearst (played by Edward Herrmann). I like the movie's cast, and they're playing real people who were quite famous back then, though I've only really heard of a few of them, and don't have much knowledge of their work. The movie is narrated by one of the characters, a writer named Elinor Glyn (Joanna Lumley); I'm afraid I've never heard of Glyn. We learn from her at the start that a murder was committed over the weekend spent on that yacht, though it was never written or spoken of. Hearst, of course, was a wealthy and powerful publishing magnate, though kind of paranoid, I guess. At least I'd heard of him. One of the main characters is his mistress, a silent film actress named Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst). I'd heard of Davies, though I don't suppose I've ever seen any of her movies, nor did I know of her connection with Hearst. Anyway, another guest for the cruise is Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), who of course I've heard of but with whose work I'm not terribly familiar... but he didn't look at all like my idea of Chaplin, in this film. Anyway, he is in love with Marion, and everyone seems to know it. He wants her to leave Hearst for him, but she isn't interested. (There are also rumors about his having impregnated the 16-year-old star of one of his movies). Another guest is Tom Ince (Cary Elwes), a movie mogul whose birthday is that weekend, which is the reason for the cruise. He's trying to convince Hearst to merge their companies, or whatever. There's also a gossip columnist named Luella "Lolly" Parsons (Jennifer Tilly), who wants to expand her syndication in Hearst's magazines, or something. And Glyn is there, and another actress named Margaret Livingston (who is Tom's mistress, and who wants him to leave his wife, which he doesn't want to do). And there are a couple of women named Celia and Didi, though I have no idea what they do. And there was a doctor named Goodman, and various other passengers who I never really got to know at all.
So, anyway... I dunno what to say. As I said, I like the cast, I think they were well cast (especially Dunst) and they all did a good job. And um, let's see... Charlie thought Marion should be in comedies, though Hearst preferred to have her do more serious films. And um... Tom wants to make Hearst suspicious of Charlie's interest in Marion (which he didn't have to work too hard at, as the suspicion was well justified). The movie's set off the coast of California, but Hearst is based on the east coast, which means Marion has to spend a lot of time away from him, so Tom thought offering to keep an eye on her would be an added incentive for Hearst to agree to the merger. And... I don't really want to give anything away about the killing that we know happens... like who the killer was, who the victim was, or the chain of events that led to the act. But it was a fairly amusing and tragic movie, and I felt like it did a good job of representing the era. Still, it's not something I feel the need to ever see again. There wasn't really anything I disliked about it, but overall I found it kind of "meh." (But not a bad "meh.")
Oh yeah, um... also, in case anyone out there doesn't know, "the cat's meow" was a slang expression from that era, which basically just meant something good. At one point someone says something along the lines that the cruise should be fun, and another says something like "Yeah, the cat's meow." So... that explains the title of the movie, in case you were wondering.