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  • Rabbi's Cat [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Rabbi's Cat [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 29 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Visually Splendid Animation Attached to Philosophy Lessons 16 Jan. 2013
By Gerard D. Launay - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
I offer a litmus test. If you adored Sylvain Chomet's "Triplets of Belleville" but were bored with "The Illusionist", this film won't work for you. Myself, I thought the colors and drawings were artistically incredible ... something like Arabic or Hindu painted miniatures. Alas, there really is not much of a story. It is instead a tale of a journey by a Sephardic rabbi, an Islamic musicologist, and a Russian Jewish painter who are searching for a hidden Jerusalem in Ethiopia where Blacks and Jews co-exist in peace. Along for the ride is the rabbi's "talking cat" - a creature which loves arguing and commenting on everything when he's not being pampered by the rabbi's voluptuous daughter. Since the rabbi is a religious man, they discuss differences in customs and spirituality and beliefs...and why that matters.

The half of the film that take place in Algiers, 1930 is simply stunning. Beautiful blue pools, Persian carpets, exotic buildings, and mosaic tiles. For that alone, I give it 4 stars. As well as the fabulous music! The discussions between the characters were engaging but they did become didactic after a while. One of the great moments is the decision by the cat to obtain a bar-mitzvah, and the objections of the orthodox community (in whatever land) to such an insanity.

The major problem of the movie is lack of a coherent narrative. Perhaps that is life itself - lack of a coherent narrative - form speaks substance.

I wish to highly recommend the extra - the autobiography of Joann Sfar - which is a fascinating exploration of how vision is reinterpreted into art. For example, the voluptuous Rabbi's daughter in the animated film (and the book upon which it is based) is based on the "personality" of the artist's grandmother, if not her looks. How interesting. And the look of Algiers is shaped by the artist's memory of the colors of his birthplace on the French Riviera. We learn that 100 per cent of the Jews of Nice are originally from Algeria.

This is animation for adults...worth a peek!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Review of BD version-Clever story and great graphics - but the subtitles are often unreadable 10 Jun. 2013
By Steve Ramm - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
I was really looking forward to this newest release from the GKIDS company. The first animated film I got from them was the wonderful "Chico and Rita" - which I raved about when it played in theaters and then on BD. Next came the "Tales of the Night" which was much darker in image and storyline. This film has a bit of both with a nice sense of humor.

My fellow reviewer K. Harris has already told you much about the 89-minute film and the DVD so I won't repeat it but add some clarification.

This DVD, like Tales of the Night is in French with English subtitles. The problem - and it a big one, in my opinion, is that the font is not only smaller than most subtitles but they are in WHITE letters. Since many scenes have a white background, it is very often impossible to completely read the subtitles. I know I missed some great lines. Interestingly one of the two bonus features - "Johan Sfar Draws From Memory" (which is 43 minutes, long; not the " just short of an hour" described by K) uses YELLOW subtitles which are easy to read! The best subtitled films either place the subtitles below the images or use these bright yellow ones. I hope that GKIDS will consider this in the future. The other bonuses are the U.S. Trailer and a 24-minute "Making of" in French with WHITE subtitles - but a bit larger than the feature film.

So, I'd have given the film itself 5 stars for story and production but I have to deduct 2 stars for having to struggle through the small and hard to read subtitles. (This may not affect you as much if you have a LARGE-SCREEN television).

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Funny And Entertaining: A Smart And Sophisticated Animated Gem For Adults 4 May 2013
By K. Harris - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
Although released under the GKIDS label, I'm going to start out by saying that "The Rabbi's Cat" is not an animated feature for children. It is undeniably geared toward adults or, at least, teens with an awareness of the world around them. The film discusses religion, racism, and violence and is thought-provoking in a surprisingly comedic way. This feature won the César Award in France for Best Animated Film and is based on Joann Sfar's series of graphic novels. Truthfully, without knowing anything about the movie, I really didn't have a strong desire to see it. I imagined the worst when I read about a talking cat offering wit and insight into a myriad of weighty topics. But I'll watch anything, you never know where that next great surprise is going to come from! Well, for me, this was it! I absolutely loved "The Rabbi's Cat!" The movie is smart, silly, sophisticated, and scathing. There is much to admire in this 89 minute movie, and the DVD/Blu-Ray also boasts some impressive extras.

1) 12 page excerpt from the graphic novel. This is a neat addition, you see that the film catches both the spirit and the look of the piece to perfection.
2) Joann Star Draws From Memory: A documentary feature (just shy of an hour) that sits down with the artist and filmmaker. I didn't know anything about Sfar, but found him to be an interesting subject.
3) Making-of Featurette
4) Trailer
Also of note: Sometimes these GKIDS features or other International animated releases will have an English dub option (of which I'm not a particular fan). "The Rabbi's Cat" does not. This is a subtitled release.

"The Rabbi's Cat" is set in Algeria during the thirties. This environment is a varied mix between French, Arab, and Jewish cultures and there is an unease in this cohabitation. When a Rabbi's cat miraculously gains the power to speak to its owners, it offers humor and commentary about this diversity. His is a search for truth, for God, for faith, and for his place in the world. A surprise guest from Russia adds further depth to the discussion and soon leads the major characters on a pilgrimage across Africa to a rumored city inhabited by Jews. Much of "The Rabbi's Cat" plays out as a wacky road trip with very serious undertones. I won't reveal any spoilers, but the group encounters violence (and even bloodshed) along the way. The trip can meander, but it is in these cross cultural adventures that the film really sings with wit and insight.

In terms of the technical presentation, I really liked the fluid hand-drawn animation on display. It's quirky and oftentimes lovely to look at. But trust me, that's one ugly cat! In short, "The Rabbi's Cat," in my opinion, was thoroughly entertaining. Check it out as a seriously funny film for adults, though, do NOT pick it up for the little ones. KGHarris, 5/13.
Impression of The Rabbi's Cat 25 Feb. 2015
By White Rose Brian - Published on
The Rabbi’s Cat is about, well, a rabbi and a cat in North Africa. One day, when the cat eats a parrot, he suddenly starts talking. The scenery shows particularly extensive detailing and hatching in the linework. The artwork for the characters shows a somewhat rough cartooning style. The animation is decent. The story, though, is downright haphazard and unfocused—apparently it was taken from assorted story arcs from the original comic. The movie aims at a more genteel kind of comedy, but it’s actually kind of dull—even the parody of Tintin is a major missed opportunity. The good news is that there is a real theme of human unity and difference, well as the search for life under God, and a commentary on flawed relations among different people, as seen in the friendships and relations among the characters here.
Are you an animation fan? 10 Oct. 2014
By ML - Published on
Format: DVD
The animation is beautiful and the movie will really make you think. Mostly it will make you think words like "What?", "Huh? Is that a thing? Oh, it is a thing", "I never thought the perspective from this corner of the world, or this just how the french interpret it?", and "That was amazing. I think I know what they were getting at, but I will get my friends to watch it for a second opinion".

In short, if you are an animation fan this will satisfy as an example of how unique modern hand drawn animation is. Be sure to check out Persepolis, Chico and Rita, Secret of Kells, The Illusionist, Triplettes of Belleville, and other fine animated films not trying to sell anyone toys (not that there is anything wrong with that {he says holding his Totoro plush}).
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