Microcinema International is best known for distributing video titles from outside the studio machine, and featuring, at minimum, upper-middlebrow aesthetics. Among their recent releases are Seven Easy Pieces, a survey of performance artist Marina Abramovic’s 2005 Guggenheim residence; Tatsumi Hijikata: Summer Storm, a document of Japanese Butoh dancers; and the 2002 science fiction feature Teknolust, which stars art-house darling Tilda Swinton in a quadruple role as Rosetta Stone and three Self-Replicating Automatons cloned from her own DNA. (I didn’t believe it either. ) So it was with surprise and delight that I spied on Microcinema's docket of upcoming releases the title I present to you today: The Wonderful World of Kittens. Is this a lowbrow, if adorable and fuzzy, anomaly in their catalog? Is this kitten-porn elevated to the level of performance art? Perhaps the answer is a little of both.
The "Homewreckers." Courtesy Bright Red Rocket.
Divided into chapter titles such as “Molly Kitten Plays with a Thing” and "Kittenball Championship," The Wonderful World of Kittens offers surface cuddliness as advertised. At the same time, it is not lacking in the depth one is accustomed to from purveyors of independent cinema.
The chapters are divided between interior and exterior set pieces. In the former, the kittens are frequently let loose on studio backdrop muslin, but there is no reining in the exuberance and messiness of reality, as the kittens wreak havoc on the varieties of man-made ball. The tour de force “Play Ball!” offers a rhythmic electronic score punctuated with electronic pan-flute sounds, signifying the kittens’ abandonment of high society for primeval nature a la The Blue Lagoon. As the program is rated C for Cute, these young explorers will not discover their sexuality. At nearly ten minutes, “Play Ball!” is a long chapter of this wonderful world, but will human civilization degenerate even more quickly? It ends with a kitten batting at the camera, which goes chillingly dead — just like The China Syndrome.