I finally saw DUMA last night, which is about, if ye don't know, a baby Cheetoh, orphaned by lions who killed his mother (this year: not good for lions or seals in cinema; need PR firm."HI! I'm Sandy and we'd love to invite you to SealFest, a celebration of the warm caring seals in your community...") and found by a young boy and his parents, who raise him on their farm in South Africa. It's a beautiful and silly film, as this cheetah raised in captivity shows no evidence of his innate wildness, of which the characters talk so much, even when full-grown. It seems realllllly unrealistic about the demands and pitfalls of raising a wild cat, even though it uses this trope to great plot-spurring advantage much later. Most of the latter half of the movie is about the boy taking the cat back to the wild on his own, a bit of a nod to the grand tradition of boy/animal movies. Many trials.
It is, however, despite being silly, also grand and weepy, and most of the time I didn't care about any of the previous stuff, because I got to see either the 1) baby Cheetoh and there really are no words for how cute they are--they are devastating or 2) the older cheetah (played by a bunch of diff animals, according to credits), with his/her beautiful upturned bowl of a head under its scratchy fur that you could almost *feel*, just from looking at him. Just the shots of the animal looking intelligently into the camera or being filmed so close were worth the whole movie--they were so frisson-inducing and other-worldly, with that weirdly human or communicative cast to his features combined with the sort of infantile round-y kitty-cat thing, combined with the huge long-tailed carnivorous catness, combined with the way he purred recognizably like my housecats. That, and the scene in which a bush baby hops onto the boy's shirt. Oh my GAWSH. (I'm not sure about Campbell Scott's accent...is it supposed to be Afrikaaner? Sounds Aussie.)
I tell you, though--I'm really not old enough for this film. Thank god it was PG and the violence was toned down, because otherwise I couldn't have seen it at all. As it was, the themes of danger and freedom and parents and death not to mention just the aminals and the Cheetoh and the inevitable scene with a poaching trap made me more or less...bawl. Get too riled up. The suspension of disbelief is not even the right term for the state I get in watching movies like this. Or Babe. Ridiculous.
Elaine Stritch on our local PBS tonight, I think because of her Ravinia gig this week (query: did John Calloway land this interview through his daughter/cabaret connections?). Saw the preview and was enchanted--golly, I love her. I think she's just so cool. Nothing I can write here will communicate even a little of how it is exactly that she's so neato, it occurs to me, which is frustrating, but I'd love to see her show sometime. Esp. as I get older and queenier. She makes some great song choices.