Quote of the Day

You never feed me.
Perhaps I’ll sleep on your face.
That will sure show you.

The rule for today:
Touch my tail, I shred your hand.
New rule tomorrow.

Terrible battle.
I fought for hours. Come and see!
What’s a ‘term paper?’

Wanna go outside.
Oh, poop! Help! I got outside!
Let me back inside!

Litter box not here.
You must have moved it again.
I’ll go in the sink.

Want to trim my claws?
Don’t even think about it!
My cries will wake dead.


This enchanting, leisurely and good-natured documentary combines two of my favourite things in the world: cats and the city of Istanbul. Some places are dog countries, and some are cat countries; from my three visits to Turkey and Istanbul in particular, it definitely appeared a dominion of cats of all shapes and colours. Kedi captures the indolent grace and resilience of the city’s free-roaming felines, as well as the heartfelt and loving testimonies of the people who look after them.

The cats are everywhere in Istanbul, hanging out at the markets, restaurants, fishing piers, sitting on the roofs, benches and car hoods (my own favourite cat memory from visiting Istanbul was a tabby curled up asleep in a don’t-give-a-damn fashion on a heap of embroidered cushion covers is a souvenir store I wandered into). Kedi singles out a few individual cats, following their habits and daily routines, which couldn’t have been an easy task since cats are not exactly known for their willingness to cooperate. There’s even a night-vision sequence of a cat hunting mice in a pipe. While there are a few cute and amusing moments, the overall mood is matter-of-fact and without excessive tweeness. Most striking are the long close-ups of the feline faces, which truly bring home the beauty, inscrutable mystery and the sheer exotic allure of these amazing creatures.

Kedi is also a portrait of Istanbul, with the stunning aerial shots of the Bosphorus and the city harbour alternating with the decidedly unglamorous footage of the working city, fish guts and all. It interviews a number of people who let the proudly independent four-legged vagabonds into their lives, and movingly describe the joy and comfort the cats bring. Some say that the cats absorb the negative energy, and that caring for the cats helped them overcome their own personal issues. One woman, an artist, says that it’s hard to be a female in Istanbul, and that the grace of the cats reminds her of what’s good about being feminine. They describe the cats’ personalities and quirks, likes and dislikes (every cat owner knows that every cat is weird in its own unique way). They express concern over the knocking down of the old neighbourhoods to make room for the new highrises, and what will happen to the cats in this gentrified world order.

Moving at a gentle pace and helped by good choices of music, including a few Turkish pop songs, Kedi is thoughtful, gorgeous and a must for any cat lover.

Movies I watched on my flights

Me Before You

Romance film with a difference. Emilia Clarke of the Game of Thrones fame is Lou, a quirky, adorably klutzy girl who is fond of bright colours and just lost her job. Desperate for work, she is hired as a caregiver of Will, an impossibly handsome and wealthy young man who became a quadriplegic after an accident two years ago. Will has a capable Aussie physical therapist (played by Steve Peacocke from Home and Away of all people) looking after him so Lou’s role is more that of a companion, and the true reason she was hired by Will’s mother is revealed later in the film. At first Will treats Lou’s wacky upbeat ways with coldness and disdain, but this is a romantic drama so the usual developments happen.

Clarke, freed from her stoic Daenerys straitjacket, is going for the opposite style here, acting with every single facial muscle, especially her extraordinarily mobile eyebrows (seriously, I was so distracted from the story at times by the eyebrow acrobatics). But despite being a tad over-the-top, she’s quite likeable and makes for a decent chick flick heroine. I was a bit nervous seeing her and Charles Dance in the same scenes, in case he decided to order her assassination or something.

The ending of the film was probably controversial, but to be fair I don’t think that the movie necessarily set out to make a broad statement about a group of people. It made complete sense to me that this particular individual made this particular choice.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I’ve watched and read so many angry nerd reviews of this movie I felt like I’ve seen the damn thing over and over already, but I guess I just had to find out for myself how bad it was. Yup it’s bad. Boring, glum, unlikable Superman; brain-numbing action; no narrative drive or flow, with scenes just happening. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is a twitchy, bizarre performance that’s almost so-bad-it’s-good, though he doesn’t scale the majestic WTF heights of Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending. I liked what little I saw of Wonder Woman, and Ben Affleck is legitimately good as jaded older Batman, who is also the only character in the film with traceable and believable motivations, at least until the Martha scene which is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen onscreen. Like so many modern blockbusters is tries to cram in way too much, and would have probably worked better if it simply set out to be a Batman vs Superman movie, rather than a Justice League prequel.

Suicide Squad

I watched one crappy DC movie I skipped at the cinema so I thought I might watch another one, and sheesh this film makes Batman v Superman look like bloody Hamlet in comparison. It’s less a movie and more like a mutilated corpse of a movie, sliced and diced and put together in the editing room by a hundred blind cooks. The first half in particular is a total incoherent mess, with endless character introductions and obnoxious use of popular songs. The main villain is lame as hell and there’s yet another army of CGI minions for our heroes to fight in bloodless battles. It’s a pity because Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn are pretty damn great, as is Viola Davis in the role of the ruthless intelligence officer who assembles the team of villains. The second half does give some glimpses of “a bunch of outcasts form a family” feeling that the movie was aiming for, but it’s too little too late.

A Street Cat Named Bob

Finally a good movie! Based on a true story of James Bowen, a homeless street musician and a recovering drug addict in London, and the touching bond he forms with a stray ginger tom which ends up changing his life. Cats in movies are often relegated to the villain roles, so it’s nice to see a film about a human/animal connection that’s not about a dog. Drugs and homelessness make for a strange mix with a cute animal story, but it strikes the right tone and Luke Treadaway’s performance as James is hugely sympathetic. A sweet, unassuming, life-affirming film that well and truly melted my heart. I didn’t realise until later that the cat in the movie was the real-life Bob the Cat, and he’s honestly just the coolest, chillest feline, who is happy to hang around with his human in the busy centre of London and sit on his shoulders wherever he goes. Give Bob a kitty Oscar!

Bridget Jones’s Baby

Too long and patchy maybe, but the movie recaptures much of the charm and magic that made the original one of my favourite romcoms and feelgood-movies-to-go-to. Our favourite British everywoman is now in her 40s, and while she has her weight and career more or less sorted out, romantic happiness is still elusive, having broken up with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) some time ago. Flames are rekindled when the two meet at a christening, but unfortunately Bridget also just spent a night at a music festival with a handsome American entrepreneur Jack (Patrick Dempsey), so when she finds herself with a bun in the oven she’s not sure who the father is.

The movie is maybe not quite as sharp and funny as it could have been, though it did get some big laughs out of me, especially whenever Emma Thompson’s no-nonsense obstetrician is onscreen. But Renee Zellweger as Bridget is just so irrepressible and appealing and while the movie puts her through the usual course of pratfalls and mishaps, it never feels mean-spirited. The movie is also wise not to make Jack into Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver MkII; while he’s smooth and charming he’s a genuinely decent guy who cares about Bridget. But of course if you can’t guess which of the two men Bridget ultimately ends up with, you probably haven’t watched much in the romantic genre.