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Good Cat in Screenland

2010
Distributed by Richard Cohen Films, PO Box 1012, Venice CA 90291; rbc24@earthlink.net
Produced by Richard Cohen
Directed by Richard Cohen
DVD, color, 75 min.
College - Adult
Multicultural Studies, Business, Real Property, Social Sciences, Management, Asian Studies


Reviewed by Rue McKenzie, University of South Florida, Tampa

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 2/11/2011

Good Cat in Screenland is set in the Los Angeles location of Culver City, “The Heart of Screenland”. The film focuses on the Culver Hotel, a show business fixture heading for bankruptcy in the 1990s. On the surface, the film documents the ownership, partnerships, management issues and local development problems surrounding the purchase and maintenance of the hotel by Chinese businessman, Abraham Hu. Filmmaker Richard Cohen was one of the earliest tenants to lease office space in the hotel. Joseph Guo buys into a partnership with Abraham. Joseph lives in the hotel with his wife, managing it while Abraham is away on other business ventures, like copper mining in Chile. Along with a variety of challenges including parking issues, a seemingly failed restaurant venture, and hesitant (but open) staff members, ultimately a contentious conflict develops over the ownership of the hotel. The business backgrounds of both gentlemen started during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, but capitalism reigns in this film.

It is very difficult to provide a succinct overview of Good Cat in Screenland. It is also difficult to assign standard subjects. The film is expansive in its coverage of both public and private successes and failures. A lot transpires through the time of the film, and the cast of characters is significant. There is also quite a bit of disconnect in the relationships running through the program. Richard Cohen has an amazing ability to document the small, day to day events of the Culver Hotel, while focusing a wider lens on the broader themes of communism, capitalism, and cultural diversity. The frankness with which the interviewees express their interests, concerns, and opinions can only be attributed to Richard Cohen’s skillful, and ethical, approach to filmmaking. While the Culver Hotel’s challenges and successes are at the core of the film, it’s really the people that are the ‘stars’ of the program.

Good Cat in Screenland is recommended for both general viewing and college level research and instructional support in courses dealing with multicultural studies and global business management.