AIFVF: Bananas, Rats, and the Magic of ‘She’s Allergic to Cats’

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Colorful, super imposed waves of color in hues of gut-churning pink. A waterfall of thick, red blood pours from a bucket. A bare-chested woman cradles a bouquet of wriggling rats.

These are a few of the artful — and often comedic — scenes from Michael Reich’s She’s Allergic to Cats, which showed in the early afternoon at the Athens International Film and Video Festival. The film followed a loosely knit together narrative about the adorably incompetent Michael Pinkney — a man’s whose greatest pleasure in life is crafting bizarre video art while smoking pot from an elephant shaped pipe and drinking off brand sodas with “fridge gunk” on them.

Pinckney clearly wants to “make it” in Hollywood, and as the film progresses, one starts to truly feel the inconceivability of such a fate for the tortured artist — whose art is, legitimately, entertaining and painstakingly created. He’s working as a dog groomer, and he isn’t doing a very good job of that — as his soft spoken manager often reminds him. All while softly crooning oddly eroticized descriptions of how to properly express anal glands and condition a pup’s rear end. If there’s anything that Reich succeeds at with “She’s Allergic to Cats,” it’s certainly underlining and emphasizing the beauty and engaging strangeness of the banal.

Pinkney is not a tidy man — his sink is a war torn basin of rice cooker bottoms and plates and cups caked with old food — and thus, he soon finds his little apartment overrun with rats. He wakes up one morning to discover that his slowly rotting bananas have succumbed to the rodents, eating their flesh from the center out. This bothers him greatly, and he phones his landlord, a man with long, white, ragged locks, bootcut jeans, and what looks to be a woman’s shirt who also just happens to be named Honey.

Some imagery seems to allude to the concept of predator and prey; of cleanliness and absolute filth; of the division between the power of the mind to create inner worlds and the consensus reality we share’s penchant for ruining those worlds.

Pinkney speaks to a woman that he’s met a work, a beautiful lady who works for a the daughter of a celebrity and sometimes brings said celebrity’s pups into the grooming business where he works — and then the viewer realizes that he’s not speaking to her at all — he’s daydreaming and the clutch in his car has just given out. Through a truly unfortunate series of events, he also ends up mouth down in a pile of dog excrement.

In the end — well, why would you want to give away the ending? In short, “She’s Allergic to Cats” is a coyly hilarious work of weird video art, something that Pinkney himself would pride himself in making.