Thanksgiving has always been about food.

We suffer through the awkward small talk and often anti-climactic football games for the sake of the meal that awaits us at the end of the day, and even then that "meal" is representative of ethnic cleansing and genocide. But there are a few other pros that lay outside of gorging yourself on mashed potatoes. The holiday always falls on a Thursday, which means you always have a four day weekend. Black Friday is also the following day, so despite whatever infuriating experiences you may have on Thanksgiving with your family, you can at least rest easy knowing you can go out and buy enough stuff to numb the pain.

These reasons alone are enough to warrant celebration. So while you clench your jaw through what is almost guaranteed to be a painfully long afternoon, why not curate some music to help elevate your mood and remind yourself that a four day weekend of relaxation awaits?

Keep Reading Show less
Film Features

Why Tom Hooper Is the Defining Director of the 2010s

Love him or hate him, he is THE director of our generation.

"Find you a man who can do both."

A bit of advice that began life as a meme, became general relationship advice, and finally settled in the culture as an identifier of any multi-talented individual. "A man who can do both" is what this generation demands of its lovers and heroes alike. It is the embodying cry of a generation that was forced via technology to adapt to multiple circumstances, to code-switch at will between professional and text speak, to lead a meaningful life in the midst of unavoidably-publicized global crises and catastrophe. We "do both" by necessity. We have built our culture around "doing both." This duality is what made Tom Hooper the perfect director for these times.

While Tom Hooper's name isn't exactly among household names like Steven Spielberg, Greta Gerwig, or Quentin Tarantino, he has been putting out critically and commercially acclaimed work for the last decade, enough to vault him into the same category as the aforementioned by any metric. His 2010 film, The King's Speech, cleaned up at the Oscars. Nominated for an astounding 12 awards, it won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Colin Firth) and Best Screenplay. He followed that up in 2012 with the best version of Les Miserables ever put to film, an enormously expensive production in which the actors sung live during each take, something that was previously unheard of for a movie musical. He finished his winning streak with The Danish Girl in 2015, a tragically under-seen powerhouse film that showcased two little-known actors who would go on to win Oscars: Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, the latter of whom won for Danish Girl.

French poster for Tom Hooper's 2012 version of Les Miserables. Bruno Chatelin | Flickr live.staticflickr.com

Hooper became known in film circles for the performances he drew from his actors, his sweeping wide shots, his careful shot construction, and his intensely-purposeful plotting. He became quickly associated with other contemporary masters like Paul Thomas Anderson and David Fincher. After three consecutive films that garnered rave critical reviews and made their budgets back at the box office (Les Miserables made almost $500 million worldwide), the world waited with bated breath to see what Tom Hooper's next move would be. If you still hadn't heard of him after Danish Girl came out, you can be forgiven for your ignorance, because Hooper went into hibernation for the next four years. He emerged after all that time for one final masterwork, the film he is now most famous for, and the one he will undoubtedly be remembered for:

Cats!

In an unbelievable turn of events, Tom Hooper, who a decade earlier owned the Oscars, tried his hand again at making musicals, adapting Andrew Lloyd Webber's surrealist broadway smash-hit for the screen. It did not turn out well.

Cats!, released just last December, was an expensive disaster for a multitude of reasons. It was critically panned. It lost $25 million dollars on an estimated $100 million-dollar budget, much of which was invested in special-effects like "Digital Fur Technology" (i.e. digitally covering every actor in fur so they appeared more convincingly like anthropomorphic cats than if they were to wear costumes). Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian Mckellen, British thespians of the highest-degree, shared scenes with Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift. But weird sometimes works. It just didn't work here.

Two of the digitally-furred actors in Cats stare wistfully into the distance. Universal Pictures

At least during its wide release, it didn't. Although still under a year old, Cats is gaining new life in a cult-film scene that includes movies such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Room. There is a growing contingent of the population interested in watching and re-watching the objectively awful CatsCats for the sake of its unintended hilarity and for how well it mixes with drugs or alcohol. This is the great coup of Tom Hooper. This is why he embodies this generation's defining decade better than any other director: he can do both.

Tom Hooper spent the better part of the 2010s proving he was a director of the highest caliber, who could create compelling films with varied budgets, varied casts, and in varied genres. Tom Hooper also spent the final month of the 2010s proving he could screw up almost every part of a film and still find success in it. There is an unprecedented and exciting element in his career. While it's not at all uncommon for acclaimed directors to make career missteps, none of his caliber has ever made such an appalling dud of a film after such a profound string of successes. Regardless of where his movies will eventually settle in cinematographic academia or how they will age, you can't look away from them. What does it say about his work that Cats is probably his best known film? But watch any of his three earlier hits, and one can see they're obvious masterpieces, smart and funny and often heartbreaking, well-acted and well-shot and well-written.

Defining this decade of film is a really heartening endeavor. Careers like Greta Gerwig's (Lady Bird, Little Women) and Ari Aster's (Hereditary, Midsommar) and Damian Chazelle's (Whiplash, La La Land) thundered to life. The masters like Tarantino (Django Unchained, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, The Revenant) made some of their best work. Female directors were criminally under-utilized and under-recognized (only Gerwig was even nominated for Best Director this decade, joining only five women, ever), and perhaps that is the defining story of the decade.

But the defining director still must be decided, and Tom Hooper is the one with the most range, who created a classic Oscar darling, revolutionized movie-musicals, and crafted the next great midnight cult film. The defining director of the decade is the one who can and did do both. Tom Hooper may not be the best director, but his whiplashing career reflects the chaos of the 2010s, and the generation of millennials who claimed it as their own.

FILM

Jack Waz Is on a Mission to Release the Butth*le Cut of "Cats"

His inside source says that 400 shots of cat butth*les were censored from the final cut, and Jack believes they can still be retrieved

Update 4/2/2020: A fan has stepped up to produce a trailer with restored buttholes, and it is glorious.

CATS: The Butthole Cut www.youtube.com


In recent months writer Jack Waz has made it his mission to gift the world what we were deprived of on December 20 of last year.

In the rush to prepare a final cut of Cats—including edits that continued until just 36 hours before the film's premiere—Director Tom Hooper made a grave error: He deleted the butth*les. Jack Waz is the absolute unit of a Hollywood writer who has devoted himself to righting that grave injustice.

If you saw the film, you may have assumed that the utter lack of visible butth*les on any of the humanoid cat-monsters was simply a gross oversight. For a film that features Sir Ian McKellen perfectly embodying the physicality of an aging stage cat—complete with meows, grooming, and lapping up milk—it was instantly off-putting to not see the entire cast constantly displaying their butth*les to one another and the camera.

Anyone who's ever been intimately familiar with a cat knows that, along with rubbing their cheeks against you, letting you get a good look at their naked pink butth*les is among the best ways they have of showing their affection. Did Tom Hooper and the effects team seriously forget to include that? How much work are we as the audience supposed to do in suspending our disbelief? For the true cat lovers among us, it lent an eerie sense of unease to all the Jellicle interactions—as though these hideous cat-creatures, that are supposedly all members of a tight-knit organization, were holding onto a secret distrust of one another. In every shot of the film—even when butts were prominently on display—there was nary a butth*le to be found. Were they all clenching so tightly? Why were they concealing their butth*les?!

Jack Waz has the answer, and has spent the last three months trying to spread the word of the Butth*le Cut to a world that ignored him—until Tuesday night, when his message finally got some attention and became a trending topic on Twitter—even receiving an endorsement from Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. Maybe it's because social-distancing for the coronavirus pandemic has pushed culture increasingly online, or because Cats has recently become available through on-demand streaming services—prompting Seth Rogen to live-tweet his first viewing while high. Whatever it was that got people to finally notice, Jack Waz had the inside scoop.

According to a tweet from Waz, an acquaintance who works in visual effects was brought onto the project in its final months to remove butth*les from around 400 shots of what would have been a much better movie. To put that in perspective, the final cut of Avengers: Infinity War contains around 2,900 visual effects shots in total. In other words, 400 altered shots represents a huge chunk of the movie that originally featured the butth*les that we all went to this movie expecting. How much time and money went into removing the most expressive part of a cat-chimera's body from the film? Those resources could have been spent on improving scale issues, replacing human hands, and cleansing the world of the image of tiny, line-dancing mouse and roach-people being swallowed by Rebel Wilson.

If censoring the butth*les was deemed necessary to maintaining the film's baffling PG rating, they could have at least allowed the cats the dignity of Twinkle Tushes—the only jewelry designed to hang from a cat's tail and cover its butth*le. Instead, they opted to rob them of their essential character, their felinity, their butth*les.

Twinkle Tush

Thankfully, now that Jack Waz has brought this issue to light, we can abandon juvenile fantasies like the #SnyderCut and the #JJCut, and focus on a movement that can unite the world. In one voice we must rise up against this injustice and demand that Universal Pictures release the butth*le cut. #ReleaseTheButth*leCut

FILM

Why “Cats” Is the Cult Movie Classic of the Future

Is "Cats" the next Rocky Horror Picture Show?


The year is 2049.

Though half the world has been decimated by the hurricanes and fires of the climate crisis, the Green New Deal we instituted was enough to keep us plugging along.

Elon Musk and Grimes' child, C93489#_, has invented the first four-dimensional holographic teleportation device, so you and our family are gathered together via simulation. Right now, you're being projected onto your kids' rooftop garden, and you're staring out over our flooded and steadfastly rebuilt city. Your grandkids cluster around you, dressed in cat ears and cat whiskers, wearing a variety of pearls and tuxedos, long shag coats, and high heels.

"I was there," you say, with a far-off look in your eyes. "I saw it."

"Grandparent," they say (the gender-neutral term, because gender is no longer considered real). "What was it like?"

"It was like nothing I'd ever seen before," you say, rocking back and forth.

As their parents look on anxiously, the kids leave for the midnight showing of the greatest cult classic film since The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Tom Hooper's visionary, warped, dreamlike rendition of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats.

cartoonbrew.com

The Past

Flashback to the year 2019. As we know, Cats flopped in theaters, sapping NBCUniversal of some $70 million and chilling audiences everywhere with its bizarre nonsensicality and mutated CGI fur technology.

Then the midnight showings started.

In January 2020, just as Bernie Sanders was beginning to sweep the Iowa polls, the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre in Brooklyn set up two "rowdy" midnight showings of Cats. They sold out. Audiences had a blast singing along. Two more events were set up; the same happened.

At the showings, "call-outs" and traditions were already emerging. Someone yelled "TISSUE" whenever Jennifer Hudson's snot trail emerged, which was every time she was onscreen (and soon enough, they'll start throwing them). Each time the camera lingered on Judi Dench's face, someone would shout, "BIG DEUT."

pinknews.co.uk

"I love the interactive experience," a Cats midnight showing attendee named Hailey told Spectrum News. "I love being able to really be part of this group together watching the film. Coming up with new ideas, you often improvise as well, so it's just a lot of fun being together in that experience."

All in all, Cats seems poised to become the next big midnight cinematic masterpiece. In many ways, it possesses all the necessary characteristics needed to make it one.

Cats As the Archetypal Midnight Movie

Cats has a lot in common with great cult films of the past, dating back to the origins of cult moviegoing. "Midnight Movies [by J. Hoberman] finds the origins of late-night moviegoing in different strains of obsessive cinephile fandom dating back to the early 20th century," writes Matt Singer for Screencrush. "They compare cultists to the surrealists of the 1920s who 'courted disorientation' and watched movies for their 'dreamlike latent content that could be precipitated by deranging or bypassing the manifest content of its storyline.' The surrealists would have loved Cats, which provides its own disorientation for the viewer. It basically has no story, so nothing needs to be deranged or bypassed. It's pure dreamlike insanity."

If a cult movie needs to appeal to a desire for drug-like disorientation by replacing any semblance of a storyline with scattered dreamlike images, then Cats fits the bill. There's something of a Dali-clock drippiness to Cats, something oozing behind its kitschy exterior.

Typical midnight cult classics are also generally rejected by mainstream audiences. Left in the dark, they often grow popular for celebrating some form of taboo, queer, or otherwise restricted identity or sexuality—which Rocky Horror exemplified. While Cats lacks Rocky's heart (and most of its quality), it occupies a different but necessary niche.

Cats As Posthuman Cinema for the TikTok Age

Though it aligns with traditions of the past, Cats is also uniquely suited to the future. In the coming decades, we'll be looking at ecological collapse combined with exponential developments in artificial intelligence. We're heading for a truly posthuman age, where the boundaries between the human and the digital wear thinner and thinner and where, if we wish to survive, we have to deconstruct our ideas of humanness and learn to work and live with the rhythms of the natural world.

Cats is the ultimate posthuman film. Its characters are cyborgs, digitally engineered to be neither human nor cat but something else entirely—and their glitchiness, their shifting sizes and changing, distorted bodies—might be read as representations of the scarier, less predictable aspects of this impending shift.

screenrant.com

The Cats cast inhabits an apocalyptic London, one that looks like it's been washed away by chemicals and nuclear warfare. Yet still, in the ashes of civilization, the cats find a peculiar form of community, embodying a futurity that is queer, sublime, and horrifying all at once. They use rituals (albeit deadly ones) to maintain hope for the future. And they dance—oh, how they dance.

As the world shifts and changes in these coming years, we will dance one way or another, because that's what humans do. These decades might see impossibly strange metamorphoses that change our world down to its very DNA, but Cats is the perfect midnight classic for our times because it mirrors the oddity of this world and celebrates it, in all its warped glory.

In its oddness, its fundamental wrongness—almost seemed to approximate the weirdness that many of us feel while reading the news, or even while simply being alive and in our bodies. Being alive has never not been strange, and since the dawn of cinema, we've never not had cult classics to shock and horrify our elders while giving a voice to weird, unruly youth subcultures.

Cats may already be doing this. It resembles the warped, distorted images that we see on apps like TikTok and Snapchat, where technology is capable of distorting facial features, turning humans into wide-nosed, shaky-voiced children, heart-eyed clones, or—of course—furry CGI cats. Yet the film also illuminates the horror, and the loss of humanness, that accompanies our increasingly digitized, pollution-choked world.

The Future

Back to the future. You're gazing at your grandkids as they skip down the road, singing Memory and taking the last hits from the tobacco industry's latest attempts at repackaging its product.

You're caught up in your own memories… of a time when you were all alone in the moonlight, not a sound from the pavement except your own horrified, quietly delighted reactions to seeing Cats in all its grotesqueness for the first time. You were beautiful then… You remember a time you knew what happiness was. Now the memory lives again.

www.youtube.com

CULTURE

Suggestions for Celebrity New Year's Resolutions in 2020

It's not the advice they want, but it's the advice that they need

With the year coming to an end, the annual announcement of New Year's resolutions are kicking off.

People want to make changes in their lives, and a new calendar gives people the occasion to rethink their habits and try to live better in 2020. But so often we are not the best judges of our own problems. Like the friend who announces that he's going to start eating more kale as he downs his eighth shot of tequila, it's sometimes necessary to get some outside perspective from the people who love you most. With that in mind, it's time to take a cold, critical look at our best celebrity friends, and give them the advice they need for the new year—whether they want it or not.

Kanye West: Don't Start a Cult

yeezus cult

Kanye, you've never been the kind of person who does things the easy way. You could have stuck with being a musical genius, but you decided to be a fashion icon too, and you created the Yeezy. When they gave a Grammy to Taylor Swift instead of Beyonce, you didn't tweet something passive aggressive—you got up on stage and did something about it. When you were in debt, you didn't talk to your bank, you asked Mark Zuckerberg for $50 million. And more than a decade after you said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," when it seemed like the whole world was finally ready to stand up and condemn a Republican president's bigotry, you declared that Donald Trump was your brother because you're both "dragon energy."

So now that you've started your Sunday Services, released an album of spirituals, and produced a Christian Opera—Oratorio?—you are fully set up to devote the rest of your life to developing and running the cult of Yeezus. But is that really how the greatest artist of all time should be focusing his energy? Sure you could convert your fans into an insular flock of devout followers who would die for you. But at this point, that would honestly be too easy. It's time to shake things up. It's probably not too late to decide to be the most influential sculptor of our generation, or the greatest therapy patient of all time. Even if you decide to focus your energy on your 2024 presidential run, that's cool, as long as you avoid taking the easy path: Don't start a cult. Also, please don't tell T.I. that investigating his daughter's hymen is "god approved..."

Kim Kardashian West: Fix the American Justice System

kim kardashian trump

Kim, you've honestly been doing some amazing stuff in the past couple years, and we all kind of feel like we were underestimating you. For too long we thought of you as just a reality show star and a fashion model—an artifact of America's vapid celebrity obsession. But you are so much more than that. Since 2017 you have helped free dozens of prisoners who were falsely convicted or hit with overly punitive sentences. In 2020, we're going to start setting our expectations higher to really help you reach your full potential. Starting January 1st, you have twelve months to fully fix the problems with the American justice system. If you finish early, maybe try to solve climate change too. And maybe check on your husband—seems like he's trying to start a cult.

Tom Hooper: Don't Make Any More Musicals

cats screenshot

Tom, after you directed The King's Speech, you won the Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Director in 2010, and you clearly felt empowered to pursue your true passion—making star-studded movie versions of classic musicals. Les Miserables was a hit at the box office, and it even won some awards, but the reviews were mixed. You could have asked yourself why you cast Russel Crowe in a movie that required him to sing, or you could have taken that as a sign that your passion for musicals may not be aligned with your particular talents as a filmmaker, but you were undeterred, and we admire your perseverance. That said, with the selection of your second musical adaptation, you revealed something important about yourself: You have terrible taste in musicals.

Cats has always been a bad musical, and there was probably no way you could have made it into a good movie. You may have misunderstood the appeal that allowed the show to run for 18 years on Broadway—people liked the wild costumes, and the way the performers moved through the audience. The music itself was only ever decent at best, and your ambitious plan to put Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, and Dame Judi Dench in motion capture suits, and digitally convert them into cat creatures would have been misguided even if the result hadn't turned out so deeply unsettling. So, while you've scrambled to recover something watchable from the ashes of this disastrous movie (please don't—it's better as a disaster), we want to make sure you go into 2020 with this important lesson: never again.

Jeremy Renner: Make a "Cats" Movie

Jeremy Renner

Jeremy, no one appreciates your genius. People spent much of 2019 mocking your musical ambitions and using your personal app to embarrass you. It's time for you to show the world that you have nothing to be embarrassed of. Take your incredible singing voice and your untamed energy to a project that truly deserves you: Cats.

We know it's not what people expect, but you're unpredictable, we gotta tell you. And sure, they tried to make a Cats movie this year, but they forgot the secret ingredient—that certain, special Rennergy. You could play every role! And also, all the characters names could be changed to Jeremy Renner, and instead of CGI, you could just be buck naked, covered in body paint. All us Renner heads would go crazy for it. It's a good idea, and it's how you should spend 2020.

Eddie Murphy: Don't Leave Us Again

Eddie Murphy

Eddie, you were gone too long, and your comeback has been too good. Don't be a Mickey Rourke. Be a Michael Keaton—come back for good. Dolemite Is My Name is an amazing movie, and your recent appearance on SNL destroyed their usual ratings. So don't just tease us that you might get back into stand-up or you're thinking about another movie. Make 2020 your year. That is all.

Bill Maher: Lose a Lot of Weight

Bill Maher fat

Bill, you made headlines in September by advocating for fat shaming saying that "it needs to make a comeback" and, "Shame is the first step to reform," and you couched it in terms that made it sound like you were helping people get healthy. You seemed to be implying that people who struggle with obesity don't even realize there's an issue, and they need your bullying in order to see themselves clearly. We were shocked, not because you were ignoring the fact that a shame spiral of yo-yo dieting is actually more detrimental to cardiovascular health than obesity itself, but because you delivered your proclamation with such the smug sense of superiority. It meant that you were absolutely right—that you can't even see what a disgusting pig you are.

Bill, you may think that you are as slim and svelte as ever, but the jowls beginning to form on your cheeks tell a different story. We have to wonder what you even see when you look in the mirror, because for must of us it's hard to even stomach looking at you. To put it bluntly, if you don't have the decency to be ashamed of yourself, we'll have to shame you into dropping some of the excess weight you're lugging around. An adult male skeleton typically weighs around 25 pounds, so our best estimate suggests that you should aim to lose about 135 pounds in 2020. That might sound like overkill, but trust us, no one will miss it when it's gone.

Elon Musk: Get Off the Internet

musk tweet

Elon, remember last summer in the aftermath of the Thai soccer team cave rescue, when people were criticizing your ill-conceived submarine plan, so you called that rescue worker "pedo guy?" And remember how now he's suing you? Or what about the people who have taken issue with your "mass transit" plan that involves drilling a new, single-lane car-tunnel every time traffic gets backed up? Remember how you called your critics "subway stalinists," and dismissed the recognized phenomenon of induced demand as "irrational?" And that's not even getting into all the abuse you took over the botched Cybertruck demo. That must have been hard for you, but not as hard as it was for the rest of the world when you tweeted that image of Tesla stock reaching 420.69...

The point is, you just don't seem to be mature enough to handle the internet. You are not alone, a lot of billionaires—and even "billionaires"—seem to have trouble controlling themselves on Twitter. The good news is, you can still have an active, vibrant life. By all means, keep developing new battery tech and launching free-internet satellites for the world to use. Just don't use the Internet yourself. Make 2020 the year of Elon unplugged. You'll be much happier without being confronted by all the people trying to poke holes in your genius, and we can maybe go back to thinking you're kind of cool.

Grimes: Leave Elon Musk

Grimes

You're way too cool for him, and you know it.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders: Please Save Us

Warren Sanders

Just in case Kim can't fix all our problems alone, could you two please team up and save the world from the people who are so afraid of you? Kthanksbye.