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.

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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