Category Archives: Alaina Rants On

Alaina Rants On: CATS


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I mean but no, let’s be real, I haven’t written in this blog in over two years, I’m probably only going to write this one entry and then move on and the rate I’m going I’ll NEVER finish Project X, so anyway, let’s be thankful that I still pay for the domain name for this site so I have an outlet to rant on movies and TV in bigger space than my Facebook or Instagram stories allow.


Y’all; I severely dislike Andrew Lloyd Webber. I’m sure there is merit to Phantom and maybe Jesus Christ Superstar (is that the one he did? Or was it Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?), but I have not enjoyed them. Neither have I enjoyed Evita, or anything else this man has been responsible for.

love Sunset Boulevard, the film directed by Billy Wilder; I haven’t watched it in a while, because I tend to only watch it when I’m extremely depressed (it makes me feel better – because no matter how badly my life is going, at least I didn’t shoot my gigolo in the back), and … I haven’t been extremely depressed enough to watch it? (VICTORY? I mean, I’ve been depressed enough to not watch any prestige TV in about three years [with the exceptions of Mr. Robot, which I am slogging my way through currently and also Better Call Saul, which I love SO MUCH BETTER than Breaking Bad that I am astounded every year – but I digress] and all I’ve read pretty much are romance novels and light literature.)

ANYWAY, back to Sunset Boulevard – a few years ago, Maine State Music Theater put on a production of Sunset Blvd, the musical, and I left at intermission because the musical sucked

It wasn’t the performances, it was just the sing-through of it all, and the happy peppy numbers where Sunset Boulevard is dark, man, and I just – I NOPE’d my way out at intermission AND NEVER FELT GUILTY ABOUT IT

I saw CATS once; it was also at Maine State Music Theater (what? it’s not like I jaunt down to NYC every time I want to see a play); and I remember two things:

  1. I was constantly hitting my head on my chair back because I was BORED AF; and
  2. I maintained that Magic Mr. Mistofelees should have been dancing to “The Final Countdown.”

I did not want to go see CATS: The Musical: The Movie. There was nothing in it for me to go see it. The plot of CATS is stupid, Andrew Lloyd Webber is stupid, this whole THING is stupid, Tom Hooper hasn’t directed anything good since The King’s Speech, and have I mentioned that things are STUPID

But then – then – the reviews came out.

Reviews like this one:

cats 1

And these:

cats 3

And this one:

cats 2

And then my coworker Bill informed me that the special effects and CGI were unfinished when sent to theaters originally, and so the studio was sending a patch to fix it.

And that’s when I decided that, fuck it, I needed to see this movie. Again, not because of the movie itself, or any thoughts of allowing it to change my mind, and definitely not because I thought it was going to be marginally okay; no, I needed to be able to say I saw the unpatched CATS in theaters and survived.

I’m also a masochist.


On Christmas Eve, 2019, I braved the movie theater and went to see CATS. When I came out, I was stunned. (You can watch it on my Instagram story highlight on my profile.)

In addition to the notes I typed in the theater (which I’ll include later), I decided I needed to record my immediate reaction to the movie, because they would be lost otherwise. So I put Bruce the Car into gear, stuck my microphone earbud in, and hit the camera/video app to record.

What follows is the transcript of my fifteen minute rant immediately following CATS. I tried to punctuate it to better capture my vocal range and volume, but I am writing this in words, not music score, so; if you want to hear it for real (I can’t upload video into this blog – it costs money and also it’s fifteen minutes long), lemme know and I’ll drop the rant into your GoogleDrive.

Okay. I am attempting to record my audio thoughts using my handheld device, so I am breaking aaalll sorts of laws right now, but um –

[strangled voice] Everything we read was true about this movie! – it is an eldritch horror! – there are SO many questions! Um –

WHY IS THERE A RAILWAY CAT What on EARTH does a CAT have to do with a railway? What is the scale of this movie? Three cats can fit on a railway tie to TAP DANCE and don’t!-even-get-me-started! on why is there TAP?! in this GODDAMNED MUSICAL? And then, it only takes like, one cat to fill a bed? What the ff—WHAT THE FUCK

Um, I am not sure about the rumor about, “Well, if you’re watching the unpatched version, you can tell because Judi Dench’s wedding ring wasn’t altered.” Okay, but here’s the thing – all of the cats? have human hands and human feet. —– Why??? Whyy – do cats have human hands and human feet? And some are wearing sneakers?! There are breakdancing cats and they’re wearing sneakers. And then there’s the Railway Cat tap-dancin’, with tap shoes, I don’t –

Uuuuuhhh, let’s see. It is true that all of the cats are entirely too horny. It’s just – it’s just …. very disturbing. It’s – it’s – like, first of all. I –

It has been a long time since I’ve had two cats together. I have a single cat right now. Butterscotch and Tina, my two cats that I had when I was a child, living with my parents, because I was a child, um – they didn’t express affection against each other by rubbing heads. My cat will bump his head up against my forehead as a form of expression, but it is weird to see two cats do that? Mainly because I don’t think I’ve ever seen it outside of like, The Lion King? But secondly, it’s really fuckin’ awkward when two humans with cat ears are doing it to each other, y’just – I felt so uncomfortable I wanted to leave? But I couldn’t! Because I had to pay money for it, and I needed to see it through.

Although I totally did put my headphones in and listen to music at times. There is no amount of money that you can pay me to sit there and WILLFULLY listen to fuckin’ Mr. fuckin’ Mistofelees. I STILL SAY he should be singing to “The Final Countdown,” and I UNDERSTAND that CATS was written before Arrested Development, but GODDAMMIT if Taylor Swift can write a song about “Beautiful Ghosts,” which also, WHAT THE FUCK, I mean –

WHY. WHY GHOSTS. Do cats know what ghosts are, Taylor? Do they? They CLEARLY don’t understand about the afterlife, so why would they even know what a GHOST IS?! I just – – oh man, I just – I just! I. JUST.

[DEEP EXHALE] Okay. Um – wow, was that all one breath, Alaina? [ANOTHER DEEP EXHALE] Okay. Um, what else. What else was there.

OH! Okay. So – so these are humans, these are human people, wearing, like, green screen suits, I guess, and then, CGI’d later to look like animal – like cat fur, cuz, y’know, they’re supposed to be cats? UM, I have many questions.

First of all, why do some cats get to wear fur coats? Like, actual coats of fur, and – are they the coats of people that they’ve killed? I mean – and by “people” I mean other cats? Or are they other animals? And if it’s other animals, like – there were mice, that were, um, with –

FIRST OF ALL THE MICE? HAD FACES TOO, they were ALSO HUMANS and they were ALSO CHILDREN! And I don’t – I – I – I am really disturbed! Um, so okay, but the fur coats – are they, are they mice coats? Are they moleskins? I know I asked this question once in my Instagram but the question still stands and I don’t have answers!

OH! At one point Taylor Swift is dancing with Idris Elba and they have both been CGI’d to be the same size and proportion. THINK ABOUT THAT! THINK ABOUT THAT! Idris Elba can compete against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in terms of size and proportion and he and Taylor Swift are now THE SAME BODY. THAT’S HOW WEIRD THIS SHOW IS, and by show I mean movie. Um – I mean, that’s just clearly wrong! Why would you have Idris Elba, be the same size, as TAYLOR SWIFT?!

Taylor Swift sang in a British accent. What the fuck. For fuck’s sake. Whose – that was Taylor Swift’s idea, wasn’t it? And Tom Hooper was just like, “Oh, sure, fine.” Did Tom Hooper know that she’s not from Britain? Did she pretend? Was it – why would she be singing in a British accent – be –

[here’s the part where I wanted to point out that there were other actors singing in American accents to prove my point, but then remembered that Rebel Wilson is from Australia and James Corden is British, so my argument fell apart and I trailed off]

I don’t understand. It’s not necessary. It’s really not necessary.

Um. [sing-song] What else, what else, what ellllssse? OH, going back to the whole, skin-suit thing. Okay, so: skin suit, with cat fur CGI’d onto it, human hands human feet, some get to wear coats. But then, there are a lot of the time, it looks like there was a human, and then they, like, Face/Off’d a different person’s face onto that other person human – [here’s where I realized I just jumbled my words and fucked the description up so I try to save face] –‘s body? So the face wasn’t moving in time with the body, and it was really, really unnerving. Like, Face/Off had better CGI. I just want to put that out there, and it has been a good two decades since I’ve watched Face/Off. But it is – Face/Off had better technology.

[Realization hits]

Mainly, because Nic Cage was playing John Travolta and vice versa. Okay, I understand the point now, but – do you understand what I’m saying? IT’S OFFPUTTING! It LOOKS WEIRD!

So there was that. Oh – it is true that when they CGI’d everybody’s like, dance shoes out? It looks like they’re floating. The dancers – the actors. So clearly, they were dancing on a stage, probably wearing shoes, I doubt they were barefoot, even if they were barefoot, I mean, good for you. But then they had to be CGI’d and then placed on, like, a cobblestone street, and the cobblestone street isn’t flat, so they look like they’re floating. There’s that.

I don’t know who did Jennifer Hudson’s makeup, but they should be fired because it looks like they gave her lip implants on the bottom lip only, and that’s just wrong.

Ian McKellen was the only one who knew what movie he was in. Which makes sense, because Ian McKellen is a god. Um, but like, he actually made me believe he was a cat, and not just a human told to act like a cat? or a human told to dance like a ballerina or a dancer and they’ll be turned into a cat later?

Rebel Wilson and James Corden were the — — — well, I guess they weren’t the worst part of the movie, but it was really really bad. Um – clearly, they realized that you can’t just adapt CATS without also needing dialogue to explain what the fuck is going on in that fuckery, so they created dialogue and then gave it to James Corden and Rebel Wilson in the form of STUPID, STUPID JOKES. Like, “Cat got your tongue.” Or, “oh, I guess the cat’s outta the bag” uuuhhhhhhh

Oh and I was really really mad that they – at one point in my notes I was like, “oh my god, they’re turning the ballerina cat into a FUCK a CAT BURGLAR GODDAMMIT”, I just, really? You had to go there?

So, I don’t remember if the character of Victoria is from the play or not, or if she was just added there because unlike a real production of CATS and that term is used loosely, um, there’s no audience, and so she’s like the audience’s … entryway? into what the fuck is going on? I can’t remember the term of it, but you know what I mean. [Note From The Future: the word you were searching for, Alaina, was “proxy”.] Anyway, all she did was follow every other cat around and stare bug-eyed at them. And then, she sang a little bar of “Memory,” and then she also sang the Taylor Swift song about “Beautiful Ghosts”

which AGAIN, do cats know about the afterlife? Cuz they’re convinced they’re going to something called the Heaviside Layer, and I don’t think they understand that means that THEY DIE. Like, that’s the point. The cats die, and then they get another life, until they reach their nine, or, if you’re Judi Dench playing Old Deuteronomy, 99, apparently? Um, but like – do cats know about ghosts? I know that some cats see ghosts in real life.

And they’re referring to the other … cats – I will not say what type of cats they are, because I don’t like that word, it’s really weird. [sigh] The Andrew Lloyd Webber slur for “angelical”, you get me? – what was I saying. OH, but the song, y’know, “dancing with the beautiful ghosts,” you’re referring to the other cats that are currently alive. That’s just bitchy.

Oh, there was a thing I wanted to say about the whole, Andrew Lloyd Webber of it all, I think, I don’t know. I can’t remember. I’ve lost steam. I’ve been ranting for a good eleven minutes. So. Um. I will add to this, probably? Definitely going to record some Instagram shit, and uh, I can’t look at my notes and drive and record at the same time. Like I said, breaking three laws. So um… I guess I’ve talked that rant out of me, until I remember something else.



Like, so I’m sitting in the very back row, knowing I am going to be a complete asshole during this entire experience. I’m going to be Tweeting, I will be putting my headphones in to block out the sound of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s synths, I am not going to sit anywhere close to the screen where people can see the light, it’s fine, I’ll sit in the back. And uh, just before like, the trailers start – which, by the way, Regal Cinema needs to tone their fucking trailers down. There were like, seven. The one for the new Troll movie seriously made me think my Twix bites were laced with Molly. I don’t know what the fuck that is, power to every single parent who has to take their child to that, because, holy shit, that’s just a … glitter bomb fuck orgy. I don’t know what it is, but it’s, it’s wrong. I’ll tell you that much, it’s fuckin’ wrong.

And then, halfway through the trailers, they show a fucking commercial for Walmart? Get – this is why people don’t go to the movies anymore, Movie Theaters, you charge eleven dollars to see fucking CATS, and then you make us sit through seven trailers and four commercials before showing the actual goddamned travesty of a film that we paid MONEY to go see. This is why we’re going to Netflix. If you told me I could pay $10 a month and see movies without the fucking commercials and maybe three trailers? I would do that! But ya can’t, cuz ya suck!

Where was I going with that? OH, so, even before the trailers show up, I’m like, “all right, good, I’ve got three rows between me and the next group of people, they’ve been looking at me, they’re probably thinking ‘yeah, she’s here to make fun of it,’ that’s cool.” I swear I heard them laughing a little bit, but then this fucking family comes in, and I see at least one child, and I’m like, oh, no. This is bad. Pour one out for this family, who’s bringing a child to see CATS on Christmas Eve, and I mean, this kid was definitely under the age of ten. So, he will have nightmares. He will be traumatized from this.

And then, as I’m sitting there, I realize, Oh FUCKING SHIT, they brought a FUCKING BABY. Like, okay, I understand, that the parents probably needed to get away, and they couldn’t find a babysitter. It’s Christmas fucking Eve, I get that. I GET THAT. But like, a baby?! To CATS?! There were – that child is going to be traumatized and not know WHY!

I should really stop recording because I think I’ve forgot to take the brights off of, three different cars as I’m driving down this back road, but, I mean, SERIOUSLY, that kid is going to be – he will NEVER have a cat, and he’s not going to understand why. I’ll tell ya why, it’s because your parents brought you to CATS when you were of a formative brain-making age, that’s why. I just …

[sigh] Okay, I talked a rant out again. Yeah, so, um, there was a baby. In CATS. And I kinda want to buy him therapy for the rest of his life. Of course, now I have an even better reason to go to a therapist. “I have anxiety. Also, I subject myself to shit that I have no need to. I paid money to see CATS, knowing it was going to be absolute shit! But I did it anyway, because I’m a masochist. UNPACK THAT FOR ME, DOCTOR.”

[Long sigh]

Okay. All right, I think I’m truly done. I’m gonna hit stop. This has been “Alaina Watches Cats: The Rant.” Merry fucking Christmas.

As I was sitting in the back of the theater as I watched this … monstrosity, I was able to take notes. Some of these were included in my rant but some were not.


  • FIRST OF ALL fuck that human for chucking the bag with the cat in it(*)
  • Also yeah I have headphones in for when the music gets real bad
  • It’s like they photoshopped other people’s faces on other actors and then uncanny valleys them
  • The faces don’t move with the rest of their bodies
  • I made it 2 minutes, I’m listening to music
  • Their necks are entirely too long
  • Why does Idris Elba need to wear a fur coat and a hat
  • Rebel Wilson’s skin has a zipper to reveal ANOTHER SKIN with a cabaret outfit???
  • The actors were dancing in a green screen studio and then pasted onto an uneven cobblestone IT IS SO BAD
  • All the cats walk on their hind legs like humans except Grizzabella the glamour cat who is MAJORLY SLUT-SHAMED WTF
  • I didn’t think it was possible to make James Corden be more ridiculous. I WAS WRONG.
  • I love how the screenwriter fucking knew that this POS needed some new dialogue to attempt to explain WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON but kept the dialogue appropriately SHITTY
  • Cat got your tongue
  • Look what the cat dragged in
  • Why does Idris Elba keep saying ineffable? THE FUCK
  • Now the ballerina cat is being taught … GODDAMMIT A CAT BURGLAR JOKE WHAT THE FUCK
  • I am so angry right now
  • Now the ballerina cat is sharing A LOOK with the illusionist cat and holy shit I do not need to see a cat romance
  • Are they putting in a plot? With the Idris Elba kidnapping the annoying cats and putting them on a barge?
  • Ian McKellen knows what movie he’s in
  • A lot of this dance sequence is like how Chandler Bing describes Riverdance
  • Who the fuck did Jennifer Hudson’s lip makeup and why did that person think she needed lip implants
  • So these cats have human hands and human feet …?
  • Fuck off Tom Hooper there’s no fucking reason to show Jennifer Hudson’s runny nose
  • Ian McKellen absolutely knows what movie he’s in
  • The basket Judi Dench is lounging in is crazy
  • Oh god the meowing the meowing
  • Judi Dench just raised her leg what the everloving fuck
  • Okay I have many questions
  • Why are cats wearing tap shoes
  • Why is there a tap break in this travesty
  • I don’t think there’s such a thing as a railway cat
  • The scale is all wrong – first these cats are so small three can fit on a railroad tie but now one takes up an entire human bed
  • That cat just spun himself up into the air and then disappeared
  • No one warned me that Taylor Swift was singing with a British accent for fuck’s sake
  • Okay but Idris Elba is clearly not a Ginger cat in this production
  • Why does Taylor Swift have boobs and high heels
  • Idris Elba and Taylor Swift are the same fucking size and proportion as cats
  • Idris Elba bringing his Hobbs and Shaw Black Superman energy to this gig
  • Is Memory supposed to be sung while choking back tears
  • [this last directed to the baby in the theater] I feel ya, kid.

That’s it. That’s everything. That’s everything that spewed out of me within the first thirty minutes of seeing CATS: The Musical: The Movie. I don’t think there’s any need for any additional “reviewing”. I originally wanted to go to see if I could channel Addison DeWitt for a scathing review, but … no. This … this broke Addison DeWitt. This movie can only be reviewed in FIRE RAGE TONES of disbelief and anger, and … isn’t FIRE RANGE and disbelief and anger the essential essence of CATS anyway?

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Posted by on January 20, 2020 in Alaina Rants On


Alaina Rants On: The Revenant

So yes, I’m doing Oscar!Watch again this year. And The Revenant – along with The Hateful Eight — was a film I really didn’t want to go see. For many reasons. Number one, I’m not a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. Second, the idea of watching a man stumble through a Canadian wilderness for two and a half hours in a pageant of violence really doesn’t appeal to me. Third, Leonardo apparently got raped by a bear – ain’t no one wants to sit through that, no matter how inaccurate that statement actually is!

When it comes down to it, the biggest problem I had with not wanting to see this movie was the Leo Factor. I don’t have anything against Leo; I’m just not a fan girl. After the hype wore off, the second time I went to see Titanic, I was the jackass in the back rooting for the iceberg. I didn’t watch Romeo + Juliet until I was well into my twenties – also, I know how that play ends, and it’s not romantic in any sense of the word. The next thing I saw him in was Catch Me If You Can, where he actually played a human being.

But over the past couple of years – mostly beginning with Inception, probably – something in Leo has forced him to only choose movies where he thinks he’s going to be nominated for something. And with The Revenant, his decision-making process has officially crossed the line from “merely tedious” to “fucking insufferable.”

The entire time I was watching The Revenant, I felt like I was being held hostage. I felt that Leo’s performance – if one can call it that, and I’ll get to that in a second – was him screaming without language, “LOOK AT ME ACT THIS IS ACTING I’M EATING A RAW BISON LIVER THAT BEAR RAPED ME THIS IS ACTING CAN I HAZ OSCAR NOW PLZ”

Fucking insufferable. Yeah, Leo, you acted cold. Guess what? It was cold where you were! Good job pretending to be cold while you were actually cold! Oh, and you were wet, too! Forgot about that river scene. Good job pretending to be wet and cold while both things were actually happening to you!

Because look, the character of Hugh Glass wasn’t really a character. Or, rather, he was a character in a movie; that doesn’t mean he had characterization. He was a role. He was a body. He grunted and occasionally said words, mostly in pain. So thank you, Leo, for impressing the audience with your ability to remember when to vocalize pain!

I actually have a lot of the same opinions as A.A. Dowd over at The AV Club – you can read the whole review here, but I do want to quote this bit:

His ageless baby face concealed behind a bushy Grizzly Adams beard, DiCaprio has been hired to endure endless Method-actor torments, to crawl screaming through the mud, to bloodily reenact the tauntaun scene from The Empire Strikes Back. What he hasn’t been hired to do is play much of a character; though The Revenant supplies Glass with plenty of wordless dreams, spiritual visions, and flashbacks to his dead loved ones, his family life remains as abstract as his psychology. He’s more macho concept than man.

Because yes, there was nothing there behind the beard. I maintain that this role wasn’t made up of acting; sure, he wore a costume and had makeup and facial hair, and he was where it was cold and he fucking crawled at one point(*), but it’s not like he brought a personality to life. He was showing us the personification of survival-in-order-to-achieve-revenge, that’s it. Unlike his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street – there, true, he was portraying another person found in history, but Jordan Belfort had a goddamned personality. For better or for worse, like him or lump him, Leo actually had to act in that movie.

“Is he really going to crawl the rest of the fucking way? Oh my god, he actually is. He is literally crawling on his hands and knees in hopes of winning his Oscar. F you, Leo.”

I maintain that he probably should have won for The Wolf of Wall Street; it was just Leo’s bad luck that Dallas Buyers Club came out at the same time, and the Academy decided to reward McConaughey for losing a ton of weight. Apparently, Leo didn’t take that in the same stride that a normal person would, and he decided to go all out: “I’m going to find the worst situations to emote in and FINALLY SHOW EVERYONE I’M NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE.” That’s when The Revenant came along, and the rest is history. Fucking insufferable history.

Congratulations, Leo, you succeeded. You held numerous audiences hostage with your “acting,” and look, at this point? Dear Academy, for the love of all that’s holy, please give him the Oscar. Give him his ransom. I don’t think he deserves it, mind you, but maybe if he finally wins the fucking thing, then he can go back to his models and his environment-conscious shit and leave us the fuck alone. Who knows? Maybe he’ll make a comedy next, now that he doesn’t have to try for that stupid gold statue?

“I hope Leo finally wins his goddamned Oscar for this – he needs to stop acting in these kinds of films. What’s wrong, Leo? Can’t be funny until you bear-rape your way to an Oscar?”

I should stop using the term “bear rape.” But I can’t. I know that’s not what happened, and I know it implies that Leo is victimizing himself in order to win his Oscar. But – well, I guess I’m done talking about that scene and Leo, so I’ll move on and stop talking about it.

The other thing I needed to rant about with this movie: why I didn’t like it. Yeah, Leo was a big part of it, but there was more than that. And I need to talk to a couple of people about why it’s okay that I don’t like it, and dear Those People? It’s not because I’m a girl.

When I heard The Revenant was coming out and the whole situation around the film – Leo’s “performance,” which I maintain isn’t really a performance, just a struggle to survive against nature – it’s a metaphor, not a performance! – I gritted my teeth and groaned, because I knew I was probably going to have to sit through it for Oscar!Watch. Then I heard that the director, Alejandro G. Innaritu, and his cinematographer made the decision that they were only going to film using natural light.

That naturally brought up (heh – “natural” — sorry, everyone) one of my favorite plotlines from Arrested Development, wherein Gob wanted to write a letter and Michael was going to give him the touch lamp, but then Gob fucked Kitty and didn’t get the information Michael wanted, so

Michael: Great. Good, good, good, Gob. Well, you just lost the touch lamp.
Gob: What? No! Mike, come on!
Michael: Yeah, the deal’s off, forget it. I’m gonna use the touch lamp to set the mood in the conjugal trailer —
Gob: DON’T
Michael: — when DAD’S NAILING MOM.
Gob: NO! DON’T, MICHAEL – you are FILTHY.

And then later, Gob is able to write his letter, but because he didn’t have the touch lamp, he had to write his strongly-worded letter lit by nothing but natural light.

Ever since hearing about the cinematography decision, all I could think of was Gob and his selfishness. Innaritu wanted to do something different for his next movie – because one-shot takes are so Birdman, let’s switch things up a bit. Basically, Innaritu decided to make this movie in the most fucking difficult way possible – shooting on location, lit by nothing but natural light. Do you know what that means? It means the shoot was excruciatingly long, because they could only film for about an hour each day – that’s a lot of wasted hours at a remote location. Why would you do that to yourself, to your actors, to your crew, unless you were a severe dick? To me, that is the ultimate in “suffering for art,” but it becomes so fucking insufferable that it circles right around to “martyring for art.”

I mean, you can’t spell “martyr” without “art,” I guess?

Regardless of my selfish need to find a pun between “art” and “martyr,” I can’t think of another way that that shoot could have been more fucked up for such a stupid reason – you can’t tell me that there aren’t other ways to achieve that level of lighting. Basically, they were arting for art’s sake, and while I can appreciate art, to me, that decision just seems dickish. I can’t explain it any other way; it’s just dickish.

So between the filmmaking aspect and Leo’s hostage situation, by the time The Revenant was released, the entire film had a distinct masturbatory sheen to it. Instead of Vaseline, the lens was covered in jizz – the jizz of both Innaritu and Leonardo DiCaprio, all being able to exorcise their demons in a vanity project jack-off for the ages.

Y’know, that actually brings up a good point that I’ll digress from where my tirade’s going for a moment, because this touches upon the big “controversy” within the Academy. I put finger-quotes around controversy up there because that’s the word some outlets are using, but it’s not a controversy; it’s a goddamned systemic problem that needs to be addressed, and that problem is representation. Much was made over the fact that all of the acting nominees were white. I agree that there is a problem when Michael B. Jordan doesn’t get nominated for Creed, but Sylvester Stallone does. (NB: I have not yet seen Creed, but I’ve seen The Expendables. Sylvester Stallone doesn’t deserve an acting Oscar, you fucks.) It’s great that Innaritu was nominated for Best Director, but where are the other Latino nominees? Oh, there aren’t any, because studios don’t really fund or buy films from minorities. What about the women? Where are the women writers, the women directors?

“This whole thing is a vanity project. So was Angelina Jolie’s Beyond the Sea (or whatever it was called). Why is this being rewarded where Beyond the Sea was panned as vain, indulgent, and not good?

Because Angelina Jolie is a woman.”

I had read this article in Rolling Stone, and the article attempts to get to the bottom of why Angelina Jolie-Pitt, a proven filmmaker, is not finding the respect she deserves for her film. Is it because for the first time, she is directing herself? Is it because it also stars her husband, Brad Pitt? Is it because she’s going outside of the studio system and making a movie she wants to make? Is it because she was first labeled as an actress, and now she’s trying to be a director?

Here’s what the author of that article, David Ehrlich, had to say about “vanity projects”:

For example, rather than describing this personal project as “a movie for which Angelina Jolie-Pitt courted embarrassment by exercising the artistic freedom with which our ticket dollars have empowered her over a 20-year span of consciously supporting her career,” you can just say “By the Sea is a vanity project.” How convenient is that?

Using that logic, The Revenant should also be called a vanity project. But it’s not. Vanity projects, when released, are almost always now panned and vilified. But aren’t all films, in some ways, vanity projects? So why does Angelina Jolie-Pitt’s movie, which she directed and starred in, making editorial and cinematic decisions and overall succeeded in manifesting her artistic vision, automatically get put under the title of “vanity project” whereas Innaritu’s movie, which he wrote and directed, made editorial and cinematic decisions and overall succeeded in manifesting his artistic vision, get nominated for awards?

Dicks. That’s why; dicks.

And since we’re talking about gender equality, can I take a moment to talk about one of the lines in the script? So, the plot of The Revenant goes like this: group of fur traders get ambushed by Native Americans (the Ree, but the Pawnee also play a role in the trade relations; and let me tell you, every time I saw Pawnee I expected Leslie Knope to show up and I am severely disappointed); a group of like 10 men manage to get away. While this group is hiking to a fort, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) gets mauled by a bear. The gang try to carry Glass, but it’s the 1830s, there’s no such thing as airlifting. One of the men, Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, who, as of right now, is my personal front-runner for Best Supporting Actor), offers to stay behind with Glass to ensure he gets a proper burial, because there’s no way Glass is going to survive. Also staying behind is Bridger and Glass’s half-Pawnee son, Hawk. Bridger is off getting water and Fitzgerald is getting tired of waiting for Glass to die, so he waits for Glass to blink and then he tries to suffocate him (it’s a whole big thing, I’m not getting into it). Hawk comes upon them and tries to stop Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald kills Hawk in front of Glass.

Fitzgerald then tells Bridger a yarn about the Ree approaching, so they leave Glass to die, burying him alive. Glass survives, and then treks (according to things I’ve read) like, 200 miles to reach the fort in order to get revenge on Fitzgerald for Hawk’s death.

When Glass and Fitzgerald are in their final battle, Glass explains why he wants revenge:

Glass: You killed my boy.
Fitzgerald: Or maybe you should’a raised a man … instead of some girly little bitch.

And Glass goes beserk and starts chopping Fitzgerald with an axe.

WHY THE FUCK IS THAT LINE IN THERE. There was no previous characterization of Hawk to indicate that he was any more feminine than the rest of the men in the camp. He was younger, and he was “other” in that he was the result of a white-Native American union, but he wasn’t feminine. What was that line trying to show – insensitivity of the 1830s man to different displays of manhood? I just – GOD, that line pissed me off! In short, that line is indicative of such a larger problem society has that I guess I hoped for better in an Oscar-nominated movie? I don’t know, I’m just angry at it.

Speaking of being angry; I don’t have a better segue-way for this, but it needs to be said.

I didn’t want to see The Revenant almost as soon as it got noticed, mostly for the reasons enumerated above. My Dear Friend Sarah saw the movie last weekend, and described it as “a protracted fucking misery.” That only served to reinforce my original opinions, because as we’ve come to see, Sarah’s usually spot-on with movie recommendations. If she thinks something’s a protracted fucking misery, chances are I’m not going to enjoy it either.

But guys, I’m a masochist and a completist. If a movie has been nominated for an Oscar, I am going to make every attempt to go see it, even if I think (or know) I’m not going to like it. I’ve sat through Boyhood, 127 Hours, The Tree of Life, and I wasn’t looking forward to any of those. But I did it. Hell, I paid actual night-time show money to see 127 Hours in the theatre, and I can’t stand James Franco’s choices almost as much as I can’t Leonardo DiCaprio’s choices.

So I was glad that Sarah’s opinion reinforced my own, but it wasn’t going to stop me from seeing it.

And then, I talked to a male friend of mine last Monday. He had also seen The Revenant, but he thought it was very good.

Dude: I thought you were going to the movies.
Me: Yeah, I was going to go see The Revenant, but then I decided not to.
Dude: Oh, it’s really good!
Me: I know, you said. I’m torn, because I trust your opinion, but my friend Sarah, she saw it this weekend, and she hated it, and I trust her opinion as well.
Dude: Well – I don’t want to say this, but –  y’know, you’re girls… and … it’s kind of violent.

And I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to that remark at the time — mainly because I was tired. But now that I’m awake, I’m woke as fuck.

How DARE you insult my — and Sarah’s — intelligence by saying that we probably didn’t like The Revenant because we’re girls. You having the magic ‘Y’ chromosome does not give you access to a higher understanding of film and experiences, and the fact that you fucking went there is now retroactively pissing me off.

Because my ovaries and uterine lining have absolutely fuck-all to do with my dislike of the film. The level of violence had no fucking effect on me. You know why? If I didn’t want to see something, I fucking looked away; while Leo was holding us hostage with his “performance,” it’s not like he was sitting behind me holding a gun to my head to force me to watch every blessed second of his screentime. And to be honest? Watching the CGI bear rip Leo to shreds, or watching Leo tear into raw bison liver, or Leo and Tom Hardy fighting to the death by the river at the end of the movie – sure, those were all violent, gory scenes. You know what they didn’t hold a candle to?




And what the fuck is a “guy movie,” anyway? Die Hard? Oh look, that’s one of my favorite movies. Same with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Same with The Usual Suspects. Look, movies that star only men and deal with great gobs of violence are, at times, my jam. But you know what makes me like them? The storytelling. The arc of the hero versus the villain, whether that villain is nature or an exceptional thief who is moving up to kidnapping or the fucking Nazis – that’s what gets me to like a movie.

Get me involved in the story; make me root for someone. Give the hero some spark of life or personality or, god-fucking-dammit, anything. I got fuck-all from The Revenant in that department.

That’s why I didn’t like The Revenant. That’s why I wrote in my notebook two hours in, “Please God, make it stop. Just end this. Please get me out of here.”

I didn’t like The Revenant because it was boring. I didn’t like The Revenant because it had an aura that reeked of “trying too hard to be arty.” I didn’t like The Revenant because no one had any fun on that movie at any time; judging by the tone, I’ll bet there wasn’t even joking off-screen. There wasn’t a single spot of hope or joy or anything positive in that movie, and that WILL affect my opinion.

So FUCK YOU, DUDE. I can’t wait to see you in person so I can demand an apology from you, because seriously, the only effect my being a girl had on my experience of watching The Revenant was that I could wipe the haze of testosterone from the film and see it for what it actually is: a fucking jizzporium of awfulness.

In conclusion: please, give Leo the Oscar. Free the hostages. Let our people go. Just — make it stop.

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Posted by on January 24, 2016 in Alaina Rants On, Oscar!Watch!


Alaina Rants On: Maleficent

My poor, poor neglected movie blog.  I promise, I will soon get back to the Insomniac Theatre routine (although my definition of “insomniac” has changed slightly, seeing as how I rarely stay up past midnight, let alone into the wee hours of the morning anymore) and the List.  But first, there’s been a lot of discussion about this film, and one of my friends (Sarah – YOU GUYS ALL KNOW SARAH) said she would be interested in my take on this topic, and while I admit that I’m now pretty much two weeks behind the curve, I’ve never let an opportunity to rant and/or ramble pass me by.

I saw Maleficent on opening night — Dad and I were supposed to go see The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but when Maleficent opened, Spidey’s evening showings mysteriously disappeared, so he and Mom and I went to see Maleficent instead. I had been wary of seeing Maleficent since I heard of its inception (referenced handily here in the middle of this entry at my reading blog), and I have to say that my gut instinct turned out to be right, because after the first twenty minutes, I realized how the story was gonna end up, and I may have sat through the rest of the film like this:


Backstory time!  I grew up with a lot of Disney movies, many of which were recorded off of our free Disney channel weekends purchased legally at the Disney Store before it went out of the business of Disney memorabilia.  One of my favorites was Sleeping Beauty.  I can’t exactly pinpoint why I watched it over and over — it may have had something to do with being on the same VHS as the Disney-channel-recorded … NO it was on the same VHS as The Great Muppet Caper!  THAT’S why I watched it so much, I freaking love that movie!

Anyway, Reasons Why I Love Sleeping Beauty: Phillip was the first prince to have a personality (and actual dialogue, to my knowledge, though I bet if anyone could confirm that it would be mine and Sarah’s friend Brian [who I follow on Twitter], who watched all of the Disney animated movies in about a year), and his horse had a personality too!  (I suppose one could argue that the friendship between Phillip and Samson was one of the first Bromances I ever encountered). The fairies were both sweet and smart, but Merryweather was the best one, and if you disagree, I will fight you.  (I may still say “I still think what I thunk before” because of this movie, and no, even the grammar nerd in me won’t apologize for that.)  I mean come on — tell me Aurora looks better in the pink than in the blue. I dare you.

But most of all, there was Maleficent.

maleficent1 Disney

Look at her – talk about having grace and beauty; I wish had her posture.  And in this still, she looks like she’s just a normal fairy, showing up to give her present to the baby.  I mean, clearly a woman with that headpiece and letting her raven perch on her walking stick maybe isn’t the nicest person in the world, and sure, when she arrives she shows up in a lightning bolt and a burst of fierce wind, but it’s not like she storms in and starts mowing people down like Voldemort or some other villain that I wish I could think of in this moment.  She’s almost serene in her evil.

Basically, I loved Maleficent.  I loved how delightfully evil she was.  I loved how she stood up for what she believed in, and by gum, she believed that that little baby should die.

… y’know, reading this?  Might make me seem twisted.  I’m kind of okay with that.  I mean, I probably get it from my mother (DON’T WORRY MOM THIS ISN’T A BAD THING), because I can distinctly remember hearing my mother comment once that, while she definitely does not condone her actions, she would have loved to have played Cruella De Vil in something, because playing a character that delightfully evil has to be the most fun thing in the world.

Because to me, what makes Maleficent so amazing and special is not just that she’s evil; it’s that she revels in it.  Check out her gleeful grin at Stefan’s horrified face after she curses Aurora!  After capturing Prince Phillip she tells him a wonderful little fairy tale about true love that, oops, spoiler alert, he’s not going to experience because when he finally goes to save the princess, he’s going to be like a hundred years old, so have fun with that relationship! She’s so happy once everything goes her way that she tells her raven, “For the first time in sixteen years, I shall sleep well.”  I have hungered after that type of sleep my entire life.

So my unconditional love of Maleficent as a character has been with me since childhood.  And when I first heard that Disney was capitalizing on the success of the Tim Burton-helmed Alice in Wonderland by revisiting the origins of Maleficent, I … became wary, to say the least.

What Tim Burton did for the latest Alice in Wonderland wasn’t an origins story: it was a continuation.  And I know that there are people who weren’t a fan of it for whatever reasons, but because it was a new story, built on the foundations of both the 1951 animated movie and the Lewis Carroll novellas, I could separate my enjoyment of both the original movie and the books from my enjoyment of the Tim Burton movie.  Full disclosure: I didn’t hate it.  I didn’t love it and it didn’t become one of my top ten favorite movies of all time (I should really post about that at some point; it would probably explain a lot of things), but I did buy it when I found it for five bucks a couple of years ago.  I’ve even watched the DVD since I bought it, which is fairly high praise.

But I was afraid that by showing us the origins of Maleficent, we would see that there was a reason behind the curse on Aurora, beyond just not being invited to the party.  And I was very afraid that they would humanize Maleficent.  I hoped that the tale would be told in the way that I remembered it: that okay, maybe she has a reason for wanting a baby dead – that will at least get her to the christening to bestow the curse.  But at the end the fairies and Phillip would try to defeat her and she’d turn herself into a dragon and then Phillip would kill the dragon and maybe she’d get redemption through death (which is one of my favorite tropes EVER.  See: Severus Snape; Jack Bristow; Jack Shepherd; possibly some other Jack; and I hope Regina on Once Upon a Time, even though I do NOT want her to die EVER NEVER EVER because that character is amazing, but because that scene will just make me want to claw my eyes out in grief.).

Needless to say, I was disappointed.

In this film, Maleficent starts out as a nice fairy.  And one day, Stefan stumbles into the fairy world and they become friends, which is kind of forbidden because humans and fairies don’t really mix.  Over time, she falls in love with Stefan, and it’s possible that the affection is returned.  However, Stefan’s ambition overpowers his depth of feeling, because when the dying king asks for revenge on the fairy that so handily handed his army’s ass to them on a silver platter, Stefan goes marching into Fairyland, drugs Maleficent, is going to kill her, but instead, decides to just cut off her wings.

And look, pretend you’re me: you’re watching this movie, and it’s starting out kind of slow and sappy, and then – BOOM! – rape metaphor.  If there is ANYTHING that is going to vindicate Maleficent’s downward slide (or upward climb, depending on your perspective) into evil and vengeance, THAT IS IT. So for a brief moment, I actually had some hope that maybe the film wouldn’t completely defame her character by giving her a sappy side.  Because look: if I were a fairy and some … god, I wish the English language had words for the type of awful, horrible human being Stefan was in that instance (bless you Tina Fey/Liz Lemon, but fungdark really doesn’t even come close) drugged me and cut off my wings, leaving me mutilated beyond repair? You can bet your ASS that I’d want to wreak vengeance on him, on his descendants – a pox on his house wouldn’t even begin to cover it.

(And I know that the sins of the father shouldn’t transfer to the children, but seriously: rape metaphor with mutilation. Tell me you wouldn’t at least consider it.)

So I’m sitting there, actually anticipating how this story will go: she’ll get her revenge because Aurora will prick her finger and she’ll die, she’ll cackle, and maybe she’d piss off Phillip’s family, which makes him seek revenge on her, and something would happen to make her redeem herself in death.  (I clearly hadn’t thought that through, but that’s what I wanted.)

Until Maleficent curses Aurora.  Because when she made that curse, I knew that Maleficent would never live up to my expectations.

The curse, as written in the 1959 original, states:

Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel – and DIE.

In Maleficent, she amends the curse to say:

Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a sleep like death!

There is a HUGE difference between those two curses, and it’s not just the words.  In Maleficent‘s version of the curse, she has already softened up compared to her predecessor, because now she’s not killing the kid, she’s just putting her to sleep forever.

And then she amends her own curse, giving it a cure!  She says the equivalent of, “Oh well, okay sure, I’ll give you a curse-breaker: she can only be woken up by True Love’s Kiss.”  And as she leaves, she’s all, “BECAUSE THERE’S NO SUCH THING SUCKA HAHAHAHA”  And then she would flip  the entire gathering of peasants and rabble The Bird as she vanishes in a cloud of green smoke like a motherfucking boss.

Except she can’t stay away from Aurora – I’m still not sure if, initially, she kept watching Aurora and saving her from the fairies’ ineptitude just because she wanted to make sure she (Maleficent) was the one responsible for the girl’s demise (and DON’T get me started on those fucking fairies.  Not one Merryweather in the bunch).  The first line of the curse in both Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent states that Aurora will be beloved by all who know her. Well, in this film, Maleficent falls under her own spell.

To the point that Maleficent tries to break her own curse!  She ends up caring for the princess and tries to take it back!  Except she fooled herself because when she cursed the girl originally, she made sure to say that the curse will be unbroken until True Love’s Kiss – she didn’t even put in a override line or anything reserved for herself.  So then she gets sad because she’s cursed Aurora to this sleep of death, because True Love’s Kiss doesn’t exist.

Well, that’s all well and good, except that anyone who’s ever watched Once Upon a Time knows that the best True Love’s Kisses come from mother to son (both Emma and Regina to Henry, breaking two curses).  So when the fairies force Phillip into kissing a sleeping Aurora and it doesn’t work, Maleficent tries to say goodbye to Aurora by kissing her, and GUESS WHO WAKES UP

In the end, Maleficent gets her wings back, she stops being evil, Stefan dies (as all good Disney villains do) (I actually pointed and shouted DISNEY VILLAIN DEATH in the theatre but no one heard me), Aurora rules the humans in concert with Maleficent not-quite-ruling the fairies because they don’t believe in a system of government, and Alaina does not like the movie because they made Maleficent soft.

Where was my evil queen who ruled all those wonderful, stupid minions?  Where was her outright glee in tormenting others?  You know how much fun Lana Parilla has playing Regina the Evil Queen on Once Upon a Time?  THAT’S WHAT I WANTED FOR MALEFICENT.

(I’m not even going to get into the fact that on Once Upon a Time, Maleficent was played by the awesome Kristin Bauer Von Straten, only to have Regina permanently turn her into her dragon in episode 2, and then have Emma kill her in the season 1 finale.  Why does Maleficent always get short shrift?)

So that’s why I didn’t like the movie: they took one of my favorite childhood antiheroes and made her soft in the heart and gave her a happy ending that was actually happy (versus my other favorite trope, Redemption Through Death).  I would like to point out – before I get into the true impetus of why I’m writing this post – that while I felt the writing did a disservice to Maleficent, Angelina Jolie was phenomenal in the role.  I mean, really: my main problem was the story.  Or the fact that their story deviated from what I wanted the story to be.  My dislike of the movie had nothing to do with the persons involved (unlike when I went to see Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol because SOMEONE said it was an amazing movie and that Sawyer from Lost was in it but Sawyer died in the first ten minutes of the movie and basically SOMEONE STILL OWES ME NINE BUCKS FOR THAT MOVIE AND ALSO FOR PRISONERS BECAUSE THERE WERE SNAKES IN PRISONERS AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT THE SNAKES, BRAD).


So anyway: heaps of praise for Angelina Jolie and the visual effects; bunches of boos for the poor story decisions (my opinion).  Once the movie came out, I was seeing a few articles that praised Maleficent for having such a female-centric storyline, and after careful consideration, I have to agree.  It is amazing that there are five female characters with speaking roles compared to the two male characters (three if you count the king that dies in the beginning).  The movie passes the Bechdel test with flying colors; no doubt about that in my mind.  And I applaud the movie for showing us such a positive female relationship between Maleficent and Aurora, regardless of how I felt about the relationship as part of the story.

And then Sarah links me to this article, and says, “I’d be interested to hear your take on this.” So I read it, and I’ve been stewing over it for a couple of weeks now, and I guess my main feeling regarding this article is that I feel the author is nitpicking and reading into a lot of stuff (says the girl who has written nearly 2500 words in the same manner).

The author of the article claims that Disney had the opportunity to create a truly revisionist feminist movie starring Maleficent – show a woman’s agency and the choices she makes and how those choices go against the patriarchy found in that realm, and how grrl!power would triumph over the stupid stupid men. And remember that part where Maleficent was horrifically mutilated by a man and I thought this was going to be the best revenge fantasy movie ever?  I really wanted that, along with the author of the article.

Obviously, my disappointment comes from a deep-rooted nostalgia.  The author of the article traces her disappointment to the fact that the film is not Maleficent’s movie – she is merely a player in Aurora’s movie, remade to look like the main character.  Aurora is the narrator of the movie, and the narration that begins the film tells the audience that we haven’t heard the story told in this way before.  And that’s because for the first time, we’re seeing the story as told from Maleficent’s perspective, and we’re getting backstory on Maleficent’s motivation, but at the end of the film, Aurora still needs to wake up.  We can’t have Maleficent succeed in her original plot (revenge against Stefan = keeping his daughter sleeping like death for eternity) because then we really would be seeing Maleficent win, and the villain winning wouldn’t be a comfortable position for any summer tentpole audience.

What I kind of have to love in an ironic manner is the fact that the author of the article can’t even focus on Maleficent for her entire article.  She ends the article claiming that the Aurora in the 1959 movie is more femme-positive (her words) than the Aurora found in Maleficent:

In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora had a nurturing family and a trio of good fairies who were flighty (yet responsible). She had the gift of song, the man of her dreams, and an iconic, charismatic villain who audiences loved. In Maleficent, Aurora is the product of a cold and loveless marriage and a vengeful, unhinged rapist. Her safety relies on a trio of clueless and dangerously careless fairies, and her Godmother is the woman who cursed her — and who had, in turn, been violated by her own father.

Which sounds more reductive to you?

To be honest, I don’t even know what she’s talking about.  In Maleficent, Aurora doesn’t need a man to save her from her fate – Maleficent saves Aurora with her version of True Love’s Kiss.  When Maleficent is captured by Stefan’s guards, sure, she changes her raven-man into the dragon instead of changing herself into a dragon, but maybe there was a line that was cut that explained that fairies can’t actually turn themselves into other creatures?  And in the end, Aurora helped save Maleficent by returning her wings to her (there has to be a metaphor in there somewhere about a woman returning another woman’s power to her after it had been raped away, but I’ve been working on this essay for about a week and I can’t think too hard about this anymore) – how is that less femme!positive than Sleeping Beauty where the prince kills the female dragon and wakes the heroine up with a kiss and her marriage to Prince Phillip had been arranged before she was born, and they were just lucky that they met in the woods and fell in love immediately without knowing each other was their betrothed whereas in Maleficent Aurora got to choose to marry Phillip and the marriage wasn’t arranged or anything and everyone lives happily ever after, even Phillip, who honestly ended up having less of a personality than this guy:

sleeping beauty jester

So there.  I really don’t think I can analyze this movie anymore.  I was disappointed in the movie, but I’ve got my anger out now so I won’t be talking about it any longer.

I will most likely continue to bring up Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol and Prisoners when applicable, because I haven’t gotten my refund for either of those movies yet, BRAD.

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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Alaina Rants On


Alaina Rants On… The 2013 Oscar Nominations (and the Oscars in general)

Before I get into this, I’ve got a metaphor I want to use, but I want to make sure it lands.  Has anyone out there watched How I Met Your Mother as much as I have?  If not, let me attempt to make my metaphor make sense.

[I’m going to warn you, this is much like my Stories That Go Nowhere [TM]: long and involved backstory with little or the wrong kind of payoff.  You have been warned, but I’m not backing away from this.]

See, in the episode entitled “Old King Clancy” (a personal favorite), Robin admits that she’s performed a dirty sex act with a celebrity back in Canada.  She won’t tell The Gang Minus Ted any of the story unless they are able to guess.  Cue the inevitable long list of Canadian Non-Sequitors [“Rick Moranis; The Reverse Rick Moranis; Antique Judaica.”  “No.”  “GAH.”]  Robin finally tells them that The Frozen Snowshoe asked her home to have her look at Harvey’s Trays, and then she was to perform the Old King Clancy on him (which is apparently like the Sacramento Turtleneck, but with maple syrup).  I echo Lily’s thoughts by saying that I don’t know what any of those words mean.

And then Barney says (and this is my punchline):

“Canada.  You did it again.  You even found a way to ruin *this.*  Why!  Why do we let you be a country?!”

And that, my friends, is how I felt about the 2013 Oscar Nominations.  Why.  Why do we even let you people do this to us!?

Because clearly, I love movies.  I wouldn’t devote a blog to my attempts to watch them if I didn’t.  I love the genre, I love the art and technique and style and dedication that go into making them.  And yes, I must give the disclaimer first-off that I realize there are some movies that strategically strive to be considered “art” and are therefore, less accessible than others, and there are others that are made simply for the attempt at a paycheck.  This rant is … well, not completely about the different levels of film-making that is occurring out there today, but it’ll probably intersect at some point, so … caveat everyone.

I think my largest problem with the Academy Awards at this juncture in time is that the entire Oscar production – the nominations, the rotating host, the gravitas that is attached with being nominated and, of course, winning – is made out to be the most accessible awards show — it’s never been called it to my knowledge, but a good shorthand would be America’s Award Show — but really, they’re not.  We the audience are made to believe that the nominated movies are the best of all the movies that have been released this year and everything else that we saw in the theatres that we may think are better are in fact, only slightly okay.  “No, I don’t care how much you loved Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock; clearly, Will Tippin in a football movie was better than that.”

Let me back up.  I have been watching the Oscars since Titanic came out.  The 1997 Oscars was the first one I watched, and the first time I attempted to guess the winners.  Thanks to James Cameron and the killing that that movie did on the box office, I got a lot right.  The five Best Picture nominees were: Titanic, L.A. Confidential, As Good As It Gets, The Full Monty, and Good Will Hunting.  That year I was … y’know, I turn thirty this year?  I’m not doing the math.  But anyway, I was clearly in the PG-13 arena and had only seen Titanic and As Good As It Gets, but I had heard about the other three.  In fact, since that time, I have seen … okay, only L.A. Confidential and that was years ago, but my point is that I, a 14-year old girl (damn. I did the math) with limited spending income, had seen two of the Best-Picture-Nominated movies and had heard of the other three.  The Best Picture nominees were accessible to everyone.

The following year — just to further illustrate my point — the five nominees for Best Picture were Saving Private Ryan, Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, Life is Beautiful and The Thin Red Line.  Now being 15, I hadn’t seen those due to sex and/or violence, but again, I had heard of those movies.  I think I ended up seeing parts of at least four of those movies during various classes throughout the rest of high school and/or college.

The following year, the fucking Sixth Sense was nominated.  For Best Picture.  Do y’all remember that?!  The only reason I’m mentioning that now is that it completely illustrates my point: a movie that practically EVERYONE saw, so much so that the twist ending was even at that time, a punchline.  (And still continues to this day — just last night I tweeted to my friend Sarah, who was punishing herself for some reason watching The Last Airbender, which she didn’t realize was directed by M.Night himself: “It’s an M.Night Shyamalan joint.  If Bruce Willis ain’t dead and it’s not Earth all along, it’s not over yet.”

Sometime around 2003, 2004-ish, we started to see a trend of less accessible, more art-housey films get nominated alongside tentpole films.  The Best Picture nominees one year were Return of the King, Lost in Translation, Master and Commander, Far Side of the World, Mystic River, and SeabiscuitLost in Translation I still find to be completely overrated, but amongst the other titles in that category, it’s clearly the art-house sneak-in.  All the acting nominations came from little-seen films, like Thirteen, The House of Sand and Fog, 21 Grams, and of course the stupid exception is Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean.  I mean, I don’t even know why he was nominated for that.  I still don’t.

And then, we come to 2004.  The 2005 Academy Awards bestowed gold upon Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Ray, Finding Neverland, Sideways, Vera Drake, Hotel Rwanda … a lot of films that didn’t necessarily get wide releases.  Now, I cannot in good faith sit here and proclaim that Million Dollar Baby didn’t deserve the award, because it’s number 40 on my list.  But when I look back through the movies that were released that year, and I see Mean Girls (which honest-to-God, should have at least earned a screenplay nomination), Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and movie of my heart, Anchorman?!  Okay, yes, I still don’t think Anchorman would get nominated in any sense of the word, but let’s say I had watched Million Dollar Baby.  Given the choice to rewatch either that or Anchorman, I’m going to go with the Ron Burgandy story, duh!

So for a few years, art-house movies dominated the Oscars.  Occasionally, we’d see a bigger-named movie (Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada, Little Miss Sunshine, etc.), but for the most part, the Academy Awards started veering towards the lower-budget, emotion-heavy Sundance purchases.  And you know, I was kind of okay with that – if that was the direction the Academy Awards was going, then fine.  Be all art-housey and hipster and whatever, leave me my Anchorman and joy.

And THEN, in 2010, the Academy decided to increase the Best Picture nominees to up to 10 from the 5 that had been allowed for almost all of eternity.  The producers or executives or whoever was in charge (heretofore known as ‘they’) claimed it was because they wanted to make the category more accessible, and inclusive, and give more films the opportunity to be named a Best Picture nominee.

In reality, it was because the ratings for the Academy Award telecast had been slipping sequentially for the past … actually, I would like to give a quick shout-out to Wikipedia for helping me with all of this information.  Thanks guys!  But anyway, the 2009 Oscars achieved a record-low of 31.7 million viewers, or an 18.6% Nielsen Ratings Share.  Even so, the ratings had steadily declined by at least one million each year since … oh, would you look at that.

Year Ceremony Viewers
(in mil.)



Best Picture Winner



Seth MacFarlane  




Billy Crystal The Artist




James Franco & Anne Hathaway The King’s Speech




Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin The Hurt Locker




Hugh Jackman Slumdog Millionaire




Jon Stewart No Country For Old Men




Ellen DeGeneres The Departed




Jon Stewart Crash




Chris Rock Million Dollar Baby




Billy Crystal LOTR: Return of the King




Steve Martin Chicago




Whoopi Goldberg A Beautiful Mind




Steve Martin Gladiator




Billy Crystal American Beauty




Whoopi Goldberg Shakespeare in Love




Billy Crystal Titanic

[Yeah, bitches, I made a chart!!]

But as you can CLEARLY see above, there is a direct correlation between Academy Awards Ratings and the Movies Nominated for Best Picture.  The year the Academy decided to recognize Titanic as being worthy of Best Picture was the same year that EVERYONE saw Titanic.  A fair amount of people also saw either Shakespeare in Love or Saving Private Ryan, so the audience wanted to see who won.  Fast-forward to poor Jon Stewart’s second year hosting, which suffered from having both very obscure nominees (from a general audience member’s perspective) and also, political fatigue.  Steve Martin’s first year also suffered from coming approximately six months after 9/11, so clearly, real-world stuff affects fake-world stuff.

So anyway.  In 2009, Academy Awards President Sid Ganis announced that ‘they’ would be increasing the Best Picture nominees to up to ten, “in an attempt to revitalize interest surrounding the awards” source.  No, Sid, that’s not why you did it.  This was blatantly in an effort to increase ratings.  Which, fine, whatever you think works.

Now, I was sitting there in 2009, and my first thought was, “Shit!  I’m going to have to see even more movies now!”  Because I am, first and foremost, a masochist.  But since that was announced in June of 2009, and I had six months to think about stuff before the actual nominations were announced, I also got secretly excited.  I hoped — hoped — that that would mean that there would be more accessible pictures nominated.

That was the year that The Hangover was released.  And it was being lauded as being an extraordinary, new comedy.  Different, unabashedly raunchy, and loved by millions.  It was an R-rated crowd-pleaser, the likes of which film hadn’t seen, practically ever.  And I was excited, because for once, there was a chance that an actual, honest-to-goodness comedy might — might — be nominated for Best Picture.

And that had been my point for years prior.  While the Golden Globes are a horrible excuse for an awards show, with only slightly more gravitas than winning an Emmy, at least they know enough to award both a drama and a comedy as Best Picture.  Comedy and drama make up our daily lives, and I felt that only one side of that coin had been represented in the past ten years’ worth of Oscar ceremonies.  Because not counting Little Miss Sunshine, a black comedy at best, the last outright comedy to be nominated for Best Picture was The Full Monty, in 1997, the same year – you guessed it – Titanic won.

So when the Best Picture nominations came out, and not one of them was for any type of comedy?  I was sorely disappointed.

And look, I recognize that I am not an Academy member, and that there are rules and processes in place.  I just learned this this past week: a film cannot be named a Best Picture nominee unless the total nominations for that category it receives equal 5% or more of the total nominations submitted.  So, fine.  4% of the people liked The Hangover, and it lost its place to District 9.  And last year, at least Bridesmaids got recognized for Melissa McCarthy and Best Original Screenplay, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that it was just a push towards Equal Opportunity.  (In many different ways.  Not to say I didn’t like the movie and was ecstatic that it earned two nominations.  Just … it still feels a tad slap-dash and not very authentic.)

I think, finally, we come to this year.  There were a lot — a lot — of good movies released this year.  Sadly, one of them got upstaged by the events surrounding its midnight release, but there were others that I felt deserved recognition.

Joss Whedon made a supremely amazing superhero movie, that managed to make the comic book fans happy and not too nitpicky, while introducing others to the genre.  The Hunger Games had amazing cinematography and art direction, but didn’t get nominated for anything?  And while I’m flipping ecstatic that Skyfall got nominated for cinematography (eat THAT, Pierce Brosnan!!), where was Javier Bardem’s nomination?  For ONCE, there was nuance to a Bond villain!  Okay, fine.  The Best Supporting actor nominees are all unique, special snowflakes, and — hey, all of you guys have won Oscars before!  That’s not helping my argument, but …


And look, I am not Mr. Affleck’s biggest fan by any means.  I like him, but I’m not exactly going to run out and watch every movie he’s ever made.  Loved him in Mallrats, Dogma and Chasing Amy.  I saw The Town; it was okay.  Still haven’t seen Shakespeare in Love or Good Will Hunting, but they’re on my list!  I think his high-profile romances soured me, but not because of him, because of the media swooping on every shit he took with J.Lo and everything else.  I never really had anything bad to say about him.

But Argo — holy shitsnacks.  That was the best movie I have seen in a very long time.  As director, he was able to create tension in a story where you knew how it ended.  I went to see it about three weeks after it opened, and my theatre still applauded when the plane took off.  I remember looking at Amelia and saying, “I take back almost every bad thing I’ve ever said about Ben Affleck.”  It was phenomenal, and I can’t stress this enough – a huge surprise that it was that good.

So for him to be snubbed, to me, seems really, really shitty.

And sure, maybe, the guy who made Beasts of the Southern Wild did a really good job.  And maybe, Silver Linings Playbook redeems David O. Russell more than I Heart Huckabees ever could.  But … the Affleck, man!  I can’t — I can’t get beyond that.

So, thanks, Academy Awards.  You finally did what not many people could do.  You turned Ben Affleck into a platform for me.  I am now pissed off at you, the Academy Awards — you that has ran my Februarys for the past five years, and my winter seasons for even longer than that — over Ben Affleck.

And I’m looking at the rest of the nominees, and I’ve never heard of the majority of them.  Beasts of the Southern Wild?  Was that a direct-to-Redbox release?  AmourLife of Pi?  You nominated The Life of Pi?!

Brad: We should go see Life of Pi.
Me: Why?!
Brad: Well, we should bring flasks.  It’s this year’s The Tree of Life.
Me: You don’t want to go see The Life of Pi with me.
Brad: Why not?
Me: Because you’re going to be subjected to me shouting, every damn time Pi turns around and sees the tiger, “Fuck!  I keep forgetting about the goddamned tiger!”
Brad: [laughing]
Me: And then, just to mix it up, when he’s feeding the tiger: “Tigers love pepper.  They hate cinnamon.”

Seriously, guys – never go to the movies with me.  I’m an asshole.

I keep thinking that there has to be some sort of middle ground.  A place where movies that deserve recognition can go to be rewarded.  The Oscars has clearly not learned anything from the past few years, and are sliding more and more into art-house territory.  Which is fine.  You can totally do that, Oscars.  Just stop marketing yourself as the People’s Award Show.  Which in reality, I don’t think you’ve actually said, but let’s put it this way: you’re making it a lot easier for the Extreme Conservative Right to point to you guys and say stuff like “Hollywood Elite.”  And this is a point I haven’t made yet: I live in Maine.  Some of those movies were never released here!

So this year, I’m hanging up my “I’m Going To Watch Ever Movie And Take Notes” hat, and instead, continue to watch Archer and see if Captain Hook ever leaves Storybrooke, Maine and travels to Yarmouth on Once Upon a Time (IT CAN’T BE THAT FAR, RIGHT?  HE’S GOT A SHIP, THERE ARE RIVERS).  If I get up to it, I might — might — hold my own Award Ceremony, one that reflects the true artistry in the movies that EVERYONE — or, at least, a SOLID MAJORITY OF PEOPLE — has seen.

(PS, I will be seeing Silver Linings Playbook, because I have to see what the fuck Will Tippin did to fucking get nominated for Best Actor.  I mean, what the shit?!)

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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in Alaina Rants On, Oscar!Watch!


Alaina Rants On: Empire Magazine’s “Top” 500 Movies of All Time*

So while I’ve lived in my new apartment for nearly a month (huzzah!), I am still deficient on both internets and cable.  (Sidebar: I did not realize that the internet was able to be pluralized.  Huh.  Thanks, MS Word, for teaching me something new!)

Anyway.  While I’m waiting for WiFi — and to gather the patience needed to watch a movie on my TV for the blog, knowing that the remotes don’t work completely, so any pausing will have to be done by punching the button on the TV itself, not the remote — let’s discuss something I’ve wanted to bitch/talk about for a while, but never had the opportunity.

So let’s take a moment to discuss the Empire magazine’s list of the Top 500 Movies of All Time.

Firstly, a slight disclaimer: this list was compiled back in 2008, so The Hangover and The Avengers haven’t had a chance to make the list yet (although hey, Empire?  I know which ones those can replace, easy).  Also, I think it’s important to recognize that even though I will vociferously be defending some movies and being very hurtful towards others, the best part about movies is that your mileage may vary.

I mean, I remember watching No Country for Old Men (#228).  I was still living with my parents at the time — or had I just moved?  Was I visiting?  Y’know, I can’t be bothered to go look up when that movie came out, mainly because REASONS.  Anyway, I was watching it with my parents in their house.  They had rented it from Netflix or borrowed it from somebody — regardless, it was a DVD, not in the theatre.  And it was after it had won all the Oscars, and the buzz had yet to fade.  I can remember watching it in our darkened living room — I was on the end of the couch, Dad was on the floor, and Mom was in her armchair.  We had watched Josh Brolin get shot to shit and Javier Bardem escaped with … whoever played the woman, again, too lazy, and then the ending with Tommy Lee Jones talking about a dream that had nothing to do with the movie, and then it just fucking ended.

Mom and Dad made some confused noise, but I definitely remember myself blurting out, like I tend to do: “How the fuck did that win Best Picture?!”  For me, the ending ruined the movie, which I hadn’t liked all that much to begin with.  It felt completely disjointed from what had gone before, did not give me any sense of closure, and put me in a sour mood.

I also remember discussing my opinion of the movie with Johnny O, and he asked me if I’d ever read the novel, and tried to tell me that reading it would change my mind about the movie.  But for me, that was a poor point to make, because based on the movie, I was never going to want to read the novel.  It’s the same way that, no matter how much I love Peter O’Toole (a lot), I will never watch Lord Jim because I fucking HATED reading that book in high school.

So anyway – that’s just a prime example of me not really liking a movie that everyone else (i.e., the Hollywood Elite or whatnot) really liked.  I just didn’t get the hype.  Most likely for the same reason that I can’t understand how Brad can watch Shawshank to the end, every time he finds it on TV.  Every.  Time.  I just — I don’t get it!  I swear it has something to do with the Y-Chromosome.

So one night, Sarah was reading the Empire list and tweeting about it, and then she sent me the link, and because I am above all a masochist, I actually transcribed the list to a) see how many I’d seen, b) see how many I needed to add to my list, and c) remember to bitch about the order of things later.

So A): I have seen 99 out of 500 movies.  Holy crap — that’s higher than I thought it was.  And also, dangit!  I couldn’t have seen one more freaking movie?  B): Uh, I’m not going to count that, because that would take forever, and forever I don’t have.

But oh — the bitching.

First of all, Back to the Future, Part II is only #498?  Really?  I love that movie!  I mean, as much as I love the entire trilogy, I can understand why Part III didn’t rate, but I believe that Part II is a better movie than, say, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (#475 — and I *heart* Dead Man’s Chest).

Oh hey, let’s talk about another beloved trilogy, the Indiana Jones Trilogy.  Can someone explain this to me?  In what UNIVERSE is Kingdom of the Crystal Skull rated HIGHER than Glengarry Glen Ross?!  I have been told by no less than three dear, trusted people that I need to see Glengarry Glen Ross.  You know how many people have told me I need to see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?  NOBODY, BECAUSE CRYSTAL SKULL BLOWS.  I saw Crystal Skull in theatres, and Steven Spielberg STILL OWES ME TEN DOLLARS.

In keeping with Indiana Jones, to whom I aspire to be (seriously, someday I’m going to get business cards that proclaim me to be an Obtainer of Rare Antiquities): How is Temple of Doom better than Last Crusade?  Willie Whatserface is AWFUL, and only cast because she was boinking Spielberg at the time (are they still married?  Do I care?), with less than zero chemistry with Indy; Short Round is cute but also somehow a painful stereotype; there are SNAKES IN THE MONKEY BRAINS, which is even worse than the Well of Lost Souls, because I EXPECT snakes in dark, creepy places, NOT AT DINNER … it’s just bad, guys!  Last Crusade has Indiy fighting Nazis again, and his dad is Sean Motherfucking Connery!  INDY’S DAD IS JAMES BOND: DISCUSS.  And yeah, Indy gets blindsided by Ilsa, not realizing she’s a Nazi, but it’s a better story!  Indy’s back searching for authentic relics, not stones in Asia.  I just — ACK.

Let’s see, what else pissed me off?  OH, RIGHT.  Look, I love Anchorman.  A lot.  Too much, some people have told me.  I have no shame about it.  Believe me when I tell you that I will be attending the midnight release of Anchorman 2 next year.  If I had internets (and better graphic programs), I would have submitted a still of Ron Burgandy walking his erection off, shouting “DON’T ACT LIKE YOU’RE NOT IMPRESSED” with the picture of McKayla Being Not Impressed in the background.  How has no one thought of that yet!?

But regardless of my love of Anchorman, I don’t think I would have rated it #113.  I mean, really?  That high?  Higher than Duck Soup?  Higher than Blazing Saddles?  Really?  Y’all rate Veronica Corningstone asking Ron to do her on a magical rainbow higher than Lily Von Shtupp singing about her pelvis being kaput?  Seriously?!

AND DON’T START ME ON ALL ABOUT EVE!  Movie of my heart, a classic for all time, with the best dialogue and wit that I think I’ve ever seen in a movie: ranked at #347.  THREE FORTY SEVEN.  Transformers was ranked about All About Eve.  THE REVENGE OF THE SITH WAS RANKED ABOVE ALL ABOUT EVE.  WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK.


Finally, I leave this entry (and my somehow fly-infested corner of the Freeport Starbucks, what the fuck) with this: the Top Ten, According to Empire.

10. Fight Club (seen it)
9. Pulp Fiction (on the list)
8. Singin’ in the Rain (seriously?)
7. Apocalypse Now
6. Goodfellas

So now I’m wracking my brain, trying to figure out what would be the top five.  I recognize I hadn’t seen Empire Strikes Back, or The Godfather … at which point I say this:


5. Jaws
4. The Shawshank Redemption (Caroline the Netbook trembled in relief)
3. The Empire Strikes Back
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (woo hoo!!  Someone got one right!)
1. The Godfather

So at some point, when I’m not stealing WiFi like a boss, I’ll update the Master List.  But that should be rant enough for now.

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Posted by on September 1, 2012 in Alaina Rants On