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Some of the movies I watch deserve extra attention.

114. (1173.) Aloha (2015)

This is not one of them.

Aloha is the worst kind of films, the kind that is almost great but misses the mark. The cast is particularly stellar — Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, Jon Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin; a real murders' row. However, the scriptwriter and the director let them down. Unfortunately, they were the same person. Cameron Crowe has made some great films in his day (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Say Anything...). As I said, this is not one of them.

The first act is abysmally bad, underserving all characters and telegraphing the end. It's bad enough that Stone is supposed to be playing a Hawaiian. Worse, romantic leads Stone and Cooper have no real screen chemistry. Cooper gets along much better with McAdams, and this supposed "romantic" comedy suffers for that misplaced relationship.

Those problems are just the tip of this iceberg. Bill Murray's part was written as a Bond villain. Krasinski is playing a walking plot device and isn't even given any lines. The "space" elements are entirely pointless, and when the second act ends, the audience is given no context to understand what they're seeing on screen. Like I said, it's bad.

There are hints here of a better movie peeking out. If the Hawaiian lore had been handled more subtly, if the criticism of the civilian corruption of the military-industrial complex had been given more attention, if the characters were developed more organically . . . . There's a good movie under here somewhere. Too bad no one got to see it.

As I said, this movie doesn't deserve this much attention. If you haven't guessed by now, the real reason for this post is to explain that I'm now missing only 3 movies on my Emma Stone career checklist (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, 2009; Magic in the Moonlight, 2014; and Irrational Man, 2015).

Gotta watch 'em all! Even the bad ones.

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OMG! THEY STOLE LA LA LAND'S OSCAR!

I don't usually watch the Oscars because I don't care to sit through the pomp and circumstance when I can just read a list of winners the next day. But I tuned in this year because, well, La La Land. So, yes, I saw the Academy Awards' worst screw-up in 89 years as it aired live. Fittingly, it felt like a moment from the least represented genre at the Oscars: a horror movie.

Seriously, I'm not particularly surprised that the award went to Moonlight. I haven't seen it, but it gets great reviews. I'm sure that after years of functionally, ahem, segregating movies made by and featuring minorities, the Academy voters understandably jumped at the chance to reward a great movie about a young, gay, black man. Good for them. I also champion giving Oscars to films that didn't have great box office success. (La La Land's $140,000,000 gross to date may not be in Rogue One's orbit, but it's light years from Moonlight's $22,000,000.)

I'm not even disappointed that La La Land didn't win. It is a great movie, and I do love it. (Have I mentioned that?) I've seen it twice and counting. I will probably see it again before it leaves theaters. That said, I'll be the first to admit that it's a bit lightweight with an underbelly of unseemly sycophantic emphasis on the mythical "magic" of Hollywood and a distinctly whitewashed cast. I can understand how it's not everyone's cup of tea.

But to get the Best Picture declaration wrong? To fail to correct the error before the La La Land cast and producers took the stage? To deny Moonlight its moment in the sun by casting doubt on its win? To give Warren Beatty the wrong envelope and embarrass him in front of an audience of millions? (In the post-awards press conference, Best Actress award-winner and national treasure Emma Stone said she was still holding her card when Warren Beatty read it again. That means there were two Best Actress cards and no Best Picture cards? WTF, Academy!) Frankly, I feel bad for everyone involved.

So congratulations to Moonlight. I will see you one day. Until that day, even though the Academy didn't choose to recognize it, La La Land remains Best Picture in my heart.

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This heavily scripted short "about" Emma Stone feels fabulously Old Hollywood, like an MGM promotional puff piece. Is Emma anything like the person appearing in this video? Who cares. More please.

(FYI: Note that the video was uploaded on October 18, but National Dress Up Your Pet Day is January 14. Has Vogue been sitting on that footage for nine months? Or was it released three months early? I guess those would have made it 75 questions.)

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To be continued...

 

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