Blog

Je n'aime pas dans les vieux films américains quand les conducteurs ne regardent pas la route. Et de ratage en ratage, on s'habitue à ne jamais dépasser le stade du brouillon. La vie n'est que l'interminable répétition d'une représentation qui n'aura jamais lieu.

Bad Movie Review: Glitter!

*So, one of the things I like to do from time to time is queue up a bad movie (or a bad album, sometimes) and try to figure out . . . well, actually, just experience it.  It's hard to quantify why this is.  Is it that I want to feel superior?  I don't know; I do get a charge out of a movie so ineptly made as to be hilarious, though occasionally one finds a movie so bad it flips all the way around the bell curve and becomes an essential film, as entertaining as any number of great movies, just for a different reason. 

*I'm also, however, quite fascinated by the way bad works of art are made; particularly movies, which require the efforts of hundreds of people and a cost outlay of millions of dollars and still sometimes turn out just . . . so anti-entertaining that you're just bumstruck by it.

*Lord, I actually typed 'bumstruck.'  I mean 'dumbstruck.'  That's the funniest thing I'll say in this whole post, I bet, so I'm leaving it.  Bumstruck.  That's great. 

*So, one of my projects has been to create a huge database of movies generally accepted as awful and watch through them to just sort of wrestle with the concept of 'bad art' and why I find it so repugnant and how it fails and such.  This is hardly new to me.  I take great inspiration from the guys of MST3K, obviously, and also sites like Something Awful and Jabootu's Movie Reviews. 

*Anyway, I like going through these monstrosities in great detail, so you can share my pain, and also so I can entirely vent my rage. 

*I should say that bad art does inspire something like pure rage in me.  Perhaps this is because I hold true art in such high esteem; I literally believe that the greatest art is inspired by God, so I suppose a movie like Meet the Spartans, which I'm going to talk about today, is something like blasphemy, isn't it? 

*But enough about the project, let's get started with the movie up for discussion today.  Sooner we start, sooner we're done.

Glitter (2001) – Vondie Curtis Hall

Bitter Glitter Twitter
Transient

*So, if, like me, you’ve always found Mariah Carey’s caterwauling and inexplicable dominance of the pop charts utterly confounding and annoying, then you will certainly remember this film and the ensuing fallout. 

*Long story short, this film is the definitive vanity project, a supposedly semi-autobiographical movie about a young singer coming up from obscurity to superstardom by dint of her ability to shatter glass with the sheer power of her screeches. 

*The film was a massive flop, not even making back a quarter of its budget, as I recall.  The off screen antics were in many ways more perversely entertaining than the film apparently was; Carey suffered a ‘nervous breakdown’ in the days leading up to the film’s release and was briefly institutionalized; many saw this as a shameless publicity stunt to draw attention to the film.  The soundtrack was a massive flop as well.  Two of the singles from the soundtrack failed to crack the top 100, the first time that had happened to any of Carey’s singles.  EMI, soon after, dropped her like a hot potato and her career was essentially dead until 2005’s Emancipation of Mimi was (again inexplicably) a massive critical and popular success. 

*After the film flopped, Carey later claimed that there had been a good idea at the heart of the film and it was the studio’s fault it had so misfired.  She then later later claimed that everyone had decided to pick on her because the movie was released right after 9/11 and people wanted something to distract them from the tragedies (classy girl, that Mariah!).  She then later later LATER claimed that the film had been a necessary test that she had needed at that time in her life and through which she had emerged a better person.  She did not explicitly compare herself to Job, but the corollaries are obvious. 

*Studio interference, 9/11, a test from God . . . not a stone was left unturned in Mariah’s attempts to explain the utter failure of the film.  Well, one or two stones, actually, I guess, were.

*For instance, the “it’s a terrible script” stone.  Also the “I can’t act to save my life” stone.  Also the “no internal logic” stone.  Then there’s the “no one else in this movie can act either” stone. 

*I’d like to now turn over those stones and, hopefully, fling them at Mariah Carey’s head.  In other words, let’s cue up the film and see what develops.

*But seriously, let me just say it one more time: Mariah Carey blamed Al-Qaeda for the failure of her film.  Let that sink in for about half an hour and you’ll never be able to take a single word she says seriously ever again.  I mean, seriously?  9/11 killed your movie?  Come on!

*So, as the film opens, we are introduced to Mariah Carey’s character, Billie Frank,.as a youngster, helping out her apparently sociopathically alcoholic mother as she languidly sings a little jazz in a dive, apparently forgetting what song she’s singing at one point. 

*Said Billie Frank goes on stage to help her mother, opens her mouth and releases the dubbed vocalizations of a singer at least five to ten years older than she’s supposed to be. 

*Said mother then burns their home down around their ears via the tried and true “I’ll smoke while I sleep and thus get twice the nicotine!” method. 

*So, Billie gazes back sadly at her mother through the back window of the car as DHS speeds her away to her new home at the orphanage.  She is, of course, clutching pitifully at a cat that mews sadly. 

*Then, after the introduction of Billie’s Affirmative Action Friends ™, one black and one who identifies herself as ‘Latin,’ (but do we get a Mea Culpa? No.) we move through a quick photo montage of them bonding (*takes a swig*) and then end up with Billie wildly dancing to Heart of Glass as a club rocks out around her.  It is, we are told, 1983. 

*See, I was so glad that Carey didn’t start singing that I was actually GLAD to hear Heart of Glass.  And I never thought that would happen.

*So, we see that Billie’s Affirmative Action Friends ™ are still hanging around only now, horribly, they are being played by Da Brat and someone named Tia Texida, which sounds more like an illegal street drug than a person. 

*Terence Howard arrives.  He is manager/producer for a singer named Sylk, played blandly by the admittedly quite beautiful Padma Lakshmi.  I’ll forgo the traditional Star Wars joke that everyone tells at this point.  And, yeah, I  mean, she’s definitely really stunning; exactly to my taste, really.  Except she can’t really act, but then who wants a girl who can lie well? 

*Terence Howard offers the girls a job as backup singers/dancers for Sylk and after Mariah pulls a little “we’re kinda doin’ our own thing right now,” (starving?) they cave and take the job.

*This is quite obviously and blatantly a Prince knock off, you know with Appollonia and Sheila E. and all those women that Prince sort of created out of thin air back during the eighties. 

*All that said, it’s too bad they didn’t just let Howard play Prince.  Because I would pay good money to see Howard play Prince.  That would be awesome.  In fact, because I can’t really remember Howard’s character’s real name, I’m just going to call him Prince.  Also because it will make this review a little funnier later. 

*I hope.

*When Billie’s AAF™ convince her to take the job, there is this completely idiotic bit of dialogue.  LATINA:  Billie, you’ve got this amazing gift your mother gave you . . . BLACK:  What?!  BILLIE:  What?!  BLACK:  Now, why you gotta do that?  BILLIE:  Why would you bring up my mother? 

*That’s about the lamest possible way to address Billie’s Lingering & Secret Pain © there could be.  Now why you gotta do that indeed?

*During the first recording session, Padma Lakshmi wears perhaps the most absurd outfit I’ve ever seen.  On Rifftrax, they alternately described it as “her son’s Batman costume” and “one gray tube sock with a squirrel scarf.” 

*So, anyway, Prince puts out a big single called You and Only You; and though Sylk is the artist and the other three her backups, he actually uses Billie’s voice for the main vocal track. 

*So, the girls play a club where Max Beesley is on hand as Dice, a DJ who, we will see later, has been on the cover of Spin as DJ of the Year, a completely laughable detail that perhaps only people who really care about music journalism would recognize for the hilarious satire that it is. 

*So, Dice is so impressed that he goes back stage to talk to Sylk after the show:  “I had no idea you could blow like that.”  “I had no idea you were so interested in how I could blow.” 

*Oh, you guys blow all right . . .

*You know they call the wind Mariah.  Because it sucks AND blows.  And occasionally moans.  Also whines. 

*Dice quickly deduces that it’s not really Sylk’s voice and he sets up a weird freestyle thing in the club so that he can allow Billie to sing.

*Tragically, we have to suffer through two horrendously awful freestyle raps before he finally gets to Billie. 

*The first freestyle rap revolves around the following lyrics:  “Come on.  Come on.  Come on.  Come on.  Feel the beat, y’all.  Feel the beat, y’all.  It goes on and on and on and on and on.” 

*You know the difference between you and the beat?  We WANT the beat to go on.

*The second begins with the rather dubious assertion, “Like Elliott Ness, my rhymes are the best,” leading one to wonder at what point on The Untouchables did Elliott Ness ever rhyme. 

*There’s then a weird moment, of which there are many in the next five minutes and then none whatsoever through the rest of the film, where the film decides to try to be stylish.  When Billie and Dice lock eyes on the dance floor, everyone else sort of goes into slow motion and then blurs out. 

*Billie and Dice then head outside to talk over some business.  We treated to a shot of Tia Texida and Da Brat dancing ‘comically’ for at least fifteen seconds too long. 

*Outside, Dice cajoles Billie into letting him produce her.  He tells her that one day she’ll play Madison Square Garden.  As she leaves, she pauses and as a look that is the closest Carey can come to approximating the real human emotion of mild happiness plays across her face, we get a superimposed firework explosion.  Which, yeah, I’m all for this kind of stuff, but you got to either do it or not; either this movie is about overt style or it ain’t.  You can’t do this crap for ten minutes and then not ever do it again. 

*So, then Dice goes in to talk to Prince about buying Billie’s contract from him. 

*During this scene, The Message is playing, you know the Grandmaster Flash song?  So, this is probably the most entertaining scene in the movie because you can just sing along.  “Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge.”

*There’s a completely weird bit where as Dice and Prince are walking together there are several insanely obvious jump cuts.  And nothing like this ever happens again in the movie. 

*Anyway, Dice agrees to pay Prince 100,000 dollars for the contracts.  There follows a montage (*takes a swig*) of the first big hit for Billie, a cover of Robert Palmer’s Didn’t Mean to Turn You Mean as she records it, performs it live in several clubs, etc.  During this sequence, she does some of the most desultory dancing you’ll ever see; and Lord, those yelps. . . .

*So, these two guys from a label called Tough Ride show up and try to sign Billie, but Dice says she’s keeping her options open.  Dice makes fun of Tough Ride in an incredibly lame and unfunny fashion and Carey does some of the most annoying laughing you’ll ever hear. 

*He then says that he’s going to see Billie signed to a big label, “EMI, CMZ, Warner Brothers.”  Given that only one of those labels is entirely fictitious, I think I know where they’ll end up.

*So, after a hilariously terrible scene of Billie leaping into the air and screaming in joy as Dice grabs her and they spin around and stuff, they end up getting signed with CMZ on the strength of that first independent single. 

*Then more ‘hilarious’ antics with Da Brat and Tia Texida as they help Billie get ready for her date with Dice. 

*You know, this is the most awkward date I’ve ever seen.  And believe me, I know from awkward dates.  At one point, Dice unfolds Billie’s napkin and puts it on her lap himself (!).  The sizzling dialogue is of the caliber of, “I was wondering is this a date?”  “No, if this was a date, you’d know about it.” 

*I’m going to say that Beesley is actually pretty good in this movie.  He has a really obnoxious Noo Yawk accent and he’s sort of twitchy and neurotic.  But then, it turns out that the actor is actually British which I would never have guessed. 

*Dice gets Billie up to his apartment, they share some more witty repartee over a picture of Dice as a child (“Cute.  What happened?”  “You’re funny.  Yeah.”) and then he plays a marimba and then they have sex.

*Now I’m all about music as aphrodisiac.  And I think certain instruments are very easy to use in a seductive manner. 

*However, I’m going to echo Billy Connolly on Late Night a few years back talking about the sexiness or lack thereof certain instruments by just saying that it strikes me that you don’t often hear someone say, “Oh, yeah, she’s over there, shagging the marimba player.” 

*Also, I find it rather hilarious that he’s trying to be seductive with four mallets in his hands. 

*Later, as Dice records Billie in the studio, he tells his soundman, “There’s too much goin’ on.  Lose all the superfluous shit.”  Then he tells Billie, “Now . . . you sing this as you would sing this.” 

*So, essentially, no one on this movie knew what exactly producers actually do.  I think you have to be more explicit than just telling your soundman to lose everything that’s “superfluous.”  I mean, isn’t that a judgment call?  And exactly how else would Billie sing a song than how she would sing it?  I mean, is she going to pull a Jimmy Fallon and bust out an eerily perfect Neil Young impression or what?

*Then follows the stereotypical “I’m being played on the radio for the first time ever” scene wherein our heroes hold up traffic by hijacking a taxi cab, push a small child away from a payphone to call their friends and then jump up and down while hugging each other and holding the phone to their respective ears. 

*Dice looks incredibly embarrassed during this scene, as I suppose anyone would who was jumping up and down while holding a pay phone to their ear. 

*Then, her first real single a hit, Billie is in the studio with Da Brat and Tia Texida to create a music video.  The director bellows at one point, “This is not working.  The glitter cannot overwhelm the artist!”

*OMIGOD!  IT’S THE THEME OR SOMETHING!

*More brilliant dialogue from this character:  “We ask ourselves ‘Is she black? Is she white?’  We don’t know.  She’s exotic.  I want to see more of her breasts.”  Do you even need to ask if this character has a generic, somewhat comical European accent?  Of course he does.

*Also, someone walks by in the background carrying a keytar at one point.  I would love to have seen how that was going to be used in the video.    

*Da Brat and Tia Texida are ‘comically’ ‘shaking it’ in the background for an extended period.  Like, seriously extended. 

*Dice finally gets incredibly angry at the way the director tries to exploit Billie’s body.  And he stalks off the set with Billie. 

*Yes, because it’s incredibly shocking that a female pop star would be asked to reveal her body. 

*So, all the girls go shopping together and miraculously, wonderfully, amazingly we are spared the frigging montage; we only see them coming out of store clad in sort of various recuts of Elvis’ gold lame suit. 

*Only in this movie would a sharp cut to three women barreling down the street in gold lame be a relief and a mercy.

*So Dice gets in a fight with Billie’s publicist over a photo shoot.  “That’s good,” he says, “If you like Titsy the Porn Star.”  And, hey, who doesn’t?

*That has got to be the lamest Porn Star name ever.  They couldn’t come up with something better than that? 

*Dice then runs into Prince who brings up the fact that Dice still hasn’t paid him the 100 Grand.  They share a little tense dialogue.

* “You hungry?”  “Nah.”  “You got food in your crib?”  “Always.”  “Well, when you don’t, come see me.”  “Oh, it’s like that, is it?” 

*Holy . . . I mean . . . come on, would you please listen to people talk before writing your next screenplay.  I mean, “Oh, it’s like that, is it?”  Criminy.

*Terence Howard is actually not bad in this film.  He, unlike everyone else in this film, seems to be a real person.  And he’s just quirky enough to be interesting, even in a terrible movie like this.  For instance, in this scene, he is carrying a monster thick book of some kind and it strikes me that this was Howard’s idea.  Because we have this sort of threatening villainous character with a fedora and crap and then he appears to be carrying around The Complete Walt Whitman or something.  Because, yeah, he likes to sit under a tree and read?  I mean, that’s brilliant and quite funny.  But, I mean, I carry a book everywhere I go, which is ever less and less common in this age of e-books and iPhones and Notebooks.  So, it’s hilarious to see this character also sort of apparently being a binge reader. 

*So, then Billie presents Dice with a present of a new keyboard.  Which frankly . . . I mean that thing is lame, but he acts excited.  He asks Billie to move in with him and she agrees.  Lots of ‘comical’ stuttering and nervousness in this scene. 

*So, next up there’s another scene of Billie’s Lingering & Secret Pain as she goes through an old box of her mother’s stuff and unloads on Dice.

*How good is the dialogue in this scene?  How good, you ask?

* “I have this recurring dream . . .”

*headsmashingintodesk*

*Next up, Billie writes a song on the keyboard.  The sync in this scene is terrible; it looks nothing like she’s actually singing and even less like she’s actually playing. 

*So, anyway, she sort of melodically gives her absent mother a nice little tongue lashing concluding with the heartwarming sentiment that she wishes her mother had aborted her before she’d even been born if she was going to be such a screw-up. 

*Well, that was sweet and pleasant. 

*God, what a horrible song.  Some sample lyrics: 

*Reflections of your love/

Have come to wither/

I thought I’d done my best to memorize/

A picture fades of you and I together/

I haven’t come to terms/

With how we said goodbye

*Okay, just what . . . the . . . heck . . .

*You may initially notice the absolute lack of any recognizable syntax.  But don’t be fooled!  There’s also a complete lack of any poetic meter!  Also, no rhyme!  Also, what do those first two lines even frigging mean?! 

*So, Billie tries to locate her mother through some sort of odd non-identified Bureau (Bureau of Lingering & Secret Pain, perhaps?).  She fails utterly, proving that she can’t do anything right. 

*Next up, Dice is telling Billie about a bad meeting he’s had with the studio brass.  They don’t like any of the songs they demoed for them for the album (we also find out it’s been ten weeks since the single debuted).

*Billie asks what about the songs she wrote and Dice says that they didn’t like the “woe is me” stuff.  Billie gets incensed about this.

*But seriously, kid, you wrote a song about how much you wish your mom had aborted you.  You thought this would crack the top forty or what? 

*Anyway, they want Billie to work with other producers and Dice tells her that she should, but we can see (I mean, very obviously see) that he is deeply disturbed by this.

*Semi-autobiographical, huh?  Odd . . . because this happens to be turning into yet another remake of A Star is Born.  Which the three versions we already have all kind of sucked anyway. 

*First one is the best one, mainly because of Frederic March’s performance, and also it has the most moments of absolute cruelty.  None of the others ever got as vicious as the first one.  But the crippling problem of these films is always the women; Janet Gaynor in the first, Judy Garland in the second, Barbra Streisand in the third, none of whom are even remotely believable for a second. 

*Eric Benet shows up to croon lovingly into a piano for a few seconds.  I’m continually baffled by people who actually like this crap. 

*Anyway, there’s the set up through the annoying publicist, some rehearsal footage and Billie performs, off screen oddly, at the “USA Music Awards.”  As the two leave the auditorium, people ask for pictures of her without Dice.  He takes this hard, but then he’s the one who decided to wear a shirt without buttoning it, so take your lumps, dude.  I mean, take those manlumps away from me is what I mean. 

 *Following this we arrive at the after party, where Dice has decided to button the top button of his shirt, like he was wanting to rock the Dracula look, but his real cape was dirty, so he just used a regular shirt. 

*Dice looks all hurt when a movie producer calls him “Deuce.”  Again, dude, you’re the one who decided to open the whole ‘stupid name’ door.

*So, Dice then gets incredibly jealous when Eric Benet’s character, who essentially is just Eric Benet, kind of chats up Billie, ostensibly about writing a song together. 

*On the director’s commentary on this DVD, Vondie Curtis Hall spends a lot of time mumbling and stammering.  Specifically in this scene he talks about how any time he watches this scene he always ends up humming the Stevie Wonder song that’s playing in the background for days.

*So, here’s a sad little commentary on the state of the film in general and Mariah’s music in specific.  This guy directed the movie and even he thinks the most memorable song in the movie is a Stevie Wonder track that gets played in the background for like a minute and a half.  And see, that’s genius, right there.  You give Mariah Carey a massive star vehicle, songs written specifically for her and a huge spotlight to perform those songs, in some cases multiple times.  And STILL NONE of those songs are as memorable as the Stevie Wonder song you just vaguely hear as background noise.  That’s the mark of great art; it can’t be sidelined, and certainly not by crappy art.  You try to make Stevie Wonder background music; ain’t gonna happen . . . it’s just too darn good.

*There follows one of the most hilariously awful scenes in the film as Dice, Da Brat, Billie and Tia Texida get into a horrifically funny argument in the limo on the way home.

*Highlights include:

*Dice lambasting Billie for not being dressed properly; this from a guy trying to turn his shirt into a cape. 

*Dice calling Tia Texida a “roachbag.”  Does he mean clip, maybe?  What the heck is a roachbag? 

*Dice and Da Brat getting into an epistemological debate about whether or not Dice can legitimately call Da Brat ‘fat ass.’  Winner:  Dice, with the clincher, “You got plenty of ass.” 

*Also, I find it absolutely ludicrous that no one called Dice ‘Douche’ in this scene.  It’s so perfect.  Does ‘douche’ now get you an R rating or something?  I mean, you can say it on television.  Which is perhaps not always a good thing, but still . . .

*I cracked up when, back home again, Dice enters wearing his pants and his big pendant, but not his shirt.  The man is dedicated to every possible ensemble that bares his chest apparently. 

*After a brief make-up scene, Billie leaves the house in the middle of the night, for reasons entirely unspecified, and her Lingering & Secret Pain is awakened by a drunk homeless woman singing on the street. 

*Then Billie comes home from the store, though in different clothes than she just left in, and finds Prince waiting for her there.

*Yeah, that sentence was a lot funnier calling him Prince. 

*So, Howard’s performance in this scene is very, very good.  He plays it close to the chest, a little off kilter, but very quiet.  But he’s chilling.  “I don’t want to hurt you . . . but I will.”

*There is however, one shot where he squeezes Billie’s cheeks and she looks like a puffer fish or that old Jabba the Hutt toy or something. 

*So, Billie confronts Dice about the fact that he apparently ripped Prince off for a hundred large, as Dice keeps calling it.  Anyway, long story short, Dice goes and beats up Prince, gets arrested and Billie has to be called off the set of a Saturday Night Live ripoff just before she can perform to bail him out.

*Also, they use The Message for the THIRD time during this sequence.  Yes, it’s a great song.  Just . . . it’s not the ONLY great song. 

*I mean, I’m thinking, let the idiot sit in the cell for an extra three minutes, so you can do your song.  I mean, just how urgent is this?  Also, you have no employees?  Send the publicist.  That’s what they’re for, right?

*So then Billie and Dice break up in a pretty fantastically awful scene. 

*Key line:  Dice:  “Do you really think, do you really think inside your mind that just because you swing your ass around on stage and hit a few high notes here and there that you are some colossal success?” 

*Do you really think inside your mind?  Or do you maybe think inside your abdominal cavity?  I don’t think the writers of think in any section of their bodies.

*Billie then, hilariously, reaches down and pulls out that darn cat she had when she was like three or whatever at the beginning of the movie and walks out, the cat sort of hilariously glancing at the camera every now and then.

*I mean, maybe reference the cat every few scenes or something.  But just *reach down, produce cat*?  Nah, don’t do that.  We literally haven’t even seen that cat for over an hour. 

*Do you really think, do you really think inside your mind that you can just let us forget about the cat and then swing it all over the movie and expect us to cry or something? 

*So, she moves back in with Da Brat and Tia Texida, which, could Dice have been worse than those two?  I doubt.

*Also, she appears to have broken the cat’s neck on the walk over. 

*We then get a montage (*takes a swig*) of Billie and Dice being lonely and sad.  Much like you, if you actually saw this in the theater and had stayed to this point. 

*This is instantly followed by another montage of Billie and Eric Benet writing a song together.  Also, all actual songwriters just tore their hair out at the absolutely idiotic rendering here of how one writes a melody. 

*Apparently you flap your hands around and sort of half-heartedly hum random notes. 

*Also, if you can watch the scene of Billie and Eric Benet bobbing their heads and dancing while standing still as they listen to the rough cut of their duet without just busting a gut laughing, you’re better than me.  “This is fresh, yeah, this is fresh.  Mmm.”

*Sweet Lord, surely musicians don’t really act that stupid in the studio.

*Then we see from a Billboard Magazine that Dice is looking at that Billie has indeed sold out Madison Square Garden, as he promised her. 

*Secondary headline:  “After European Acclaim, R2 Dickie Ready for U.S.”  I’m serious.

*You know, I think a movie about a European named R2 Dickie coming to the USA would actually be much better than this movie.  I mean, I’m laughing already; R2 Dickie?  “Beep toot beep bewoodle you play the horn bewroo. *comical French accent*” 

*Then we see Billie call Dice on the phone and he nearly answers, but then he doesn’t and then she nearly leaves a message but then she doesn’t and then Dice goes to the piano and Billy gets a notebook and they write a song. 

*No, actually they write the VERY SAME SONG.  THE VERY SAME MELODY.  Oh, get over yourself, movie.  This is not a frigging fairy tale. 

*Billie then lets herself into Dice’s apartment with the key she apparently never gave back and she sees his music notes on the piano.  Rather than suing him for plagiarism, she kisses the music page and then leaves after signing her initial in a little heart.

*Oh, yeah, girls, seriously, if you incorporate a little heart into your signature, don’t.  You need to stop doing that.  Hopefully, I don’t need to tell the guys. 

*Vondie Curtis Hall at this point goes off the deep end at trying to argue this is a good movie on the commentary.  When Billie first arrives she picks up and looks at a picture, a hideously fake looking picture of Billie and Dice trying desperately to look spontaneous together, and sort of moons sadly over it.  When she leaves, the picture has changed to a different one. 

*Vondie Curtis Hall tries to sell this as a moment of magical realism.  Right, in a film with no other moments of magical realism.  Dude, it’s called a continuity error; just frigging admit it.

*Steve Martin’s L.A. Story, that’s a magical realist film.  And as generally labored as I find magical realism in literature, film is one medium where it can work.  Watch L.A. Story if you haven’t; it’s mid period Martin, where his optimism and humanism was in full bloom, but he hadn’t yet lost all the zany energy.  It’s both absolutely hilarious and deeply moving. 

*Then Dice comes home and finds the kiss and looks moony.  He leaves that night to go to the concert and, admittedly Terence Blanchard’s score during this sequence is quite great, all dark strings and melancholy sadness.

*As he walks the darkened street, a voice calls to him.  He turns to see Prince stepping out of a car.  He turns and stalks toward his nemesis, a look of determination on his face.  Prince shoots Dice dead.

*I admit that rather surprised me.  And for all its talk of sensuality and sexuality, I think it was this murder that probably earned the film its PG-13 rating.  None of the sensuality on display here is any worse than what you’d see on television or on the CD aisle of Walmart.  And I mean, it IS surprising, this sudden violence. 

*It does seem that the film is building toward an utterly sappy happy ending, but it is, in this way, as in all the others true to its roots in A Star is Born; the man, at the end of the day, has to die, in order that the woman may truly soar on the wings of her dreams. 

*Yeah, you see why I’m not that crazy about those movies.  They’re based on something that obviously rings very true for lots of women (which is why the story continues to endure), but it’s just such an icky, morally slippery premise for a story and it always makes me a little uncomfortable.    

*Another thing that impressed me somewhat favorably and also probably got the movie its rating is the fact that Terence Howard now disappears from the film; a later news report mentions the discovery of Dice’s body, but no mention of a shooter.  In short, yeah, the dude gets away with it.  I’m honestly not sure if this was just sloppiness on the part of the filmmakers or not; probably it was and they just couldn’t figure out how to work in Howard’s character getting arrested.  But it actually rather works as a sort of grim comment on violence in the music biz and in the world as a whole.  I actually liked the fact that this character commits cold blooded murder and, as far as we know, gets away with it.  Smooth as this guy is, you know he gets away with everything.    

*So, anyway, Billie hears about this just before the concert and so she walks up on stage and gives a predictably insipid little speech about valuing every moment and stuff.  And then she sings the song she and Dice wrote through the mindmeld or whatever. 

*Then, with the sound of the cheers still sounding, we see Billie arriving back in her dressing room.

*So, yeah, those people like spent 150 dollars to hear one ballad.  I bet she never sells out the Garden again. 

*So, in her dressing room is a single red rose sent from Dice (just like the one *sniffle* he brought her on their *choke* first d – oh, wait, that wasn’t a date, was it . . . well, just like the one Dice brought her when they ate together and then had sex).

*Anyway, he’s written her a predictably insipid little letter wherein he mentions casually that her mother has been found.  Just like that. 

*So, she takes her rented limo way outside the contracted area by heading to like Arizona or something and she walks up in the yard of a charming little cottage in a spangled evening dress and her mother rushes out of the house and they hug and weep and sob and sigh.

*Woo!  The END BABY!  YEAH!

*God, that was brutal.

*It should be noted that the letter from Dice is read in voice over, but by Carey.  Vondie Curtis Hall remarks on the commentary that he wishes Dice’s voice had been used (which, so did I) but that legally it had to be Mariah.  So, what . . . there’s a rider in Mariah Carey’s contracts that states that should any letters need to be read in voice over in the course of this movie, she has to do it? 

*Come on, Hall, own up.  You caved.  You weren’t a director, you were a flack.  You talked about that scene you wanted cut, but Carey wanted in.  You talked about that scene you wanted in but Carey wanted cut.  You talked about how you didn’t want to cast Da Brat, but Carey ‘convinced’ you.  Hall, seriously, did you do one thing on this movie?

*So, yes, this movie is the definitive vanity project. 

*Too bad.  They say Hall’s first movie was pretty good.  And he was in Eve’s Bayou, Kasi Lemmon’s fantastic late nineties movie. 

*As, of course, Kasi Lemmon’s husband, or significant other anyway, he is in an odd place with this movie, given that both his debut and his wife’s came out in 1997.  And Eve’s Bayou of course utterly eclipsed his own directorial debut, Gridlock’d.  One wonders how close Dice in this movie is to how Hall felt at the time.  Just like Dice has to watch his significant other completely overshadow him in the artistic arena, Vondie Curtis Hall had to do the same thing.  Kasi Lemmons continues to be considered among the very elite of female film directors and Eve’s Bayou remains a canonical American film; Hall, on the other hand, has been reduced to “directing” Mariah Carey movies. 

*And, yes, rather than watching this movie, watch Eve’s Bayou.  What a wonderful, wonderful movie that one is. 

*Okay, so the credits.  Mariah Carey sings Last Night a DJ Saved My Life with a guest rap by Busta Rhymes.

*That is like a sign of the apocalypse or something.  Put your hands where my eyes can see, indeed. 

*Awful movie.  Awful, awful, awful movie.  She got what she deserved for this.  Or, not quite, actually.  If she’d gotten what she deserved, she’d still be a nobody.  That’s how bad this movie is. 

More Movie Reviews!