Monday, October 20, 2014

#57 Glitter (2001) (Colin)

We are fast approaching the half-way point of our list and several themes are emerging.  It appears that if you want your movie to end up on our list then they need to be a sequel, based on a video game or star a singer who thinks she’s an actor.  This is why when I saw that the next movie on our list fulfilled one of these criteria; I was not in the least bit surprised.
Our next movie was written by and stars Mariah Carey.  I have to admit I am no fan of Mariah Carey and do not know much about her or her work.  I do know that she is regarded as a diva which to me is a polite way of saying she’s a heartless bitch who stomps around acting like she owns the place.  I don’t care how famous or successful someone is, I have no time for people who think they can treat others like shit just because they’ve shifted a couple of records.
I am no fan of her music either, (I would rather smash rusty 6” nails into the little fella), so it is fair to say Ms Carey has got off to a bad start with me without having to potentially ruin my Tuesday evening with her self-obsessed movie project.  But, I put all of that behind me and watched it anyway so that you don’t have to.
The film is set in the 1980s and centres on dancer and wannabe singer, Billie Frank, (Mariah Carey).  Billie has a tough start to life and was abandoned by her mother who put Billie into a foster home.  She becomes friends and grows up with Louise, (Da Brat) and Roxanne, (Tia Texada) and they all become club dancers.
The trio get the opportunity to become backing singers for a singer called Sylk, (Padma Lakshmi).  Whilst recording the single, the producers notice that Billie’s voice is far stronger than Sylk’s and so up Billie’s vocals and quietly turn down Sylk’s.  The group go on to play a club.  I say play; I mean Sylk mimes to Billie’s vocals whilst Billie and friends flap their arms about as if they are trying to flag down the 56 bus into town.
Resident DJ, Julian ‘Dice’ Black, (Max Beesley), is impressed with Sylk’s voice but confused.  He seemed to remember that Sylk was more Whitley Bay than Whitney Houston, but all becomes clear as Billie sings the song a capella.  Realising Billie is the true talent, (and I am using the word talent in its broadest terms), Dice tries to buy Billie's contract from manager Timothy Walker, (Terrence Howard).  They settle on $100,000, a bag of salt 'n' shake crisps and a free go on Dice's BMX.
It's not long before Billie signs with a major record label and has recorded her first single.  Billie, ever loyal to her friends Louise and Roxanne, drops them like a bad smell when they are deemed not sexy enough for her music video.  Their fame growing, Billie and Dice celebrate their new found smugness by going to dinner.  Dice then invites Billie back to his for coffee and the inevitable happens, they get giggy with it for all of 5 seconds.
Billie's happiness and success is in stark contrast for her sadness at being given up by her mother.  She writes a song about her mother called 'You Bitch', (or it might have been 'Reflections', I was zoning out by this point and pretty much making things up to keep myself amused), and tries to track her down but with no success.
Whilst performing at the USA Music Awards, (she really does ride the success of 1 single), she meets a fellow musician, (again, I'm using musician in its broadest terms), Rafael, (Eric Benet) and they both agree that they should write a song together.  Dice infers this as 'should make whoopee together' and kicks up a storm.  He orders Billie home, kicks Louise and Roxanne out of the limo and writes a very stern letter to his MP.
Ultimately Billie forgives Dice's bad behaviour as she is grateful for him believing in her and giving her the opportunity.  However, when Timothy comes round to the flat and threatens Billie for non-payment of $100k and the go on the BMX, Dice sees red and beats him up.  He gets arrested and tries to apologise to Billie, but she is having none of it and leaves him.  He does protest, but Billie says, 'Sorry, but no Dice'.
Billie tries to put all this behind her but can't and realising she has made a mistake rushes back to Dice's flat.  Dice is not there, but Billie decides to break in anyway and whilst nosing around finds a piece of music Dice has written for Billie.  She has a cry, kisses the sheet music and then cleans the toilet with his tooth brush, (OK the last one may not have happened.  Remember, I was zoning out people!).
Dice notices that his breath smells funny, despite the fact the he has just brushed his teeth and also discovers lipstick on the sheet music.  Realising it is not his colour, he suspects Billie has been round and has read the music he wrote for her.  Thinking, 'I'm back in there' he rushes off to find Billie so we can all have a happy ending.  Timothy has other ideas and shoots him dead.
Billie learns of the murder just before she is about to go on stage and sing.  Distraught, sad and upset, she shows compassion by carrying on with the show so that the spotlight is all on her again.  She mutters something about not taking things for granted and then belts out her one and only hit, (or it could have been another song, it really is difficult to tell!).
Billie finds a note from Dice which he had conveniently written just before meeting his maker.  It tells her that he loves her, that he might have to try a new toothpaste and that he's found Billie's mother.  The movie ends with Billie finally re-united with her mother and I'm finally re-united with my dinner.
So the first question I have to ask is, ‘does anyone know which decade this movie is supposed to be set in’?  We are supposed to start off in the 80’s, but it looks like the 50’s, we then move to the early 90’s, (I think, or it could be late 80's), but despite the 10+ years Carey has not aged one day and everyone is walking around in the background with mobile phones.  (Yes, there were mobiles in the 80’s but those few which owned one, had to carry them around in forklift trucks with a trailer attached for the battery).
If we don’t know which decade this is set, then Max Beesley does not seem to know which country he is from.  I’m guessing by the occasional twang in his voice, he is supposed to be American, but it really is hard to tell.  Maybe he tries to be too specific in his accent in that I think he is trying to do a NE USA accent, possibly New York and I’m probably splitting hairs as he has only just missed the about 3,500 miles east of New York.
If you can differentiate which decade they are in or Beesley’s accent, then congratulations and your next challenge is to differentiate between the songs which Carrey sings throughout.  The songs in Glitter are like 90’s group Rednex’s ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ and ‘Old Pop in an Oak’, or 90’s band Biohazard’s albums ‘Urban Discipline’ and  ‘State of the World Address’ or anything Coldplay have ever done in that it all sounds the bloody same!  From what I have read, there are at least 6 different songs, but there is no discernible difference; they are all bland diva ballad pieces of crap.
The songs are unoriginal and dull, but then again, so is the acting.  Frequently it feels like we have just walked onto a set where the ‘actors’ are reading their scripts for the first time.  You want to say to them, ‘sorry guys, shall we come back when you’ve rehearsed the lines for a bit’, but you know the response will be, ‘No, it’s OK, this’ll do’.
In fairness, the script isn’t great anyway.  It’s full of clich├ęs and holes and does nothing to help with the character development.  Without doubt, this leads to the biggest problem with this movie, which for me is the main characters, Billie and Dice, and their journey throughout the movie.
Firstly Dice, why and how did he turn from a really nice guy into an arrogant, nasty, control-freak?  There is nothing in his character throughout the first half of the movie which would suggest this is going to ever happen and it is totally out of character and completely unbelievable that such a massive transformation could occur.  I can understand that you want the audience to be surprised, but you need to build the character in such a way, that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he could turn.  You wouldn’t make ‘The Piers Morgan Story’ and have him turning out to be a thoroughly nice bloke.  Who on earth would believe that?
Lastly, Billie, and it is this character, the main character, which is the single biggest problem with this movie.
I get the impression that we are supposed to feel sorry for Billie, with her ‘difficult’ childhood, being abandoned by her mum and being fostered.  I then get the feeling we are supposed to cheer, when, against all odds, Billie becomes a successful solo artist.  The problem is, however, that throughout the journey, Billie comes over as a self-obsessed, ego-centric, diva.
For example, when Billie learns of Dice’s death, does she break down in grief that the man who helped her on her career, her true love, has been brutally murdered?  No!  She thinks, ‘wow, this is a good time to sing my new single.  Should shift a few copies’.  Whilst I exaggerate for effect, this hardly warms the audience to her.  I believe this movie is supposed to be semi-autobiographical and that’s the problem, Billie, like Carey, is an easily unlikable character.
Glitter has to be the most self-obsessed, blandest piece of crap I have ever witnessed and the only way I can think of making this any worse, would have been to re-cast Madonna as Billie.  This is not a heart-breaking story of a struggle to the top against all odds, it is Mariah Carey shouting at the top of her voice, 'ME ME ME, look at ME, I’M the star, ME, ME, ME’.
In the end Carey did achieve one thing, proving the well known saying that 'all that Glitter is not gold'.