Monday Morning Critic 10.25.2010 – Glee & GQ, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and A Cop

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

I was browsing the web this week when I saw something interesting: the girls from Glee all tarted up for the pages of GQ. I had no idea what Glee was but I was intrigued; hot chicks always get my interest when it comes to television. The pictures themselves weren’t anything that was that outrageous; every month Maxim and the likes publish pictures that are actually a bit racier, sometimes as close to being in Penthouse as it’ll get, but I get why there was a controversy. These are twenty something s playing teenagers and people can’t separate that. I get it. Me, I tend to think that people are acting really stupid with this because it is exceptionally rare that a teenager in high school on television is played by someone who actually is a teenager to begin with. It’s nearly a given that anyone playing a teenager is at least a couple years removed from it.

It’s the paradox of Hollywood; you want someone young enough to be jailbait but can actually work the hours that said jailbait normally can’t. So usually you grab someone who looks like they could pass for 18 or 19 but is really 23-25 and pray like hell no one cares. It works for most of the cast of Gossip Girl, though it is interesting that they’re usually drinking and the parents are offering them drinks at social events as kind of a sly nod to the fact that most of the young adults in that cast are in their mid 20s. I get the appeal of Gossip Girl, as I’m a fan of it myself, but what I didn’t get was what the whole Glee thing was all about. I remember the promotional materials for it and it wasn’t appealing to me despite the pedigree of its creator and what looked like an interesting cast.

I researched it on the web and figured out what it was about, remembering that Ryan Murphy was using it as his next project after one of my favorite shows, Nip/Tuck, had finished up on FX. I didn’t pay attention because the commercials didn’t appeal to me. When it comes to television I usually turn the channel when singing and dancing is the focus. I don’t particularly care for either; I understand why people like and don’t insult it but I’m not going to watch it. But I will watch highlights to see what it was about, if only to get a better context as to the whole controversy. It was amusing, and I can see why it’s as insanely popular as it is, but one thing kept bugging me. I kept thinking one thing while viewing a couple highlights: How would I change this show to interest a meathead like myself?

Listen to me now and believe me later.

As I kept looking at the songs they would cover, and the bands, I was not interested in any of them because none of them were interesting. It might’ve had a good story and characters, blah blah blah, but the whole point of the show is that they sing and dance. So how hard is it to just grab popular songs and go “hey, let’s do this?” Picking popular songs that people sing aloud already isn’t exactly rocket science; there’s a reason why “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey is still sung en masse at nearly every sporting event. It’s catchy and never is quite as spontaneous as we want to think. It’s like the film Across the Universe; it’s not appreciably hard to be appealing by singing songs written by the most popular band of the last 100 years.

Me, I’d like to see them go outside the box and pick stuff that’s a bit easier than grabbing some Madonna song back when she wasn’t looking like a ‘roided up Eastern German swim team alternate with a bad mockery of a British accent. Thus I’ve decided that Glee needs an injection of some musical talent I’d enjoy. Why?

Because it’s funnier that way, hence I’ve come up with a list of my own based on one discerning factor: my own personal amusement.

The Top 10 Bands I Want To See Featured on Glee Next Season

10. Insane Clown Posse – Born and bred in Detroit, MI, these rappers in clown makeup have a small but insane following of people who dress up in clown makeup. Weirdly popular, weird in that they still sell an impressive amount of albums despite minimal to no radio airplay or coverage in music media, Shaggy 2 Dope and … umm … the other guy have carved out quite the career enveloped in controversy and success. The costuming would be awesome and you’d be appealing to two audiences that I imagine don’t turn in en masse: Juggalos and Evangelical Christians.

9. WASP – Just hearing the Gleeks sing the following song would make it SO worth it.

8. Iron Maiden – If they were to do Maiden songs, they’d have to rent Maiden’s explosion machine. Say what you want about Maiden’s music, but they never scrimped when it comes to their music videos. So the Gleeks would have to have Bruce Dickinson fly in the Maiden airplane with their explosion machine to properly make an episode.

7. brokeNCYDE – If you made the Jonas Brothers into hardcore dance types, you’d have these clowns.

6. Vixen – The quintessential ‘80s girl band: big hair, big guitars and insanely hot women who played their own instruments. It sounds like a bad television show but they were excellent and one of my favorite bands of the decade because of their music.

5. Slayer – One of the great metal bands ever, Glee would probably be so insanely awesome if they covered Slayer that they could never air the show without millions of exploding televisions across the country. The cost of replacing them would eat into Fox’s Avatar profits.

4. Gunther – I have no idea who this clown is but my buddy John found this video and it’s awesomely bad. So it has to make the list.

3. Jon LaJoie – Currently starring in one of the funniest things on television, The League, the actor behind Taco first came to prominence as a standup that had really funny (and really crass) songs on YouTube.

2. David Hasselhoff – He may have starred in Bay Watch and the original Knight Rider, but “Malibu Dave” is also a recording artist. Mocking him here, the German people LOVE him. So why not bring out his rather unique take on a show he’d have starred in 20 years ago?

1. Chuggo– Toronto’s contribution to white rappers everywhere needs a big stage. Ah, come on!

Random Thoughts of the Week

Music biopics generally tend to all kind of mesh into one bloated concept; the rise and fall of a star. Usually drugs are involved. Which is why the upcoming Justin Bieber film, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, leaves me a bit flustered. He’s famous because of some videos on YouTube catapulting him faster up the recording artist food chain than even a stint on American Idol could do. I just keep thinking one thing:

What is the auteur behind the third Step Up film going to do to make this interesting?

And then it hit me. Never is going to be a glorified puff piece / concert film because there’s nothing really to go by on Bieber’s “life story” outside of “some famous rapper dude found his YouTube Channel” and he got famous. I mean you can’t make a film about him that makes him look like a bratty teenaged dwarf with a preteen girl’s singing voice spoiled by temporary fame. That’d kind of derail his whole image and I can’t imagine his handlers would permit that to happen.

While that may be a lot more fun to view than the puff piece that this “film” is going to be, for obvious reasons, I’d like to think you could tell an interesting story about the midget. You just are going to have to alter history a little bit, but that’s nothing new in the genre. Like any true story, certain liberties have to be made with the facts, so if you have to invent a storyline (or remove one) for cinematic purposes then there’s nothing inherently wrong with it I think.

Sometimes the way we want to view history, as opposed to the way it actually turned out, makes for a better story. It’s not that surprising that, in this vein, musical biopics rarely touch on things from a purely historical standpoint. Liberties have to be made from a story-telling point of view, like how Walk the Line made some changes and adjustments to minor points of Johnny Cash’s life to make it easier for a film. Same with Ray Charles in Ray, Jim Morrison in The Doors and escuche y repita. So in this spirit I’ve come up with a handful of ideas for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never that could work. But with anything, there has to be a couple criteria.

1. Justin Bieber can’t play himself
2. A director with some level of measurable talent must be behind the film, not “what’s his name” from a film franchise about dance battling
3. It begins and ends with a musical performance

So of course I’d totally need a completely different angle than the crappy one we know is going to happen. On that note, time to embrace the stupidity with:

Kubryk’s Guide to Making a Totally Sweet Version of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Director: Lars Von Trier

The Concept: Von Trier, notorious for not leaving European shores, captures the life of a young Justin Bieber (Willem Defoe) on his first overseas tour. A tale about a troubled youth finding his way out of the ghetto via the power of his magical voice, and finding the pratfalls of fame and fortune along the way, the film’s third act features an elderly Bieber committing an explicit murder like a veteran serial killer.

Director: James Cameron

The Concept: Justin Bieber (Arnold Schwarzenegger) isn’t merely a gifted young singer discovered on YouTube. He’s also mankind’s last hope against a deadly robot invasion. Chased by killer cyborgs wanting to kill Bieber, and thus ensure the destruction of the human race, the young singer is helped out by a band of gigantic Smurfs wanting to protect their village and their orgy-filled way of life.

Director: Tyler Perry

The Concept: The son of a widower, Justin Bieber (Rick Fox) finds solace singing in the local church choir that his mother once sang in. When times get tough, and his dad’s drug problems interfere with their relationship, his increasing vocal prowess sets the stage for a tale of redemption and good Christian values. And somehow there’s a gigantic black dude in drag to commit friendly acts of domestic violence.

Director: Ridley Scott

The Concept: A Conquistador under the command of Cortes, Justin Bieber (Russell Crowe) finds himself in the midst of a civilization clash between the Spanish and the native Aztecs. With only his sword to protect him and his singing voice, Bieber has to find a way to make it out of a war he never wanted to be in.

Director: Michael Bay

The Concept: Justin Bieber (Shia LaBeouf) is the velvet voiced half of Miami Metro’s best pair of police detectives with his partner Marcus (Martin Lawrence). When his sister (Gabrielle Union) gets kidnapped by Cuban narcotics traffickers, the two cops who ride together, and will die together, he gets to find out if it’ll be the former or the latter.

Director: Spike Lee

The Concept: The son of a sharecropper, Justin Bieber (Denzel Washington) works his way through pre-Segregation Alabama with the two most evil things in the world working against him: Racism … and Italians.

Director: Sylvester Stallone

The Concept: I don’t have anything really funny here, but just say “Sylvester Stallone IS Justin Bieber” without laughing. I dare you. Doesn’t it sound like the worst action movie ever? The other joke here is that this could be The Expendables: Attack of the Midgets.

Director: Tim Burton

The Concept: Set against a green screen, Justin Bieber (Helena Bonham Carter) is a quirky, peculiar kind of boy who just doesn’t fit in. Transported to a wild, crazy world populated with weird characters with celebrity voices, and Johnny Depp in some sort of monstrous outfit aping Liberace, Justin has to find his place in the world.

Director: David Mamet

The Concept: A singer by day and leader of the best bank robbing crew in New York by night, Justin Bieber (Ricky Jay) has to balance his increasingly chaotic personal and professional lives. When the night of a big score coincides with a big concert, can Bieber pull both off without anyone being the wiser?

Director: Judd Apatow

The Concept: A lazy stoner, Justin Bieber (Seth Rogen) likes to sing but he loves pot way more. When challenged to become more than just a guy who wins karaoke competitions by his ex-girlfriend (Katherine Heigl), Bieber has to get his act together to win fame, fortune and his girl back.

Director: Robert Rodriguez

The Concept: A day laborer with a heart of gold, and a singing voice to match, Justin Bieber (Danny Trejo) worries more about keeping a roof over his head than becoming a famous singer/songwriter. But when fate appears to be going his way, can his self-destructive ways lead to his own undoing?

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Dirty Money aka Un Flic

Some actors are always going to be known for one role no matter what they’ve done. Richard Crenna is one of those guys. He won an Emmy, was on a number of hit television shows (The Real McCoys, Slattery’s People) a big part of some well known movies (The Sand Pebbles, Body Heat), but he’s always going to be Colonel Trautman to me and an entire generation that grew up with First Blood and the rest of the Rambo franchise (myself included). But before that he starred in a lot of great films including Jean-Pierre Melville’s film Un Flic (“A Cop” in French), also known as Dirty Money.

Crenna, either using fluent French or having an insanely good dub, is the leader of a bank heisting crew in Paris, France. Alain Delon is a cop who is his friend, but not crooked as he presumes Crenna to be a night club owner. They’re both also doing the same woman (Catherine Deneuve). The film follows the two as Crenna goes for another big score and Delon goes to stop him. As in every Melville crime film, it’s not going to end in bloodshed.

It’s almost fitting that Melville would cast Delon as one of the leads in his final film. Delon famously headlined Melville’s arguably two best films, Le Samourai and Le Cercle Rouge, and it’s fitting that Melville would end his career with him. Three of his last four films Melville made had Delon in them and it’s not surprising that they peaked out together. Without Melville’s death because of a heart attack one imagines they’d have become a French version of De Niro & Scorsese; making plenty of great movies separate from one another but intrinsically linked because of the pure magic in the air when combined. What could’ve been we can only guess; what they did together lives on forever as three masterpieces of French cinema.

One of the interesting things about Un Flic is that it isn’t just another French New Wave noir piece; there are elements from other countries and styles throughout the film that Melville was trying to incorporate. There’s a lot of minimalism; the film may be 100% French in production but it has an Italian feel in its actuality. Melville seems to be blending a sort of Italian Neo-Realistic approach with the French New Wave style of minimalist, character driven drama. He’s taking his traditional style and giving it some slight modifications; he’s growing as a director and it’s a shame this is what he finished up on. There’s enough that’s new and interesting about what he’s doing that you want to see where he’s going to go with the next film. It would not happen but Un Flic isn’t a bad way to go out.

Strong recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Saw 3D – The final film in the franchise goes out with a bang.

Skip It – The series hasn’t been interesting since the first film and there isn’t enough left to change that.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – The Millennium trilogy concludes as Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) finishes up her tale.

See It – The first two films have set this up as potentially one of the great trilogies of our time depending on how good or bad this is. I can’t see this being anything but brilliant.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @MMCritic_Kubryk.

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