Music Video of the Day: Lucky by Britney Spears (2000, dir by Dave Meyers)


Britney Spears wins an Academy Award!

Okay, it’ll probably never happen.  I mean, I’ve watched Crossroads more times than I care to admit but even I have to admit that Britney is a better singer than actress.  That said, we’ll always have the music video for Lucky, in which Britney does win an Oscar.  Well, actually, Britney plays an actress named Lucky who wins an Oscar but, even before the tabloids did their thing, it was obvious that Lucky and Britney were one in the same.  With the benefit of hindsight, there’s a poignant subtext to this song and this video.  Lucky was the first video that Britney did that centered around the struggle to balance fame with happiness.  It would not be the last.

Lucky was the second single to be released off of Oops! …. I Did It Again and it’s hard not to feel that both the song and the video were designed to let us know that, regardless of what we may have heard, Britney wasn’t always playing with hearts and getting lost in the game.  Much as how Sometimes was meant to counterbalance the more exuberant ….Baby One More Time, Lucky seems to be saying, “There’s more to Britney than what you’re reading in the tabloids!”

This video was directed by Dave Meyers, who has directed videos for …. well, just looking at his credits, it seems like he’s directed videos for almost everyone.  Kid Rock, Master P, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez, P!nk, Imagine Dragons, the fucking Dave Matthews Band …. he’s worked with them all.  In fact, he directed that video for Katy Perry’s Fireworks.  (Remember how sick we eventually all got of hearing that song?  Seriously, all through 2010, I dreaded watching any sort of “inspiring” video because I knew Fireworks would be played at some point.)  Anyway, Meyers has worked with Britney a few more times, directing the videos for Boys, Outrageous, and Radar.

Enjoy!

 

 

Music Video of the Day: Oops! …. I Did It Again, covered by Nouveau Lounge (2018, dir by ????)


Today is National Bootlegger Day!

I know that because I use a site called CheckiDay, which is a really fun site that I recommend to everyone.  Now, I’m not sure who exactly decided that today was National Bootlegger Day or why they decided that it should be on this particular date but, ultimately, the why isn’t important.  What’s important is that the day just is.

Of course, when we think about bootleggers, we think about the 1920s and Al Capone ruling the streets of Chicago while Zelda danced and F. Scott wrote.  The 1920s, which is one of my favorite decades, was a wild time, largely due to the fact that prohibition was the law of the land.  I mean, just try to imagine it.  Having survived both World War I and the Spanish Flu, Americans were told that they couldn’t even have a drink to celebrate.  I mean, I don’t even like alcohol but I can definitely understand why that would piss people off.  Bootleggers worked outside of the law and became folk heroes to a frustrated nation.  Prohibition may have been passed to for reasons of health and morality but all it really did was show many Americans that sometimes it pays to defy the government.

Of course, there’s other reasons why I love the 1920s.  It’s not just the bootleggers.  There was also the music and the dancing and the fashions and the fact that we had three great Presidents in a row.  (I know some of y’all are going to debate me on that but we’ll have to get into it later.  Warren, Calvin, and Herbert for the win!, regardless of what Upton Sinclair may have had to say.)  It was just a great decade.

And speaking of that decade, check out today’s music video of the day.  This is a cover of Oops! …. I Did It Again, re-imagined as a vintage, 1920s song.  The song is performed by a British band called Nouveau Lounge.  (Singing is Amanda Davis.)  This is a perfect video for National Bootlegger Day, don’t you think?

Now, if you want to know more about Nouveau Lounge, check out their Facebook and their Instagram.  And definitely check out some more of their videos on YouTube.

(And if you want to learn more about prohibition, check out Daniel Okrent’s history of the era, Last Call!)

Enjoy!

Here’s A Teaser For Something That Might Be Ghostbusters 3


So, earlier today, Twitter was all abuzz because of a minute-long teaser for a film that won’t be coming out until 2020.  That title of that film …. well, actually, it doesn’t have an “official” title yet but, for now, people are just calling it Ghostbusters 3.

That’s right.  After all the controversy and drama that we went through with the last attempt to revive (or reboot, depending on which side you were on) the Ghostbusters franchise, it is happening again.  Except this time, according to Entertainment Weekly, it appears that the new film is going to be a “direct sequel” to the first two Ghostbusters films and it’s going to be directed by Jason Reitman.  Jason Reitman, of course, is the son of Ivan Reitman.  He’s also a director who, after his last few films, could really use another hit.

(Apparently, audiences in 2018 really weren’t interested in watching a movie about a forgotten 1988 presidential campaign.  Who would have guessed?)

The teaser itself is pretty simple.  There’s a storm.  There’s a barn.  There’s an old vehicle with a Ghostbusters logo.  Here’s what is not in the teaser.  First off, there’s no sign of the cast of the 2016 reboot, which I guess will make the YouTube commentariat happy.  There’s also no sign of Bill Murray, Dan Ayrkroyd, or even Ernie Hudson.  In the past, Bill Murray has said that he wasn’t interested in doing a third Ghostbusters films and, considering that Bill Murray pretty much does whatever he wants, you have to kind of wonder if he’ll actually come back or if maybe Ghostbusters 3 is just going to be Dan Aykroyd teaching his grandson (probably played by Pete Davidson) how to hunt and trap ghosts.

One of the many theories on twitter is that the film will bring the two sets of Ghostbusters together, which I assume means that we’ll get hilarious scenes of Aykroyd and Melissa McCarthy teaming up to complain about Chinese food.  To be honest, though, a crossover is not really that bad of an idea and it certainly would be fun to watch people’s heads explode as a result.  In fact, if this new Ghostbusters film is anything like the last Ghostbusters film, watching people’s heads explode will probably be more fun than actually watching the film itself.

(For his part, Ivan Reitman told EW that this film would be a “passing of the torch,” which could either refer to a new group of Ghostbusters or maybe just the fact that Ivan’s giving his son a job.)

In other words, who knows!?

But here’s the teaser.

Music Video of the Day: From the Bottom of My Broken Heart by Britney Spears (1999, dir by Gregory Dark)


Welcome to Cedar Springs Garden!

It’s a nice little town, somewhere down south.  It’s a place where you can spend the day swinging back and forth on a tire swing and where you and your boyfriend can chastely spend the night sitting on the back of a billboard.  It’s also the setting for the music video of Britney Spears’s From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart.

From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart was the last single to be released from Britney’s debut album and I have to admit that, when I watch it today, I have mixed feelings about this video.  On the one hand, the song showed, in its own simplistic way, that Britney was a singer who was capable of delivering emotional content.  On the other hand, there’s a soft-focus blandness to the video that kind of reminds you of why it took critics a while to take Britney seriously as a performer.  Some of the problem is that the guy that Britney’s singing about doesn’t really seem like he’s worth all the drama.  The other problem is that the video itself could have just as easily been set in the 1950s as opposed to the start of the 21st century.  This is the safe, non-threatening Britney, as opposed to the Britney who, in her next big hit, would joyously and triumphantly celebrate getting “lost in the game.”

For such an inoffensive music video, From the Bottom of My Broken Heart was surprisingly controversial when it was released.  That’s because was directed by Gregory Dark.  It’s one of the many videos that have been directed by Mr. Dark and, in fact, one could argue that, in the 1990s and the early aughts, he was one of the best video directors around.  However, before he directed music videos, Gregory Dark directed not only hardcore adult films but also several erotic thrillers.  Even though, by the time that this video came out, Dark was no longer making adult features, it was argued by some critics that Dark directing this video was evidence that Britney was an unwholesome influence.  That’s especially hilarious when you consider that this is probably one of the most wholesome videos in which Britney Spears ever appeared.

Enjoy!

Film Review: White Boy Rick (dir by Yann Demange)


Last night, as a part of my attempt to get caught up with the films of 2018, I watched White Boy Rick.

As you might guess from the title, this film is about a white boy named Rick.  It’s based on the true story of Richard Wershe, Jr., who grew up on the streets of Detroit.  His father sold guns out of the trunk of his car and, by the time he turned 14, Rick was running with drug dealers and street gangs.  (The fact that he was white while all of his friends were black is what led to him getting his nickname.)  Rick became an informant for the FBI and, according to Wershe, the government helped him build up his reputation by supplying him with the drugs that he would then sell on the streets.  When the FBI eventually decided that Wershe was no longer a useful asset, he was arrested for dealing and sentenced to life in prison.

The story seems like one that has the potential to say a lot that needs to be said about not only the economic realities of life in a dying city but also about the role that race plays in America’s often misdirected “war on drugs.”  Unfortunately, the film falls flat because, with the exception of a few scenes, it never really convinces us that Rick was really worthy of being the subject of a film.  While the film surrounds him with interesting supporting characters, Rick himself remains something of a cipher.  Rick is played by a young actor named Richie Merritt.  Merritt’s has the right look for the character but you never get the feeling that there’s anything going on underneath the surface.  Rick comes across as just being a moron who got lucky and then, eventually, not so lucky.

The supporting cast fares a bit better.  For instance, Matthew McConaughey plays Rick’s father with just the right amount of manic energy and Bel Powley has a few harrowing scenes as Rick’s drug addicted sister.  Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie don’t get to do much as Rick’s grandparents but it doesn’t matter because they’re Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie.  (All Bruce Dern has to do to make a character interesting is look at the camera.)  Jennifer Jason Leigh plays one of Rick’s FBI handlers with the perfect hint of subversiveness.  You’re never quite sure whether she’s messing with Rick’s life because she’s incompetent or because she’s enjoying it.  Unfortunately, the supporting characters are often so interesting that Rick often gets overshadowed.  He’s a bystander in his own story, which may have been the film’s point but, from a storytelling point of view, it hardly makes for compelling viewing.

Admittedly, there are a few memorable scenes to be found in White Boy Rick.  At one point, Rick goes to a wedding at the mayor’s mansion and he’s a sight to behold in his blue tuxedo.  In another scene, it’s explained to Rick why, when it comes to being arrested, charged, and incarcerated, the stakes are very different when you’re black than when you’re white.  In scenes like that, you kind of get a hint of White Boy Rick could have been if it had been centered around a more compelling character.

As it is, though, White Boy Rick is well-made but kind of dull.  It’s definitely a missed opportunity.

 

Music Video of the Day: Oops! …. I Did It Again by Britney Spears (2000, dir by Nigel Dick)


Before The Martian, there was …. Oops! …. I Did It Again!

Oops! …. I Did It Again is one of Britney Spears’s best-known songs and it’s certainly one of the most fun to sing at the top of young lungs when you’re speeding down the interstate on the way to Lake Texoma.  (Just ask my sister.)  But I think that people forget just how weird this video is.

Basically, we’ve got an astronaut (Eli Swanson) exploring Mars when he comes across an image on a Martian stone, the cover of Britney’s second album, Oops! …. I Did It Again.  On Earth, the nerdy NASA guy is impressed while the astronaut wonders if it’s possible that Britney Spears has come all the way to Mars just to play with his heart….

And she has!  Suddenly, there’s a stage on the Martian surface and Britney and the backup dancers are performing while the astronaut watches.  Eventually, Britney approaches him and proceeds to …. TAKE OFF HIS HELMET!  (Britney will not only play with your heart but apparently, she’ll also try to kill you.)  For a few brief seconds, it appears that the astronaut’s head might explode but no, he survives.  He then hands her the Heart of the Ocean, the extremely tacky blue diamond that was at the center of the film, Titanic.  The astronaut explains that he went down to the bottom of the ocean to get it for her and then he took it to Mars for some reason.  (Remember, the video makes it pretty clear that the astronaut wasn’t expecting to run into Britney Spears during his Martian exploration.)  In one of the most badass moves of all time, Britney says, “Oh, you shouldn’t have” and then walks away.  As for the astronaut, he hopefully managed to get home.  I mean, if Matt Damon could do it, anyone could do it….

Yeah, yeah, we know….

This video was directed by Nigel Dick, who also directed the video for ….Baby One More Time.  During filming, Britney was actually struck in the head by a falling camera and had to get four stitches before she then went to finish the video.  Like all great artists, Britney suffered so that you may enjoy.

So, enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Sometimes by Britney Spears (1999, dir by Nigel Dick)


So, this year, Britney Spear’s debut album, ….Baby One More Time, is 20 years old and good people everywhere are celebrating.  Myself, I’m going to be listening to Britney all week and I’m also going to be singing every single song out loud.  I’ll probably end up annoying a lot of people, as that seems to be what happens whenever I loudly sing Britney.  (My sisters claim that, when it comes to singing, I’m borderline tone deaf but I think that’s going a bit too far.  I will, however, admit that my accent probably never sounds more Texan then when I’m singing.)

Anyway, Val has already taken a look at the video for ….Baby One More Time and, yesterday, I featured the video for (You Drive Me) Crazy.  So, it only seems appropriate that today’s music video of the day should be the video for Sometimes, which was the 2nd single to be released off of ….Baby One More Time.

Sometimes finds Britney on the beach, watching as a male model named Chad Cole runs alongside a dog and then stands around tossing a football up in the air.  (Chad Cole is crazy hot in this video, though I have to admit that I’ve always preferred people who spend their time at the beach writing poems about dead trees and industrial pollution.)  Anyway, when Britney isn’t stalking Chad, she’s performing with her back-up dancers.  Everyone’s wearing white, which is not only designed to play up the video’s pure intentions but also makes it seem like everyone in the video came to the beach straight from a Backstreet Boys theme party.

With this video, you can tell that the main aim was to provide a contrast to the sexualized Britney of the ….Baby One More Time video.  In this one, Britney’s dressed in all white and, instead of asking to be “hit” one more time, she’s instead demurely watching the all-American boy from a proper and chaste distance.  This is the Britney who wouldn’t have been out-of-place in one of those sun-drenched, virginity-celebrating beach films from the early 60s.  “Fear not, moral guardians,” this video announces, “our Britney is a good girl!”

Interestingly enough, the video’s original concept was that Britney would be looking the beach and having flashbacks to a past relationship.  However, in the video that was actually shot, the idea is that Britney is looking to the future, thinking about the perfect relationship that she’ll someday have.

Enjoy!