Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Justin Bieber's Believe": one artist's style does not rule the world of music

So Justin Bieiber, now 19, fits into a continuum.  There are many other pop stars – Michael Jackson, Clay Aiken, Michael Buble, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, the Jonas Brothers, various boy bands like One Direction or previously ‘Nsync, and stars who emerge from these like Justin Timberlake.  Timberlake is the kind of musician who moves to acting and producing.  Watch Reid Ewing do the same.  Then we get over the classical world, with Timo Andres, Chris Cerrone, Ted Hearne, and the like (I list the people I know).  How different they all are.

Yet, “Justin Bieber’s Believe” (directed by Jon M. Chu, from Open Road) has its teen hero presenting his own gift of music as rather monolithic, a whole world with nothing else.  We do see the boy at the piano, and then he moved into his own particular direction. Scooter Braun would discover him in 2008, and we know the rest.  I have to chuckle, remembering that Ryan Seacrest, who interviews Bieber in the film, says his career is to “make pop stars”.  But there is no one such thing.

The opening sequences show Bieber commenting on his efforts to grow as mustache.  Ashton Kutcher once commented on the same thing on “Ellen”.  You notice that his left forearm is heavily tattooed, even the anterior regions, and this is a totally unnecessary coverup and distraction.  Other scenes, taken earlier, show the progression, with just the partial tattoo near the elbow.  Bieber has always looked prepubescent and larval to me. 

The film is shot in full wide screen, and some of the concert scenes are stunning. Bieber gets on a crane that hovers over the audience, and gets a set of angel’s wings, themselves made of musical instruments, painted silver, that look like they come from Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Teenage girls scream.  One cries with joy with a concert ticket for Christmas.  (Gay men would generally be unimpressed.  It’s a bit of a paradox.  There is a lot said elsewhere about “what women want.”)  Bieber shows his energy, able to tumble and somersault through the air.  I never could do that.  His energy is non-stop.

There is a sequence where Bieber offers to “marry” a six year old girl with a fatal disease, leading to some touching scenes that seemed over the top, until she passes away in his presence. 

But Bieber is said to have honored more "make a wish" requests for children with cancer than any other singer. 

The official site is here

There are rumors about Bieber’s tweet that he is “retiring” but Braun says to take that with a grain of salt.  Bieber says he working to get better as an artist, not for just the money or fame.  No “Wall Street wolf”, he will always produce something.
I saw this film at the new Regal Virginia Gateway in Gainesville.  Regal offers its own answer to Imax called “RPX”, although this film was not shown in that.  It was shown in a moderately large auditorium with a curved screen that has to be cropped to show 2.35:1.  The audience was small.  The theater did not have reserved seating, but it seems that most new theaters do. 

Update: On Jan 24. 2014  CNN aired "Justin Bieber's Wild Ride". There are lots of stories about Bieber's recent behavior and legal troubles, here. Not every teen brain is this oblivious to seeing around corners.  Bieber is no Clark Kent, and he is no witch, either.

There was a 2011 documentary, "Justim Bieber: Never Say Never" which I have not seen.

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