I’M SAD! BADLY EXECUTED,
Insensitive and a shame
Every great / famous movie director who had their movie on screen started out as a first-time director. Younger and less experienced directors often fumble around with directors for the first time when they try to reconcile such cinematic stories as well as possible. try to stage sequences of events and / or characters into something that fits their vision for their film company. Some have definitely failed on this front as many directors (some of whom have famous careers as film directors) are usually not known for their first film. use their experiences to become credible and popular (i.e. improve their craft) over time on future projects. However, there are some directors who are actually known for creating their first film project in a unique and solemn way. Such examples come from a handful of directors, including Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane, Frank Darabonts 1994 The Shawshank Redemption‘Sam Mendes’ 1999′ american beauty, Richard Kellys 2001 Donnie Darkoand Alex Garland for 2015 Ex Machina. Now HanWay films and music artist Sia (in her directorial debut) are releasing the film with the title music. Does this project meet the occasion and join the ranks of some great films by directors, or is it an unobservable mess that lacks precision and guidance?
Music Gamble (Maddie Ziegler) lives in New York City and is a young autistic woman who lives with her grandmother, Millie (Mary Kay Place). Music projects life as it suits her routine and is watched over by her neighbors like George (Hector Elizondo) and Felix (Beto Calvillo) who do their best to keep the young girl safe from harm. When her guardian suddenly dies, Music’s sister, Kazu “Zu” Gamble (Kate Hudson), is taken into custody and returns to an apartment she happily left a long time ago. Given the problematic issues of being an alcoholic, drug addict, and criminal, Zu is forced to put her life together after being in jail to make money that can be earned from her new angles. Having 30 days to figure out a life situation, Zu tries to get Music into a care facility to get back to her routine as a drug dealer for Rudy (Ben Schwartz). However, she begins to bond with her sister. Learning to deal with and understand caring for an autism individual. At the same time, Zu warms up on Edo (Leslie Odom Jr.), an African boxing instructor who has many of his own problems to solve, making any real connection difficult. Zu, Ebo and Music come together to learn from each other and understand what they are all looking for in their respective lives.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
As I said above, every director has their first movie they made. Even everyone in film history like Stephen Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick and Christopher Nolan started directing a film project for the first time. While many would stage such prolithic projects, most of their directorial debut features are not what it is known for. In truth, my personal feelings about many first-time films are a bit mixed, especially as many have that “art house” feeling, like the director is trying to understand what they are learning from film school, but definitely not the experience necessary to to score a memorable hit; a combination of controlling the direction / story of the film and / or the actors involved. It also depends on the film itself. Is it a lesser known independent film or a blockbuster tentpole (with studio production value behind the project)? It is difficult to get a job done because I personally see a lot of projects fail or not exactly “cutting off” the ambition of the project or what the director wanted. Still, there are those first-time director projects that are actually successful, like the ones mentioned above. Maybe some of my personal ones should definitely be that Shawshank redemption and Ex machina;; Both show how a director can create a memorable / unique story and balance characters, actors and entertainment value.
That brings me back to talking music, a musical drama from 2021 that marks the directorial debut of musician Sia. I will say I like Sia’s music. Not to say I’m a huge fan of their work, but I do enjoy listening to some of their songs, especially some of their more popular ones like “Chandelier”, “Cheap Thrills”, “Titanium” and “Rainbow”. So I was a bit curious when I heard a few months ago that Sia was going to be making her first film. I really didn’t hear much about the project after that. That was until I introduced her to the controversy surrounding that particular film, with the project receiving a negative reaction from people who had seen a preview of the film. Of course, the subject of portraying autism or any type of physical / mental disability has always been a “tricky” thing that could be portrayed on any medium. So I kind of knew the film was going to be scrutinized. But Sia thought about it herself music to be a “passion project” and usually (under these conditions) to be handled a little better, with the director personally demonstrating something valuable and / or important to them. Again, this is the common case for such a use of a “Passion Project”. Still, I was a bit suspicious of the film from the start, especially since I read that Sia had to apologize for the film because of the negative backlash on social media. On that front, I was curious. So I decided to buy a ticket to see it in the one movie theater that is still open in my area. To see if the music controversy is warranted, as well as any negative reviews for it. Well … was it? Of course, I have to agree with the vast majority of the people who talk about this movie. While the intent is there, Sia is music is tarnished by poorly executed direction and a very questionable decision in dealing with certain mechanics related to autism. Sia’s intent comes from a well-mannered place of the heart, but the film itself becomes chaotic and insensitive from the start.
On the director’s chair for music is the musician Sia herself; She made her directorial debut with this particular musical drama. While it’s not the best I’ve seen from a first-time director, I have to admit that Sia is running this project reasonably well. Of course, there are a lot of problems with this particular film (more on that below), but Sia manages to bring a few scenes “alive” with a certain kind of cinematic treatment. I’m talking of the film’s music scenes, of course, which evoke the nuances and influences of “music videos” that I suspect believe what the character of music perceives as situations through the people who know it and in their own minds. As you can guess, this is where Sia’s strengths radiate, and a lot of catchy and chewing gum oddities are featured in these sequences. Talk to Sia’s own music videos (if you see one, you know what I’m about). Suffice it to say that these moments are set in the background of the director and definitely have a distinct feeling.
As I looked past those moments, I felt that Sia did pretty decent designing the core fighting mechanics of the film, found in the relationship between the characters in Zu and Music. It goes without saying that the struggle that Zu has in the maintenance of everyday music (consciousness, desires and breakdowns) can be extrapolated to the real world, whereby many can take care of the daily well-being of autistic people (parenting or helping) quite a challenge, especially if someone is not used to how they deal with certain situations. In this regard, Sia manages to show this (albeit somewhat dramatically) in Zu, showing how certain situations in the life of music can deviate from the smallest of things. It’s a way of understanding how people work “on the spectrum” and interact with the world, and while I disagree with everything, the intent of such sequences within the core consciousness of music is laudable. There is a heartwarming feeling, but unfortunately it is affected by the environment of the function. In the end, the core message of what Sia wants to convey is there, but it is poorly executed.
In the presentation category of the film music is good and probably the better part of the movie. Of course, the film’s budget wasn’t high (it’s pretty clear), but the film manages to provide a realistic backdrop for the main story. Depiction of urban life in the city. Perhaps the best aspect of the film (or rather the best visually appealing one) lies in the various songs / dances portrayed in the character of the musical fantasy. The feature is brightened up by dazzling color areas and catchy pop songs. Though I have to admit that these are a bit strange in their company (as mentioned above). Apart from that, these sequences are washed out with the whole “music video” vibe, lively and yet a bit dumb. Even so, these parts are colorful and imaginary and definitely speak to Sia’s strengths rather than hitting dramatic beats in the movie. Therefore, I have to give credit when a loan is due in this regard. Hence, the film’s “behind the scenes” team such as art direction, production design, and costume design are decent to make the feature “pop” and entertaining (perhaps one of the better aspects the film has to offer) as well as all of the different dancers and choreographers depicted in the music video like scenes. As with the film itself (directed by Sia), the film is charged with the music of Sia and, good or bad, some of the songs that are in Sia music are pretty catchy. Some of their bigger hits might not be beatable, but I think that’s decent enough to work in the feature’s musically-charged fantasy sequences. Finally, the film’s score, composed by Craig DeLeon, is usable for the film. Holding on to everything that the narration of emotional / character dialog moments requires. It’s nothing great or memorable as I didn’t notice anything, but I really have no complaints about it.
Unfortunately, musicDespite the intent of what Sia is trying to convey with this particular film (i.e., awareness), she never really gets going and stumbles more often than steps and is less sensitive / misinformed to the autistic community. How come? Well, the biggest mistake the film makes is in the latter part of this review music It’s a hollow and bad interpretation of what it means to have autism and how to deal with certain situations. Maybe the worst mistake music shows how to deal with an autistic person who is in “covert” restraint; An act condemned by many in the autism community because of the potential dangers of bodily harm and / or death to the autistic child. Sia, who has since apologized for being shown in the film on her Twitter account, with the promise to learn from this mistake (as a director) and that future prints of the feature would remove such scenes as well as a disclaimer. When I saw the film (in theaters mind you) I didn’t see a disclaimer (unless it’s marked at the very end of the film’s credits) and I noticed that there were two scenes that portrayed this physical reluctance Character of music. So … were there more scenes depicting this horrific practice? Personally, when these two scenes happened in the film…. I felt uncomfortable like “this is wrong!” and “Why would you let that be in a movie?” Even the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), the Alliance against Seclusion and Restraint, and Communication FIRST have stated in a joint press release that using the “film crew” restrictions is dangerous [failed] Address recommendations for the protection of people with autism ”.
This is even more criticized for not misrepresenting autistic people, and Sia herself cites more excuses for the controversy surrounding this particular movie. There is definitely a lack of authenticity to make the feature suitable for speaking / portraying a person with autism. As many know, people who are on the “spectrum” have varying degrees of autism, with some being able to function as normal people and not everyone with autism being categorized as “extreme”. something, that music shows character within his central figure who is a non-verbal autistic girl. Such representations seem like something that Sia will blame a general audience for, and everything is tasteless; Further cementing the ideas / mindset about how much Hollywood itself (in general and the business) gets so little in touch with reality. Throughout the film, the character of the music is portrayed as a more stereotypical repetition of a person with autism, and while Sia’s intention to target a film precisely at such a person is well-intentioned and admirable, the overall rendering is poor and very insensitive to the autistic community . Even I, having seen different people with autism, know what is presented in music is ridden more cliché and done in a confusing way that it becomes almost offensive. This whole thing definitely felt sour in my mouth and it’s pretty clear that Sia didn’t have a very helpful guide or did a lot of research to address such a challenging portrayal of autism, despite the fact that the pop star musician had three years of research on it this topic. It’s almost like … How did this film ever get the green light for final editing? without having a better understanding or approval of the autism community and its various organizations or societies.
Looking past these critical points, the film itself is full of flaws that Sia cannot escape the first time around. The film feels sadly boring. From that particular review, the biggest problem I had with the film was something I have already praised…. the stylish music video sequences throughout the film. Now I am criticizing them. Why? Well, while these are colorful and definitely play Sia’s strengths in terms of energy / musical tones, they are out of place with the rest of the film which is more drama based. Initially, music It was supposed to be a drama, but Sia was asked to write music for the project and decided to include these “music video” -like sequences in the mix throughout the film. The problem? Well, it gets distracting and tends to take away the more dramatic moments the film is trying to present. They are also far too numerous. Maybe two or three could have been better, but more than that is exaggerated and that’s exactly what happens in music. Even ignoring that, the feature’s narrative path is pretty boring and almost predictable of what’s going to happen, which doesn’t help the movie at all. The script, written by Sia and Dallas Clayton, does not help with narrating the feature, which is fraught with problems including some speed issues in the story, a few small gaps in the plot, and messy secondary storylines. All of this makes up in the end music a less than memorable feature; stepping on much familiar ground, but in an unsatisfactory way that makes the whole company boring and sour the viewing experience.
The occupation music is another part of the film problem; a combination of a questionable casting decision plus some poorly written characters. Perhaps one of the biggest casting mistakes the film has faced is the casting decision to choose Maddie Ziegler to star in the film as music. Ziegler best known for her on the Lifetime Reality TV Show Dancing mothers as well as film roles like The book Heinrich and Leap! seemed like an ideal choice to be part of Sia’s project, especially since she’d worked with the pop star several times, including as a dancer on the music videos for Sia’s “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart”. Even so, Ziegler’s casting choice in the role of a character who is a nonverbal autistic young girl isn’t the best. Why? Well, Ziegler himself is not “on the spectrum,” so the decision to make a non-autistic person who portrays an autistic movie character (of course) is a wonky, especially since many out there nowadays believe that the representation of an individual (ie Gender, race, or physical / mental disability) should be played by a person of the same caliber for perfect performance. Unfortunately, the result is quite shaky and is definitely displayed incorrectly from the start. Ziegler plays music in a way that makes the character almost like a stereotype / cliché about how people view autistic individuals. It is very typical of Hollywood to make the character a little extreme in an almost caricatural representation. I found it very disrespectful to those in the autistic community and while Ziegler’s intentions are true, the character just doesn’t seem right. And her great research into the representation of the character of music? Ziegler states that she said (in an interview with Marie Claire in September 2019) that she prepared for her role by watching YouTube videos of autistic children posted by their parents. Yes, this is one of their “training methods” to play the autistic character in the film! In addition, the script pushes the character of the music aside in the direction of the third act. Overall, Ziegler may have had a promising career, but her involvement / portrayal of an autistic character in the film music definitely hits a sour note and a black mark on her career.
The only one of the film’s leading actors who shines in the film is actress Kate Hudson, who plays the role of music sister Kazu, or is simply called Zu. Known for her roles in Almost famous, How to lose a guy in 10 days, and joyHudson seems to be the “beacon of hope” for this project as he plays a somewhat convincing role in Zu. Of course, Hudson is pretty talented and definitely comes into the character who is probably the most relatable character. Finding to be a complex individual struggles with her own inner demons and is now in her autism sister’s caretaker. The character arc for Zu, however, is pretty predictable and easy to spot where her character and the film’s script do little to highlight Zu’s character. This is how Hudson’s acting talents help highlight Zu, but that’s more theatrical nuance than anything else.
Beyond them, the actor Leslie Odom Jr. is terribly underutilized as an Ebo character in the film. Known for his roles in Hamilton, Murder on the Orient Express, and Harriet, Odom Jr. is a pretty talented actor (I loved him as Aaron Burr Hamilton) and has become a rising star in the various projects he has embarked on. So it’s quite a disappointment to see him in that role. Don’t get me wrong … Odom Jr.’s acting is okay as Ebo and he’s playing the role to the best of his ability. The character of Ebo, however, is rather boring and simply fits the bill for the “love interest” in the film. Plus, a lot of the background information for the character is pretty lame and difficult to keep track of. In the end, Odom Jr. gives what he can, but the material given to him makes his commitment to music less outstanding and wastes the actor’s potential. Plus, I really couldn’t get into the on-screen chemistry between him and Hudson.
Worse still, the film’s supporting cast are either completely underdeveloped or grossly underutilized in the narrative. Such is the case with the acting talents of actress Mary Kay Place (Be John Malkovich and Girl interrupted) as Zu / Music’s grandmother Millie, actor Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman and The runaway bride) as music neighbor George, actor Ben Schwartz (Parks and recreation and Sonic the Hedgehog) as Zu’s eccentric drug dealer Rudy and actress Juliette Lewis (From dusk to dawn and Cape Fear) as one of Zu’s clients Evelyn. The poor service of these acting talents on this project is felt immediately as most are neither pushed aside for a moment or two to shine nor just creating boring / stereotypical caricatures. In any case…. The potential is wasted.
The rest of the cast, including actor Beto Calvillo (who first appeared in a film role on this project) as Music’s kind-hearted neighbor, Felix, and actor Luoyong Wang (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and daylight) and actress Celeste Den (What if and The black list) be delegated to smaller supporting characters in the film as Felix’s abusive father and worried mother. As mentioned earlier, this whole story of Felix and his parents seems pretty messy and shaky. feel out of place with the rest of the function. The drama is particularly good and meaningful in the thematic context that surrounds it, but does not belong in the film and is ultimately shortened. I still think this should be a movie in its own right as a part of it music. After all, Sia herself makes a cameo in the film as herself and while it’s a bit small for a particular scene, it’s a bit crowning. She’s not particularly bad at acting, but her cameo in the role feels redundant and almost like a cameo in a vanity.
Faced with personal problems in her own life, a young woman must learn to understand (and appreciate) what she has with her nonverbal autistic sister in the film music. On her directorial debut with this project, the music artist Sia presents a unique music-rich drama that definitely speaks to her eccentric style of music videos, but also finds the heart in its dramatic sharpness in dealing with an autistic individual. While those intentions come from a meaningful place of good intentions, the end result of the function becomes quite messy and numb. Finding Sia’s direction for the entire Middle Ages at best and disappointing at worst, especially with her inexperience in directing a feature film, a shaky script, tempo issues, a formulaic narrative, underutilized acting talent, and some very questionable decisions regarding depictions of autism in the Film From the cast / portrayal of its main actor to the various insensitive scenes of dealing with autism. Personally, this film was bad. I definitely understand where Sia was going with this project, but it’s all done in a half-hearted effort, with a few moments that I thought were grossly wrong. Of course, I’m talking about Ziegler’s casting in the lead role, as well as Sia’s negligence in portraying autism. As can be summarized from this review, my recommendation for this film is a solid “skip” as, despite the attempts made, the film is simply not worth your time. It’s not unobservable, but just leaves a bad taste in your mouth after viewing it. Finally, music One feels a downright bad movie that, while good intentions are promising, leaves its viewers in utter confusion about how such a project could come about and stands almost as a cautionary story about how good intentions can be mixed up and portrayed in such a bad light.
1.5 of 5 (skip)
Published on: February 12, 2021
Reviewed on: March 3, 2021
music is 107 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for Thematic Elements, Drug Material, Brief Violence, and Strong Language