20th Anniversary: SELENA (1997)

Just wanted to stop by and wish everyone a feliz aniversario, because Selena turns 20 years old today! It is one of my all-time favorite movies and I’m hard-pressed to think of a pop star biopic that’s ever come close to its warmth. The performances are just so honest and great – in addition to the unmatchable J. Lo and Edward James Olmos, I also find myself powerless to resist Jon Seda’s charmingly reticent Chris. It’s a perfect tribute to one of the most incandescently talented performers in pop music, a woman with a short but indelible legacy and a great love for pizza (“lots of pepperoni, that’s important”). And the movie is a great lesson in how to appropriately adapt a true life for the screen. Gregory Nava’s storytelling and style are authentically Selena: from the bubbly pace, to the quick, spirited montages, to the dramatic editing of the “live” performances. Best of all, we get the gift of her actual voice (above: my fave song staged for the film, “Como La Flor”). Selena has its cheesy moments, but so did Selena. Compare it to, say, Britney Ever After – it’s easy to expose a girlish pop star, but it’s really, really hard to paint a loving portrait. I dedicate my love for this film to every Gen-Yer who went to a sleepover.

Jennifer Lopez’s “Play”: A Definitive Guide

I think it was about four months ago that I had a Bar Mitzvah-themed party, and this was on the playlist. I don’t think people realize I’m still actively listening to that playlist. Thought I’d brighten your Throwback Thursday with this amazing 2001 gem that invariably gets me doing the power-sprinkler on any dance floor. Including my bedroom floor. I do this really good supine sprinkler that propels me in a carpet circle.

Like, what’s happening here? Jenny’s flying in billion-dollar comfort through some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland, while her personalized J-LO logo feeds into every technology system on her personal airship? REGAL. I have to give props to Jenny’s come-hither facial strategies during this whole situation. She says so much, and so little, with just a slow-motion blink.

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And then she’s like, “I’m really bored of watching this Planet of the Apes scenery so let me hit up that club in coach. Garçon! Bring me my  traditional woven white Ed Hardy blouse. And my curling iron, the one made of a mammoth tusk, because I’m feeling ethnically questionable VOLUME tonight.” And she just marches that shit straight into the Chrome Ballroom, into her throng of cryogenically frozen party people, hurtling through space right along with her.

Also I guess once she’s been dancing for 37 seconds, she needs to take a quick break in the anti-gravity sauna? I’m obsessed with what this man is doing in there:

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Is he pouring powdered ecstasy into his mouth using wind power? He’s like “Oh, I didn’t know anyone else would come in here, can I just finish this up real quick?” And then J-Lo’s back in the turbine chamber, working that low-angled camera, having left this molly-addled loner to his business.

Can I also add that this song and video features some of the BEST spoken-word bridge in pop history? I JUST WANNA DANCE. IS THAT A CRIME? ALL RIGHT THEN. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lipsynced those words, only to ignore everyone around me (they always seem to nod after I ask “Is that a crime?” That’s why you never look at people during the pause before “All right then”). There’s also a lot of different facial options you can pursue for the line “Yeah, that’s the hotness right there.” Jenny approaches it with a kind of cool appraising confidence, while I like to experiment with sexual satisfaction or surprise. Like, looking down at my own spastic body. Yeah! That’s the hotness right there!

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Also have to appreciate her confrontational scene here, with the unseen DJ. She really takes him to task on his job function. I mean, I think it’s reasonable. She even addresses him with a salutation. “Now, Mr. DJ. I’ve asked you three times. PLAY MY MOTHERFUCKING SONG.” She takes the sting out of it with a little giggle, too, so he knows she’s just kidding and he has total job security on the Pimptronica Blimp. And I guess he does play her motherfucking song, because before long we get to see all of those well-dressed hostages totally passed out while J-Lo bounces her ass amongst them in the morning light. Side note, appreciate her aggressive head grooving at 3:03. I’ve done that – without double-hair-buns, so the effect was muted, but I’ve still done it.

And then, right before the party sails into the sun, headed for some fiery synthy doom, Jenny capitulates her aforementioned points with one final ASS SWIVEL. She’s the queen!!! Have YOU ever successfully ended a story with an ass swivel? Royal.

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Well, this has been a super productive 20 minutes. I say that with no sarcasm as the writer, but a lot of sarcasm for you as the reader. But don’t play like you didn’t just download. It’s not negotiable. I asked you three times.