JENNIFER LOPEZ. ONE ALBUM, TWO FILMS (2024): Oversharing overkill

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JENNIFER LOPEZ. ONE ALBUM, TWO FILMS (2024): Oversharing overkill

When the brightest stars in the pop firmament – Taylor, Adele, Beyonce – release new albums, the announcement alone often ensures hysteria and hyperbole, expensive videos and soul-baring interviews.

And so we come to Jennifer Lopez's new album This is Me . . . Now, its title updating her 2002 album This Is Me . . . Then.

J-Lo – we'll default to the shorthand – is (back) in love with actor/director and writer Ben Affleck, that famous Bennifer coupling which fell apart almost two decades ago.

The album and this information arrive as a triple salvo of breathtaking solipsism.

She announces their reunion with not just a 44 minute album (53 minutes in the Deluxe edition) but also a 65 minute film This Is Me . . . Now: A Love Story, described as “a narrative-driven cinematic odyssey, steeped in mythological storytelling and personal healing”.

jennifer_lopez_5_112723_47a67ca2987f49d8b9a575fbffab65a1In other words, a CGI-enhanced autobiographical-cum-fictional blockbuster about star-crossed lovers from what the publicity calls her heart, her soul and here dreams.

It's a patchwork of steampunk, dance sequences (a nod to Fritz Lang's Metropolis choreographed by award-winning expat Aucklander Parris Goebel), melodrama, myth, references to the films Singing in the Rain and The Way We Were, self-aware humour and shameless self-indulgence.

It features – as astrological gods or something – talk show host Trevor Noah, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (enjoying the irony), Broadway star Jenifer Lewis, spiritual advisor and yoga teacher Sadhguru, actress Sofia Vergara and others.

Jane Fonda gets the best lines, among them, “I don't get it”.

It's hard hold onto anything in this totally bonkers but sometimes funny mishmash where J-Lo – whose acting lurches between misty-eyed rom-com and The Bachelor – is variously seen as victim, revolutionary, vulnerable, heroine, misunderstood, lover, cougar, wounded, bride, clothes horse . . .

It's a lot of costume changes, hammy emoting, baroque sets, laughter, tears and truths shared. She believes no one really gets her: “I don't even get me”.

beniferBack to you, Jane?

But there's more from, and about, J-Lo: a 90 minute doco about “facing the truth of who you really are” but more specifically the making of the A Love Story film-cum-video and private letters between Affleck and Lopez. It is The Greatest Love Story Never Told.

Now being told.

And in graphically intimate physiological detail in the song of that name.

In a recent Q&A session J-Lo said husband Ben felt “we should be capturing this” and she – seeming to forget the album's contents and that she self-funded the film – never wanted to share something in this way.

But here she is, over-sharing her “journey to self-love” in a doco of pop psychology and hollow aphorisms best left on X, Instagram or a Hallmark card. It takes itself embarrassingly seriously.

The last time she and Affleck were together on screen was for the 2003 box office belly-flop Gigli which recouped about 10 per cent of its budget. Her most recent feature was the formulaic action thriller The Mother, directed by expat Kiwi Niki Caro. It pulled a respectable Netflix audience but also had Lopez nominated as Worst Actress in this year's Golden Raspberry Awards.

Perhaps these new films would have been pardonable conceits if the album was worthy of this laughably self-obsessed overkill.

But This Is Me . . . Now delivers the carefully curated emotions of Bennifer 2.0 in professionally executed songs with mundane, content-signalling titles like To Be Yours, Mad in Love, Rebound, This Time Round, Dear Ben Part II . . .

The ballad Broken Like Me is the best stand-alone song but gets a wildly inappropriate, hyperactive dance treatment in the film.

Midnight Trip To Vegas required eight co-writers and a sample from Chris Isaak's Wicked Game.

J-Lo rarely extends her range but settles into unchallenging, skilfully produced hip-hop, R'n'B and disco motifs, most burdened by banal, repetitive lyrics.

Jennifer Lopez considers this “the most honest record I've ever made”. Maybe she meant “the most expensive”.

Despite the outlay This Is Me . . . Now isn't much of an album and -- hitched to a couple of self-indulgent films -- this much ego-centric art and self-mythologising makes for an early onset of J-Lo fatigue.


The Lopez films are on AmazonPrime. The album This is Me . . . Now available digitally at Spotify here

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