The trailer promises a penetrating look at the mysterious backstage life of Michael Jackson, but Spike Lee’s Bad 25 (2012) is more an over-enthusiastic fan-mail to the late King of Pop than anything else.
The film is a two-hour indulgence of Lee’s unveiled adoration for Jackson, including previously unaired footage of him in his Thriller prime, rather than the drug-addled pallour of that other Michael Jackson documentary, This Is It (2009).
According to the New York Post, Bad 25 is “a posthumous campaign to polish Michael Jackson’s tarnished reputation”, strategically commissioned by “the money-grubbing Jackson estate to promote the 25th anniversary of his 1987 album Bad’’.
Lee has assembled an often inexplicable cast of talking heads, including Sheryl Crow and Justin Beiber, who take turns to compliment Jackson’s dance moves and spot-on falsetto.
Anything vaguely controversial is expertly pussy-footed around, and Jackson’s stranger antics are glossed over as mere eccentricities – as an artistic genius like himself can only be expected to have.
Those pesky accusations of paedophilia never seem to come up, but there’s a lot of discussion about his great sense of style.
Not everyone will think Bad 25 is just plain bad. Hardcore fans of Jackson will be content with the lack of depth in this selective, doting portrait, though it’s doubtful this will sway any minds about Wacko Jacko.
As Time puts it, Bad 25 is about Michael Jackson “the obsessed performer,” not Jackson the “weird, sad soul who dated a chimp, disfigured his face, dangled his young son from a hotel window and pursued unusual liaisons with boys”. (Karla Cook)
Coming Soon: Betas
Created by Evan Endicott (The Decedents), this new comedy series on Amazon Prime follows a group of socially-awkward 20-somethings as they push their new social networking app in sunny Silicon Valley, where “the right algorithm can make you a king”. The action starts to heat up when the Stanford dropouts soon get the attention of an unlikely but powerful investor (Ed Begley Jr).
Although the friends are endearingly geeky in their pursuit of tech success, the show is less Big Bang Theory and more The Social Network in its portrayal of the IT world.
Entertainment Weekly praised the show for its “millennial cleverness”, while Variety said it “captures a general atmosphere of Silicon Valley as a youthful place not far removed from absorbing the Harry Potter books”. (Karla Cook)
Lots of acclaimed docs set in America this week. America Revealed (DR3, Fri 19:05) employs nifty angles to look at the systems and networks that keep the country running. Inocente (DR2, Tue 23:15), a winner of the Oscar for best doc short, follows a homeless girl trying to make it as an artist. Path to Violence (DR2, Thu 23:15) looks at how the US schools are thwarting killing sprees. And Bill Cunningham New York (DR2, Tue 20:30) profiles New York’s most famous street style photographers.
All four are highly rated, as is In the Shadow of the Sun (DR2, Wed 23:15), a compelling tale about two albinos in Tanzania, and Northern Soul – Keeping the Faith (BBC World, Sun 14:30 or 21:30), which looks at an overlooked music subculture in northern England.
Elsewhere, there’s another chance to see Ice T’s 2012 doc Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap (TV2 Zulu, Wed 21:00) and classic British drama House of Cards (DR2, Sun 19:00). (BH)
Sport of the week
Lucky Americans! Not only do they get an extra turkey dinner every November, but now they’ve got live NBA every Sunday courtesy of DR. No such luck with the English PL footy, which remains strictly cable only. This week’s top game sees high-flying Newcastle United travel to Old Trafford – time for the magpies to fall from grace (K6, Sat13:45). Elsewhere, FCK need a result against Real Madrid in the Champions League to make the Europa League (TV3+, Tue 19:00) and don’t miss the final of snooker’s UK Championship (Eurosport, Sun 21:45). (BH)
Film of the week
Ginnifer Goodwin continues to procrastinate through the 2010s. She didn’t get the message in He’s Just Not That Into You and now she’s trying her luck in Something Borrowed (SVT4, Sat 22:15). She’s the Hamlet of romcoms. While Ewan Macgregor, miscast as a cor blimey Londoner again, is with Incendiary (DR2, Fri 00:50) and Cassandra’s Dream emerging as the premier comic actor of his generation. Elsewhere, you will instantly forget Water for Elephants (TV3, Sun 21:00), and The Border (DR1, Sat 00:40) is an unsung 1982 thriller starring Jack Nicholson and Harvey Keitel. (BH)