The Curse Of J-Lo (or why couples can’t be couples on screen).

The woman who turned dating into a spectator sport

We actors are sexy people.  This is no less true for one Jennifer Lopez. Now I’m not here to talk about her acting ability. That is a problem for someone else’s blog. I’m here to talk about one of the unfortunate rules that I’ve developed over the years. One that our dear ‘J to tha L.O’ has (unbeknownst to her) lent her name to. I am of course talking about “The Curse of J-Lo”.

The curse of J-Lo states that no couples on screen can be played by couples in real life. My friends know that I have this rule and comply with it with a weary sigh. My reasons for this are threefold:

1)   Couples are annoying whilst filming.

I don’t know what it is, but couples are just more difficult to control whilst filming, because there’s two of them, it’s harder to break their spirit and mould them into what you want. By “break their spirit and mould them” I of course mean, “collaboratively discuss and shape the direction of the process”. Using the sexual tension of two otherwise unconnected people can often make for a delightful frisson that shows up beautifully on camera, when it’s a couple doing it, that’s just not there. Plus couples are always whispering together conspiratorially. What are they saying I wonder? Is it a variety of sweet nothings? Or are they saying that my auteurial style is  pathetic fan boy rehash of Hitchcock, Sam Raimi and Kevin Smith? WELL I’LL SHOW THEM!

  2)   If anything changes, you’ll never be able to watch it the same way again.

Lets be honest, if you break up with someone, you don’t want to be reminded of it by watching in agonising detail footage of you two together do you? I have one scene, from one of my earlier works, with a specific sequence that is a fantastic heady mix of personal experience and Gladys Knight lyrics. Set to ‘How’ by Lisa Loeb. It’s perfect, it’s lightning in a bottle. And because it’d make way too many people uncomfortable it’ll probably never be seen again. Sad…face.

3)   If you play a couple and you are a couple, you will, without question, DEFINITELY break-up.

This brings me to the titular problem. J-Lo appears in the music video to 1997 single ‘Been Around The World’ by the artist currently known as Diddy Dirty Money, formerly known as P. Diddy, formerly known as Puff Daddy, formerly known as Sean. They lasted 3 years. She then had her second husband Cris Judd appear with her in the 2001 ‘I’m Real’ video. Married for two years. Where shall we start with Ben Affleck? ‘Gigli’? ‘Jersey Girl’? the video for ‘Jenny From The Block’? *Shudder*. The point is; if you have your partner in a video with you, you might as well split up the CD collection as soon as you get home. This wouldn’t bother me so much if I hadn’t seen it happen in real life. Every couple who have played a couple in any project I’ve worked on have broken up. Now the little voice in my head says “But Giles, there’s no causal connection here. Logically, this is merely a case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc’. Well, those that know me will know that logic and I are only casually acquainted (we met at a party once, didn’t get on). That little voice (that sounds a lot like Matt D) may well be right. But you’ve got ask yourself, do you want to risk it?

Aside

Three things I stole from Hitchcock

 

 

 

 

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Like any self-respecting film geek, choosing my favourite director isn’t easy. I mean what’s the criteria? Box office numbers? No. Arthouse style? Meh. Introspective writer/directors? S’alright I guess. Well I’ve decided on Hitchcock. Sorry Joss, try again next year Edgar, Marty don’t cry, I’ve gone with the Master of Suspense. 

What can be said about Hitch that hasn’t already been said? Well not much as it goes. There’s dozens of volumes on him, documentaries galore, and countless undergrad essays. So I’ve decided to stick to three things that had an effect on me. Now those that have worked on a Dask Film might have an idea what those are (torturing your actors, falling in love with your leading lady and a weakness for the occasional pie) but no, not quite. In descending order, here’s:

Three things I stole from Hitchcock.

3) Trust your team

Whether it’s a multi-million dollar behemoth, or a hastily thrown together 48 hour film project. There’s about a squillion different things that need to be decided upon. Now even the most obsessive directors can’t put all their attention on everything, that’s why we have teams. Film is a collaborative medium, so don’t forget to collaborate! Hitch had a team, Bernard Hermann, Edith Head, Pat Hitchcock and Herb Coleman are names that are never too far from Hitch in the credits and without them his films suffered. They might not mean alot to most people but they meant alot to him. In the same way if I have Rick Lee, Jen Campion, Christina Stannard and Owain Gruffudd with me I know I can’t go too far wrong.

2) Admire your actors

OK, now here me out on this one. Hitch is not exactly known for loving his actors, or for that matter, treating them much better than cattle but he must have admired them. It was said that when he wanted to create a character like him he cast Jimmy Stewart, whereas when he wanted a character he wanted to be like he cast Cary Grant. His perfect woman was Grace Kelly and he was heartbroken when she left the film industry. Now my Jimmy Stewart has a questionable haircut, my Cary Grant is allergic to shaving and my Grace Kelly has ridiculously low self-esteem, but I love ’em. I love directing them, I love watching them and if you don’t, how can you expect an audience to?

1) The cameo

Well this is the most obvious one. I love a good cameo. Why? Well, let’s put aside the fact that I’m a flagrant narcissist, (Hitch was the first to perpetuate the idea of “director-as-superstar”) overlook the lack of extras needed to fill out a scene (the reason he did the first one in “The Lodger”) and focus on the fact that they’re just FUN! Cameos are a little visual easter egg, a tip of the hat to the audience, be it Wes Craven dressed as Freddie Krueger in “Scream”, Edgar Wright stacking shelves in “Hot Fuzz” or even Mel Gibson in “The Passion Of The Christ”. It’s a little way of saying thank you for watching.  

 

And with that, I tip my hat to you dear reader, and say thank you for checking out my first blog.