Song of the Day #4,233: ‘Criminal’ – Fiona Apple

Jennifer Lopez’s introduction in Hustlers was one of the great moments in cinema last year, musical or otherwise. And I promise I say that as a movie fan, not a guy who enjoys watching Lopez work the pole.

By framing this moment through the eyes of Constance Wu’s character, writer/director Lorene Scafaria makes Lopez’s dance not about her sexuality but her power. She is not a sex object… she’s the subject, specifically subjecting her will on the helpless men in the audience. She commands the stage, separating men from their money just as she will later in the movie through more nefarious methods. It’s appropriate that her song of choice is titled ‘Criminal.’

Hustlers never really got its due, the final injustice coming with Lopez’s snub at the Oscars. Her work as Ramona was her best since Out of Sight. Not only did she fully embody the character’s physicality, she delivered tenderness and toughness in equal measure, and really sold the heartbreak of money corrupting a lovely friendship.

Had this film been directed by Martin Scorsese rather than Scafaria, it would have been hailed as a masterpiece. Scafaria is working very much in the Scorsese mold. Her editing, camerawork, use of music and voiceover, as well as the antihero subject matter itself, all hearken back to Goodfellas. Yet Motion Picture Academy members reportedly dismissed it as a “stripper movie” not worthy of their attention.

Their loss. They can throw Oscars at Laura Dern and Sam Mendes, but I’d rather throw dollar bills at the extraordinary Ms. Lopez.

[Verse 1]
I’ve been a bad, bad girl
I’ve been careless with a delicate man
And it’s a sad, sad world
When a girl will break a boy just because she can

[Pre-Chorus]
Don’t you tell me to deny it
I’ve done wrong and I want to suffer for my sins
I’ve come to you ’cause I need guidance to be true
And I just don’t know where I can begin

[Chorus]
What I need is a good defense
‘Cause I’m feelin’ like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I’ve sinned against
Because he’s all I ever knew of love

[Verse 2]
Heaven help me for the way I am
Save me from these evil deeds before I get them done
I know tomorrow brings the consequence at hand
But I keep livin’ this day like the next will never come

[Pre-Chorus]
Oh help me but don’t tell me to deny it
I’ve got to cleanse myself of all these lies ’til I’m good enough for him
I’ve got a lot to lose and I’m bettin’ high
So I’m beggin’ you before it ends
Just tell me where to begin

[Chorus]
What I need is a good defense
‘Cause I’m feelin’ like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I’ve sinned against
Because he’s all I ever knew of love

[Bridge]
Let me know the way
Before there’s hell to pay
Give me room to lay the law and let me go
I’ve got to make a play
To make my lover stay
So what would an angel say?
The devil wants to know

[Chorus]
What I need is a good defense
‘Cause I’m feelin’ like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I’ve sinned against
Because he’s all I ever knew of love
What I need is a good defense
‘Cause I’m feelin’ like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I’ve sinned against
Because he’s all I ever knew of love

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,233: ‘Criminal’ – Fiona Apple

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’m with ya! Lopez was snubbed!

  2. Amy says:

    Jennifer Lopez is such a bad ass. Loved her in this film, and loved this film, which was snubbed because it was made by and about women, and the film industry is still, largely, a good old boy’s network. Bit by bit, it’s changing, and the fact that this film was as critically acclaimed as it was is certainly cause for some hope.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.