Tuesday, September 28News That Matters

Texas woman filmed feeding spider monkeys at El Paso Zoo is arrested

The Telegraph

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, review: fan-baiting twaddle to make you cringe

Dir: RJ Cutler. Starring: Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell, Maggie Baird, Patrick O’Connell, Justin Bieber (as themselves). 15 cert, 141 mins Of the many films released during lockdown that are now upshifting into cinemas, a fly-on-the-wall documentary might not sound like one that stands to gain that much. Yet sound is the best thing that Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry has going for it. By that, I mean the extraordinary and unmistakable singing voice of its subject, thorny and haunted one moment, velvety with threat the next, and with a power that only increases when heard through cinema speakers. The effect isn’t as exciting as a return to live music, but in the meantime, it’ll more than suffice. Alas, to get the voice, you have to plough through the rest. RJ Cutler’s film runs for two hours and 20 minutes, plus a discretionary intermission, and nothing in it suggests it should have been over half that length. It follows Eilish’s career from her mid-teens to a little after her 18th birthday – the period in which she went from uploading songs to her SoundCloud to sending them to James Bond producers – and it putters and footles around so interminably that it sometimes feels as though you’re watching her age in real time. A collage of home movies, press junkets, staged conversations, semi-formal interviews, clips from concerts and endless tour footage, it treats Eilish as a kind of inexhaustible content spigot, whose every action and utterance is deemed worthy of inclusion purely by dint of being hers. To be fair, quite a few of them are. Her observations on the nature of 21st-century fandom are genuinely insightful: she’s young enough to understand and embrace its relationship-like quality, and in fact her own self-confessed “first love”, the singer Justin Bieber, has a small recurring role as a kind of elder statesman of viral pop-stars. Intriguing, too, is her ambivalent relationship to her own talent – “I hate writing songs, I love having songs to sing,” she tells her elder brother and writing-partner/producer Finneas O’Connell – insofar as she’s prepared to explore it unprompted. But no one behind the camera seems prepared to draw her out, and any number of potentially enthralling subjects – from her unusual upbringing to her industry-defying sense of style – are either skirted around or ignored. There is also a cringing coyness around the identity of a sometime-boyfriend, who is referred to only as “Q”, as if he were a high-ranking MI6 employee. Here and elsewhere, you sense the film knows more than it’s prepared to share, which gives it the queasy sheen of a PR exercise. (Sure enough, it was funded and produced by her record label, Interscope.)