Call it rockumentary. ifyou will. or docutainment.
Bed Wit/1 Madonna. like others ofits genre. has a rather casual relationship to the traditional tenets ofcinema verite. Honest. decent and truthful objectivity can sometimes get pushed to one side when the reason you're making the film in the first place is to promote the artiste in question. ‘Madonna. Like you've never seen her before‘ tease the posters. making the assumption that of all the carefully packaged Ciccone personae we’ve consumed to date. ‘the real Madonna' is the one were still waiting to discuss and disseminate.
In the film ‘the real Madonna' is every bit as salacious. bitchy. egotistical and eager to shock as we've come to expect. Breasts are bared. mortals (a childhood friend) and megastars (Messrs Costner and Beatty) humiliated. bottles impeccably fellated. and the enviable dimensions of her male dancers' genitalia more than hinted at. By separating the 35mm colour footage of various concerts on last year‘s Blonde Ambition world tour from the grainy 16mm black and white material capturing events backstage and on the road. you‘d think that Keshishian formally divides ‘the real Madonna‘ from ‘the star‘ on stage before the public. but with the camera following her around. it‘s always showtime for the hardest limelight-hogging woman in showbusiness.
Whether she‘s with her dad or romping on a bed with the crew of young black gay dull people that are her dancers. it all seems so orchestrated to show off various aspects of She Who Is In Control. The quotation marks never come off ‘the real Madonna‘ because common humanity doesn‘t sell cinema seats or shift cassettes on sell-through. We want to see
if you must. but
celebrity status misbehaving itself between gigs. with a dash of sincerity to go. Madonna‘s a material girl in more senses than one alright. She knows that when the limited artistic wellspring runs dry. the power of fame is such that you can turn your very existence into a commodity and folks will still buy it. ‘Madonna. Like you've never seen her before.~ Until the next time. (TrevorJohnston).
A Fashion Critic Writes
own masterpiece. More worshipped than her namesake. she is the ultimate twentieth century icon — constantly metamorphosing. a product that comes in ever-changing packaging. born to be sold. Poised outwith conventional morality. she adopts the roles of both virgin and whore as she plays her errant Catholic card. One moment stretched on her mother‘s grave fingering a rosary. the next writhing in self-induced ecstacy on red silk sheets. Defiant. erotic and powerful images each one.
Jean-Paul Gaultier is the enfant terrible of couture. famed for his unorthodox innovations (men in torpedo-tit bustiers) and high camp catwalk shows (a combination of rock concert and theatrical extravaganza). A tie-in between the two would seem to be a marriage made in heaven hell. depending on your predilection. In Bed With Madonna. with costumes specially designed by JPG. gives you the chance to decide.
And the chance to be shocked. For Madonna's latest whim is to utilise the images of bondage. This. however. is sex as liberation not constraint — more threat to the opposite sex than submission to it. In her fashionable flirtation with S 8; M. Madonna uses the violent visual shock of the fetishists trappings as a controlling power. Dare to look at me. she
Madonna is her
" "ﬂ says. Look . . . but don‘t touch. This vision of a beautifully
bound woman is a classic one. combining shock value and elegance. And. whether posing with a Boy Toy buckle for
‘I Ioliday'. appearing as a peep show dancer for ‘Open your IIeart'. or chained and manacled for ‘Express Yourself’. Madonna retains ultimate control. She has succesfully made the transition from bubble-gum pop star to dynamic diva. and. whatever image she chooses to project. is decisively in charge of her own destiny. IIowever fantastic the costumes. Madonna Veronica Louise Ciccone is herself the greatest creation ofall. (Avril Mair).
A Theatre Critic Writes
Taut and precise. the dialogue of this majestic work sparks and crackles in the noble verite g tradition of a l Mamet or a Shepard. Ironically undercutting its own ordinariness. this audacious linguistic trick is subversive in its double-edged wit. The crowning glory ofthis Pinteresque intellectual game is a recurring motif. transfered neatly from character to character in a semantic pass-the-parcel: ‘blah. blah. blah.‘ says Madonna during a heart-rending phone call to her stuck-in-the-mud father. as ifthe script has recognised its own boundaries of meaningful communication. And later. when her brother shouts from the stalls to his microphoned sister. her voice amplified around a deserted stadium. he echoes the same family sentiment. ‘Blah. blah. blah.‘ he wanes. recognising the gulfbetween sibling and sibling. audience and stage. society and icon.
For this is an epic of religious dimension. Layered with subtextual meaning. it ranks with The Mahabharata. Citizen Kane and Abba the Movie for its penetrating insight into the very
l l l i l
In Bed With Madonna. Alek Keshishian’s backstage movie promises to be frank. provocative. earthy and amusing. But does it live up to expectations? The List posse blitzed the film en masse to cover it from every conceivable angle. New read on . . .
The List 26July — 8 August I‘Nl 15