! fabric of man's soul. What it is to have a best friend. what it is to have a father. what it is to have rosary beads in a godless society. and what it is to have cone-shaped breasts. Madonna has the answers. yet turns the questions themselves on their heads. throwing them back into our faces and forcing us to analyse our own predicament in the greater scheme of things.
This is drama of the highest order. Structured with masterly accomplishment around live songs — read ‘ritual submersions into the subconscious’ — the narrative pulls us. stretches us and eajoles us in a continual series of stomach-turning surprises. Will Madonna hit it off with her Spanish dreamboat‘? Will the rifts — resonating with the questions of our own sexuality - between her dancers be resolved in the eternal battle ofwills'? Will this really be the best concert of the tour? Questions we are forced to address head on. no shirking. no compromise. And when we leave the cinema we are better. more complete human beings. (Mark Fisher)
A SleazLth Man Writes
'i sleazy fat man
4 inthe front row and he‘s giving
i look. all the
“ complains Ms Ciceone.
halfway through this sadly less-than-sizzling strip of celluloid. Well. I was that fat bastard (it‘s glandular. honest). and that wasn‘t lust. Maddie. that was boredom.
I had high hopes of this movie. '. Let‘s face it. in the incongruous stakes. Madonna singing ‘Like a Virgin‘ is like Yasser Arafat covering ‘The Barmitzvah Song‘. The girl can normally be relied on to come across as seriously raunchy. but when it gets down to it. she doesn‘t deliver. This fly-on-the-wall documentary. the occasional simulated masturbation or blow-job aside. has about as much grungy sleaze as a Girl Guides pyjama party.
‘Do you undress on stage?‘ asks Madonna‘s concerned parent. voicing at least one audience member‘s central fixation. The answer is a resounding ‘no way‘. and she doesn‘t get much of her kit off behind the scenes either. Take your parents. take your maiden
aunt. take a coachload of nuns. L
26 July — SAugust 1991
There’s little here capable of melting their Maltesers. and what there is is frustratingly fleeting. viz:
1) Madonna stroking her crotch in the ‘Like A Virgin‘ sequence. No Big Deal. as the Toronto police-force wisely ruled.
2) Madonna strolling around topless in her dressing-room for about three nano-seconds.
3) Madonna performing a rather impressive blow-job on a bottle. This one 1 have to admit had me breathing a little faster.
4) Er. that‘s it.
To sum up. in a year which saw the release ofsuch mackintosh classics as In The Realm ()f The .S'enses and Buttered Danish ('rampet. In Bed With Madonna’s brand of titillation. with the accent on the last three syllables. proved a major disappointment. (Bazza O'Sleaze).
Initially. I found the
music the least endearing element ofthis otherwise deliciously enigmatic study of an artist. her psychic make—up and i the society in which she moves. Only nine songs in two hours. but. at first glance. most arrived as niggly interruptions to the prodigious flow of documentary footage. However. in hindsight. the songs do serve a greater purpose than solely that of narrative punctuation.
Though up-tempo numbers — Express Yourselfand Vogue — see the siren miming around an overdubbed studio vocal. the slower pieces. where vocals are indeed live. offer a harsher. less angelic approach to standard Madonna material. Live to Tell. in particular. benefits enormously from the extra layer of emotion afforded by the strident live assault. and the growling consonants and revamped orgiastic climax of Like A Virgin completely rearrange the implications of its ambivalent. tantalising lyric. Though songs like Holiday and Causing A Commotion have never seemed anything more than space-fillers. it must be admitted that John Murray‘s judicious editing of the musical sequences (and the placing of them at particular points in the melodrama) makes the songs i say much more about Ciccone‘s I harrowing upbringing and
resultant mental instability than i
they ever seemedto do on vinyl. ’ 4", -' Never really more than a vapid.
disco-thumpingalbum track. the l . ‘ ~ film‘s closer. Keep It Together (with Family Affair intro). becomes in this context an extremely moving anthem — a stark and soulful reminder of a diminutive Detroit girl‘s survival instinct and often awesome self—belief. (Paul W. lluHah)
A Dance Critic Writes
‘I wanted to impress them: lwanted to love them.‘ expknns Madonna. She is talking about the dancers from the Blond ‘ Ambition tour. Somewhat hyperbolieal out ofcontext. the quote is perfectly plausible. overlaid on the new Madonna documentary. In Bed With Madonna reveals a close relationship between the singer and her dancers. llalf mother figure. halfidol. she bills and coos over them one minute and demands adoration the next.
Madonna is spectacular. not as a dancer or a singer but for the way she manipulates. Like an astral body she shines off borrowed light. ller dancers are a hybrid crew. witty and larger than life. ‘This is Belgian stress‘ says one performer in an impossibly camp voice. shimmering with excitement before the show. Madonna thrives offthe ostentation and so does her show.
On stage and in the dressing room. Madonna is engagineg up front. Witty and outrageous she makes perfect film material. On stage she has a few hours to impress her public. ller dancers are an important back up. Super-fit and surprisingly petite she is a confident and theatrical mover. Energetic pop choreography is augmented by stylised imagery. Flanked by two dancers wearing false torpedo chests Madonna simulates masturbation. The Egyptian drag queens on either side ensure this is theatrical display. not porn material.
Invoking and rejecting standard notions of feminine sexuality and power. Madonna provokes mixed responses. Back stage after a show wholesome American Kevin Costner gives his reaction. ‘It was. .neat‘ he congratulates. Madonna is visibly sickened. (Jo Roe)
In Bed With Madonna goes on general release from Friday 26